• Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Kyle Preston

    Some time ago I introduced you to Kyle Prestons album Paper Piano. A fantastic album where Kyle tried out a new damping technique by using different kinds of paper between the hammer and the strings of his piano. Today it’t time to get to know Kyle a bit better!

    Where Are You From and Where Do You Live?
    I was born in Virginia Beach, Virginia and moved around a lot as a kid. Eventually ending up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, in Seattle, WA.

    How Long Have You Been Playing the Piano and Do You Play Other Instruments As Well?
    My mother was a piano teacher and I started learning how to play around 4 – 5 years old. I continued to take lessons until I was 13. Around that time, my brothers bought me an acoustic guitar for my birthday and I played that thing all the time. I also joined all the music groups I could in school playing trumpet in symphonic band, jazz band, marching band, etc…

    Tell Us About How You Started Playing Music.
    I remember my Mom teaching me how to play some of the great classical works as I learned piano; Bach, Brahms and others. As I got older, I started learning how to play the rock music I enjoyed listening to, Nirvana, Silverchair and bands like that.

    How Long Have You Been Making Piano Music?
    For as long as I’ve been reading and writing words.

    Tell Us Something About That Moment You Realized You Could Make Songs Yourself!
    After learning a few basic chords on guitar, I immediately started writing my own songs. They were terrible and boring but for some reason, learning the guitar became a deeper form of expression for me. And that changed my thinking of other instruments as well. I started thinking of the piano more as an instrument of emotional expression as opposed to a device used to perform other people’s songs. It was therapeutic to sit there and just play without any regard for the rules.

    Who Are Your Favorite Artists in This “Piano Genre”?
    I really enjoy the work Dustin O’Halloran has released, his piano records are so lovely. Max Richter as well, both his piano and orchestral music.

    Is There One Song Which You Play Over and Over Again As Soon As You Sit Down By the Piano?
    I don’t play my songs much after I finish recording them. To be honest, I don’t enjoy listening to them once they’re finished and released. But, the past few years, I always find myself playing this cue from the Benjamin Button soundtrack, by Alexandre Desplat. I think it’s called Meeting Daisy. There’s something about that piece that’s simultaneously optimistic and melancholy, I never get tired of playing it.

    How Long Is Your Shortest Song?
    I wrote a piano piece called First Principles that is 1:07. Real petite!

    What Rules (In Making Music) Need To Be Broken?
    There are a lot! I think some composers (myself included) tend to get in our own way far too often. It’s easy to obsess over the technology you’re using to create your work. A lot of people will tell you the “correct” way to do things but you have to remember that for thousands of years, we passed down music orally and through live performance. Most listeners don’t shut down their emotions if they find out you recorded your work with this microphone instead that microphone. If your work moves them, it moves them. Start from there and expand your tech, not the other way around.

    How Do You Record Your Music?
    I record and perform nearly everything myself. Although, I’m going to hire mix engineers for my work in the future – it gets hard to maintain objectivity after listening to the same songs for several months.

    What’s Your Take On Sampled Instruments?
    Sampled instruments have provided a window for several artists to discover how to write for the orchestra. I think that is a tremendously good thing. In a lot of ways, it’s helped some of us convince film and game studios to hire real players. But writing for sampled instruments is so different than writing for live instruments. They are very different disciplines. But I genuinely love the way sampled instruments allow us to break the rules of convention in such profound ways.

    The Last Question Is Asked By My 5 Year Old Son:
    Where Do All Your Songs Come From?

    What a great question. For me personally, my songs come from a need to express my emotions. It’s an emotional labor of love that I never get tired of. It helps me make sense of the world and share empathy with others.

    Thank you for all of this Kyle!

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

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Paul Constable

    A couple of weeks ago I presented to you the song A silent tear by Paul Constable. It’s about time we got to know him a bit better!

