• Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Boreís

    Today we will go Behind the piano and get to know the person behind the moniker Boreís a bit better.

    Let’s go!

    What’s your real name?
    Reed Pittman

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    I came up with the name ‘Boreís’ based on a novel by John Steinbeck called East of Eden. There’s a word in that book, timshel, which means ‘you can.’ Boreís is greek for ‘you can.’ I didn’t use Timshel because it was already taken by a few artists. It’s a central theme in the book, the concept of man’s ability to overcome, to choose what’s right even if we struggle. There’s so much beauty, tension and release in piano music and I thought it an appropriate name for the project. One of my favorite quotes from the book is “now that you know you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” I think that’s central to the novel and central to what inspires me in my life.

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I was born in Richmond, VA, grew up outside of Atlanta, GA in a town called Roswell and now I live in Nashville, TN.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I’ve been playing since I was 10 and I play guitar and bass as well.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    I think I just started picking songs out by ear at the piano and writing little melodies or ideas. Then my dad decided to get me some lessons once I showed that interest.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    This project is actually fairly new even though I’ve written music for a long time. I hadn’t really done an instrumental project in earnest until I formed this about a year ago.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    It was early on I think! I remember playing a piece I composed for a piano recital and thinking wow – that’s pretty cool – no one can tell if I messed up or not! hahah. But really it was inspiring to play something of my own for others and I suppose I’ve just kept scratching that itch ever since.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Olafur Arnalds, Philip Glass, Ethan Gruska, Thomas Newman

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    Not really – I think it goes in phases with songs where I get obsessed with one and play it over and over again. I do love playing the piano part to ‘Beth/Rest’ by Bon Iver.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    Oh man I don’t know. I don’t know if anything needs to be broken unless it feels right to do so. I think that’s what matters. If it feels right and sounds good to you, then do it, and if that breaks a rule in the process, so be it.

    How do you record your music?
    I do it at home in my studio in Nashville. I have a upright piano (Yamaha WX-1 from 1988) that has a muted felt system in it that is just so inspiring to play. So I either record on that or with different soft synths like Spitfire Audio or Keyscape.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I guess I just answered that question – I think in the right context they are great but the more exposed something is the more the real thing has to offer, plus it is simply just more inspiring for me to play a real instrument than a fake one.

    The last question is asked by my 7 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from?
    I tend to think of either a person or picture something in nature when I compose, maybe some place I’ve traveled to or read about. Sometimes it could come from an emotion I’m feeling in the moment as well. Then I just start picking at a melody until I find something that I like and I build from there.

    Thank you very much for this Reed! Lovely to have you on!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: April Chung

    Today we will go Behind the piano to get to know the piano player and composer April Chung. And I won’t say anything else. I’ll let April speak!

    Let’s go Behind the piano!

    What’s your name?
    My full name is YuYin April Chung.

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I was born in Taipei City and moved to the states to study. I spent years in Boston, Los Angeles, Sacramento. Now I live in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I started playing piano at age 4, so it’s been 26 years! I also learned violin for 3 years when I was little. Then I picked up French Horn as my minor instrument and a Chinese instrument called Reedpipe.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    I started learning piano just because we got a piano at home for my older brother, but he didn’t enjoy it as much. Therefore I took over the instrument quite young by accident.( It turned out that I loved it so much and even got my bachelor and master degrees in piano performance! My life is a bunch of coincidences. ) I started composing for fun when I was about 8 years old because the Yamaha School has a program to accept original compositions from young children. I went to the auditions and got offers to perform my own works in several venues in Taiwan.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I had been focusing on piano performance throughout my music school years. ( about age 12-24 in the conservatories )Then I started composing a lot more since the covid hit the world, which means I had a lot more time trying out different territories.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    When I got the offer to perform my own piece in the Novel Hall in Taipei, I was thrilled. However, the moment I realised that I could make my own songs didn’t really come until last year. The moment when I used music to convey the messages and feelings, it was incredible. It’s like having a magic pen to write down all my feelings that are impossible for words.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I enjoy Nicolai Kapustin, whose music is classical jazz but with the improvised sections written out. I also like Fazil Say and Brad Mehldau, who gave me lots of inspiration!

