• Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Nathan Madsen

    Today we go Behind the piano to meed the American composer and piano player Nathan Madsen!

    Where are you from? And where do you live? 
    I grew up in the Dallas/Fort Worth area but now live in Austin, TX. 

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well? 
    I started playing the piano at a very young age but for the first few years I was just improvising. This was in kindergarten. I couldn’t read music but I recognized how to make certain sounds on the keyboard that I enjoyed. My grandfather, a professor of music at a local seminary, recognized my natural ability and got me into piano lessons. I kept up piano for a number of years then dropped out to start saxophone in middle school. I also play some ukulele, guitar, trombone, flute and clarinet. Singing in choirs and quartets is also something I’ve done. But I would say my two main instruments are piano and saxophone. 

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    It started at a young age just making things up and then grew from there. I come from a very musical family, with several college professors or professional musicians on my mother’s side. Being in choir, ensembles and discussing music was something we would do often. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    For about 30 years. 

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    My mother has a story of me playing one of the Beethoven sonatas and she heard me do something that wasn’t in the piece. “It sounds better this way” was my response when she asked about it. I don’t know if I ever “realized” I could make music, I’ve just always done it. 

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I’m a huge Windham Hill fan. I grew up listening to my dad’s copy of “The First Ten Years” collection over and over. I really like George Winston, Michele McLaughlin, David Nevue and so many others. 

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    Oddly enough, no. I tend to play something new just about every time. Or just improvise. I do play a lot of out the Real Book since I spent years being in jazz ensembles and combos. 

    What rules (in making music) need to be broken?
    I’m a big fan of knowing the rules then letting go of that structure and doing what feels right. What sounds good. We often forget that music theory came afterwards. Composers and musicians did what they felt sounded good and worked for their own time and after that, academics came along and placed labels on those common practices. So while it’s certainly useful to know and study music theory, following your heart and soul is usually the best call. After all, we’re making music to touch and impact others.  

    How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
    I run my own studio out of my home and have a full rig. I perform, record and produce everything I do. 

    What’s your take on sampled instruments?
    They’re a valuable tool that can be highly effective when used well. Especially with regards to my orchestral or large(r) ensemble work, sampled instruments are vital to pulling that sort of thing off. Most of my clients don’t have the time or budget to hire a full orchestra every time they want music. Virtual instruments help make that happen for them. 

    Anything else you want to share? 
    I really appreciate all of the support and listens from everyone! It means so much!

    Thank you very much Nathan!

    For more information, check out Nathans website!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Luis Paul

    A while back I posted about the track Loneliness by the German composer and piano player Luis Paul. Today we go Behind the piano to get to know him a bit better!

    What’s your real name? 
    My real name is Ludwig Paul Karsch – I‘m named after my two grandfathers Ludwig and Paul. 

    How did you come up with your artist name? 
    I‘ve always liked the name „Luis“ and it is the spanish version of my real name Ludwig. The french version „Louis“ can also be translated with „Ludwig“. And Paul is simply my second name and I liked the sound of the combination of both. 

    Where are you from? And where do you live? 
    I was born in Bayreuth and grew up in a small city named Kulmbach in the southern part of Germany. After Highschool and a few stays in other cities I moved to Berlin to study music production and I‘m living here since 10 years now and I really love the city. 

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well? 
    I started playing the piano when I was around 6 years old and I played the violin for a few years when I was a teenager but I think for my environment it‘s better that I stopped with that one 😀 But maybe I‘ll try it again sometime. In a soundproof chamber.
    Besides the violin I‘m sometimes singing for projects but not very often and there are also some instruments which I‘m about to learn like Guitar and drums because these are often useful too. 

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    My parents noticed early that I had a very good hearing and that I didn‘t just hit random keys like most of the other children at that age. I was lucky enough to have parents who supported me and my dreams and who could afford to buy a piano. I‘m very thankful and don‘t take that for granted. 

    How long have you been making piano music? 
    I making piano music since I first touched a piano, so maybe it started when I was around 5 or 6 years old. But I‘m not only making piano music, although most of my songs are piano led. But my big love is actually film music. I love to get lost in stories and feelings to create what I call the „soundtrack of life“ and that also includes orchestral instruments and synthetic sounds. But of course this opportunity was added at a later stage. 

