• Spotted!

    Spotted: Aymen Gannouni – Mirage

    Today I’m introducing you to German composer Aymen Gannouni located in Aachen. Aymen bought his first piano in 2014, and has since then taught himself how to use it. And what I’m introducing you to today is Aymens very first song, ever!

    The song Mirage was released as a single in the beginning of July of 2019.

    Tell us something about your track Mirage!
    Mirage is my first single. It was released on 11th of July. For me, Mirage, is a phenomenon that stretches beyond nature to reveal how our expectations sometimes can be very far from the truth. I have been working on the single for ten months. Everytime I was improvising on the piano I was recording short samples of 20 to 30 seconds. At some point, I started combining theses samples to build up a theme and finally the composition.

    Thank you for this tune Aymen! I hope there’s more coming!

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

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Ahren

    A while back I wrote about Ahren and his track Continuum. Today it’s time to get to know Ahren a bit better!

    Whats your name?
    My name is Ahren Merz

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I was born and raised in Kilchberg, Switzerland, a town not far from Zürich and currently live in Adliswil, which is also right next to Zürich. My mother is American and my father is Swiss.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I originally learned playing the piano (and the flute in school) about 20 years ago but did not have an interest in composing my own music until 13 years later when I discovered Electronic Dance Music (which eventually shifted to contemporary/classical music) and noticed that my past experience with the piano made the introduction to music production/composition a joyable experience from the beginning. I started playing the guitar as well but it didn’t give me the same emotional response the piano was able to. All instruments in my compositions are played with a midi keyboard and tweaked accordingly to make them feel organic.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I started playing music 20 years ago in form of piano lessons and the flute in school. The piano lessons weren’t a long term hobby back then however because playing other people’s music felt unnatural to me.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I’ve been making piano/orchestral music for about a year now.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    The moment I realized I could make my own music was a gigantic new world opening up to me. The beautiful thing about it is that it’s a constantly changing world which regularly brings me back to that comforting initial feeling.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    My favorite artists of the genre are Ryuichi Sakamoto, Akira Kosemura, Nils Frahm, Joep Beving and many more.

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    No, there is not really a specific song I like playing again and again. I like experimenting with new sounds and instruments/synthesizers however. The approach I take with my music is like building something. It’s more of a construction process, although starting compositions is usually based on improvised ideas.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    All of the rules can be broken once they’re understood. Broken rules characterize authenticity: If the music feels right it doesn’t matter what rules are being broken.

    How do you record your music?
    I record all of my music with my computer in my bedroom/living room in
    a 1.5 bedroom apartment. Currently I am also experimenting with ambient sounds from nature which requires going outdoors and recording sounds like rivers, chirping birds, wind, etc. which is a lot of fun and is very inspiring to me.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I like sampled instruments and the freedom you have in processing their sound. They allow anyone with a computer to create their own music at home or wherever. What’s important in my opinion however is to process or combine these in a way that is fresh for the ear which can be difficult since so many people are using them. With sampled instruments I find it especially important to know exactly what they do and to experiment with playing them in ways they’re not supposed to be played.

    Anything else you want to share?
    I also would like to share that I am planning on experimenting with paint and audio visual media for performances.

    The last question is asked by my 5 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 
    My songs come from what I see, hear and feel. And sometimes they come from musical accidents. Great question by the way!

    Thank you very much for this Ahren!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: LUCHS – Valentine

    Today I’m introducing you to Patrik Berg Almkvisth, or LUCHS, a Swedish actor, composer and music producer. Patrik is born into a very musical family and says that one of his earliest memories from childhood was falling asleep every Sunday under the grans piano while his father was playing in the church.

    Valentine was originally created as a collaboration with actor Dacre Montgomery (Stranger Things). It has been released as a part of his podcast called DKMH that was released July 11th on Spotify. The podcast is a combination of Dacres beat poetry (narrated) set to music scores designed by some of his favourite musicians around the world. 