    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?
    I play music of Bach/ Chopin etudes to warm up. It has become a habit to me and I play random pieces depending on my mood. So I do not have any piece that I play over and over.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    Are there rules?

    How do you record your music?
    The first album was recorded in a studio with a grand piano in Taipei City, the soon-to-be released one is from my bedroom with a digital piano in Amsterdam.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    Sampled piano is a totally new thing to me, which I didn’t try until a few months ago. Although there are great ones, I don’t feel the same satisfaction as real acoustic ones.

    And the last question from my son:
    Where do all your songs come from?

    The ideas hit me especially when my mind is extra clear or extra disturbed. Lots of them are from taking walks, or moved by special events/movies/books/ scenes etc.

    Thank you very much for this April!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Pau Canyigueral

    Today we will go Behind the piano to get to know the piano player and composer Pau Canyigueral a bit better.

    Have a nice read!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am born in Barcelona, was raised in Girona, lived in The Hague (The Netherlands) for 9 years and now I am settled in Valencia.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I have been playing piano since I was 8 years old and played oboe from 9 to 20 y.o. (sometimes still missing it).

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    My mother wanted my sisters and me to be able to read music at the church so she inscribed us to a little music school in the neighbourhood where they found out I had a “good” voice, so I got into choir singing and piano and oboe playing.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    Since I was 10 years old.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I was living in a boarding school, injured myself in my left hand and arm while self-learning skating and since we had assigned 30 minutes a day of piano practice and I couldn’t study the pieces yet still had and instrument in front of me for half an hour I just started to explore and create with it. At the time it was quite a discovery for me to find out that music could carry my own emotion.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    My favorite artists in this “piano genre” are Ludovico Einaudi, Joep Beving and Olafur Arnalds. I also hugely admire and enjoy so much Joe Hishaishi, Yiruma and Ryuichi Sakamoto, and have a special place in my contemporary music mind spot for György Kurtág   and Thomas Adès.

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    I just sit at the piano to write my music, so when I sit I just play the piece I am doing at the moment. But in a parallel universe, I never stop playing the 2nd movement of Ravel’s piano concerto in G Major.          

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    More than a rule the idea that there is a “the best” music system or a better scientific musical structure than others… this thinking leads, in my opinion, to a too rationalaized approach to imagination. The only kind of rule that I have for my music, is that it has to be really meaningful to me, if not I just don’t do it. There is a wonderful poem by Charles Bukowski ( so you want to be a writer?) about it.

    How do you record your music?
    I have a Yamaha Clavinova at home that I use as a midi device. So when a piece is ready, I played it on it and record the midi data on the computer (using Cubase) and in there I choose a piano vst instrument and edit the “recording” where necessary.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    Technology is unstoppable and it can be very useful when putted at the service of creativity. In a solo piano music environment I definitely believe that for learning to play, or for creating music and concert playing, a real acoustic piano is much more rich, subtle and inspiring than sampled instruments. But once the sound gets manipulated through the chain recording/reproducing, then sampled instruments are a good substitute for the real acoustic ones if you do not have access to a space, instrument and recording system that you are comfortable with. There is, however a concern I have about “realistic” sampled instruments and is the extreme standardization of the equal temperament tuning system that its use implies.

    Anything else you want to share? 
    Thank you so much for listening and reading, and thank you Johan for your invitation and your really interesting questions. It has been an honour.

    And the questions from my son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 
    From necessity.

    Thank you very much for this Pau!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Remo Roth

    A while back I posted about a track by the Swiss composer and piano player Remo Roth, and today we’ll get to know the person behind the track a bit better!

    Lets go Behind the piano, once more!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I grew up in a small town near Zurich. Since most of my friends live close by, I never found the need to move anywhere else.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I have now been hitting the ivories for around 25 years. Early on, I was fiddling around with all kinds of instruments that were available around the house: violin, melodica, a ukulele. Later, I began to practice the accordion, but I rarely play that anymore. Then came violin and cello again, with very mixed results to put it mildly. More recently, I got my hands on a trumpet and my latest acquisition is a clarinet, which I practice every now and then. I deeply fell in love with that instrument. To cut it short, I can barely play anything besides the piano at a reasonable level.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    My musical journey began around the age of 7 with the piano. My parents gave me my first, rudimentary keyboard then. I remember it having a full set of 88 keys, unweighted and the sound was terrible. But it was enough to kindle my love for music. My parents then had me see a local piano teacher on a weekly basis –lessons that turned out to be my very first and very last ones, at least until now. Despite remembering my teacher fondly, as she was very flexible and allowed me free choice of what to practice, I had lost pretty much all interest in playing piano when my lessons started. I would hardly practice and got kicked out after around 3 months. But this is when something interesting happened….

