• Spotted!

    Spotted: Rob Simonsen – Spectre

    Today I’m introducing you to American composer Rob Simonsen. Rob grew up in Missouri with pianos all around the house. He comes from a musical family and started playing music from a pretty young age.

    The name of this song instantly reminded me about James Bond (I’m a big fan!) and the mood of the song is also kind of James Bond. Or, well. I guess James Bond also gets sad every once in a while.

    The song was released as a single in June , but will also be featured on an upcoming album scheduled for September 2019.

    Tell us something about your song Spectre!
    I think it started out as a piano improvisation and then I arranged for strings and brass and we also recorded an Ondes Martenot and choir. And everyone was playing in unison and then Stan Neff (producer, engineer, mixer) and I started working on blends and we ended up only using the piano for a small amount and it became this sort of more string based, ethereal, otherworldly track. 

    Thank you for sending me this very cinematic song Rob!

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

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Kepa Lehtinen

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am from Finland, and I live in east Helsinki (the poor side of town).

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I have been playing piano since I was a child. I also played drums, when I was younger. Nowadays I usually play different types of synthesizers, theremin and piano.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    First I played classical piano music in childhood. Then I was a teenager, I started playing drums and synthesizer, and finishes playing classical music. We had a garage bands with my friends. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I started making music at my band, and it was really undergroud stuff. I got 4-recorder, and started to record my own music. 

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I studied film and sound design at Finland’s Aalto University. I worked as a sound editor and designer, but more and more I found myself as a film music composer . 

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Ryuichi Sakamotos Playing the piano is my all time favourite piano album

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    Mostly I don’t play piano, but I compose with piano – there is a difference. I kind of play what comes in mind and usually it is rubbish but sometimes there is gems too.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    I think, that my own broken rules are, that even I have studied playing piano I have never studied composing. I have studied sound design and film that is my musical background.

    How do you record your music?
    I have an own company with my friend (Helsingin ääniraita oy) for music, movie sound desing and mixing. We have a state of art studio in Helsinki.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments? 
    I use them all the time for commercials and tv. I own many cool sampled pianos and Spectrasonics Keyscape is my favourite today. 

    Anything else you want to share?  
    Skateboarding is my favourite hobby. I started when i was over 40 and nowadays i skate allmost everyday. In winter we have neat skatehall in east Helsinki.

    Thank you for this Kepa!

    For more information and updates about Kepa, check out these following links:
    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Biba Dupont – Venice is falling asleep

    Today I’m introducing you (again!) to the Spanish duo Biba Dupont, consisting of Helga Blanco and Xalo Gayoso. One of the more productive duos out here I would say. Here we have a wonderful little piano piece called Venice is falling asleep. And I’ll let them introduce you to the song!

    Please tell us something about your track Venice is falling asleep!
    Venice is falling asleep is part of an EP, 10pm train to Venice. The EP is based on a night travel we did when we met, from Venice to Zagreb, on an old post sovietic wagon. We slept in that train and the three tracks represents three moments of that travel: the sunset on Venice, full of light, falling slowly into the night, the dreams and concentration sleeping in that train (they asked for the passports with a gun in their hands!) and, finally, arriving to Zagreb, a city full of colours. The train arrived just front of a big traditional market, early in the morning, so we had an extraordinary breakfast. 

    It was a very difficult and exigent track. We had different parts well glued but a bad beginning. We had to tried with different startings until we discover the current start, wich we think express the feeling of a strong light, the kind of light you only find near by the sea…As every composer knows, sometimes music writes for itself and sometimes you have to rewrite over and over. 

    We normally write all the track (pen and paper) before recording anything at our studio. Until we have a strong pianist version we don’t try to record it. We need to think it could be playable everyplace everymoment. Then, when we have the piano version we start to record and produce, focusing on timbre, adding deepness and richness. The recording of this track was amazingly fast, we had it in one or two hours! After weeks writing it! 

    Thank you Biba, and keep up the very good work!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: ABBOTT – Never been away

    Today I’m introducing you to ABBOTT, a dutch composer based in Hamburg, Germany. ABBOTT loves classical music and is also a huge film nerd (cineast might be a better word?).

    When my friends were listening to Pharell Williams and Bruno Mars I was listening to the soundtrack of the Shawshank Redemption and Forrest Gump.