    Tell us something about your track Valentine!
    Dacre Montgomery reached out to me on Instagram and asked me if I would like to compose the music to some of his beat poetry. He sent over the text and gave me total freedom to compose around the words. I felt an instant connection to his work and got started right away.  The first day I was mostly just laying on the floor with my hands covering my ears and tried to listen for a musical phrase, a chord progression or a short melody that could get me started.

    After discarding a couple of ideas the foundation to Valentine came. And a couple of days later I sent over a first production of the track to Dacre. His response was so kind and positive so I barely had to change anything accept for a few mix fixes to feel satisfied myself. I also made two versions. One digital and one analog where I recorded the final mix onto cassette tape. Dacre preferred the analog one so that version can be heard behind his poetry. I was very happy with the composition so I decided to release an instrumental version of the track as well. This time I went with the digital master.  

    Thank you very much Patrik!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Melany Thompson – New Life

    Today I’m introducing you to Australian pianist and composer Melany Thompson based out of Sydney. She has a background in classical music and studied piano from the age of four. She preferred however to write her own melodies instead of playing others.

    The song New Life is taken from her debut album Memories of home which was released in the beginning of July 2019.

    Tell us something about your track New Life!
    I actually sat down and composed this song the day Prince Harry and Meghan announced the name of their new baby boy, Archie. I thought it was such a sweet name and a beautiful moment in time. I originally called the track “song for Archie” but renamed it “New Life” when I recorded it just weeks later at Underwood Studio in the picturesque Blue Mountains, where I grew up. 

    Thank you for sharing this with us Melany!

    For more information and updates, please check out these links:
    Instagram / Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Eamonn Watt – A Simple Little Lullaby

    Today, It’s time to meet Eamon Watt again! Eamon is a composer from the Shetland islands and is also known as The Virtual Conductor. His orchestral tunes is released using the latter name.

    The song A simple little lullaby was released as a single in July 2019 but will also be part of an album filled with lullabies. Or, maybe even Sleepy Songs? 😉

    Tell us something about your track A Simple little lullaby!
    Usually with most of my piano and orchestral pieces, they’re usually quite lengthy and explore a wide range of dynamics going from loud to soft, however for this project, I simply wanted to create a selection of short piano pieces, something soothing, quiet and simple to listen to, sending the listener to a calming place, good enough to sleep in. The track was composed in Cubase 10 Pro, using Native Instruments’ “The Giant” piano sample library.

    Thank you for sharing this with us Eamon!

    For more information, please check out these links!
    Facebook / Website / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Async Ross

    A while back I posted about Async Ross and his song Cambria, and now it’s time to get to now the man behind the song a bit better!

    What’s your real name? 
    My name is Benjamin Ross Stitt and I release Indie Folk music under my name Ben Stitt and Neo Classical music under the alias ‘Async Ross’.

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    After I recorded my first 4 piano pieces I was going back and forth between different names or even just releasing them under my normal name along side my Indie Folk stuff. But ultimately decided that I want to separate the two. So I settled on Async Ross. I kind liked the sound of using my second name ‘Ross’ in combination with the word async which stands for asynchronous and describes events or things that are slightly out of phase or not happening at the same time. I just really loved the idea of that and was drawn to the sound and the whole aesthetic of how Async Ross looked and sounded.