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself! 
    Actually I realized that before I ever played a song by somebody else. The first song I ever played on the piano was my own. I tried to combine the keys that I liked and which sounded nice to me. I remember my mother coming through the door to see, who is playing the piano and if we had a visitor. At first she couldn‘t believe that it was me. 

    I remember a feeling of „getting lost in the moment“ and pure excitement and happiness as I played. 

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”? 
    Of course I like the music from artists most people know like Ólafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm and Max Richter but also from composers from the romantic era like Chopin. And I absolutely love filmmusic of any kind. 

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    Not really, I‘d rather let my feelings and mood hit the keys. 

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken? 
    Every single one. I think there is only one rule that needs to be followed which is: As long as it sounds great and gets you where you want to be, everything is allowed. Of course there are always harmonic patterns or structures you subconsciusly compose by but I would call them guidelines, not rules. They can help but sometimes they don‘t. And if it helps always break the rules. 

    How do you record your music?
    I opened up my own studio in Berlin-Schöneberg with 2 friends some years ago and thats also where I compose and produce my songs. I do everything myself but I studied music production and it is my main job therefore the recordings should meet professional standards. 

    Whats your take on sampled instruments? 
    There are very good programs with natural sounds and the quality at the moment is stunnigly high, so why not. But it depends on how you want your music to sound. My music is often a mixture between well sampled Instruments and real recordings. 

    Anything else you want to share? 
    I believe music is there to connect people and it can strengthen empathy since it doesn‘t just describe feelings but can let other people feel what you feel. But of course how we perceive music depends on many factors like our listening habits and the culture we grow up in. These factors form your taste and what your own music will sound like. Therefore your „own“ music is never really just your own since it is always also a collective expression of the world you grew up in. 

    The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 
    They come from my life, the people I met, the people I love, the ones that have left and the stories I shared with all of them. They come from my imagination, my fantasy, my dreams and my heart. 

    Thank you very much for this!

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

  • 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

  • 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!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Daniel Rosenholm

    Back in April of 2021 I wrote a little something about Davids song La Solitude, but today the focus is entirely on the piano artist! Lets have a talk with Daniel Rosenholm!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I’m originally from Åkersberga outside Stockholm, Sweden. After a couple of years of moving around different locations I’ve finally landed in Dalarö, south of Stockholm in the archipelago.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I started playing piano around the age of 10, but when I was a teenager guitar became my main instrument. During many years I only played keyboard in the studio when producing music, so I kind of forgot about the piano until a couple of years ago when I started making music for film. It made me really rediscover the piano and now it’s my main instrument again.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    As a kid we had an acoustic guitar and a piano at home, my mom sang and played and it really tempted me to try it out. Later on in the teens we started bands. We were quite early in my house with getting a computer, and I quickly learned how to make music on it and I haven’t looked back since.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    If we talk about piano music where the piano is the main focus, it’s about 3 years since I started to make more and more instrumental, piano based music.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I remember sitting with our guitar in my early teens trying to learn the chords of a song, but it was too hard, so instead of learning to play that song I wrote my own with the few chords I had learned so far. And that’s how I continued, I learned to play the instruments by writing songs and composing.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I think Agnes Obel is an amazing artist, composer and pianist, don’t know if she counts in the ”piano genre” but she has a couple of wonderful solo piano pieces. Other than her I’d say Jan Johansson and Joep Beving. But I also have to mentioned that this genre is flooded today by so many excellent pianists! I discover new ones all the time, there so much amazing talent out there!

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    I enjoy playing my song La Solitude, because it has nice flow in it, it’s quite meditative to play, really great if I’ve had a stressful day. I’m not so good at playing other peoples music, I don’t read sheet music, so I still experience music the way I did when I was learning it in the beginning, by composing.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    I don’t think there’s one specific rule that needs to be broken. But I believe that good music benefits from having a combination of elements that breaks rules and others that follows rules. 

    How do you record your music?
    I record my music mostly at home. I have a guest house where I have a my music gear, except for my piano which is in my house in the living room. I also have a corner in the house where I have a midi-keyboard and all the necessary stuff to quickly record ideas or when I need to practice quietly.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I like them, I love to sample instruments myself, there’s lots of creative stuff you can do with sampled instruments. I’ve actually created my own sample library from my living room piano, it’s called November Piano and I’ve shared it for free on pianobook.co.uk. That said, there’s something really special sitting with a real instrument, the way the instruments starts to vibrate and spread in the room, the atmosphere that’s created when the room and the instrument becomes a unity. That’s something that’s, I’m not gonna say impossible, but very hard to recreate in a sampled instrument.