    He works as a composer for the entertainment industry but occasionally finds time to write music for himself.

    Tell us something about your track Never been away!
    I would compose on my old, out-of-tune piano I got from my parents. They brought it all the way over from the Netherlands to my studio in Germany. When I finish a general idea of a song I’ll go and arrange the strings. That’s really my favorite part of the process. I really like the piano but my heart belongs to the strings. After two years of working on it, I finally finished all of the songs and I’m going to release my debut album end of this year. The album is going to be Neo-Classical but more theatrical and cinematic. Influences range from Max Richter to Jóhann Jóhannsson. The sound in general is organic and dark, melancholic and intimate, and are marked by my love towards film music. 

    ‘Never Been Away’ is the first single of this album. It’s inspired by an old Irish love story. It doesn’t have a happy end but it is also not a sad story. I’m not going to get in too much detail because I really like if my listeners make up there own stories in their heads. 

    Thank you for sharing this with us!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Justin Hunter – Anywhere Elsewhere

    Today I’m introducing you to the latest single by Justin Hunter, which I have spotted befor here. Justin is an Australian composer from the Blue Mountains. He’s currently traveling through Sweden (but we haven’t managed to meet yet).

    The track Anywhere Elsewhere is released as a single, but will also be featured on an upcoming album later this year.

    The working theme throughout the album was to keep my sound raw, perfectly unperfected. I wanted an album full and rich in vibe and feels. No room for production or in making my sound less organic. It is a full recording of just me and the piano. 

    Tell us something about your track Everywhere Elsewhere!
    I recorded the album in Riverwood / NSW. It was more a feeling I was trying to capture. “Anywhere Elsewhere was something that I wanted to have the feeling of a summer vacation. A getaway mood, similar to when you start dreaming of traveling. 

    Thank you for this Justin!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: William Ogmundson – Into the Distance

    Some people release music mor often then others. William Ogmundson is one of those who constantly release new music, and who am I to decline a spotted post just because you’re “too creative”? William is an American composer from New Hampshire, and you can read more about him here!

    Into the Distance is featured on his latest album La Vie En Coluleurs (I think it might be French, and without knowing French at all I would translate it to The colors of life). The album was released in June 2019.

    Tell us something about your track Into the Distance!
    Into the distance was recorded at Greg Maroney’s studio in Pennsylvania.  I was in the process of recording my album La Vie en Couleurs when I noticed a wooden box sitting in the corner.  Greg explained it was a shruti box and how it was a drone that worked off of below like a harmonium, so of course I had to try it out!  (Greg had a really cool former life where he made a living playing middle eastern music for a belly dancing troupe, but that’s another story).

    So, Greg played the shruti box drone, and I improvised a piano part over it, which became Into the Distance. I tried my hand at the shruti as well and Greg played piano, which became his new single Heart of Darkness.  The pieces were like yin and yang-mine was light and cheery-his very dark and brooding, which I found fascinating, since we were both just improvising over the same two-note drone (G and D).  I thought it was cool to subtly combine eastern and western cultures on a song, and I’ve never attempted a song before that doesn’t have a chord progression, chorus, bridge, or any of the formal elements of composition.  It seems to have a centeredness, a feeling of calm, that is unlike anything else I’ve come up with.  

    Thank you again for sharing your music with us William!

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

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Michael Ottosson

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I come from Sweden and grew up on the countryside really. Didn’t realize it then, but it gave me so much in terms of like everything. Nowadays, after having lived in Stockholm and Gothenburg for ten years, I can’t wait to head back into the wild again.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I’ve been playing piano for as long as I can remember. I have some photos of me as a kid, standing up trying to reach the keys, just dressed in a diaper! So music has been there forever. I started playing the viola when I was six years old and did that for ten years. At the age of 9, I started taking piano lessons and ultimately, that was my calling.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    We had a fantastic upright piano at home and when I was a teenager, I started experimenting with electric pianos and synthesizers as well. I had classical training, both on the viola and piano, right from the start. It’s been an invaluable background for me as a musician, composer and arranger but I didn’t believe it back then. However, all those years reading music and playing in orchestras eventually payed off!

