• Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Dominique Charpentier

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I was born in Nîmes, an old roman city in the south of France. After living in Paris for a few years I came back to the south a few weeks ago. I live in French Provence now, in Hyères, near the sea.

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    I started playing the piano at 8. I am 30 now. 

    Do you play other instruments as well? 
    Yes! Guitar, ukulele, accordion and a few others.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I started at a young age, with private lessons. Then I had to stop because it was too expensive for my parents, but I kept playing on my own, trying to learn new pieces by ear. And I finally joined a music school when I was a young adult, to learn the fundamentals I needed, both in theory and practice.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    You mean composing piano music? I think I started in 2003, so I have been composing for 15 years now. But it is a long maturation process.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    It was pure fun and excitement and it felt as if the time has stopped. Then I thought “Wow, I am a fucking genius, like Beethoven”. Lol. I was totally mistaken of course! ☺ 

    Have you made music in other genres before?
    Yes. I am a composer for films and videogames also. So I have to compose in a lot of different genres sometimes. For example I remember creating a kind of “Indian music” track for a videogame. I love doing that, it is so much fun! 

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Easy! Originally the first ones that I loved the most and influenced me the most are Yann Tiersen, Ludovico Einaudi and Phil Glass. Then my latest influences were Fabrizio Paterlini and Olafur Arnalds. So these are still my favourite ones I think. 

    But I discovered a lot of new artists thanks to Spotify, and added the ones I really like to my “Soft Piano Playlist to Fall Asleep”. So, to be precise, all the artists that I love the most right now, are in there. If I have to name a few ones, I would say that I particularly appreciate the works of Luca Longobardi, Dirk Maassen, Simeon Walker, Daigo Hanada, Julien Marchal, Otto Totland, Dmitry Evgrafov, Mike Lazarev, Klangriket, Niklas Paschburg and Federico Albanese.

    And if I have to name the dead ones, Chopin and Schubert are my absolute favourite piano composers.

    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? 
    Yes, lately I have been playing a lot two of my compositions, “Experience” and “Raz Blanchard”.

    What song inspires you the most when you’re making music? Can you name just ONE song/composition?
    No, it is impossible to name one, because it depends on what I am composing. Anyway, I used to think of a particular piece from a composer that I like a lot when composing. But I don’t do that anymore. I think that after years of learning the process of composition and sometimes imitating consciously or unconsciously the work of other composers, I am finally free of my musical influences. Since 2016 I think. As I said, for me composition was and still is a long and slow process.

    Tell us something about you latest release.
    The favourite piece of my latest album Carnet de Voyage is “Raz Banchard”. The “Raz Blanchard” is a strait that runs between Alderney and the Cap de la Hague, on the Cotentin peninsula in Normandy (France). There, a strong current runs through the race north of the Passage de la Déroute, that can run up to about twelve knots. It is one of the most powerful in Europe.

    What’s happening next? New releases etc. 
    Right now I am working on an original soundtrack for a feature documentary, and then I will release a new piano solo EP, at the beginning of next year.

    Anything else you want to share?
    Thank you for the interview! 

    And thank you Dominique! You can find more info about him and his music on the following social media:

    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Homepage

    And of course you should listen to Dominique on Spotify!

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Richard LaBrooy – Flicker

    Today I’m gonna introduce you to one of my biggest fans! Eh, well. Not really. But Richard have been sending me songs for a couple of months, and I always enjoy hearing them! A couple of them have been featured on my Sleepy songs by others playlist (but since I’m trying to keep it to one submission per artist there might be only one of them on there now). When he sent me Flicker it was no doubt I wanted to feature it here.

    Short introduction! Richard LaBrooy is from the land down under, Melbourne to be more specific!

    I’m simply trying to push some of the boundaries of the current neoclassical language.

    Tell us something about your track Flicker!
    Flicker revolved around the idea of static memory. I wanted to try and find harmonies and melodic fragments that evoked a sense of lonely optimism. I went through a barrage of ideas, finally landing on what I have now. There was something about those chords that felt distant, yet bittersweet. I eventually decided to augment it with chamber orchestra, which always helps to push the emotion. I’m not sure if it translated how I intended, but it was definitely fun to write and sat very close with me. I don’t really believe that an artist’s original intentions should matter in the end. I think that once a piece of music is heard by someone — from that moment on, it belongs to them. It’s theirs. It means whatever they want it to mean.

    Will Flicker be featured on an album or EP soon?
    This is a single, so it’s a stand-alone release. However, there is are a line up of tracks coming over the next few months all under a very similar theme. They’re the first string of releases that I’m actively releasing, so it’s an incredibly vulnerable and exciting time. If only a few people get a chance to listen to them and see something in them worth listening to again, I’d be happy.

    Well. I’m listening! Thank you for sharing this wonderful track with us Richard!

    Please check out these following link to learn more about Richard LaBrooy and his music.
    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Evergreens with Vincent DiFrancesco – Weightless

    Today I’ll introduce you to Vincent DiFrancesco (viola) and Evergreens (Nick Goleeke, piano). They’re both from Seattle in the USA. Their history goes back to when they were in school and played together, but this collaboration presented today is their first release together.