    Anything else you want to share? 
    I’d like to encourage everyone to learn to play an instrument, it will give you lots of pleasure and can help you through hard times, playing an instrument is really meditative and extra important these days when we need find activities that keep our eyes off all the screens that surround us and constantly fighting for our attention.

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

    I gather inspiration from many sources. All the music I listen to, the books I read and the movies I watch are like seeds that’s planted in my head and eventually grows to songs that appears to me when I least expect it. So I always make sure I have my phone with the voice memo app close to me so I can catch the songs when they come to me.

    Thank you very much for the David!

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

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: David Pepper

    A while back I wrote about the song Afon by the British composer and piano player David Pepper. Today we go Behind the piano to get to know the person behind the song a bit better!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am from Fishguard, which is a coastal town in West Wales within the County of Pembrokeshire which is home to the Uk’s only Coastal National Park. After studying at Dartington College of Arts in Devon, England  and also living abroad in Reykjavik, Iceland I am now back and based in Fishguard where I work as a musician, composer, pianist & curator of cultural events. 

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I have been playing since around the age of 10 and also learnt the Trombone as we have a really good Brass Band locally. My main instrument is very much the piano now and I don’t get much time to play brass much but it was very influential growing up as it enabled me to play in large ensembles which was not often the case with the piano in earlier years.  

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I started to have piano lessons outside of school and also learned various brass instruments with the local Goodwick Brass Band and also individual lessons within School for the Trombone. I then started to take music more seriously and choose to focus on it as a career and decided to  study Music at a College of  the Arts. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I have been making piano music from a very early age but I am only starting to release my piano music now.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    As I was learning the piano once the technique developed and I learnt more complex harmonies & Scales it came to naturally to go on exploring these myself often through improvisation. From then it is a questions of sketching down some of the better ideas and forming a score and then recording. 

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I admire what Olafur Arnalds is doing by merging organic and electronic sounds through some really exciting  use of technology. I was really into a lot of late classical and Romantic era also, with composers such as Schumann, Schubert, Beethoven, Brahms and Chopin. Philip Glass is also another bug influence.

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    Over the last year or so I have been spending a lot of time performing, composing and improvising a project I am working on called Finisterre which Afon is the first track to be released. Other composers would be Metamorphosis by Philip Glass.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    I think you have to try and make music that you feel inspired by yourself. Structure is important in music but that does not have been created in the conventional form, there have been so many interesting ways of making music over the last 100 years. Many of which are yet to brought into the mainstream or fully accepted.

    How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
    I record sketches myself and then I record at studio in Pembrokeshire called StudiOwz which is a converted chapel in rural Pembrokeshire that is very peaceful and they have a lovely Bechstein Model C Semi Concert Grand Piano 7’4

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I have not used samples on my latest recordings but I am open to this in the future and as I mentioned I do admire the work of Olafur Arnalds and also the Berlin Composer Nils Frahm. I think the use of sampled instruments  are relevant and connected to today’s sound world and society and I would definitely like to explore this especially in live sets and bigger venues to create a more multi dimensional sound world. 

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

    Songs come from my environment and experiences 

    Thank you very much for this David!

    For more information please check out the following:
    Facebook / Instagram / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Arttu Silvast

    A while back I posted about one of Arttu Silvast’s track on the blog. And today it’s time to get to know this Finnish composer a bit better! Let’s go Beghid the piano!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I’m originally from a small seaside town called Hanko in southern Finland but I nowadays live in Helsinki, Finland. 

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I’ve been playing all my life starting at a very young age. Besides the piano, I play string instruments in general (guitar, bass, mandolin, ukulele etc.), some flutes and wind instruments, drums (set), different percussion and lately I’ve been trying to master the Finnish Jouhikko. In general, I’m very curious about new sounds and instruments and I’m constantly trying to learn more. I don’t really master any instrument, for me, it’s enough if I can play it and create sounds with it on my own tracks. 

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    We had a piano at our house and my older sister played classical music. I was very keen on hammering the piano so my parents put me to a local music school. Later on, I played in bands but also started producing music.   

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I’ve been making music for maybe twenty to twenty-five years, I guess it includes piano music as well since it’s my main instrument. 

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I don’t know if I can remember the actual moment, but realising I could make my own music felt liberating and opened a new world of expression for me.  

