• Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Thomas Klak

    Today it’s time to get to know the artist behind the Spotted song What’s here a bit better. I’ll give you – Thomas Klak!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I’m from Marl, a mid-sized City of Ruhrgebiet in Germany. But I’m living and working in Essen, which is only 50 kilometers away from Marl. So I didn’t move that far away from hometown. I teach piano at Foklwang University of Arts in Essen. 

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I started to play piano when I was six years old. I played church organ some years ago and play keyboards and synthesizer in progmetal bands. 

    Ah, and I play „Olaf“ my hedonistic mocca-kitchen-organ, which is an electric Magnus chord-organ. 

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    Music was always in center of my family. The sound of the piano had a strong impact on me when I was a child. I remember being fascinated by the sound of our Bechstein C. 

    My grandfather bought his first piano when he was sixteen. That was in 1928. And it’s still in the family. He also played violin and other instruments in the era of silent movies. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    As i wrote, I began to play piano at the age of six and I’m composing my own music since my teenage years. 

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I remember it very well. The first songs evolved out of a band session during easter holidays in 1994. I good friend of mine rented a room in a fishermen clubhouse. We put all our stuff there and started our own power metal thing. We came every day to this place at least for a whole week and all we did was improvising while having good days and nights. 

    This was the environment, where all the ideas, that I had found during my (real) piano practicing (Bach, Chopin, Liszt) could come into other ears and other lights.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Brad Mehldau, Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny, Nils Frahm

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    At the moment I’m improvising Boogie Woogie as soon as I sit down at the piano. I like the strong motorics and the feeling while improvising in the right hand. It makes my body happy. 

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    I guess, all musicians and composers are used in braking rules all the time. Their rules and the rules of others. 

    How do you record your music?
    All my songs of the last two albums where recorded with a low budget equipment that I own myself. My first album „slow acting“ was recorded in my bedroom on a day and a night. 

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    Use everything if you like it. 

    Anything else you want to share? 
    Love what you have and love what’s here

    The last question is asked by my 5 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 

    I guess, my songs are from the 5 year old child in me, who wants to play, play, play. 

    Thank you for this Thomas!

    For more information about Thomas Klak and his music, please check out the following links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Pietra – Beautiful remains

    It’s not uncommon that I get in touch with people who makes music for a living. Nothing strange there. Most of the time they make music for moving picture in some way (commercials, movies and stuff like that), or maybe writes orchestral arrangements for famous artists willing to pay for it. Today, however, I’m introducing you to Pietra, or Andreas Stone Johansson. One of Swedens most well renovated hit songwriters. If you live in Europe, or is a big fan of Eurovision song contest, you might have heard this song which Andreas is one of the songwriters behind.

    Anders grew up in Arlöv, just outside Malmö and now lives in Malmö where he runs the studio Hydra studio together with a few other people. He makes music full time, and his music has sold more than 23 millon physical copies world wide. When he has time off he makes piano music using the name Pietra (which means Stone in Italian).

    The song Beautiful Remains was actually written back in 2005, but was just released simultaneously with six other songs (all as singles). He has been collecting songs since then, and now it was time for them to see the light and meet the audience.

    Tell us something about your track Beautiful remains!
    Beautiful Remains has a story to tell. Like so many other songs it is about a person special to me. People come and go into our lives and some if it’s a really special person it sometimes happens that they leave us  earlier than we wanted. It could be someone passing away or in this case someone I used to love. After the hurt has gone and we’ve learnt to move on, I wish to think that we remember those people like beautiful  remains.  Bitter-sweet memories. They leave so many memories, love, scars and they stay in our minds, less and less each passing day like beautiful remains. 

    I guess you could say that the theme of all of the songs is that they are somewhat like a diary. Reminiscing about people I’ve known, miss, think about. Or places I’ve visited and miss. Or just a ventilation for feelings I had on that specific day a music piece was written.  What comes from the heart touches the heart. That has always been a motto I’ve tried to live up to. 

    Thank you for sharing this tune with us Andreas! And thanks for all your other music as well; and of course for the opportunity to talk to one of the great songwriters of our time!

    For more information about Andreas and the music he makes, please check out these links:
    Website / Instagram / Spotify /

    If your interested to listen to the pop music Andreas makes, you can follow this playlist as well.

  • Stories

    About the song: Wait

    Written by Anders Wiking.

    A while back I was driving home from work, listening to the album Först ska vi äta, sen sova och sen kommer pappa, witch by the way is a sentence you use a lot working with the youngest kids in pre-school, and my favorite song Väntan (wait) started playing. The song has a kind of sad/melancholy sound and the rockets sounds in the intro turns it in to some kind of depressed New Year’s Eve thing.