    We both have an appreciation for minimalist, ambient electronic, and neo-classical music.

    Tell us something about Weightless!
    All three of the tracks were recorded in about 45 minutes or so in a practice room of Boston Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts, where Nick and I met for a weekend. Evergreens selected the room because the piano was fitted with felt. Everything was improvised – we did only one take of the first two tracks. In between takes though we totally fooled around laughed our heads off. And the mics were still hot so we have a lot of memorable and hilarious audio still to look back at. We had to settle down before recording again.

    There’s something really special about improvising. When I was in the room with Nick, I could feel like we were communicating in a very special way, something not possible with spoken language. When you’re nervous about what’s going to happen next but things fit together in the spontaneity of the moment – that’s what makes improvisational sessions like this so beautiful. 

    Is there a theme throughout the release?
    The theme here at first was the improvised element. For a listener to be able to hear two people essentially having a conversation musically over the course of five or so minutes is something very special. After recording however and listening through the session, Nick and I shared ideas about what kind of images or feelings we associated the pieces with. For the title track in particular, Nick had a very strong image of a figure floating or swimming in water. The idea of feeling almost weightless, submerged in water, was very powerful in this context. 

    Check out these instagram account for more information:
    Evergreens / Vincent DiFrancesco

    And if the link doesn’t work, you can find the wonderful album Weightless here!

    Thank you for your participation Evergreens and Vincent!

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Kevin Kerrigan – The Lake

    Today I’m introducing you to Kevin Kerrigan; an instrumental music artist from London, England. I came across his song The Lake a while ago, and I got curious about it!

    Tell us something about The Lake!
    One winter’s evening I switched off all the lights and stayed up all night playing the piano. This is something I do quite often (since I was a kid) but this time I decide to record it.  I would occasionally drift into semi-sleep, but keep playing..  By sunrise the album “The Moonlit Castle” was recorded,  and I went to bed. The Lake being one of the songs.

    Tell us something about this latest release of yours! Is there a theme throughout the album/EP?
    Iit’s about night time!  I wanted it to sound intimate and warm,  with soft, reflective tones and dreamlike feelings.  It’s quite thoughtful and melancholic I suppose too. None of this was planned really – it all came quite naturally due to how/when it was created.  The piano had the soft pedal down the whole time and was recorded with vintage ribbon mics which give a very soft, muted sound which is evocative of the fragile light of candles or dreamy moonlight.

    Thank you for this song, and this amazing album of yours!

    Make sure to check out these links for more information about Kevin Kerrigan!
    Twitter / Spotify

  • Stories

    About the song: Falsterbo

    Just like my previous post, about the song Arvika, this song is about one of my favorite places in the world. My wife has had this house in Falsterbo in her family for a very long time, and it’s now owned by her aunt.

    One of my favorite things about this house is that it has a piano in it. It’s not in tune and it’s not a fancy piano. But like the piano in my parents house; that doesn’t matter. It is located in one of the places where I enjoy being.

    Early in the summer of 2018 I sat down by the piano and started to play a couple of chord over and over again. I sat there for maybe an hour just listening to the chords and trying to figure out what kind of melody would fit over those chords. Then something interrupted me. And then we had to go back to our apartment in Malmö again.

    During the vacation in Arvika, like I told you in the post about the song Arvika, I only brought with me my Maschine from Native instruments with the goal to learn how it worked. The song Arvika was the first one I produced that summer, and Falsterbo was the second one. And like Arvika, the main track on this two-track single is an electronic version of the song, and the second track is a solo piano version.

    It ended up with just those four chords. Simple as that!

    On the cover art you can see my youngest son walking on the bridge over the golf course heading down to the ocean.

    Enjoy the song!

    If the playlist doesn’t work, please use this link instead!

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: William Ogmundson – Marble Halls

    Today, I’m introducing you to composer and pianist William Ogmundson from New London, New Hampshire inte the USA. 

    Tell me something about the song Marble Halls!
    I didn’t write this particular song, though I wish that I had.  It was part of an opera from 1843 by William Michael Balfe entitled The Gypsy Girl and was sung by Enya in the 90’s.  This is my solo piano version. 

    I’ve always loved this song-the lyrics are beautiful and tragic.  Unrequited love.  I recorded this in one take at pianist Greg Maroney’s studio in Pennsylvania.  That almost never happens, but after we listened to it, we both agreed that there wasn’t much point in doing multiple takes-somehow I got it right the first time around, and I figured Greg would know better than most people so I went with it. This was part of a whole day of recording, where I captured all the tracks for my upcoming CD Forevermore and also the first third or so of an Animal CD which I’ll probably finish up this spring.  

    Thank you for sharing this with us, and please check out these social links:
    Facebook / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Giuseppe Costa – Rather than words

    A few days ago I introduced you to Giuseppe Costa from Italy through Behind the piano. And today we will present his latest track to you!