    How long have you been making piano music?
    Not long after my lessons came to an end, I started playing piano again on a regular basis. I would almost never play songs but just improvise. I didn’t know any theory, heck, I can’t even recall the names of individual keys. But I improvised and soon started developing patterns I would use for decades to come.

    Tell us something about that moment you realised you could make songs yourself!
    With my first years of improvisation, I wasn’t thinking much about making songs, I would just play. At some point, my dad started recording me every now and then, using a dictaphone, as he didn’t want my ideas to be lost over time. When I was in primary school, I started playing my improvisations at school events and also composed a primitive soundtrack for an even more primitive school project video. My first song, in a sense. Later on, I began to record songs on my computer, but most recordings were very short and it would take another decade for me to actually record my first, coherent song.

    What are your favourite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I grew up with Norah Jones’ music. Her seemingly simple, effortless, but sophisticated and immensely musical way of playing piano really got to me. I then discovered the music of Yann Tiersen (AmélieGood Bye, Lenin!), Alain Silvestri (Forrest Gump) and Ennio Morricone (Cinema Paradiso) who also had a profound impact on my style of playing.

    After these early influences, there was a bit of a gap because I usually don’t listen much to piano music (unless it is a film score). That is until Agnes Obel came around. I absolutely love the dark and emotional vibe of her music and the intriguing patterns she develops.

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    At the moment it’s the End Credits of E.T. by John Williams. It’s insanely hard to play, at least for my standards, but I fell in love with it and Williams’ music. I can’t stop playing it.

    What rules (in making music) need to be broken?
    This is kind of hard for me to answer, as I don’t know many rules to begin with. At least, I couldn’t name them. There are of course some implicit rules, ones you pick up just by listening to music. If something feels organic to me, then I do it, no matter what the “rules” are. For instance, I love changing rhythm or speed multiple times in a song, sometimes only for a single bar. But this is seldom a deliberate choice and mostly something my guts lead me to.

    How do you record your music?
    I record all of my piano music myself, at home and using my e-piano. This gives me the flexibility to record a song over and over again, sometimes more than a hundred times , all without any time pressure by studio staff.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    While I really love the feeling and vibe of a real instrument, I appreciate sampled instruments. Piano samples have improved so much over the last decades that they are hard to compete with when recording a real piano. You need the right piano, you have to tune it well, have a great location and a great mic setup –that’s a lot of variables. Also, with the higher-end sampling libraries, you can tweak a sound specifically to your liking and make it your own. And, as an added benefit, you can compose and practice with the exact same sound as the final product.

    Anything else you want to share?
    I guess I’m a bit of an odd bird when compared to other composers and pianists, as I never really learned any technique or theory – I cannot even read sheet music. While this lack of “academical” knowledge and skill can certainly be an obstacle at times, I also see it as an opportunity to play and compose freely. It’s entirely subjective, but I sometimes try to encourage people to just try playing without any rules to abide to, not to overcomplicate and not to stand in their own way by meticulously trying to play exactly what is written instead of feeling the gist of a song and playing that. But on the other hand, as Picasso once put it: “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”. Who am I to judge?

    The last question is asked by my 7 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 
    Sometimes it just comes to me, presumably from my gut, but mostly not when I’m sitting in front of the piano and trying to compose. Sometimes, I’m inspired by a film I’ve just seen and run to the piano, other times I even dream up a melody or an arrangement. When it comes to dreams, it’s often next to impossible for me to do it justice and record anything sensible when I’m awake again. Most of the time, though, I sit down with a rough idea and just start playing until something interesting emerges – a blend of composition and empiricism.

    I can say for sure where my songs don’t come from: The thinking mind.

    Thank you very much for all of this Remo!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: kenxiie

    A couple of weeks ago I posted about the track Lost on the tracks by the artist kenxiie, and today we will go behind the piano to get to know the person behind the name a bit better!

