• Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Francois Mathian

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I was born in France, raised in Burgundy then lived in Paris for a while before moving to Australia where I spent over 10 years, to the point that Sydney now feels like my “home”. Currently I live in Vietnam, where I find a great energy to create.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I started learning music with piano lessons when I was a kid, and although I switched to violin as my main instrument after a few years, I could never go without having a piano around. It is a fundamental part of my composition process, along with the violin.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I started playing music at the conservatory in Burgundy, and as soon as I started learning the violin I could become part of the student orchestra, which was such a great learning experience, and a lot of fun. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I had been improvising on the piano pretty much since I started music, but I did not put the effort into structuring my ideas until a few years ago. However it is only since a few months ago that I have started releasing solo piano tracks, I have found they allow me to express calmer emotions. 

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I was a teenager at the time, and the piano was part of this process. I remember writing some melodies and showing them to my violin teacher, but to be honest my knowledge of harmony was still quite green and I’m glad I took up harmony classes later in my life.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I really enjoy the modern composers: Nils Frahm, Ólafur Arnalds, Yann Tiersen, Peter Cavallo, especially because they also excel at arranging piano with strings and create these deep experiences. For piano solo, Dominique Charpentier, Ludovico Einaudi, Ron Adelaar, Elliott Jacques, are wonderful inspirations.

    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? 
    Most of the time when I sit on the piano, it is to improvise or work on a new piece of music, so it feels more like a white canva. 

    What rules (in making music) need to be broken?
    I would say some harmonic rules still make a lot of sense in the neoclassical style, although to break them repeatedly with intent can create a more “electronic” vibe to the music. Also, in our current streaming and playlists world, we tend to constrain ourselves to create shorter and shorter tracks, but I hope there is still room for longer pieces to come through.

    How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? Etc.
    I produce and mostly record myself in a small studio, currently based in Ho Chi Minh City, where the mixing and mastering are also done. If I need to record a real piano, I would however hire an external studio. 

    What’s your take on sampled instruments?
    I do find some of the sampled piano quite realistic, although I must say for solo piano works being able to record with a real piano changes significantly the emotional and authentic impact of the music. For piano and strings, being able to use sampled instruments can be an advantage, especially during mixing, with the ability to fine tune the best matching sound and minimising the use of post-processing.

    Anything else you want to share? 
    Apart from neoclassical, I also find the piano to be a very versatile instrument, and recently have enjoyed creating more electronic ambient and lofi pieces with it as well. 

    The last question is asked by my 7 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 

    The music I produce comes through me from a desire to connect and express authentic emotions.

    Thank you for sharing Francois!

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

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Aatraus

    A while back I posted about the track Gone are the days by the Finnish composer Aatraus, and today we go Behind the piano to get to know the person behind the artist name a bit better!

    What’s your real name?
    Sami Lehtiö. My piano album bears my real name, but orchestral music I only release under my artist name.

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    I tried to come up with a more international name than my own, and I was ready to make music under an old online alias that I always liked. It was, however, quite hard for some Finns to pronounce, so a friend suggested I just adjust it to fit a Finnish mouth. I shunned the notion at first, but then it grew on me, and now I love it.

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am from Finland and live in a city called Tampere.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    We got our first keyboard when I was seven, and with that my dad taught me my ABCs, so to speak. I’m 31 now and have been playing on and off since then, but I was never really any good. Only in the last six years or so did I actually try to learn a bit more as I started taking composing more seriously. Before that I did have my own power metal band, but I played the drums.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    I think it’s fair to say that I’ve always been creative and music has been my number one outlet. It’s hard to pinpoint how I started, but my father has always been musical and music was a big part of my childhood in one way or another. Funnily enough, I never wanted to be a musician but a writer, until I noticed how much easier it was for me to write a story in melodies than it was in words.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I probably wrote my first composition at age 13. We started our band soon after and made bad metal for a few years. Some 10 years later I started playing a bit more determinedly and learning orchestral composition. Although almost all of the songs I’ve ever composed have been piano-based to some extent, this new album is my first project to feature only piano.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I discovered early on that I could learn songs by heart pretty easily, but because I wasn’t very good, I couldn’t make other people’s songs sound correct without following notation. Soon I got frustrated trying to copy others, and I started playing how I felt comfortable. Not long after, I could play a handful of songs from memory, all of which were my own.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Hard one. I like to listen to all kinds of composers and make new discoveries. If you pushed me, I’d probably say Ludovico Einaudi and Yann Tiersen, and also Alexandre Desplat to whatever extent he fits this genre. If I may, I also want to shoutout fellow SleepySongs feature Thomas Hewitt Jones, who I’ve been a huge fan of since discovering his album Neoclassical.