    Hi Paul!
    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I’m originally from northern Minnesota along the border between the US and Canada and currently live in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. A couple of musicians of note hailed from those areas (Bob Dylan and Prince) although sadly our paths never crossed. I think for musicians, at least before the days of Netflix and 500 TV channels the long winters in the Northland contributed to lots of introspection and perhaps longer practice sessions since your recreational options would be sometimes limited by the temperature and weather. I have no data to back that up. It’s just a wild theory of mine.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I’ve been playing the piano since about the third grade, around seven or eight years old. I also played acoustic guitar through my high school and college years. I spent some time in Guatemala when I was around 17 with a cousin who was a luthier. He told me he would help me build some guitars and that he always gave away whatever he built. So I learned a lot about guitars musically and construction-wise and did build a couple under his direction and indeed gave them to a couple of Guatemalan friends. I’ve always been curious about where they eventually ended up. 

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    My sister and brother and I all had piano lessons from an early age. Since my father was a minister there were always pianos in the church and parsonages to play and I took advantage of that. I would end up playing for services and even funerals when I was still pretty young, 11 or 12. I remember a piano teacher giving me a book of Boogie-Woogie and Dave Brubeck and from then on I was hooked. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I’ve been playing (wow I’d never really thought about this much) for around 50 years. I should probably be a lot better than I am after all that time.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    Actually that was pretty late in the game. I had played both solo and in a variety of bands through the years doing mostly covers or versions that included a lot of improvisation. But I never thought of myself as a composer even though I had taken quite a few music classes, including theory, in college. I recall going to a George Winston concert probably back in the early 80’s and remember thinking how effortless his music seemed but it didn’t connect with me then that I should try it myself.

    About two years ago I started attending some songwriter sessions in Minneapolis at The Warming House, a great venue that supports and nurtures the artist community in the Twin Cities and they gave me honest feedback and encouragement. From then on I started learning about studio production techniques and I found the most satisfying result to me was a rich and full solo piano sound with minimal production. (I guess that would make me a post-minimalist.) I do remember the moment sitting down at the keyboard, clearing my head and letting a melody just sort of unfold itself and letting it pull me along to its conclusion. Once I discovered the sort of mental space I needed to be in and fostered that, the next tunes came easier.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Well, George Winston and Michele McLaughlin immediately come to mind as a couple of the most well-known that I like. And I love listening to someone that is fairly new, Alexander Lorella, and also Yimura. So many new and talented artists are appearing that are a joy to discover. We’re fortunate to be living in this time.

    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 not one in particular although I tend to find myself playing “Peaceful Passage” from Dreams quite a bit when just noodling around looking for the muse.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    What a thoughtful question! I guess a rule I’ve been breaking is related to tempo.  I sometimes have my wife give me some feedback and often it’s related to slowing, slowing it down, making it relaxing, with few surprises. So I’m playing in rubato often. I want my listeners to experience what I’m feeling at the moment of writing something. I want them to have that same feeling of relaxation and I don’t particularly want to captivate or wow them with anything technically. So I tend to be slow and lingering.

    I’ve also heard of the “rule of three” applied to music where you want to always be trying to maintain interest – two similar things/ideas and then something different. It’s also I guess sometimes applied to comedy and photography. I think though, in this genre for me the idea is not necessarily to impress and entertain but guide the listener on a relaxing journey. I guess I kind of went on a bit of a journey myself in answering this question.

    How do you record your music?
    I thought about renting studio time for Dreams and was about to book some time. But I pondered it a bit more thinking about some studio experiences I’ve had in the past, and realized I could be much more relaxed and spontaneous and more in control of when I record if I was able to do it all myself while maintaining the same production quality. So I used some of the budget to buy and learn a DAW as well as other recording equipment. I’m pretty happy with the results. I didn’t do the mastering myself. That seems to require a special touch I’m not sure I have yet.

    What’s your take on sampled instruments?
    I like some of the pianos that come with Reason, a DAW I’m using but I didn’t use any of them on Dreams. I really love the Royal Grand 3D that comes with Nord products. So I used that on some of the tunes.

    The last question is asked by my 5 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from?

    I think everybody must be born with a whole bunch of “songs” inside them. The trick is finding the key to unlock and let them out. Sometimes I find the key for “releasing” a song after a great conversation, a delicious meal, a strenuous exercise session or after writing or reading an inspiring poem.