    What’s your real name?
    Kenzya Patterson

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    My parents call  me kenzie but since it’s such a common nickname, the name was always taken when I tried creating any type of account so I switched the ‘z’ to ‘x’.

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I’m from Barbados but I currently live in France.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I’ve been playing the piano since I was 15/16 so around 10 years. I used to be in my school’s steelpan band but apart from that I don’t play any other instruments.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    I had a childhood friend who was always playing the piano when we talked on the phone after school. I became interested in learning to play so he gave me his old 76-key keyboard. A few of the keys weren’t working so I had to learn to play songs without those keys. I would go on YouTube and watch pianists play and learn the techniques. I didn’t get very far though and ended up just sticking to playing a few songs over and over for fun. That period lasted years. I was always fascinated with music, but it was around that time I think I became more attuned to how beautiful it truly was. I would listen to songs of any genre and be amazed at how something with few or no words could express an emotion or state so clearly. I wanted to reproduce that. I think that’s what led me to ask my friend if I could have his old keyboard.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    When I bought my first 88-key keyboard at 20/21, so around 5 years now.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I didn’t (and still don’t) feel confident playing other people’s songs. Also I felt there were a lot of rules surrounding the way songs ‘should’ be played that discouraged me from playing other’s music. So I spent my time making my own songs that I could play as I like. 

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Chopin, Yiruma, Ludovico Einaudi, Scott Joplin, Vincent Corver

    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 a long time it was “when the love falls” by Yiruma.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    In terms of making music, I don’t know. I don’t know many of the rules about composing music.

    How do you record your music?
    For the moment I record myself, but I’m becoming interested in recording in a studio

    What’s your take on sampled instruments?
    They’re nice and useful.

    And as always the question my son once asked me:
    Where do all your songs come from?

    I would say for the most part, it comes from my emotions. If I get frustrated or angry about something, most of the time it is related to what I’m currently learning or doing, I will start making alterations and new melodies to fit how I am currently feeling. I continue in that flow until eventually I have something new.

    Thank you very much for this Kenzya!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Lianne Steeman

    Today we will go Behind the piano and learn more about the piano artist Lianne Steeman!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am from The Netherlands.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I have been playing piano for 23 years, I started when I was 6 years old. I’ve also played violin for about 10 years.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    As a small child I used to sit on my father’s lap while he was playing piano. I loved it from the start. When I was 6 I wrote a little note to my parents to ask them if I could take piano lessons. I never stopped playing piano since that moment.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I started composing piano music 1,5 years ago.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    When my father was diagnosed with incurable cancer, I started writing piano music. It started out as a coping mechanism, but it turned into a beautiful adventure on Spotify and Instagram. Composing has become a big passion of mine.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Sacha Hoedemaker and Ron Adelaar.

    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? 
    I am completely in love with the Chopin Ballade no. 1 (op. 23). It is my favorite piece to play.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    I think composing should come from the heart first and should not be guided by music theory.

    How do you record your music?
    I record my music by myself in my home studio. I record my music digitally through MIDI and use several piano softwares. 

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    They can be really beautiful and realistic. Especially when you take some time to finetune the settings and develop your own unique sound!

    The last question is asked by my 7 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 
    All my songs are inspired by the illness of my father, they are songs straight from the heart.

    Thank you very much for this Lianne!

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

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Liam MacLean

    A while back I wrote about the track Silhouette by the brittisk composer Liam MacLean, and today we’ll get to know the person behind that track a bit better!

    Let’s go behind the piano!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am from Fort William in the Scottish Highlands, but I currently live in Glasgow. 

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I generally don’t consider myself a pianist, I am a guitarist. However, I started using the piano as a composing tool, in 2017/2018 during my 4th year of uni. While writing on a keyboard my ability naturally started to progress and develop, and now it is probably the instrument I play most often.

