• Spotted!

    Spotted: Jean Bell – Luna

    Today I’m introducing you to the composer Jean Bell and his track Luna. Jean is originally from Panama, but have also lived in Norway. He is now located in France. Jeans is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist and composer.

    The track Luna was released as a single on the 2nd of July, 2021.

    Tell us something about your track Luna!
    To write Luna, I took a different approach to my previous releases and wrote the way I usually write pop songs on guitar.I wanted to write a minimal, soft piece. Almost a lullaby, with a simple but strong, catchy melodic line. Each note well-spaced out, allowing them to breathe and reverberate.This reminds me in some ways of a quote by Mozart: “The music is not in the notes but in the silence between”. I think that sometimes, for some songs, less is more, and I think that’s the case with Luna.For ambiance and to add a touch of melancholy, I used a good amount of reverb; I think it adds a dreamy texture to the track. Cinematic feel as well.But above the musical theory and technical aspects of songwriting and recording, the most important thing to me is how the song makes me feel as I’m playing it while writing. If you use instinct, the song will evolve naturally. Almost magically into what it is meant to be.The melody and overall feel must move me and awaken emotions, otherwise, it is not telling me a story.

    Thank you very much for this Jean!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Frerick Den Haan

    I havre written about a lot of Frericks songs in the past so it was about time we could do a Behind the piano post about him! Let’s start!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am from The Netherlands. The Hague to be precisely.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I started to play the piano when I was 7. Over the course of years I also learned to play guitar, bass, drums and recorder. 

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    I was always more fascinated by improvising than to ‘play by the book’. I grew up listening to funk and jazz and got really influenced by my uncle who played tunes of Oscar Peterson on the piano. I really loved trying to make up songs on my own. In my late twenties I received proper education at the conservatory in Utrecht with regards to jazz piano. That and my well-developed solfege technique helped me tremendously in my creative process of writing new music. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I composed my first song when I was 12 years old for my first grungeband. 

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    It felt damn good, and it unlocked some endless hunger to create more and more.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    One of my all time favorites is Dutch pianist and composer Michiel Borstlap followed by Chilly Gonzalez. I also really like Jordane Tumarinson; a composer from France. 

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    Pfff, that really depends on the mood I think. Lately I have been playing the song White Keys by Chilly Gonzalez a lot. I really like to vibe of that song. When I am in the mood for practise I play compositions from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. When it rains I play some of my own melodies over again.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    That we should stop labeling music. 

    How do you record your music?
    I prefer to do this at home. Big studio’s give me instant pressure.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    They’re getting much better. I haven’t used them yet for a solo release, but I have added VST’s in other productions. 

    The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from?
    From the small things I daily encounter

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Steve Luck – Small Song Of Hope

    Today I’m presenting you with another great track by the British composer and piano player Steve Luck from Newcastle upon Tyne. You can read a lot more about Steve and his music here!

    The track Small Songs of Hope was released as a single on the 29th of June, but will also be part of an upcoming album in October, 2021.

    Tell us something about your track Small Song of Hope!
    Most of my music explores the boundaries between melancholy and hope. I love mixing major and minor chords in close proximity. This piece is the archetype for the style of music that will be released on the album. It’s a piano miniature, slow paced and played on my felted Kawai upright piano. Hopefully the listener feels a sense of poignancy, tinged with a little bit of hope. Thanks for listening.

    Thank you very much Steve!

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Aija Alsina – I Hope You Live

    Today I’m introducing you to the Latvian composer and piano player Aija Alsina and her track I Hope You Live. Aija comes fram Riga and has played the piano since the age of six. Aside from playing the piano; Aija has also played the bass guitar in several indie- and rock bands! Currently Aija is focusing on modern classical composition work for film, commercial and standalone releases.

    The track I Hope You Live is the first single from the upcoming album Creation to be released later in 2021. 

    Tell us something about your track I Hope You Live!
    “I Hope You Live” is the first single and also the track that opens the whole album (and closes too, but an EDIT version of it), thus following a journey from the moment you find out you are expecting, until the day you meet your little one. It is difficult to separate one composition from the rest of the album, as the whole is based on a very personal experience. Like never before, after becoming a mother myself, I have become sensitive and emotional towards all the child-related pain in the world. “I Hope You Live” therefore is the composition that best conveys my worries and hopes, and is dedicated to all the women who struggle to become mothers, to every lost unborn or born child, and to every unloved child. My heart goes out to them. 