    Anything else you want to share? 
    Well, I’d like to say I’m very much honored to be part of this series and really appreciate the work that’s being done with the blog and the site in supporting musicians.

    Thank you for this Paul! And you are also very welcome! I’m glad this blog I being appreciated by the community!

    Please check out these link for more information about Paul and the music he makes:
    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Website / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Maria Grönlund

    A couple of months back I wrote a little something about Maria Grönlunds (then new) single June and Me, and now it’s time to get to know Maria a little better!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am a Swedish pianist and composer, born on the island Gotland in the Baltic Sea. Nowadays I live in Stockholm.

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    We inherited a black and shiny upright piano from my grandfather when I was about to turn six. My mother had always dreamed of learning how to play but hadn’t had the chance to do that when she was a child. She found us a piano teacher and we started taking lessons at the same time, having a lot of fun playing four handed pieces together. She of course learned much quicker than me in the beginning, but there was a little competition between us (at least from my side) that spurred me to work harder, and I will never forget the feeling when I passed her in piano skills!

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    Going to music lessons after the ordinary school was a big part of my childhood and young years. I just loved being in the world of music, everything about it. The sounds in the hallway from different instruments being practiced behind closed doors, the smell inside of an instrument case, the fascinating secret symbols and signs in the sheet music that tells you how melodies go even if it’s two hundred years ago that they were made up…

    Do you play other instruments as well? 
    I sing a lot, and sometimes I make compositions entirely out of my voice, singing harmonies and treating them with different kinds of sound design. Other than that I play the guitar, the accordion, a bit on flutes, and as a part of my education I have studied some drums, bass, recorders, harpsichord, trumpet and bassoon.

    And sound design is fun, you can make music out of almost any kind of sound in a computer.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    Coming from a classical background, starting out as a very sheet music based musician, and also never having known anybody who made their own music it didn’t cross my mind that I could possibly make up music on my own. When I was at the Royal College of Music the composers education was something you might be able to enter after four years of education, if you’d pass the hard tests. I never even thought about it, I had my hands full with all the wonderful things that were offered to me to learn – playing different kinds of instruments, writing arrangements, learning the ins and outs of ear training and music theory, music history, singing and playing together and all the different styles of music. I have a very inquiring mind and loved every minute.

    After the education I started to teach Upper Secondary students in music. I was amazed about their disrespect to what I (subconsciously) had learned about who was allowed to make up music. As soon as they had learned three chords on the guitar they wrote their own songs and saw themselves as the worlds greatest songwriters. And their eyes glowed with pride in a way I never saw in any other kind of school activities. It was like they discovered they actually had beautiful souls – how else could they have created something so good?

    They gave me my life’s most important music lesson and inspired me to start expressing myself.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    In my chamber – for a long time. But I guess I never really took it seriously and never had the urge to become an artist, so I mostly kept it to myself. I guess shyness played a part in it too. 

    I just started going out publicly with it, realizing music is to be shared. Someone might need to hear it. I get thrilled when people tell me they discovered it and that listening to it makes their lives a little bit easier for a moment.

    I have composed and released other kinds of music in collaboration with others before though, mostly under the name Sounds like Friday, and I also make and record string arrangements for other artists.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I love the work of Ólafur Arnalds, Poppy Ackroyd, Analogue Dear and even though they are not pianists I also get very inspired by Zoe Keating and Imogen Heap. The album I’m working on will be piano centered, but also have some guest musicians and some electronica on 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? 
    I constantly ”doodle” – whether it is by unawarely singing or whistling to myself or by improvising on the piano. So it’s mostly different stuff, always mood based. But one piece I often come back to is Arabesque nr 1 by Claude Debussy. I have it in my fingers, and I just love his elegant winding Art Nouveau melodies and rich harmonies.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    The rule of the need to impress and be ’very good’, ’trendy’ or ’up to par’, and to play after someone else’s rules. Music is about communication, of speaking in this invaluable non-word language about all the secret wisdom about our lives and beings that we don’t consciously understand. It is about expressing what it is to be a human, and about sharing joy and hope and a sense of community.