    I started playing the drums when I was 12 and about a year later took up guitar. However, I stopped playing the drums after I left school. While at uni I bought and started learning some bass guitar, simply because there were so many guitarists to compete with. I would often volunteer myself to play bass before any of the other guitarists. I love playing the guitar but the overall performance was more important, and when you have a large number of people all wanting to play electric guitar, someone has to step back. I did discover I really enjoyed playing bass, though never progressed as far with it as I did with the guitar.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    I always wanted to play music. I had several toy instruments as a small child, saved my pocket money for cd’s, went to concerts with my family from a young age. So music was always a constant. I always wanted to play the drums, in particular, I had a couple of mini drum kits while growing up, and when I started high school we were shown how to play some basic rhythms. I asked for a drum kit that Christmas, and Santa delivered. To continue with music in school we needed a second instrument. I chose guitar and made a deal with my Mum that if I saved up my pocket money over the summer and did some extra jobs around the house, she would give me some extra money towards a guitar. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I have been writing piano music since 2017 but started to focus on it more in 2018. 

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I don’t know when I realised I could write music more generally. I was always coming up with ideas for songs or new guitar riffs I liked. I remember discovering I knew how to write and improvise my own guitar solos after my guitar tutor put me on the spot and told me to do what felt right. I guess that was the start of creating my own sounds. That was in 2011, but it took until 2017 to find my own place as a composer. I was asked to score a short film and realised then that ambient and cinematic music came to me far more naturally than the rock songs I had previously been making. 

    What are your favourite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I guess the composers most people would choose such as Olafur Arnalds, Ludovico Einaudi, Nils Frahm, and Lambert. I also love Oliver Patrice Weder, Tom Ashbrook, Niklas Paschburg, and Marcus Warner!

    Is there one song that you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    I have an unreleased piano waltz that I always play, along with my track Hazy Mornings. They are both in the same key so it’s really easy to transition between them and get lost in the moment. Generally though, I just improvise and try out some new ideas.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    I don’t think there are rules! There are guidelines sure, but all that really matter is it sounds good to you and that you like and enjoy what you’re writing!

    How do you record your music?
    I record and mix everything myself in the corner of my living room.. luckily my wife is very understanding of this and supports my music-making shenanigans!

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I love sampled instruments. I use them all the time, I create them myself, and while studying for my Masters my dissertation was focused on how the sampler changed the film score.

    I do not think that it is a matter of picking sampled instruments or live instruments. Both can be used together, on their own, and both can be used in both gigging and studio settings. Samples allow me to create new and unique sounds which I cannot make using a “real” instrument, as well as allow me to play instruments I cannot afford to buy. I live in a small flat, and I wouldn’t have space for a piano even if I could afford one. 

    I do still some things live, and I always record guitars live, but I have used my guitars to create some interesting sampled instruments, such as bowed guitars and ambient pads.

    And the usual question my 7 year old son once asked me:
    Where do all our songs come from?

    If I knew that I would never suffer from writer’s block! But usually some sort of experimentation, or sometimes I just sit down and everything flows easily. Alternatively, if I have been hired for a short film or by a company, it’s amazing how pressure and a deadline can force you to create faster!

    Thank you very much for this Liam!

    For more information about Liam and his music, please check out the following links:
    Twitter / Website / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Ubroe

    A while back I posted about the piano artist and composer Ubroe, and today we get to know the person behind the moniker a bit better!

    What’s your real name? 
    Kristof Van den Bergh

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    I wanted to create a seperate world with this music. So I felt the need for a different name. Something where it’s not clear where the origins are. Ubroe, in the first place, just sounded good to me. On a more spiritual level it is derived form Uw broer, which means Your Brother, in flemish, pointing to the connection that lies between all of us. All brothers and sisters on a certain level. 

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am from Belgium, Born and raised. I grew up between Antwerp and Brussels, and now live my life in Tongeren. The oldest city of Belgium.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well? 
    I believe I started lessons around the age of 8 or 9. I am also a singer and I play guitar. 

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    Ever since I remember I was singing, humming, creating music in one way or another. Which drove my brother absolutely mad, sometimes. Understandebly. I have always been drawn to music and as a kid, you don’t ask yourself where the interest comes from. It’s just there. It’s as natural as breathing I guess.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I remember playing my first composed piano song on my 10th birthday. I remember clearly, cause none of the invited kids believed I had made it. I was really hurt by that. So much that I kinda went away from making piano music. Although it was always there on the background. A couple of years ago, a seed was planted for solo piano music, and mid 2021 I decided to go for it. I’m just doing what I love and what comes naturally. I am so much enjoying it!