    Thank you very much for this Aija!

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: River Camille – Elevate

    Today I’m presenting you with the composer and piano player David Shoults and his moniker River Camille with the track Elevate. David was born in Calgary in Canada but is now located in Halifax where he works as a full time musician and indie label owner.

    The track Elevate was released as a single on the 30th os June, 2021.

    Tell us something about your track Elevate!
    I wrote and recorded Elevate in the spur of the moment in one take at 2am a couple of months ago. Due to COVID, it has been nearly 2 years since I have seen my mother, the person in my life who has elevated me more than anyone else. I harnessed that emotion to create Elevate, a song about longing, love, and gratitude.

    Thank you very much David!

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Norse Mythology – You in Midair

    Today I’m introducing you to the track You in Midair by the very secretive composer and piano player Norse Mythology. I’ll leave it to him/her to explain!

    Norse Mythology is a project that explores the magnified sound world of piano. The project debuts with a calm, meditative neoclassical piece. Inspired by the theme of loss and disconnection, You in Midair is an intimate piano record that soothes and binds. The title comes from the lyrics of Frank Sinatra’s classic Send in the Clowns: 

    Me here at last on the ground
    You in mid-air
    Where are the clowns?

    In the current state of affairs, the sense of loss is familiar to many people. The piano can breath hope into our senses, can alleviate our wounds and inspire us. Recorded on an upright Yamaha, this simple piece resonates with our deep needs of reconnection and intimacy. A soft and slow piano melody leads thought a series of smooth chords and dreamy harmonies. The major key evokes elation and optimism through repeated iterations of the theme. I hope this record will inspire hope, delight and peace to the audience. 

    Thank you for this lovely track!

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Emma Jackson – Ada

    Today I’m presenting you with the track Ada by the British composer and piano player Emma Jackson. Emma lives in London and is drawn to making music to help calm the mind.

    I think the world we live in is a very busy and stressful place, and we could all do with having a moment to breathe and release from our day, no matter what our situation is. 

    The track Ada is released on the album Piano Mindfulness 2, which was released on June 24th, 2021.

    Tell us something about your track Ada!
    This is my track called Ada. I recorded this track over the Christmas lockdown at home, and had fun sticking tennis balls, strips of paper and curtain chains in the strings to create a unique sound to the track! Whether you close your eyes, light a candle, or play it to help you study, use this track to help calm and focus you. Enjoy!

    Thank you Emma!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Matthew Paull

    Today we’ll go Behind the piano and meet the composer of the track Muriwai, Matt Paull!

    Let’s go!

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    As it happens, in every other aspect of my life people call me ‘Matt’, so when it came to choosing a name to release piano music under,  I thought I’d do something a bit different and release it under my full name.

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I’m from Taupo, in New Zealand, but I’ve been living in Berlin since 2016.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I come from a family of music teachers, so I started playing Piano when I was 8 years old, then I added Drums, Guitar, Trombone, Vocals and a few other instruments to the roster throughout the years.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I started with regular Classical Piano lessons, working my way up through the graded exam system, before studying Jazz Piano at the University of Auckland.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I’ve been on and off experimenting with writing music since I was a teenager, but after a long break from that, in 2020 it suddenly became more interesting to me, and I began writing pieces that I felt I’d actually like to share with people.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    It was during 2020 that I wrote and released my first full-length piano piece, ‘Dreamboat’, and it was the reaction to that from friends and colleagues in the music industry that made me think I might actually be not too bad at this.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    In the age of Playlists I find you end up listening to so many different artists that it’s harder to pick out favourites, but I would say some stand-out favourites of mine include Nils Frahm, Tom Ashbrook, Akira Kosemura, and from the wider pianist/composer sphere; Bill Evans, Joe Hisaishi and Brad Mehldau.