    Anything else you want to share? 
    I am releasing solo piano singles with about a month between them during the spring, and will release my solo debut album Songs of a Sad Sailor after the summer. I also pop up solo piano covers of songs I like on my social medias every now and then.

    The last question is asked by my 5 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 
    This is by far the best question of them all. I actually have written a whole song about it, after having listened to Ingmar Bergman’s radio ”Summer talk”, where he asked the same question.

    It comes from the shining stars
    from open air over the oceans
    It comes from the rolling meadows
    and flight of the birds towards free skies

    It comes from the place of rest
    from peace in the light of fires
    From glimmering eyes in dark nights
    and deep rolling belly-warm laughters

    And the music lights up your heart’s deepest corner
    plays on your hidden strings
    Of the secrets beyond the words and the reasons
    is what the music sings

    It comes from the memories
    from those you forgot that you have
    It’s speaking of all that you know
    and such you didn’t think there is

    It comes from the arms and laps
    consoling and stroking your cheek
    It’s telling that joy is still here
    it’s telling that love does exist

    And the music lights up your heart’s deepest corner
    plays on your hidden strings
    Of the secrets beyond the words and the reasons
    is what the music sings”

    Wow. Thank you!

    I will definitely read these lyrics to him and get back to you. The might be a small language barrier however, since he is five years old and only speaks Swedish. But I’ll try 🙂

    Please check out these links for more information about Maria and her music
    Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Website / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Jennie Löfgren

    A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Jennies record company regarding her (then) upcoming release Dreamology. Except getting sent songs pretty much daily through Sumbithub, this was the first time I was contacted by phone regarding the blog. It felt kind of big!

    A fun little anecdote is that I the day before got a call from a similar mobile number, but then it was those guys from india claiming they were from microsoft and wants to rescue your computer from some kind of virus… So I guess I didn’t sound so happy answering the phone when Jennies representatives called. Sorry for that!

    Back to Jennie then!

    Hi Jennie! Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I was in born in Östersund, in the northern part of Sweden. When I was 18, I moved to Stockholm, where I still live today.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    My father was a musician so growing up,  we had a music room. I can’t even remember when I started playing the piano. I’ve always played the piano, haha!

    I also play the flute, I sing and play a little bit of guitar and drums. I wish I knew how to play the violin or cello! It’s not too late to learn, is it?

    (It’s not)

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    Playing the piano was something I did everyday, like breathing or eating. It was always there. I started playing the accordion at age 8 then I moved on to learning how to play the flute and then I started singing in a rock band at the age 12-13.

    Foto: Stefan Lundaahl

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I was very young and I had heard my father play a piano piece by Chopin. I started playing the beginning by ear but I couldn’t remember the rest, so I just made up my own ending. My own version of the song. 

    That’s my first memory of realizing that I could actually write something myself.  A happy memory!

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    There are so many it’s impossible to answer,  but growing up there was a lot of Satie, Michael Nyman and Chopin and I think that sometimes comes through in my own music.

    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? 
    Michel Nymans “The Heart Asks Please First” – I ALWAYS play that when I come to a piano.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    I love to strive for simplicity (it is MUCH more difficult then making something weird and complicated) and then just when you think you know what’s gonna come, I do a little unexpected twist so it doesn’t become boring.

    How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
    I record it myself in my studio. When it comes to the piano: I work with a mix of 2 sampled pianos and 2 real pianos. It’s the secret recipe for “my sound”.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I love them! But I always mix them with real instruments and musicians. I love the luxury of recording a real string orchestra and then adding a fat synth bass to maximize the sound. 

    Anything else you want to share? 
    Take a warm bath and listen to my personal favourite piano-pieces in my playlist Dream On Dreamer on Spotify.  

    Thank you for sharing this with us Jennie!

    For more information about Jennie and her music, please check out these following links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Juan María Solare

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I live in Bremen, Germany. I came to Europe with a scholarship of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in order to undertake postgraduate studies in music composition at the music Hochschule in Cologne (Fritsch, Barlow, Humpert, Kagel).