    Tell us something about Rather than words!
    This song has a story. There are songs that have animated humanity regardless of gender and style, music capable of uniting people’s hearts and inspiring them in everyday life as in large companies. There are passages that enlighten people’s lives and others that orient them, so that life can be beautiful and virtuous. I think this is beautiful, and the ability of art and music to communicate in such a convincing way of sensations is fantastic. A direct and true communication, without the use of words that instead could be not understood, misinterpreted. Instead it is possible to get to the heart directly. I played this song with the ambition to get to the heart and to animate to the goodness and dissolve the conflicts, which instead prevent the heart to be able to live beautiful and even bad feelings.

    Tell us something about this latest release of yours! Is there a theme throughout the album/EP?
    After my album Recital which includes 5 50-minute improvisations in 5 consecutive days, I decided to take a break from extensive projects and publish several EPs. Currently I publish one every 10 days.

    If the playlist doesn’t work, here’s a link instead!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Giuseppe Costa

    Giuseppe was one of the first persons to contact me about playlist placements a couple of months ago. We had a bit of a language barrier when making this interview and had to use Google Translate a lot, but I hope you understand most of it!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am Italian and I live in Sicily, in a small town. Where I live there are no great possibilities and today the cultural situation in Italy is really poor. The space dedicated to pianists and composers is reduced to almost nothing. If you do not have a manager behind an important record company, you do not do anything, especially if you are not chasing a standard but try to express yourself for a greater love THE MUSIC and also those who listen to you. I trust the possibilities of the network and I really say it. My music is heard in America, Australia, Spain, France, Mexico and even in Italy. And I hope to receive a bigger response and offer more and more, but not for a protagonism but to allow me to offer something important.

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    I started studying music at the age of 18, much later than many other pianists who started playing pretty early, but I always liked music and I wanted to become a jazz player. I was not a child prodigy, but I think I have guessed early enough that making music has to do with sounds and especially with the senses, with the exploration of what we have in a subtle communication that becomes a spiritual bridge with a deep peace. I firmly believe that music understood as an art has an effect on others. Stravinsky in his poem states: “The unity of the work has a resonance: which our soul perceives, it resounds little by little. […] music appears to us as an element of communion with neighbor, and with Being “.

    Do you play other instruments as well?
    No, I don’t play other instruments, but I am fascinated by almost every instrument and I’m trying to fulfill my desire when I write for orchestra, for chamber training, for solo instrument. It’s only the piano and only with this tool that I find an identity.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    The desire to hear sounds was too strong, I was not interested in anything else. I had to play.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I am 42 years old, and have been playing for 22 years. My first concert was about 16 years ago, my first recording project about 12 years ago.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I started studying late and surely this puts you in front of so many difficulties. Writing and expressing myself with music has always been a need, not something I have chosen but something that I had to do. I do not know if there is something that has convinced me that I must write but I feel inside the conviction of doing it to try to make the sensation feel and to share my thoughts with others. I believe the concept of making music today is instrumental, commercial I would like to show between music not to do with all this but it is a more spiritual need.

    Have you made music in other genres before?
    I have not ventured into other genres apart from contemporary music, but in my music there’s some jazz! As a child I loved Jimi Hendrix very much, but it is difficult to play it on the piano.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Definitely Keith Jarrett is my point of reference and I deeply love Brad Mehldau, Maurizio Pollini, and Marta Argerich.

    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?
    When I sit at the piano I like to improvise, but two songs that I like to play are L’arabesque No. 1 by Debussy and the Sonatina by Ravel.

    What song inspires you the most when you’re making music? Can you name just ONE song/composition?
    The album “Sun Bear Concert” by K. Jarrett.

    Tell us something about your Recital album.
    I cannot play the songs in this album, but recently I recorded an ambitious album at least as the “Sun Bear Concert” is called “Recital” and there are 5 improvisations from 50 minutes and performed in 5 different days. It is a very ambitious project because I created these pieces but starting from nothing without a starting motive, or something I had written before and every improvisation is completely different from one another. I would like to put this joy of mine to improvise!

    Anything else you want to share?
    A wish! Play at Carnegie Hall!

    Thank you Giuseppe!

    You can find more info about him and his music on the following links:
    Facebook / Facebook / Instagram 

    And of course on Spotify!

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Jon Winterstein – Conjectures

    Today I want to introduce you to Jon Winterstein, a German composer, artist, performer and songwriter. He has been writing and making music in different genres over the last six or seven years, at first with the guitar as the main instrument, and now also on the piano.

    When composing piano music, I want to take the listener with me on an emotional journey through new as well as long-known lands.

    Tell us something about Conjectures!
    The main theme of “Conjectures” is uncertainty. That is pretty much all I can say, everything else is subject to interpretation.

    Is the track part of a bigger release?
    I am planning on releasing an EP within the first quarter of this year. Conjectures was intended to be the first single release of that EP, but since I have already recorded quite a number of tracks, this could change.

    Thank you for this wonderful song Jon! Please check out instagram and Spotify for more information and MORE music!