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I’m originally from Potsdam, Germany but I currently live in the US. I moved to Boston in 2014 to study at Berklee College of Music and moved to Los Angeles in 2017 after I graduated.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I actually only just recently started playing the piano while studying at Berklee. I usually went into one of the piano practice rooms when I was studying harmony or ear training, since it’s a lot easier to visualise and understand music theory on a piano rather then on a guitar just due to the fact how it’s laid out, from there I just started to tinker around on it and apply certain theory concepts to the piano. So I kinda learned playing the piano through learning theory. I still wouldn’t really call myself a pianist I have no idea about the proper fingerings for each scale or any of that, I do however have a pretty good understanding of theory and ear training which helps a lot when playing and writing on the piano, even though I have to admit while writing or improvising on the piano I usually don’t think about theory or harmonic concepts at all, I just play whatever comes to my mind and whatever feels good. Apart from piano I also play guitar, bass and I sing.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    I started out as a guitar player which is still my main instrument and the instrument I feel the most comfortable on. I think with around 13-14 I got completely obsessed with practicing guitar and blues music. I started to listen to all the old masters from B.B. king to Stevie Ray Vaughan. Back then all I wanted to be was a guitar player, it was pretty much the only thing on my mind. This started to slowly shift when I got into my later teens with artists like Bon Iver and Ben Howard, I started to become more and more interested in songwriting and from there on also more interested in ambient, classical, neo classical music and film scores.

    How long have you been making piano music? 
    These four pieces I just recorded are actually the first solo piano pieces I ever composed. I mean I did record and play piano on some of my other projects before but this is the first time I actually specifically wrote music for the piano. 

    Tell us something about that moment you realised you could make songs yourself! 
    I always liked improvising even when I just started out on guitar, I usually would learn a part of a song and then just start to explore more possibilities from there to create my own parts for it. A game changer was when I got my first loop station with around 15, it opened up so many new possibilities of stacking and layering sounds and the same thing happened when I started using DAWs like Ableton. I think I always enjoyed creating my own songs and improvising a lot more then learning other peoples songs. Of course when starting out you kinda start with just learning songs from other people but as soon as I had somewhat of an basic understanding of the guitar or the piano I immediately starting writing my own music mainly because I’m way to impatient to actually sit down and learn a whole song somebody else had written, I just wanted to play. 

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”? 
    Nils Frahm and Olafur Arnalds are definitely the two musicians who first got me interested in Piano and neo Classical music. I just love how both of them manage to blend different styles and manage to still make solo piano music sound new and exciting. Apart from that I also really like Johann Johannson, Goldmund, Ryuichi Sakamoto and my most recent discovery but one of my favourites already Hania Rani. 

    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? 
    Mmh that’s a good question, since I wouldn’t really call myself a pianist I actually don’t know that many classical or contemporary pieces on the piano so I mostly just start improvising something or play some patterns or chord progressions and then go from there. I do however usually start by playing something in C# for some reasons that has always been my favourite key. There is just something about the way it resonates on a piano or guitar that really appeals to me. 

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken? 
    There are a lot of different paths I could go down with this question, but I think what all of them ultimately come down to is: Whatever feels right to you is correct. I think you should never follow a strict set of rules just because somebody told you that thats the correct way of doing it, and this goes for both, the harmonic/theoretical aspect of music as well as the recording and production side of music. coming from someone who studied music and has a pretty good understanding of theory and harmony I think it’s important to remember that a lot of those “rules” were never intentionally made by certain composers, musicians or producers, they were just writing music that resonated with them. In a lot of case those ‘rules’ were created by people who then later on analysed those pieces of music and then created a set of rules to follow incase you want to recreate that kind of music. 

    How do you record your music?
    I usually record all the music I write or produce by myself in my little home studio. I have a nice little setup which I know inside out, everything is set up and I can pretty much just record anything right away. I think thats the most important aspect for me, there is nothing I hate more then having an idea and the then having to spend hours with setting up or trouble shooting some issues because you don’t know the studio or the gear.
    But unfortunately I currently don’t own a piano, so I actually recorded the piano pieces in my parents living room while I was visiting them last winter.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I actually think they are incredible tools for writing and composing and enable musicians who maybe don’t have access to a piano or a violin or a full orchestra to still create their music and ideas. Sample instruments have become so good that you can have some of the most beautiful pianos, string players and orchestras at your fingertips which is amazing and super inspirational. I don’t think they will ever replace the real thing but I think that was ever the intention of sampled instruments, but it’s an amazing resource to have.
    I actually also really enjoy sampling all kinds instruments and sounds and morphing them into new textures, I think it’s such an inspiring thing to do to create your own unique sound pallet. Nowadays I actually get a lot of my ideas and inspiration for songs or pieces from sound or textures I created. For me a lot of the emotion of music actually lies in the texture of it’s sound.