    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 can only really play my own songs. If I sit down to play, I usually warm up with the same song. For a long time it has been “Cascades”, which is quite an old composition, though I recorded it for the first time for the new album. If I sit down to compose, I might not warm up at all, because I like to empty my mind into the melodies.

    What rules (in making music) need to be broken?
    I am a huge perfectionist myself and constantly struggle with being content with any piece of music I write, so I want to say the presumption that music should be perfect, because someone like me out there needs to hear it.

    How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
    I have a rather primitive home studio where I make all of my music.

    What’s your take on sampled instruments?
    They are a life-saver for someone like me, who has a strong creative disposition to make music but limited resources to record real instruments or musicians. They also allow me to compose everything I do on a piano, the only instrument I truly play.

    The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from?
    Mostly, trial and error.

    Thank you very much for this Sami!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Ruben Fjellner

    Today we go Behind the piano to meed the Swedish composer and piano player Ruben Fjellner, which I have written about before here.

    So, let’s go!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am from Sweden! I grew up in a town called Linköping, but now I live in Umeå since four years back.


    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I have been playing the piano for about five years. I also play the guitar, which was the first instrument I ever learned. But I really love experimenting with all kinds of instruments – synths are a BIG favourite as well. Maybe I’ll use some of these instruments on my piano tracks in the future.


    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    My father is a guitar player, so music has always been a big part of my life. I think I was around seven years old when I got my own little Stratocaster to play around with. Sometime later I got a midi-controller that came with a copy of Ableton Lite which really piqued my interest in music production. Since then in I’ve met a lot of musically talented people who I am proud to call my friends – who have taught me so much along the way.


    How long have you been making piano music?
    I’ve been making piano music for about four to five years. Even though I had been actively producing music for a while, I had a lot of built-up stress from my day to day work as a film photographer. One day I found myself sitting down by the piano, and felt such a relief. For me, it’s one of the best portals to presence. Seriously, the best thing I know.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    This took such a long time for me. I’ve always been very doubtful about my musical talent as I am usually more on the technical side of things. It’s only really these last couple of years that I’ve allowed myself to experiment and let go of these fears. Working together with other talented composers has helped tremendously as well. So it has been more of a process instead of a specific moment for me.


    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Olafur Arnalds is my number one. He’s the reason I first started playing the piano at all. Other big inspirations are Nils Frahm and Aphex Twin, to name a few.


    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’s this one track me and a friend composed together back in 2017 that I love so much. It’s very simple and minimalistic with beautiful harmonies. Maybe I will make a recording of this someday. But mostly I actually just like to improvise.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    There are no rules.


    How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
    This differs a lot. It’s mostly myself, but I have a network of a few good friends who helps me out with feedback and recording. I have one of my pianos at a place called JAQ Studios here in town, a collective composed of several great artists working in different mediums. The other piano I have at home, but oftentimes I find myself doing most of the work inside Ableton.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I find them to be incredibly useful and beautiful in their own way. I quite like the complete control you have of both the sound and performance with these instruments. As a complete MIDI-nerd they’re so useful. Sometimes I program entire tracks using sampled instruments (all of my solo releases so far has been) – but I’ve recently just now begun to make acoustic recordings which I am really stoked to release.

    Where do all your songs come from?
    The present moment.

    Thank you very much for this Ruben!

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

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: DeLange

    So, I couple of weeks ago I wrote about DeLange and his track Berlin and today we go Behind the piano to get to know the person behind the track a bit better!

    Whats your name?
    Frank DeLange. I release music under my last name

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    Pretty easily 🙂 But maybe a little inspired by the fact that the Great Composers are mostly known by their last name -Chopin, Debussy, Rachmaninoff…

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I’m Dutch and live near Amsterdam.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I started not very young – I was 17 years old after having played the violin for several years. I can’t play the violin anymore, nor can I play any other instrument 🙂

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I grew up in a musical family. Even with a few professional musicians. My grandfather taught me the basics of the piano and music theory. Meanwhile, one of my favourite uncles played me jazz records of Oscar Peterson and Erroll Garner. Combined with the Romantic and Modern music that my parents played at home, this was the sound of my youth.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    As long as I’ve been playing the piano.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    My grandfather showed me how to improvise. It was magical to find out that you can make something that didn’t exist before! Later on, I went to the conservatory to specialise in Jazz improvisation. 

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Yann Tiersen, Joep Beving and Philip Glass are contemporary artists I listen to. Of course the Great Legends like Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Fauré, Satie. Besides them I listen a lot to Keith Jarrett. Herbie Hancock. Bill Evans.

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    I love playing a few of the Chopin Etudes. Lately that’s the Nouvelle Etude No1 by Chopin. It is very satisfying to play it.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    The assumption that there are rules. Also the fact that a musical piece has to please an audience. I mean, it poisones the creative process when you have the pleasure of a listener on your mind and in the way. Of course, there’s music that solely exists to please (I produced a lot of that too), but in this period in my life, I feel that telling a valid and true story is crucial.

    How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
    For my new record, I recorded my own upright piano in my own living room, using my pair of vintage microphones. But I also recorded in big studios on huge Steinways -also great fun.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    There are wonderful libraries out there. Keyscape, Ivory, Addictive Keys, CFX etc etc. The thing to watch out for, is that recordings might sound the same and miss a unique vibe. I do use it quite often to experiment with ideas and to be mobile.

    The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 
    From the music fairy that visits me from time to time 🙂

    Thanks for you participation Frank!

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

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Lonely Lighthouse

    A while back I wrote about the track Memory Lane by the Icelandic artist Lonely Light house, and today we learn a bit about the person behind the project!

    What’s your real name? 
    My name is Birgir Þórisson

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    It is actually a borrowed name from a friend. We were gonna make a band together, but never got further than finding the name – Lonely Lighthouse. When I was trying to find a name for my solo project it popped up again in my mind and felt kind of fitting.

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I’m originally from a small town in Iceland called Borgarnes. Currently I’m living in the slightly bigger (but still small) town of Akranes, just 40 minutes out of the Capital.

    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 7 years old.. I’d rather not think too much how long that’s been… I also play the guitar, trumpet, Bodhran and Whistle.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    It was kind of typical, my parents sent me to music school and I chose the piano and it just stuck with me..

    How long have you been making piano music?
    It was maybe two-three years ago that I started making piano music – aimed solely for my hard drive… It was only this last year during Covid that I started making music for release.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    It was through a conversation with a friend actually. We we’re talking about music production and writing music. I told him I had a couple of tunes that were wondering aimelessly around my hard drive. He encouraged me to finish them – it was only a matter of practise and kind of do it attitude. So I just kind of did what he said… 

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I would have to say Ólafur Arnalds is my favorite at the moment.

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    I’m actually very bad at that… I’m at my worst for example when I sit down by the piano in a music store… I usually just improvise some chord progressions.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    That music has to be one way or the other. We tend to box things up into definitions that sometimes just make us scared of letting the music flow in the direction it wants to. 

    How do you record your music?
    My last couple of songs I recorded in my basement home studio.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I love them! I just love how convenient they are, and how you can aquire a broad pallet of sound and colors. They also make it possible for more people to create and record their music. Though many of them are really good, few can beat a real, grand piano or upright, miked up by a pro engineer in a good room.. but they’re always getting better and closer to that goal.

    Anything else you want to share? 
    Thanks to you Johan for this great site, i’ve had a blast reading other composers experiences and thoughts and getting to know their music. To all of you out there who want to make music – just start 🙂 It takes practise and practise is doing… the rest followes. 

    The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 
    What a great question! My music comes from my feelings.

    Thank you very much Birgir for your participation!

  • 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!

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