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I’ve always found myself sketching out ideas by the piano. I’ve composed and produced music in different styles, but it always starts by the piano. It wasn’t until very recently I realized the piano itself was enough. I could tell a story and having it all done by just a piano. I guess things happen in life where your focus shifts and I this was really such a moment.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    Small fragments of musical ideas have always popped up in my head, for as long as I can remember. But yeah, that first time I was able to write it down, combine it with something else and then compose a song…to be able to express something, and see/hear a reaction in yourself or someone else…that’s just fantastic!

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I listen to a lot of Joep Beving’s work. Max Richter, Olafur Arnalds and Chad Lawson also find their way into my playlists. There are so many incredibly talented new composers as well and I’m happy to see this genre grow even more!

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    I tend just to let my fingers go and not think about what I’m playing. I’ve always been really bad at practice my weak spots. Throughout school and ever since, I find myself just ’sketching’…maybe it’s all just some therapy to make me feel better. And, that was sort of the idea behind my new album ”In time we’ll be”. Songs that comes from within without all these filters and the brain stopping it before it even has a chance to be heard. But I love experimenting in G minor, so a lot of my songs starts there.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    Hm, I don’t know about rules, but I can say that music has to have an origin. It has to come to life because of something. It has to reflect something and it has to be true. The listener has to feel like ’this means something’. As long as that’s in place, let’s brake all the rules there is! Let’s get inspired by each other and the way we make music and let’s never be afraid to bring out the flaws and imperfections.

    How do you record your music?
    I’m recording everything by myself, at home. ”In time we’ll be” was recorded on my Yamaha upright and mixed by me. In bigger projects I do all the writing at home but use studios for recording overdubs and other parts.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I love them! I love what they’ve become and what they can do to help us in early production. But, in the end, nothing beats the original. The way we play our instruments is way too personal and can never be captured in a sampled instrument. On my album, all the squeaky noises from the piano, my breathing, my somewhat bad sustain pedal and the hammers hitting the strings, it all just made these songs more alive and true to me.

    Anything else you want to share?
    Music is the way we can communicate truly in a world of so much distortion and stress. Whether you write music, or listen to it, to laugh, cry, believe, hope, love or whatever…just do it and do it with all your heart!

    Thank you for this wonderful talk Michael!

    For more information about Michael and his music, please check out these following links:
    Instagram / Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Daniel Blacksmith – Química

    I’m always a bit frighted when the first thing I hear in a submission is a guitar. But I always listen through the entire song, even if I later decide to decline it. This time, however, I’m more than happy to introduce you to Spanish composer Daniel Herrera Torres a.k.a. Daniel Blacksmith and his song Química.

    As the song evolves a lot of different instruments take a chance to introduce themself. Guitar and strings first, but then comes the piano and the circle is complete.

    Química is released on the EP Química y Contexto: Destino which is Daniels debut.

    Tell us something about your song Química!
    I recorded and mixed the full album at my own studio. I recorded and delete the classical guitar of this song four times becuase I could not found the right sound. I had to changed the guitar, the microphone and my nails shape to found it. You can see that to be audio engineer, producer and musician at the same time is not a good idea. 

    The full album is composed following the same process: First I think and write about the main concept. Then I use the structure of the text to create the song’s structure, melodies and other musical staff. In other words, I try to translate my reflections about a concept to music. 

    Thank you for this Daniel!

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

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Lihla – Skeleton woman

    Today I’m introducing you to Australian born composer and pianist Lihla, now basen in Berlin, Germany. Lihla is a classically trained cellist and pianist, and has done lots of work for theater (contemporary circus and dance theatre).

    The track Skeleton woman is tasken from the EP Null which was released in the beginning of July 2019.

    This EP is a collection is neo-classical pieces that were featured in soundtracks for stage. I realised that I had been composing so much music that was only ever heard within the walls of the theatre. I never recorded any of the live pieces, so when the shows were over, so was the life of the music. This is my way of keeping these stories alive. 

    Tell us something about your track Skeleton woman!
    I like to create little sonic wombs of sound effect and sound scape for really lush melodies. Like an audio magic realist story. I like to play with intricate shifting layers of harmony. Cello had always been my main voice, but I’ve been finding an nostalgic comfort with my piano voice over the last few years – it actually was my first instrument (all those thirty something years ago!)
    The skeleton woman is an inuit tale, retold by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. It’s a tale of healing through compassion – for the self, for others, and for the cyclic nature of life and love. 

    Thank you for sharing this with us Lihla!

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