    The last question is asked by my 5 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from?
    I tend to wonder that myself sometimes, music is such an impressive thing, no matter what language you speak or where you are from you are able to understand music and the emotion behind it. It’s even more impressive to think about the fact that you are not really inventing anything new, all the notes, chords and words are there already and all have probably been heard, played and said before, you are ultimately just combining notes in a way that makes sense to you and makes you feel some kind of emotional reaction. So long story short I think my songs and music just come from a need to express myself and from a need to understand and process my surroundings.

    Thank you very much for this Ben! It’s been a pleasure reading through this article!

    For more information about Ben and Async Ross, please check out these social links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Dan Michaelson – Argument for Strings No.2

    Today I’m introducing you to Brittisk composer Daniel Michaelson from London and his very interesting tune Argument for Strings No.2. Dan has worked as a composer for TV and films for 20 years and has (as he describes it himself) a “slightly unusual singing voice”. Oh well, you can hear that too by pressing the Spotify link below.

    The song is part of an EP called Argument for Strings, which consists of four songs (number 2, 5, 3 and 10 in that order) and was released in the beginning of July of 2019.

    The recording is catching you attention right away, so… don’t wait. Just listen before you read the rest!

    Tell us something about your track Argument for Strings No.2!
    The track features a bell I found in Scotland. It was a strange bell that didn’t ring out, the sound stopped immediately after it was struck. I recorded it to take home and add to this track. I recorded the track in London with some of my favourite musicians working today. I’d seen them performing a lot of amazing pieces around town… John Luther Adams,  Claire M Singer, Phillip Glass amongst others, and eventually persuaded them to play my music!

    Thank you for the music Dan!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Stephen K Dobson – Satori

    Today I’m introducing you to Canadian now Scottish composer and piano player Stephen K Dobson and his track Satori. Stephen has played the piano since a young age and also knows how to play guitar harmonica and “can keep a beat on drums.

    I, personally (as I said to Stephen myself), would have settled for the track without the strings. But it’s still a very beautiful piano tune which I hope you all will enjoy!

    The song was released on the EP Moments which came out in June 2019.

    Tell us something about your track Satori!
    The song was composed sitting at the piano and observing the wind taking effect on the trees outside.  I had a feeling of tranquillity just observing, it felt that there was nothing out of place, hence the title.  The composition was finished within the hour but was then later re-recorded with the string section added. 

    Thank you for this tune Stephen!

    For more information, please check out these links!
    Facebook / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Brad Couture – Vignette

    The second person ever I made a spotted post about was an American dude called Brad Couture (you can find previous posts here). I sometimes get a bit sad when people I have written about release music without sending it to me; were they not happy with the coverage I provided?

    Thats why I got very happy when I saw Brads name on another submission! And what a song he sent me! I immediately fell in love with Vignette and hopefully you will too!

    The track is taken from the EP Focal which was released in late June of 2019.

    Focal is an EP that revolves around an analog photography theme – each of the songs (Lightleaks, Tiltshift, and Vignette) each have to do with a certain photographic technique or effect. 

    Tell us something about your track Vignette!
    Vignette actually had started out as a very upbeat track with percussion and synths – somewhat the opposite of what it eventually turned into! I had been trying to massage the song and make it work in that context, but something wasn’t really clicking, like I had been trying to force it into a box where it didn’t belong. Eventually, I just tried to break it down to the bare minimal – piano and some ambiance, and finally the track started to make a bit more sense. Adding the accompaniment of strings at the end felt like the best finishing touch to complete the song too. It’s always a surprise when writing – sometimes the music just wants to take it’s own course, and you have to let it!

    Thanks for sending me this Brad! Keep up the good work!

    For more information and updates, please check out these links:
    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Website / Spotify