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    It’s weird, but I knew I could make songs, before I even made my first song. I remember thinking, without having the words to desribe it yet, If I can just find some notes, like a chord. I would be able to sing a melody line on top. that’s what started it.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I love my classics like Brahms, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and especially Bach. And in the more contemporary genre I am still very much discovering. At this point I like the works of Stephan Moccio.

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    There are some “lost melodies” floating around. They just feel so naturally to play.  

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    For me there are nog rules in making music. I don’t even understand the question 🙂. But in all honesty now I’m older I can say. It really pays of to get to know the basics and foundations of composing music. And when they are understood I would be the first to applaud throwing them away. However I have never felt the need to be a pioneer.

    How do you record your music?
    I have had the priviledge of trying many different ways of recording. And all have there advantages. For me nothing beats the world created in a small room with an instrument and some microphones.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    To me the piano is alive. So nothing beats the real feeling. But I am happy sampled instruments exist and are becoming better and better. I would find it a pitty somebody doesn’t have the chance to express him or herself creatively because of lack of budget. In that way theses sampled instruments can be a good tool. 

    Anything else you want to share? 
    “Forgiveness is the scent the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” – My favorite quote (for whoever needs to hear it)

    The last question is asked by my 7 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from?
    From an invisible field that surrounds us all. All we can do is tap into it and let it flow.
    Good question 7 y o son!

    Thank you for this Kristof!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Michael Koch

    I have written before about the music of Michael Koch, and today we ge Behind the piano to get to know the person behind the music a bit better!

    What’s your real name? 
    Michael Koch

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I was born in Gütersloh, a small town in North Rhine Westphalia in Germany. with several stopovers in Bielefeld and Cologne my journey led me to Paderborn.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I have been playing the piano since I was 8 years old. And yes, I play guitar and besides my piano studies I also learned to play double bass.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    My mother also played the piano, and I wanted to create those beautiful sounds when I hit the keys like she did. When I was 13 I played keyboards in my first band, the guys were all 2-3 years older than me, so I was already allowed to deliver. This is how my music career started and my love for keys and sounds continued to develop

    How long have you been making piano music?
    As I said, I started playing the piano when I was 8 years old. I then had classical lessons until I decided to study music. So I had piano lessons almost continuously for about 20 years. I always played in bands at the same time, mostly keyboards. With time came more studio jobs, I also worked as a composer and producer in studios… I didn’t stop playing the piano, but since 2 years I have the strong feeling again to study it intensively. 

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    A giant universe opened up. Especially with the technical innovations that came along a little bit later. Suddenly you could write complete songs with a computer and sound modules, and already work with cool sounds. That was a great time, where you didn’t need the music paper and the pencil to express yourself musically anymore. 

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    One of my favourites since I was young was Keith Jarrett. That was more jazz, of course, but his free way of improvising fascinated me. Otherwise such amazing artists as Chick Corea, Esbjörn Svensson, Chilly Gonzalez, Nils Frahm, Ólafur Arnalds and many many more.

    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? 
    No. First I want to capture the moment and bring it to the piano. I take my time to gently break the silence with some first sounds. When nothing comes up I play some of my tracks, depending on the mood I’m in.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    Let the music speak. I think we live in a time with no hard boundaries. We can use any genre and transform it. We should just be unbiased and just merge what comes to our mind, not paying attention to what others are doing, just following ourselves.

    How do you record your music?
    I do both. For my new album, I recorded in a big studio, Bauer Studios in Ludwigsburg, Germany. Before, I tried to do it on my own, but I failed because of my perfectionism and got into a real orgy of editing and recording. Otherwise, I record in my studio.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    It doesn’t make a big difference between samples and recorded files.. The main thing is that it sounds authentic. You can also make samples sound natural. For strings, I like to use some as well to support the recorded ones.  Percussion, for example, I also like to use samples, as I said, if they sound authentic to me.

    Anything else you want to share? 
    For me, music is a language that can speak directly to the soul, if we are ready for it. We are living in very challenging times at the moment. I believe that we find most of the answers to the questions of our time within ourselves. I see my task in helping people with music to dive into their inner self and to recognize themselves, and maybe in this way I manage to make our world a little better place than it was before.