    What are your favourite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I have several which tend to change from time to time, but if I had to name one I’d probably say Philip Glass. 

    Is there one song that you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano? Your own or someone else’s? 
    Lately, I’ve been playing my own songs Clouds Over Tynemouth and Polarity. 

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    Now, this is a tricky question, but I think bending the rules leads to more interesting results than breaking or ignoring them.  

    How do you record your music?
    I have a studio at our house where I mostly record. I use the handheld recorder to record nature sounds and soundscapes outside. 

    What’s your take on sampled instruments?
    I use a lot of sampled instruments and orchestral libraries. I mostly prefer Spitfire Audio. In one sense, I’d prefer collaborating with real players with real instruments, but then again, I’m also afraid of losing control and giving my own composition to someone else. I think if you use sampled instruments as they’re supposed to be used as real instruments, I don’t think there is much of a sound difference between a sampled instrument or real recordings. What’s missing is the real emotion and expressiveness of the performance. Also, if you’re writing for sections it is not that easy to “code” real interaction between the players. 

    Anything else you want to share? 
    This might be more of a note to myself, but in this time of endless possibilities in making music, it is restrictions where you’ll find the most interesting and creative ways of creating new ideas and sounds. 

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

    My music comes from a combination of musical concepts that I try to combine with my own emotional memory. I usually think of events or how I deal with situations and reality emotionally and then try to write it down inside a musical concept or a given setting. 

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: William Philipson

    A while back I posted about some of Williams music, and today we go Behind the piano to get to know him a bit better!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I live and was born in Wellington, New Zealand. I studied at the New Zealand School of Music—Te Kōkī in Wellington, and have found work working on music with the local film industry and the national Symphony Orchestra, which is also based in Wellington. So I feel quite lucky, as there few other places in New Zealand where I could do the kind of work I enjoy.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well? 
    I first started on the piano as a young kid and I hated it! I never practiced, until I found a love of rock music as a young teenager, and I picked up the guitar. As my love of music grew and became more diverse, I found myself coming back to the piano when I started studying music theory at University. Since then I haven’t stopped! 

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    I distinctly remember a friend of my older brother showing me Metallica when I was 12 or 13, and being enthralled. I picked up the guitar immediately afterwards. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    Towards the end of high school I became very interested in writing Orchestral music, I followed this through at University. At University I gravitated towards film music, and I became more and more interested in smaller ensembles and intimate sounds. The piano started to become a centre of my compositions. 

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    Writing my own music, is something I’ve always had a fantastication with. Even as a total beginner, I was writing my own terrible beginner songs. 

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Erik Satie is a composer I absolutely love. His music has such simplicity and beauty to it. 

    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? 
    Erik Satie’s Gnossiennes No.1 every single time. 

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    I would like Universities, Conservatories and the classical community to able to talk about melody, emotion, and simplicity without contempt. Complicated music is not better than simple music. It’s just wiggy air. 

    How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc. 
    I record, edit, and mix all of my own music. I mostly work from a setup in my bedroom.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I love sampled instruments, I actually make many of my own. To be able to take any sound and to hold on it and to turn it into a unique personal instrument, is such an amazing tool for a composer. I am a part of the online community pianobook.co.uk, where we share our own sample instruments with each other for free. The amount of free or cheap quality sample instruments out there these days is incredible. It is making it possible for an entire generation of composers who would have never had the opportunity to have their pieces played in a concert hall, to make music. 

    Anything else you want to share?
    Check out my website at www.williamphilipson.com to see and hear my other projects. I am primarily a film composer, feel free to browse my projects and have a listen! 

    The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 
    All of my good melodies have come from play. The only way to come up with a good tune, is to feel it under your fingers. 

    Thank you very much for your participation William!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Mats Dernánd

    A while back I wrote about the track by the Swedish composer Mats Dernánd. Today, we go behind the piano to find out more about the person/composer/musician!

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    I’m just Mats Dernánd. But my last name is actually a combination of my old surname “Andersson” and my wifes Dernuld.

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I’m from Örebro, Sweden. And that’s where I still live.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    My sister started taking piano lessons when I was 7. I guess it started then, but slowly. I’m self-taught on piano. I also play harmonica and trumpet.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I remember a small piano in a corner at kindergarten that had magnetic attraction on me.  The next step was our family bought a piano when my sister started to play. It took to my teens to say that I actually play the piano quite well.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    Homeward Bound is the first piano song that I have released. Most of my songs have been alternative pop songs. I have now released two songs with a cinematic/ambient/neoclassical vibe. So when it comes to piano music I am really a beginner.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I wrote my first song in my early teens. After starting different bands with friends where I wrote most of the music. I think it was about then a started to see myself as a songwriter.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    The true but boring answer is that I haven’t a developed a real test of my own. Not yet. I think I’m still on journey of discovery.