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    It depends on where you set the point zero, the start. My first recalling of playing something at the piano (the French song J’ai du bon tabac) is at age 4 or 5; my first piano lesson at 6, but my first documented public performance only at 12. Now I am 52 (so do the math).

    Do you play other instruments as well? 
    I studied French horn for a few years and it was an important experience, but saying that I actually “play” horn would be terribly exaggerated.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    Basically, my mother taught me some melodies and I learned them. Sounds easy, isn’t it? Well, it should be. Why making easy things complicated?

    Cover art: Alban-Low

    How long have you been making piano music?
    If you mean composing, my first written piano piece is dated on 25 May 1977 (at ten years old). It is a waltz with some good ideas but not well developed, as you could expect. Before that, around 7-8, I used to improvise a lot at the piano as well, but that was neither written down nor recorded. However I still remember some of those improvisations (which I repeated over and over, as is usual at that age, so technically they were not real improvisations). I called one of them La casa (the house) because it had foundations, walls, first and second floor and a roof. From today’s perspective, it was a theme and variations whereby the theme was two bars long. Interestingly, I made that theme because its geometrical shape on the keyboard (it was symmetric), not because of how it sounded. I remember my piano teacher (María Teresa Criscuolo) telling me to bring to the lesson also a self-composed piece – each week.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I was not particularly proud of it, and that is perhaps a problem. For me it was like eating without help or saying my first words: a part of the normal development of a healthy human being. Only later I noticed that that was not “normal” or usual, that not everybody would make songs themselves. I remember asking my (elderly) brother, a performing musician, why he didn’t compose music and his answer was that he got no ideas. I couldn’t actually believe him, and to be honest I still can’t believe it, but saying this might sound arrogant to some.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    To keep the list reasonably short, under “favorite” I would rather list artists from whom I learned something – or enjoy playing: Scriabin, Liszt, Fats Waller, Scott Joplin, Chopin. Debussy, Ravel, Satie, Schönberg. 

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    Actually there is none, or maybe any piece that I am currently practising.

    How long is your shortest song?
    For piano solo: the second of the Aphorismen, 22 seconds. For electronic sounds: gl, 13 seconds.

    Generally speaking, I love miniatures. However I am also well aware of the danger of composing only miniatures, namely, that one gets used to the lack of development of the ideas. I do believe in “musical haikus” that can achieve depth without development, but this is a very particular case, where development is implied. More often than not, “short” equals “underdeveloped” or “incomplete”.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    Usually we should break those rules that we impose ourselves without further thoughts. In a nutshell, any rule that says (between lines) “this is not going to work”.

    Anything else you want to share with us? 
    Lack of concentration poisons talent. Lack of clarity is lethal. Never underestimate the difficulties of simple things. Waiting for perfection is waiting forever. Be avaricious with your time. Musical notation: a musician will play what you wrote in the score, not what you want them to play. Inspiration is everywhere – if you are aware. And if you are not aware, inspiration is elsewhere.

    The last question is asked by my 5 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 

    All songs come from silence and go back to silence. Exactly as we do.

    However, this fancy answer is rather a distraction maneuver that doesn’t address the complexity of the dynamics of creation. Another way of answering is: All your experiences in life, all your happy moments, sad moments, silly moments, smart moments, boring and magnetic moments, mistakes, second chances and achievements, the pain and the joy, the abyss and the extasis and also indiference, all what you learned and listened, all you said and thought, form a manure mountain with organic materials decomposing – a manure pile from which a flower can arise.

    Thank you for this Juan! Very interesting! Very good advice in the end.

    Please check out these social links for more information about Juan and his music!
    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Website / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Khyaam Haque

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I originally grew up in Northbrook, Illinois. However, I spent most of my childhood in Guadalajara, Mexico. I moved back to Illinois when I was fourteen years old and then moved to Chicago for college. Now I own a condo about a half-hour away from the city. 

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    Realistically, about 5 years now – I always had some type of keyboard around when I was growing up but never had great coordination to play classical piano. When I started to feel more inspired by piano music, and started listening a lot of film music, I wanted to become a better pianist and it became my main instrument.