    The last question is asked by my 7 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 
    Thank your son for this really wise question. I wonder how old he is. 
    For me, the music comes out of the silence, and the moment. Silence is for me the source of all being, in which lies my inner voice. And when I hear it and I’m in the flow like that, it’s a wonderful feeling, which I then try to let flow into the keys.

    Thank you very much for this Michael!

    To learn more about Michael and his music you can check out these links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Spotify / Website

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Chris Gruchacz

    A while back I wrote about the track When the rain speaks by Chris Gruchacz and today we go Behind the piano once again to get to know Chris a bit better!

    What’s your real name? 
    Christopher Michael Gruchacz

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    I went back and forth for so long about whether I should use my real name or a stage name, but I finally decided to use my real name because I tend to compose for a lot of different musical styles. At one point I was going by “Therlo” as my artist name back when I was focusing primarily on EDM production, but ever since I started pursuing video game and film audio I thought using my real name would be more appropriate. Plus it makes things easier since I don’t have to manage multiple identities online. However, I know my last name is rather odd/unique so I guess in time I will find out whether it’s memorable or confusing.

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I was born and raised in a small town on the Oregon Coast (western US) but after college I moved a few hours north to western Washington. I plan to relocate in the near future, but I know I’ll be staying in the Pacific Northwest. This region feels like home and I can’t see myself living anywhere else. However, I would love to have a vacation home somewhere in Europe in the future. 

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I first started exploring the piano in 2014 when I took a basic piano class in college, but I didn’t start writing for it until very recently. I’ve been playing guitar and trumpet for much longer, and I played the bass in a variety band for a few years before the COVID-19 pandemic put live music on hold. The trumpet was my first instrument and I actually wanted to be a professional trumpet player until I got absolutely burnt out on it in college. I consider the guitar my primary instrument, though I don’t play it very much these days. 

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    Strangely enough, I didn’t care much for music when I was very young. But when I picked up the trumpet in middle school in 2004, I fell in love with band class and played trumpet in every school and community ensemble I could. In 2010 I started playing the electric guitar as well, and started a cover band with my friends. We gigged up and down the Southern Oregon Coast for about 7 years, performing at bars, festivals and private events. In college I studied audio production and that’s when I began writing my own original material.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I’ve been making piano music for almost a year, so this is a very new experience for me. I don’t consider myself a pianist, but I love the versatility of the piano so I plan to continue improving and seeing where it takes me. 

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!During the summer of 2015 before I transferred from community college to university, I finally realized that I could use my cheap Casio keyboard as a MIDI controller to write music in FL Studio. At the time I was only familiar with playing trumpet in school and writing rock songs, so that simple discovery opened up a whole new world of musical possibilities. I spent many nights staying up until sunrise learning basic production techniques and took my first steps writing full arrangements.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Ólafur Arnalds, Snorri Hallgrimsson, Niklas Paschburg, Ed Carlsen, Jameson Nathan Jones, Mike Lazarev, Nils Frahm and Nil Ciuro.

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    I don’t think I could ever get tired of playing “Tomorrow’s Song” by Ólafur Arnalds from his album Living Room Songs.

    What rules (in making music) need to be broken?
    The thought that you need to have top-of-the-line studio gear is a rule that needs to be broken. Some of the best music was written because of the limitations imposed on artists by their limited selection of gear and their environment. It’s better to get really good at the few items you possess than to be just okay at a lot of different things. Plus, having too many instruments, whether virtual or analog, leads to “analysis paralysis” which makes it hard to choose a starting point for a new project.

    How do you record your music?
    I record my music from my home studio where I have a fairly simple setup with a couple microphones, guitars and some MIDI controllers. 

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I think sampled instruments are great! While they aren’t nearly as nice as having the real thing, they have come a long way since music first went digital and they’re so versatile that it’s easy to make them sound authentic and give them your own signature sound.

    Anything else you want to share? 
    I encourage all my fellow musicians and artists to use your creativity for more than just entertainment. It’s a powerful method of bringing people together, elevating the importance of the imagination and pushing for social change.

    Where do all your songs come from? 
    Much of my music is inspired by current events. I’m a strong advocate for progressive change and I like to use music as a way to convey the importance of building an inclusive, cooperative society based on empathy, art and intellectual exploration.