    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? 
    There have been many different songs over the year. What comes to mind is Fragile by Sting or Racing in the Street by Bruce Springsteen. If I should mention one of my own, it’s “She’s Called Grace”.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    A very good question. Some people I know seems to think “the harder something is to perform, the better”. As a songwriter I’m looking for the simple (but hopefully not banal) things. Writing a new wonderful song with only three chords that you haven’t heard before, is the hardest thing you can do.

    How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
    I record everything myself, mostly at home. I play everything accept the guitars.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    Sample instruments is fast and easy, but acoustic instrument often bring extra feeling and intimacy. I’m very pragmatic. What sounds good is good. Whatever serves the song.

    The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 
    We all build that wonderful world of music. All songs consist mostly of stones others have used before. In very lucky that we have the grace to add a stone that is our own.

    Thank you for sharing with us Mats!

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

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Vetle Lyckander

    A while back I wrote about the track Maria by the Norwegian composer and piano player Vetle Lyckander, and as always we want to know it all about him, right!? Let’s go!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am 23 years old and I come from a small place called Hadeland, a rural and beautiful town in Norway. I now live in the capital of Norway, Oslo.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I have played the piano for maybe 13 years now. It is withouth a doubt my favourite instrument, but I sometimes like to
    play around with the guitar as well.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    I started playing music mainly because my parents “pushed” me to learn the piano. I remember that I was mostly interested in playing
    soccer and video games with my friends, but as I grew older I developed a unique relationship with the piano. I am so happy I did, and I do not
    know what I would do without it today.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I have been making music for around 2 years now. I never even thought of making my own music, but as it happened, it felt unevitable and right.
    For me, it has been a necessary and artistic way of expressing myself.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I had made a lot of small compositions and melodic pieces without ever telling anyone they were written by me, so I remember clearly this one incident: I was at home with my family and playing the piano, and when I played one of my own songs someone said:
    “That was a beautiful song, I have never heard that one. Is that a new song from Ludovico Einaudi?”
    I would never ever in my life compare myself to Ludovico, he is one of my greatest inspirations, but hearing that someone had these thoughts of my music definitely made me believe that maybe there was something to my music.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    My first inspiration, which still remains my biggest, is Ludovico Einaudi. When it comes to music, the melody and story of the song is the most important. I think that Einaudi has some of the most original and melodic pieces, and every song tells a different, beatiful story.
    In addition, I draw inspiration from other neoclassical composers like Olafur Arnalds, Joep Beving, and lately Stephan Moccio.

    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?
    For me this has been “Monday“, by Ludovico Einaudi. I find the melody and the melancholic character of this piece to be incredibly beautiful. Maybe my favourite song to play and to listen to.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    This is a good question, because we often limit ourself to the theory and knowledge we have acknowledged through watching what other people do, without experiment with what we enjoy personally.
    I think the most important thing is to create without thinking to much about how other people would do it, and what they would enjoy listening to. In the end, you make music for the sake of the art and to find your own expression. If you make music you think other people will enjoy, you are bound to get lost in unoriginality. Trust your own personal taste, and make the music you love!

    How do you record your music?
    I record my music myself, with a pair of reasonable condenser microphones plugged into my laptop. I have recorded both at home, and for my EP called Maria, I actually recorded in an old stone church. The unique acoustics provided by the church made the recordings very special and characteristic.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    Samples are a great way to get your hands on sounds you would never have the chance to work with otherwise. But there is no more beautiful thing than a real and raw recording of an acoustic instrument. Music without flaws is unnatural and inhuman, the most beautiful music is the music which shows and connects you with the human part of the recording, with all its imperfections intact. I would rather play on a cheap acoustic piano than a million dollar digital piano.

    Anything else you want to share?
    Thanks for having me in your Behind The Piano Series! I am happy there is a community of people who loves the piano and enjoys the simple, acoustic music in the ever growing world of streaming and fast-consumable pop songs. Stay safe!

    Thank you for this Vetle!

    Thank you very much for this Vetle!

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