    Do you play other instruments as well? 
    Yes, I originally was and am a guitar player. I have played guitar since I was 11 years old. When I was in high school and the early years of college, I was involved in a lot of metal bands and post-rock bands. During college I started to broaden my horizons to other styles of music. I started to make music with synthesizers, midi controllers, samples and beats. When that began, I was less interested in guitar and more interested in learning how to write music in different ways. There are so many tools to create music now, why not use them?

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I heard the song “We Will Rock You” by Queen. Simultaneously, I bought Daft Punk’s album “Discovery” at a local music store in Guadalajara. Queen and Daft Punk were the main reasons I wanted to start playing music. I asked my mom if I could start taking guitar lessons. Truth be told, I didn’t like taking lessons much and became self-taught later. I managed to stick with it after all these years.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I released my first piano album in 2016 called “Sonorous Laments for a Future Past” – I wrote most of the material for that in 2015. I wouldn’t say that anything I wrote prior to that would be considered piano music. It was the first time I ever wanted to create an album with piano as the main instrument.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I don’t recall a specific moment, but some of the first moments I realized I could make songs was when I got my first electric guitar. It was one of those off-brand, Stratocaster starter packs. In my old house in Guadalajara, we had a small building attached to our front gate that my sister and I called “the band room”. My sister started playing drums when I started playing guitar, and we wrote a few songs together and had our own band with a couple friends from private school. Looking back, I would consider them pop-punk songs or something along the lines of Blink-182 or AFI. We also covered “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes. With practice, I got better at writing songs from that point on. 

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    The more you get into this piano genre, the more you realize that there are so many talented artists and composers out there. The fact they’ve gotten great exposure or not means absolutely nothing – the music is still just as good. It’s very hard to choose favorites after discovering that. 

    It definitely started with artists like Ryuichi Sakamoto. I loved the music I heard in the film “Babel” and always wondered, “Who wrote that?” After I figured out who he was, he became one of my favorite artists. 

    When I wanted to become a better pianist and write my own piano music, artists like Philip Glass, Nils Frahm, and Ólafur Arnalds were the first artists I gravitated toward, and will always be favorites. Jean-Michel Blais has been a favorite recently, too.

    I’ve also always been a huge fan of the music for video game series like Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and Silent Hill. Those games always had such beautiful piano music in them – I even went as far as buying the soundtracks for them when I was younger. To this day, I find a lot of inspiration in Nobuo Uematsu, Yoko Shimomura, and Akira Yamaoka’s compositions. 

    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? 
    Not necessarily, but I do have a lot of ideas that never become songs. Those ideas ended up turning into warm-ups or things I play over and over again whenever I sit at a piano. I have a feeling someday they will become actual songs, every year a little bit more gets added to them. One would rarely, if ever, catch me playing someone else’s song, simply due to the fact I don’t know how to read sheet music. 

    How long is your shortest song? 
    My track “Hand in Hand” off my first album “Sonorous Laments for a Future Past” is only 58 seconds long. It’s actually the same melody as the track “We Were Infinite”, but more simple, shorter, and played an octave higher. I didn’t have the heart to take it off the album for some reason. 

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    I wouldn’t say that I’ve found a specific rule that needs to be broken when making music. It truly depends on the song and if the rule being broken actually draws the listener’s attention to that moment in the song for the better. The best reason to break a rule in a track is that the song won’t be as good if you don’t break it. If any artist finds themselves in a position where breaking the rules is their best bet, embrace it.

    Where do all your songs come from?
    I believe it’s a mixture of music I’m inspired by, life experiences, and things I see in the world, art, and films. All these facets have some way of adding depth to my personal life. I could be doing anything, and the music I’m listening has the ability to make moments of my own life experiences more cinematic and memorable. Somewhere in that space is where the inspiration lives, and somewhere in that space is where a song is created. 

    Thank your the the talk Khyaam! Please check out these social links for more information:
    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / Website

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Jon Winterstein

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am from Germany, and I currently live in the far southwest of the country in a town called Freiburg.