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    I wouldn’t say over and over again, but sometimes I tend to warm up on something like ‘Ambre’ by Nils Frahm, it’s a beautiful piece of music where the harmonic shape is so fluid that in the middle of playing it you tend to forget what the original key sounded like, things like this get my head in the right space for writing.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    If anyone ever tells you you need to record piano music a certain way to be successful, walk away. I’ve had success with recordings on pianos where I had to take my shoes off and stuff my socks under the sustain pedal to reduce the pedal noise, or softened the hammer sound with pillow cases and cardigans. I’ve even recorded piano using the voice-memo feature on an iPhone. That ended up on someone’s album and it sounded fantastic.  

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    If anyone ever tells you you need to record piano music a certain way to be successful, walk away. I’ve had success with recordings on pianos where I had to take my shoes off and stuff my socks under the sustain pedal to reduce the pedal noise, or softened the hammer sound with pillow cases and cardigans. I’ve even recorded piano using the voice-memo feature on an iPhone. That ended up on someone’s album and it sounded fantastic.  

    How do you record your music?
    I usually record it all myself, I just need to find places with a piano I like. My first song ‘Dreamboat’ was recorded on a good friends piano in a small studio in Berlin, my next two releases were recorded in my hometown at a local performance venue, shout-out to the Great Lake Center in Taupo.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    Other than being a pianist, I also work as a producer, so in that world sampled instruments are of course a way of life. When it comes to the piano genre, I think there is some fantastic software out there like Keyscape, Noire etc, but for recordings I prefer to use the real thing, although the software does come in handy for writing and making demos.  

    Anything else you want to share?
    Thank you Johan for the questions, and thank you to anyone out there who has taken the time to listen to my music, it means the world to me.

    The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from?

    Great question! Usually when it comes to chords, I can come up with chord progressions I like quite quickly, when it comes to melodies I have to let that happen a bit more naturally, a lot of the time I’ll think of melodies when I’m not at the piano, so I’ll sing it into my phone so I won’t forget it.  

    Thank you very much for your participation, Matt!

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Evan Wise – For Jordy

    Today I’m introducing you to the track For Jordy by the American composer and piano player Evan Wise. Evan comes from a small town in Texas with just 400 citizens and fought hard to go to the university where he could study music. He now lives in Los Angeles and writes music for television and movies.

    The track For Jordy was released on June 2nd of 2021.

    Tell us something about your track For Jordy!
    My latest release For Jordy is a love letter to my daughter Jordy who is due in September of 2021. I am extremely excited to become a father and I wrote this piece thinking about sharing it with her as she grows up. I muted the piano by draping a baby blanket over the strings and the result was a lovely warm lush sound. I also extended the use of the damper pedal to create some more interesting atmospheric sounds once I heard how clear the recording was becoming, although I have gotten some criticism for the ambience. But as traditional as my music can be I like to include an off kilter element because it reflects my personality and is poetic to my philosophical beliefs.

    Thank you very much for this Evan!

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Tewksbury – Sitaantaago Elegy

    Today I’m introducing you to the American pianist and composer Tewksbury from Hamilton, Canada. Tewksbury has been a musician for his entire life even though this project is fairly new.

    The track Sitaantaago Elegy is taken from the album Paths, which was released in June 2021.

    Tell us something about your track Sitaantaago Elegy!
    The song ‘Sitaantaago Elegy’. It comes from the Sitaantaago Glacier (more commonly called the Mendenhall Glacier) in Juneau Alaska.  I was lucky to spend a few weeks in Juneau in Alaska, this place that feels unreal how big and empty and raw it is, housesitting for a friend, and my daughters and I went hiking almost every single day while we were there.  

    Seeing a glacier in real life is stunning, and you’re never really prepared for it, since it makes you reflect on time, and your place in this time on the earth. The Sitaantaago Glacier is in accelerated retreat due to climate change, and as you hike in to it, you pass rock cairns that mark where the glacier was at different times in history – 1700, 1800, 1924, 1956, 1988.  It’s retreated 2.5 miles so far, so you keep experiencing how large it once was as you, yourself, move through space. It’s stunning, and dire, and within a few decades the glacier will be gone.  It’s sobering to experience a thing that is almost certainly already dead.  In this song, I wanted to write a farewell, and to say goodbye with a beautiful moment. It’s a dark place to go, but I see beauty in it, and I hope that people who hear this song do, too.

    Thank you very much for this!