    The day before listening to this in my car I saw a tv-show where, in one scene, a mother and her child was on the ship “Estonia” that sunk between Sweden and Estonia back in 1994 drowning around 950 people, and you got to watch them slowly drown, a very claustrophobic scene. So with that scene in mind and some depressing New Year’s Eve music on I started to sing along and just improvise in the moment. when I came home I hade the melody ready and knew what I wanted the lyrics to be about. Then I simply recorded it to the track and sent as a surprise to Johan. I had no real intent to have it published, it was just something that I did because it was fun, but Johan did his mix-wizardry and it turned out great!

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Ahren – Continuum

    Today I’m introducing you to Ahren Merz, a composer from Switzerland. He started out with electronic dance music about seven years ago and then moved on to more acoustic/orchestral music; which is what we hear on his track Continuum.

    My goal is to express myself on an emotional level and take listener’s on a journey with every piece of music.

    Continuum was released as a single in may 2019.

    Tell us something about your track Continuum!
    The story behind the track is following: “Continuum” can be split
    into 2 chapters: Chapter 1 represents a child-like, innocent view of
    the world which eventually matures and transitions to chapter 2. This
    chapter captures an experienced, mature state of mind. The arrangement
    in my compositions is usually undefined up to 70% of completion. At
    this point I think about the story I want to tell with the
    composition. This is where all ideas come together and form the big
    picture. I also like to show my compositions to friends with little to
    no musical background and see their emotional response to it as final
    test. If the response is another than what I was aiming for it’s back
    to the drawing board.

    Thank you for this Ahren!

    For more information, please check out any of these following links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Christopher Colaço & Philipp Schaeper – The Brightest Point of Light

    Today I’m introducing you to Christopher Colaço and Philipp Schaeper, both of them from the south of Germany and now located in Berlin. They studied jazz piano and drums at the Berlin University fo arts together. Their first album made together is View From Above, where this particular track is taken from. They have, however, made music together before. They made the music for the movie Oh Boy! – A Coffee In Berlin for which they got the German Academy award for best score!

    The album View From Above was released in the beginning of may 2019.

    Tell us something about your track The Brightest Point of Light!
    The Basic Idea was a repeditve piano figure which should be soft and constantly meditating while strings float over the pattern. We tried a lot of rhythms and constantely turned the song upside down. Actually we didn’t consider to put it on the record but luckily we created a version we liked. It was recorded with all players at once.

    Thank you Christopher and Philipp for this wonderful track!

    For more information about their music, please check out these following links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Hideyuki Hashimoto – Saki

    Today I’m introducing you to composer and piano player Hideyuki Hashimoto from Osaka, Japan; now located in Kagawa Prefecture. Hideyuki’s main focus is improvised performances and composition.

    The track Saki is taken from the soundtrack for the movie Itadiki Girl which was released the 20th of may 2019. The movie have a “family love” theme according to Hideyuki.

    Tell us something about your track Saki!
    This song was recorded in my room. I set two microphones to the upright piano. As it was music for the film, I tried to record improvisation while watching the film. This is the film’s first demo tape, and it was the for the opening scene. It is hard to replace the moment when a song is born, and I think it is special. The opening scene of the movie kind of reminds of the cover art; the girl’s grandmother rides a bike and takes the sleeping baby. The mechanical noise of the piano is reminiscent of the sound of a pedal pedaling a bicycle.

    Thank you Hideyuki for this wonderful soundtrack! It’s wonderful even without the movie!

    For more information, please check out any of these following links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Prof. Lacasse

    Hi there professor! I wrote about your song Lost and found a while back. Lets get to know you a bit better!

    What’s your real name? 
    Serge Lacasse

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    Well, I’m an “actual” university professor in music…:) 

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I’m from Canada and live in Levis, clos to Quebec City.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    That’s an interesting question. I started as a child, but was always playing by ear, by memory… I thus stopped taking lessons because sister Therese (who was teaching me) didn’t like the fact that I wasn’t able to properly read music… Then, when I got 16 I decided to try to get into the piano performance program in college (Quebec’s cegep). I started again my courses with Sister Therese and was actually admitted at the university level. However, I was feeling that I didn’t “deserve” this admission and I decided to study drums instead (which I’m plying since I was 8). But I’ve always played piano and composed for the instrument all these years.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    The Beatles fault…  When I was 8 I discovered the Beatles and wanted to be Paul. But my best friend at the time, who was older, decided he was Paul and I ended up as Ringo… I started playing drums at 8 which became my main instrument (I’ve played jazz, pop, rock, in studio, on stage with major Canadian acts). 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    Well, as I mentioned, I’ve started composing music for the piano at 16-17. Actually, one of the pieces featuring on my album, “Debussy’, was written then. But I never played them in public nor recorded them. It is just a couple of years ago that I discovered that the tens of pieces I’ve composed through these years were very similar to the postclassical genre. I then discovered Max Richter, Olafur Arnalds, Joep Beving, but also more “romantic” ones such as South Korean Yiruma. Since then, not only did I started composing new music, but also dig  into my past (because, fortunately, I did record on on dictaphone a lot of these early compositions). What I also discovered was that these musicians had a very similar background that mine: age (I’m 56), but also their wide musical taste and competence: pop, jazz, classical, contemporary music, electronic, etc. As a musicologist, I strongly believe that this is linked to this new “cultural condition”, that is the cultural omnivores: people that distinguish themselves by being equally at ease in many musical traditions, as opposed to earlier generations where artistic quality, or cultural taste, were measured according to their knowledge of strictly classical music. 