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    I played my first notes at the age of ten or so, but never really got into it at that time and chose the guitar instead. Two years ago, I gave the piano another chance and realized how much I actually enjoyed playing it.

    Do you play other instruments as well?
    I have been playing guitar for close to fifteen years now, and occasionally I do some singing as well. 

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    I don’t really remember, to be honest. It just happened. I recall being part of a school band, as a lead guitarist, and we covered Green Day, The Offspring and suchlike. I guess, once you succumb to the fascination of making music, there is no going back. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I started composing my own piano pieces as soon as I was able to play some chords.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I must have been fifteen or sixteen then. It was a feeling beyond description, refreshing, liberating and redeeming. The songs were horrible, of course, but it makes you incredibly proud to know you have created something that just hadn’t existed before.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Well, obviously there’s no way I cannot mention the classical masters, particularly Grieg, Debussy and also Erik Satie. Aside from them, I enjoy listening to a lot of modern artists, for example Jon Hopkins, Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm. Just recently, I discovered a guy called Elliot Ziegler, who writes amazing piano music.

    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 love playing the piano part of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Timeless classic.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?Anything else you want to share? 
    There is only one rule: If it sounds good, it’s good. Everything else can be ignored.

    The last question is asked by my 5 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 

    If I could answer this question, I would likely be able to write tons of songs every day – which is not the case. I feel like one half of the song is in the artist and the other half is in the instrument, and it takes the right time, the right attitude and maybe the right person to combine both halves and complete a song.

    Thank you for sharing Jon! Please check out these links to learn more about Jon and the music!
    Instagram / Spotify


  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Judson Hurd

    Another name that came up over and over again when I was starting out with my playlist hunting was Judson Hurd. So of course I wanted to talk a bit with him as well! Please introduce yourself, Mr. Hurd!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I was born in North Georgia but when I was a year old my family moved to Paraguay South America and I lived there until I was 15. I currently live in Wilmington, NC with my wife, son, two dogs, and two cats. We are a big family! Wilmington is a vibrant beach town with a great arts community in the South. 

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    I’ve been playing piano since I was 4 years old. I was self taught until I turned 13 where I started attending a music conservatory in South America.


    I’ve been playing piano since I was 4 years old. I was self taught until I turned 13 where I started attending a music conservatory in South America.

    Do you play other instruments as well?
    Piano is my first instrument but I do play some guitar, bass, organ, and I sing. You can hear some of my guitar parts on the track The First Step is the Hardest.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    When I was around four years old I encountered a cassette that had the Windham Hill Piano Sampler. I fell in love with the piano and started playing on my mother’s old upright. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I have been making music over thirty years since the age of four. 

     Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I realized at a young age that I could improvise and create new music. In my spare time I really enjoyed playing the Bach inventions and creating new melodies over the pieces. I began seriously composing in my teen years when I began playing for different groups and projects.  

    Have you made music in other genres before?
    I have created music in many different genres that include Ambient, Film, and Neo-classical. I’ve also collaborated with musicians and songwriters in Urban, Rock, and other styles. I am always looking for new projects and interesting challenges to push boundaries in my art.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”? 
    My biggest inspiration would be Montana composer Philip Aaberg. I remember hearing his music when I was a child and falling in love with music. Over the years I’ve started to listen to more free jazz and experimental music. Some big inspirations are Jóhann Jóhannsson, Thelonious Monk, Olafur Arnalds to name a few.  

     Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    I really enjoy playing the music of Chopin on piano. His Nocturnes and Preludes are some of my favorite pieces to play.  

     What song inspires you the most when you’re making music? Can you name just ONE song/composition?
    This is a really hard question. I truly try not to listen to other music that is in the similar genre to avoid getting in the way of my creativity. I would say to get my creative juices going I listen to experimental composers like John Cage, Arnold Schoenberg, or Steve Reich. 

    Tell us something about you latest release.
    My latest release is the original film soundtrack for the film Trouble Will Cause. The soundtrack is available on Amazon, iTunes, Bandcamp, and other digital stores. The film is about the Lawson family murders in North Carolina in 1929.