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano? Your own or someone else’s? 
    Well, there are two; Lost and Found is probably my own favorite and i play it a lot. Bu I also love Max Richter’s Written on the Sky (based on his own On the Nature of Daylight, both featured in his 2014 album The Blue Notebooks).

    How long is your shortest song? 
    About 1:30… It’s called “Sunny Day”.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    First and foremost: borders between genres. That said, and as I evoked earlier, many musicians are already working toward breading these rules. For me it’s very similar to what we are witnessing in LGBTQ communities. First, we start by grouping these communities together (as well illustrated by the acronym itself), but then by attempting to radically delete gender distinctions. For example, some researchers have just proposed an AI voice that can’t be characterized as female or male. I believe this is where we are also going in music and in arts in general.

    How do you record your music?
    I’ve been a record producer for like 30 years. The recording studio is truly my main instruments. I do record at home, but also in our University Laval recording facility, the Laboratoire audionumérique de recherche et de création (LARC). I’ve founded this recording studio and am still heading it.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I use both. My goal is to get the sound I want, no matter the means.

    Anything else you want to share? 
    Well, thanks for having invited me Johan, it is a honour!

    The last question is asked by my 5 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 

    Contrary to many composers who state that they don’t know their style, or that their music doesn’t belong to a genre (as if they were unique), I am totally aware of all my influences. For example, I use popular music forms (verse-chorus for example) [I’m a popular music musicologist], but also use some film music harmonic textures, etc. So yes, all these songs come from a sort of inner “mixing machine” that assembles elements from different sources: “pure” art doesn’t exist in my opinion.

    Thank you for these answers Serge! It was a truly interesting read!

    For more information about Serge and his music; please check out these following links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: MoreThanSilence – Missing Your Embrace

    Today I’m introducing you to Reinis Ūdris, a Latvian composer from the small town Smiltene, but currently lives in Riga. Reinis uses the name MoreThanSilence when making relaxing music like the song Missing your embrace, but also makes other kinds of music.

    This song was released as a single in may of 2019.

    Tell us something about your track Missing Your Embrace!
    I have an anonymous quote which describes the meaning behind the track – ”I love the warmth of your embrace..when you wrap your arms around me and hug me tightly..You hide me in your embrace and we feel nothing but each other’s heartbeats..I fell most secure…”When I wrote it I wanted to imitate that feeling of peace when you embrace your close friend, family member or loved one – that feeling of peace and true love.

    Thank you for this Reinis!

    For more information, please check out any of these following links:
    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Francisco José Villaescusa & Epic Tales Orchestra – El Culturista, Pt. 1

    I have written about Francisco José Villaescusa before, which you can read here. This time he has teamed up with the Epic Tales Orchestra to make this beautiful piece of music.

    Francisco, however, is a Spanish composer of instrumental music and has made music in several genre; new age, Celtic music and orchestral music.

    Tell us something about your song El Culturista, Pt. 1!
    The track is composed to create a minimalist and intimate atmosphere. The director wanted it to be a very subtle music that accompanied the images creating a sober atmosphere.

    Thank you for this Francisco!

    Please check out any of these links for more information and updates:
    Facebook / Twitter / Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Solulf – Nu då så

    Today I’m introducing you to Swedish composer and piano player Ulf Svedlund who makes neo classical music using the moniker Solulf. Sol means sun in Swedish, so I guess Sunny Ulf would be a good translation. If that matters? That’s just my interpretation, so you know.

    Ulf lives in Stockholm and this song is taken from his second EP Andra. And again with the translation; andra means second.

    My EP from 2015 had a lot of overdubs, and big arrangements, so this one is completely different. 

    I immideatly fell for the amazing cover art of this release, which is made by Daniel Segerheim.

    Tell us something about your track Nu då så!
    This track was composed in a quite unusual way, for me anyways. I wrote it during my parental leave. So when I sat at the piano I almost always had my son in my lap, with one hand on the keys and one arm around my kid. So I wrote the melody first, and added the bass notes later on. 

    It’s a first take recording so there are some mistakes and I was quite nervous for some reason. We kept that feeling, my producer Andreas Söderström like it, it creates a tense feeling which adds a nice layer to the song. 

    Thank you for this song Ulf! Love the cover art btw!

    For more information please check out these links:
    Facebook / Spotify