    What’s happening next? New releases etc.
    I am releasing a new single with the very talented Kyle McEvoy on the Sonderhouse label. I also plan on a full length release this year of new ambient, electronic, piano driven music. It’s amazing to see my music listened to all over the world and I really appreciate your support in streaming and downloading my music. 

    Thank you Judson! Please check out these social links to learn more about Judson Hurd and his music.
    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Bhaveek N. Makan

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I was born in Durban, South Africa. I later immigrated to Canada, and I currently live in Vancouver.

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    Been playing for a few months, and only recently started to really get into it.

    Do you play other instruments as well? 
    I do not, but I’ve always wanted to take drumming up.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    I started back in 2009, but only started to seriously get into it in 2014. I have a background in hip hop, but always wanted to try out classical music. It all started with me wanting to make songs for short films I would produce.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    Around 5 months.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    Probably back in 2014, I realized it was a possibility, and it felt amazing. Music to me is therapy, and I usually get a lot of anxiety sharing my music, just because its so personal to me, and I have a fear of my music being heavily judged. I’ve composed many tracks that have never seen the light of day….but it will come out eventually!

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Olafur Arnalds, August WIlhelmsson and Allan Ellis are simply amazing. Their music got me through some dark times, and showed me that I can find peace in solitude.  

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    Not really, I sort of just improv, and try playing 90’s Bollywood vocal melodies on the keys. That always gets me in the zone!

    How long is your shortest song? 
    Around 1 minute!

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    The idea that you need to know music theory to be a musician. I never understood sheet music, especially in school. I thought I can never be a musician. I just loved listening to so many music genres, and realized so much of it is just feeling.

    Thank you for these wonderful answers. Pretty impressive knowing you’ve only played piano for a couple of months. Wow!

    Check out these links for more information:
    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Elijah Bisbee

    Today I’ll be introducing you to American artist Elijah Bisbee. Here we go!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I grew up in a small town in Central Illinois and moved to Los Angeles for a few years. I currently live in Cleveland, OH.

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    I took piano lessons when I was very young, but didn’t stick with it. At different points in my life I’ve messed around on piano, but only over the last 1.5-2 years have I taken it more seriously.

    Do you play other instruments as well?
    I do! I consider myself first and foremost a guitar player. I’ve been playing guitar for about 15 or so years. I play/tinker with a lot of other instruments, too, but guitar and piano are my main focuses.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    My family has always been really musical. My dad owned a music store in our hometown up until he passed away in 2001. I had been playing guitar for a few years when that happened, but it was really the inciting event for translating emotion into music.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I’ve only been making piano-centric music for about a year. I’ve always admired and enjoyed musicians and composers who can convey such strong emotion with one (or very few) instruments.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    This was fairly early on for me – but on guitar. I can’t say I remember the moment of realization, but I do remember having tremendous pride when playing songs I’d written for other people.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Probably all the neoclassical standards… I am a long time fan of Nils Frahm – his piano music and his other outlets. Olafur Arnalds, of course. Some recent finds that I’m enjoying quite a bit are Blurstem (Chris Bartels is a ridiculously talented, all-around musician), Klangriket, and Kyle McEvoy (I’m releasing a single with his label, Sonder House, in February).

    What song inspires you the most when you’re making music? Can you name just ONE song/composition?
    Impossible. Right now, though, “Sunson” by Nils Frahm always gets me in the headspace to work.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    Such a hard question to answer concisely! Everyone has their own rules and barriers that constrict them from being their truest self – as a musician and otherwise. I think, then, that the rule that needs to be broken is that there’s not time to explore a sound and that you have to release your best music all the time. Create, iterate, release, learn, repeat. I think that’s a pretty good model. And don’t take yourself too seriously and don’t hold your work too preciously. That is, if you want people to hear the music. I know plenty of people that create for themselves and get plenty of enjoyment and fulfillment from that. This feels more like advice than breaking rules, sorry!

    The last question is asked by my 5 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from?
    To put it shortly – from within. 🙂

    Thank you Elijah for these answers! Please check out these social links for more information!
    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify