• Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Jacco Wynia

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am from the Netherlands, Den Bosch. I have lived in several places throughout the years; London (UK), Tilburg (NL), Barneveld (NL) which all had their influence on my way of making music.

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    Since I was a kid and we ended up having a keyboard at home: That was at age 8 or so (+-1997, so that’s quite a few years). I played keyboard with a piano sound quite long, and around age 15 we got an acoustic piano.

    Do you play other instruments as well? 
    Yes, I also play the bass, guitar, saxophone, I sing, and have tried a lot of instruments throughout the years: music is such a wonderful thing, it makes me enjoy playing nearly every instrument 

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    Just simply the sounds were so interesting to me, that I was playing around as soon as we had musical instruments laying around. And I guess that never stopped. 

    My parents helped in the sense that they sent me to a music school at some point, to get lessons. And at school some teachers really motivated to play more, write music, and so on. The thing that really got me started was playing in bands / groups together with friends.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I have made my first songs at age 15, but seriously writing music for the piano has started around 2012. In the last couple of years I am putting in more time and effort to grow, because it is so much fun! 

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    Well, it sort of just happened. That is the thing: I enjoyed this ‘game’ so much, just trying stuff without someone telling what to do, and I just loved it. The only thing that changed in the last couple of years is that I reserve time to explore and try out new things: That really helps in growing as a composer and musician. 

    Have you made music in other genres before?
    Yes. From rock,  to pop, to folk, to metal, funk to world and to religious music. Well, much more, basically I like to try the diversity in Music, and lend ideas from different styles.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Goldmund is one of the composers that has a wonderful sound and feel to it. But also definitely the more known Olafur Arnalds, Yann Tiersen, Nils Frahm, Joep Beving, Ludovico Einaudi, Johann Johannson and many more.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    Basically, there are no rules. Stay true to what the feeling of a composition wants to tell, so that everything fits together. That makes the best experience for the listener: That the different elements are telling the same story. When this is lacking, it might sound impressive or ‘good’, but it will not really blow you away as listener. 

    Anything else you want to share? 
    I want to share the love for music! For here, I guess that means: Stop reading, start listening. And for me it also means that I love to write together with others, share music, learn from eachother in the process, and enjoy all of that.

    Thank you for sharing this with us Jacco! Make sure to check out these links for more information about Jacco and his music: Facebook / Website / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Kevin Kerrigan

    I have in an earlier post introduced you to Kevin Kerrigan and his song The Lake. Today it’s time to dig deeper into the artist Kevin Kerrigan.

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I live in London,  but I’m from a place in the West of England called Devon.  It’s very beautiful there,  but there’s an energy in London you just can’t find anywhere else.

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    About 30 years.  I started when I was 13, and I’m now 43.

    Do you play other instruments as well?
    I play most instruments.. badly.  Unless it’s piano though, I tend to involve much more talented players than myself.  I’m very much a writer more than a performer.  But the piano is different,  it’s as natural to me as breathing.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    It was an accident really.  Literally.  There was a fire at my school,  and they had to throw away all the burned instruments.  I salvaged a melted electric piano from a dumpster the day after. All the keys were warped (it looked like a Dali painting) and it stank.  With a bit of soldering I managed to get it working.  Then my journey began.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    Like many of us I found being a teenager strange and difficult and found solace on the piano.  We had an old upright in the house which I would play for hours in the dark. When it got too late I would continue playing on my melted electric on headphones.  I spent most of my time composing and improving music.  I became a musician from years of just doing it.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I knew right away.  It came naturally,  but I was very shy for a long time.  Over the years I became lucky enough to work with and have the support and encouragement of some of my favourite artists,  such as Bjork, Brian Eno and James Newton Howard – they really gave me confidence to understand I was on the right path doing something a little different.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    So many great artists! As brilliant as the likes of Olafar Arnalds and Ludovico Einaudi are,  I try not to listen to contemporary artists (I fear I will copy them or they will distract me!).  My piano heroes are mostly long gone however – Chopin and Debussy in particular spring to mind.

    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,  it’s always different.  I never quite know whats going to happen!

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    All of them!  Well, in truth we often draw inspiration from the past right, but it’s best not to think of them as ‘rules’,  it’s less conscious than that..

    Anything else you want to share?
    Thank you for the interesting questions Johan and happy you’re enjoying the music

    The last question is asked by my 5 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 
    Great question!  Like any great question it can be answered with a question – where do dreams come from?  Music comes from the same place I think.

    Thank you Kevin! And this gave me something to think about, again. Where do dreams come from? Hmmm.

    Please click on the following links to learn more about Kevin Kerrigan and his music!
    Twitter / Spotify / Website

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Oliver Nosaczynski Bohovič

    Where are you from and where do you live?
    I was born in Bojnice, in Slovakia, a little country in the heart of Europe.  I moved quite a lot but finally settled near the city Banská Štiavnica.

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    I first started taking piano lessons at the age of 10 but after 3 years I gave it up, mostly due to the lack of interest caused by the uninspiring educational system and I switched to guitar. Later, at 19, I started playing piano again and this time I took it seriously. Now I’m 26 so I’m actively playing piano for 10 years, more or less…

    Do you play other instruments as well?
    Yes I also play the guitar- acoustic, classical and electric too, Ukulele, I learned something on Mandolin but can’t say I can play it well, I would have to spend more time with it. I also play traditional Slovak instruments such as ‘‘Fujara‘‘, ‘‘Koncovka‘‘ or ‘‘Dvojačka“ which are sheperd flutes and so I can also play the flute, and I play Kalimba too. I love learning to play different instruments. Besides, I also sing, if that counts as an instrument.

    Tell us about how you started playing music
    I always loved to sing since my early childhood and had an ear for music. My father reckognized this interest in music and my parents signed me up for singing and piano lessons at the age of 10, that’s how it started for me.

    How long have you been making piano music? 
    I composed my first piano piece at 19 and I have been composing piano pieces since then so it’s been 7 years now.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    It was shortly after I started taking my first piano lessons, I just sat at the piano, played something out of my head and at one moment I realized that the melody I just played is my own and that I actually like it. I was also writing songs in my head around that time, it felt so natural. None of the musical ideas from my early era were finished though, I wrote my first completed piece at 18 and it was a guitar instrumental piece.

    Have you made music in other genres before?
    I have written a few pieces for the guitar, composed computer games music, I was writing songs too…whatever came to my mind, I am very open when it comes to the music I make.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I love piano music in general whether it’s the great composers of the past or the contemporary ones. If  composers who compose piano music but it’s recorded by someone else count too, then I was always very much into the classics such as Claude Debussy, Frederic Chopin, Erik Satie…and from the contemporary ones I recently discovered a Japanese composer Mayumi Kato and I totally fell in love with her music, I had to buy all her discography. And from the composers who also play their music it’s Ludovico Einaudi, Yann Tiersen, Yiruma and the list goes on.

    Is there a song you could play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano? Your own, or someone else’s?
    I have to admit that I very rarely play something I didn’t compose myself, I wish I would play other pieces more but the time I invest into music, I spend composing or practicing my pieces for the live concerts and recording, but amongst the pieces of other composers I always love to play is Gymnopédie no.1 by Erik Satie and I started learning ‘’Guilty’’ by Mayumi Kato some time ago but haven’t yet finished learning it due to the lack of time, but I can’t wait to get back to it because it’s such a beautiful piece. From my own compositions I always like to play the title piece from my debut album ‘’Ballerina’’. Everytime I sit at the piano or I try a new piano somewhere, I play ‘’Ballerina’’.

    What song inspires you the most when you’re making music? Can you name just ONE song/composition?
    I think I have at least one for every genre, haha, and it always changes. For example, when it comes to classical music, I had a long period when I could listen to Symphony 3 by Górecki every day and I was always moved to tears the very same way as the first time I heard the piece. Then there was a time when I was obsessed by ‘’Letter from home’’ by Pat Metheny. I could also listen to ‘’River flows in you’’ by Yiruma all the time when I was 18, it was actually one of the reasons why I got back to playing piano. It’s so diverse and it changes all the time for me.

    Tell us something about your latest release
    If singles count too, I have a new guitar single called „Ráno“, which means „morning“ in Slovak. It’s one of the first pieces I ever composed but I revisited the piece and recorded a new version. And regarding album releases, my latest album release is also my debut album and It’s called ‘‘Ballerina‘‘. I released a promotional CD a year before Ballerina, but that counts more as a special release than a full length album. Ballerina a very special album for me not only thanks to the fact that it’s my first one, but also because it reflects 5 years of my life and the change I made in my solo music direction. You can find my very first piano piece there as well as the latest one, prior to the album release in october 2017. It has received very positive reviews in the media and from the listeners so I’m very happy and thankful for it.

    What’s happening next? New releases etc.
    I’m currently working on my new album which I’d like to release sometime in 2019. I will most probably release a few singles before the actual album release.

    Anything else you want to share?
    I would like to thank all my listeners for the support I get. It keeps me going and gives me a great satisfaction that the music I make, makes sense. I can honestly say that I put all of me into my music and that my music will always be honest from the deep of my heart. I treat all of my pieces with the same passion and love.
    Thank you very much for this interview and I wish lots of success to Sleepy Songs!

    Well, Thank you Oliver!

    Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Hompage / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Anna Sofia Nord

    I recently presented Anna Sofia Nords latest release in a spotted post; so now it’s time to get to know her a bit better, don’t you think?

    What’s your real name and how did you come up with your artist name?
    My name is Sofia Nordlund. I work in several musical environments within different musical genres so I wanted to release my solo piano music using an artist name. It turned out to be Anna Sofia Nord, not too far from my real name.

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    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am originally from Habo, a small town close to Jönköping, Sweden. Now I live in Örebro together with my husband and kids.

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    I have been playing the piano for as long as I remember. I probably started when I was  3-4 years old.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I come from a musical family where music always has ben encouraged an present. My parents have an old black upright piano that has always been a part of the family. I have early memories of me and my sister sitting on each side of our mother while she played and sang together with us. We soon started to pick out melodies and then progress from there. I started to take piano lessons and then after many years I finally graduated from the Royal College of Music, Stockholm, Sweden.

    Do you play other instruments as well? 
    In my youth I played the clarinet for a few years. Now I play the Piano, some Pipe Organ and sing.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I have been writing songs for as long as I have been playing the piano, but probably in a more conscious way from my teens and forward. Since I often find it hard to write lyrics, many pieces stays instrumental. 

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    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    A hard question to answer! I can not remember a certain occasion or moment. It came as a natural progress to playing.

    Have you made music in other genres before?
    Yes I have, and still do write music in other genres, ranging from pop, gospel etc. I also arrange music for a choir that I lead.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    There are many great players and composers out there! It is hard to name any particular favourite, and there are always some songs that tend to speak to you in a special way. If I have to name one single player/artist that inspired me over the years it has to be the late Swedish composer/pianist Jan Johansson. He had more of a jazz background than a classical approach but there is something about his melancholic, nordic tonal language that I find really inspiring. His sense of melody and harmony was outstanding. My parents had an old LP with Jan Johansson that we listened to sometimes. It really inspired me.ind

    How long is your shortest song? 
    Of the currently released songs it has to be ”Safe and Calm” 2:07.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    Are there any rules?  As long as the music communicates the feeling the composer felt when it was written, all means are allowed!

    And, as usual. The question from my son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 

    They often begin as a feeling, a mood or a melodic theme. Then I sit down and improvise and just play around these ideas until I find something that expresses the original thought.

    Thank you for the chat Sofia!

    Please check out the following links for more information!
    Facebook / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Philip Daniel

    A few weeks ago I came across Philips single Memory gate and of course I wanted to do a quick interview with him about his, and others, piano music.

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I grew up in Orange County, California but our family moved to the Midwest, and now I live in Lincoln, Nebraska.

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    For around 20 years, I am 27 and started when I was 7. 

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I was forced to take piano growing up and it was just something I did. Worked at it to the point where I knew I wanted to pursue it as a career. I studied classical piano performance in undergrad and grad school but then discovered the music of Olafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm and it inspired me to compose my own modern classical music. I’ve been composing music ever since and hope to someday compose full-time and tour the world.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    Around 4 years since I composed my first tune.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I have cousins who are professional musicians and they inspired me to stop just playing songs written by other people and create my own. They started out very basic but I hopefully am getting to the point of finding my own unique compositional voice.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Olafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm, Jacob Pavek, John Hayes and many more. 

    What song inspires you the most when you’re making music? Can you name just ONE song/composition?
    “My Friend the Forest” by Nils Frahm.

    How long is your shortest song? 
    “Taking Their Leave” is around 2:30.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    Basic Harmony and lengths of songs in my opinion are rules in pop music that are too closely followed and need to be broken. 

    And here’s a question from my five year old son:
    Where do your songs come from?
    They truly come from what I am genuinely feeling, either consciously or subconsciously. Composing is my way of expressing myself and who I am in the most pure form. 

    Thank you Daniel for sharing this.

    Please check out these sites for more information about Daniel and his music Spotify / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Homepage

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: A Spot On the Hill

    What’s your real name?
    My name is Dan Cook.

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    There’s a hill behind the office building where I work. If you get to work early enough, you can get a parking spot on the hill; if you don’t, you have to walk all the way up the hill. I found myself saying that phrase — “a spot on the hill” — frequently, and it got me thinking. 

    In the most literal way, “a spot on the hill” was just a parking space. But I started to think of it as a metaphor for anything mundane and ultimately meaningless that we nonetheless strive for — not just a parking space. In that way, it becomes a reminder not to strive after things that don’t matter. 

    A spot on the hill can also be a place of contemplation, a place where you can survey the landscape around you or look at the clouds above. To me, that’s the meaning that ties most directly to my music.

    Thirdly, a spot on the hill can be a place of privilege; think of the big houses on the hill of a city, looking down on everything else. In that sense, the name is an acknowledgement that I am extraordinarily lucky to be someone who can make music in my spare time. That’s not something everyone can do.

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I’m from the United States. I was born in Indiana and spent most of my childhood (age 5 to 18) in northern Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. Since then, I have lived in Columbia, South Carolina. 

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    I grew up with a piano in the house and took lessons very briefly when I was 7 or 8, but piano was never my main instrument. I have always loved the sound of the piano, however, and in 2016 I bought a digital keyboard and starting writing piano-based music. I bought my first piano — a $125 instrument from a thrift store — in december of 2017.

    Do you play other instruments as well?
    Yes, my main instrument growing up was violin — I played in orchestra and in a string quartet. From the violin, I went on to learn bass and guitar when I started playing in rock bands as a teenager. 

    At this point, the piano has become my main instrument for writing, but I’m not proficient as a player — that’s not really my goal, honestly. 

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    There have been so many different starting points. After a year or so of piano, I switched to violin around age 9. The really formative years, when I began to understand that you could form a group and write your own music, came a little later — first around age 14 as a member of a string quartet, and then around age 16 in a hardcore group called Kids for Cash. After that, I played in the indie rock band Lay Quiet Awhile and the Slowcore band The Verna Cannon.

    I see A Spot on the Hill as a natural evolution for me musically from both classical and slowcore, bringing together elements of classical minimalism, ambient and postrock, all with a DIY approach that’s rooted in punk rock.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I started writing piano-based music in 2016 and released my first piano-based album, “The Tenth Wave,” in July 2018.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself.
    For me, there wasn’t a single spark, but more of a very long, slow build of music-writing ability and confidence over the course of decades.

    The first songs I wrote were for Kids for Cash — just bass lines that songs were built on in a couple of cases, and also lyrics for one of the songs. Then I was more of a contributor in Lay Quiet Awhile, again just bass parts that songs were built around. The Verna Cannon was the first band where it was really my aesthetic driving the sound, but again I just wrote music, not lyrics, this time mostly starting with guitar parts.

    It wasn’t until A Spot on the Hill that I was creating all of the music — writing and playing every part (except drums in one case), and not collaborating on the composition and arrangement. To put out music that is all you — as opposed to you as a member of a group — is an amazing feeling, but also a very vulnerable one.

    What are your favorite artists in this piano genre?
    There are so many. To name just a handful: Goldmund, Nils Frahm, Olafur Arnalds, Dustin O’Halloran, Max Richter, Kyle McEvoy, Dakota Suite, Slow Meadow, Federico Durand. And of course so much of all this music flows from earlier pioneers, like Philip Glass and Brian Eno. Glass and Eno are two of the people who made this whole musical world possible. Arvo Pärt, Low, and the ECM label, too, are also so important in having helped carved out space culturally for slow, meditative music — not piano per se, but contemplative music more broadly.

    Is there one song you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano? Your own or someone else’s?
    There isn’t. Sometimes I warm up with Hanon finger exercises, but more often I play my own music because I’m not a trained pianist and I don’t have a repertoire of other piano music that I know. I sometimes gravitate toward my song, “What if I was wrong?,” the last song from my first album. It’s a very simple piece, but I just like the way it feels. It can put me in the mindset to play and to write.

    What song inspires you the most when you’re making music? Can you name just one song/composition?
    For me, inspiration doesn’t work quite as directly as that. I’m more inspired by a general aesthetic that’s shared by a lot of artists than by a specific song or composition. When I write, I’m trying to enter a certain headspace; it’s a headspace that a lot of other artists can put me in, but I’m trying to create something of my own that puts me in the same space. 

    Tell us something about your latest release.
    “The Tenth Wave” is a full-length album released in July 2018. It is all instrumental, with piano, violin, acoustic guitar, digital piano and other digital instruments. The piano serves as the foundation for most of the tracks on the record. I build the structure with the piano, and then layer other instruments on top. It’s very slow and contemplative; a friend of mine says the best time to listen to it is at 2 a.m. in the dark, and I think that’s good advice. It’s not really a daytime record, although I’ve also heard it’s good for concentration or studying.

    What’s happening next?
    I’m well into working on another record. I’m hoping to have it out by the summer of 2019.

    Where do all your songs come from?
    Somewhere deep inside. Sometimes they come out easily, and sometimes they need a lot of shaping and crafting. 

    Anything else you want to share?
    I just want to thank Johan Eckman for doing his Behind the Piano series and letting me be part of it.

    Well, YOU ARE WELCOME DAN! Glad to have you onboard.

    Please check out these links to learn more about Dan and A Spot on The Hill.
    Facebook / Twitter / Homepage

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: bzur

    When I first started my Sleepy Songs twitter account; someone sent me a message about bzur’s music, and suggested it for my Sleepy Songs by others playlist on Spotify. After I while, I wrote to bzur, which has since then given me great advice on how to promote my music on Spotify. 

    Well, bzur has done a pretty good job with promotion! Over 80.000 unique listeners every moth!

    What’s your real name? 
    I’d like people discovering it rather than revealing it on an interview. 

    How did you come up with your artist name? 
    It was the first random name which came in my mind when I was approaching the KVR forums (https://www.kvraudio.com)… and I kept that one (btw, in italian “bzur” sounds a bit like “hillbilly”).

    How long have you been playing the piano? 
    I’ve been playing the piano for 35 years…I’m 43, born in 1975.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    Since I was 21, so… 22 years, with a 10 years pause, due to study purposes.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I think I could tell you about the moment I realized I could make music AGAIN after 10 years pause. It was really a joy finding that my inspiration was still there!!!

    Have you made music in other genres before?
    I currently spread my productions across various genres… electronic (ambient, synthwave, dance, italo dance, lo-fi beats, chiptune), piano + strings, orchestral…

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”? 
    I can’t say I have a favourite one… instead, I’d like to name a group of not well known but hugely talented ladies and guys which help keeping alive the movement: 

    – Gian Marco La Serra, with his strong sense for the melody and flowing accompaniment
    – Luis Berra, whose skills on composing and improvising on multiple genres are simply amazing
    – Michele Nobler, whose fine taste and skills doesn’t cease to surprise me
    – Brique a Braq: everything he does is magic 🙂
    – Olivia Belli, who has just released her first solo work as a composer, which has been a nice surprise to me: nice touch and taste
    – Muriël Bostdorp, a dutch pianist with a delicate sense of melody 
    – Giuliano Poles, a hugely gifted musician and piano virtuoso from Northern-East Italy, involved in amazing piano solo and orchestral compositions
    I’d name also Igor Longhi, Manuel Zito, La Finestra and many, many others… as you can see I’m not a mainstream guy 🙂

    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 tend not get all wrapped up in a thing, so there’s not such a song.
    Anyway, at the moment I’m humming and playing “Little PIece” from “Album for the Young” by Schumann… it’s very easy, but really inspirational for me, as my piano music is based on very few elements.

    What song inspires you the most when you’re making music? Can you name just ONE song/composition?
    I’m not strictly tied to one composition. My compositional process is a sort of passive collage of the daily musical solicitations, and it’s always difficult to get back to the originally sources.

    Tell me something about you latest release. 
    In volo is a series of 7 short piano pieces inspired by a local natural area around my city; it depicts the imaginary flight around this area, as if the listener was a bird him / herself.
    A usual, I kept the pieces short, reducing the redundancy, and trying to convey a simple message a time.
    You may find it on bandcamp with some beautiful pictures taken by my friend Ornella, which is a really gifted photographer – indeed, the EP has been inspired by these gorgeous photos. 

    What’s happening next? New releases etc. 
    Regarding the piano solo production, I have some parallel unfinished projects… at the moment I’m pushing on other genres as lofi and synthwave, and on some collabs around the globe!

    Thank you bzur for this! And thank you for all your help so far!

    Please check out these social accounts for more information about bzur!

    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Homepage

    And as always. Find the music on Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Shoshana Michel

    After browsing Spotify playlists for a while; one name came up over and over again in almost every single playlist I saw. It was Shoshana. I listened to a few songs and decided to contact her. She has been very nice and helpful and have come with great advice for a small struggling artist as myself. And, I also want to brag a little bit. She said that my song 0334 was the inspiration for her Lullabies playlist on Spotify.

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I’m from the United States, originally from California, and currently live in New York.

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    I started piano lessons at the age of seven.

    Do you play other instruments as well? 
    Yes, I play the accordion, which was the first instrument that I learned on. 

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I started with regular music lessons, starting on the accordion first then adding the piano. When I was in high school, I discovered ragtime and got gigs playing in pizza parlors then landed a job at a very large amusement park where I played solo piano and in some of the shows there. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I have been making music since I got that first gig at the pizza parlor. Even though some of the songs that I played were not my own compositions many of them were my own arrangements.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself! 
    I composed my first piano solo in 1991 but didn’t take that piece seriously and didn’t compose again until 2015. In those in-between years not only did I not compose, I couldn’t compose. After I released my first album, which were not my own compositions, I decided that I needed to compose. I sat down at my keyboard and after a few tries I started composing. That moment was surreal to say the least. I had totally convinced myself that I couldn’t compose so when I did, it just didn’t seem real.

    Have you made music in other genres before?
    Currently I’ve only composed in the contemporary solo piano genre. 

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    There are so many incredible pianists in the contemporary solo piano genre.  Some of the artists that have influenced me and have become my favorites include Thad Fiscella, David Lanz, Daniel Ketchum, Christine Brown, David Nevue, Robin Spielberg, Ryan Stewart, just 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? 
    Yes, “Finding Bliss” on my new album, Reflection, is a piece that I find myself playing over and over. For me, it’s just a “feel good” song. I named it “Finding Bliss” because very simply when I play it I feel deeply happy within. 

    What song inspires you the most when you’re making music? Can you name just ONE song/composition?
    I don’t think that there is just one song that inspires me the most when I’m composing. Depending on my mood, a certain composer’s style may inspire me.

    Tell us something about you latest release.
    My music reflects who I am. I found myself going through some dark moments as well as everyday challenges, and what I was feeling and experiencing came through my music. Several of the tracks reflect not only what I was going through, but what others may go through at times as well.

    What’s happening next? New releases etc. 
    I’m already composing for my next album. I’m also working on composing for sync licensing for film and transcribing music from my first album.

    Thank you for this Shoshana! You can find more info on these social links:
    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

    And of course, you should head right over to Spotify to listen to Shoshanas music! 

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Little Sailboat

    What’s your real name? 
    Amara Falk

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    I learned how to sail, a small two seated boat, when I was 19 years old. Nothing was more exhilarating, yet unknown, as trying to ride the wind and waves. I’ve found that this imagery parallels my life. There is not much I can control, but I still enjoy being out and experiencing all that this world has to offer. 

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I grew up in Minnesota and still live here. 

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    I’ve been playing the piano since I was in third grade. I took lessons through my freshmen year of college. 

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    Music has always been a part of my family and was a huge part of my upbringing. Everyone in my family played two instruments and sang in a variety of choirs. It was natural for me to start playing because that’s what everyone in my family did too. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I started writing piano music when I was 18 years old. The first piano song I wrote was titled “Barefoot”. It represented how vulnerable I felt being at college and not knowing how to express myself. Since then, I’ve found that writing piano music is one of the best ways to express who I am. 

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I actually wasn’t super impressed! It took other people telling me, that it was good, for me to realize that I had something special. I thought everyone could write music! 

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I really enjoy Ludovico Einaudi and Olafur Arnalds.

    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’ve always had a love for Christmas music! I’ll play it any time of year. In particular there is an arrangement of We Three Kings/Carol of The Bells – John H. Hopkins Jr. Ukranian Carol, arranged by M. Sherrill Kelsey that I play almost every time I sit down at the piano. 

    What song inspires you the most when you’re making music? Can you name just ONE song/composition?
    I don’t think I can name one song or composition, but I do know that I’m greatly inspired by Imogen Heap, Regina Spektor, and Chris Thile. Though none write piano compositions, all three come from classical backgrounds. I love how they will test boundaries while also expressing themselves through their work. 

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    I think as long as you’re being true to your creative self, you don’t have to worry about rules. You can learn from the rules, but true breakout artists always are doing something different from everyone else. 

    Anything else you want to share? 
    I have a new piano EP being released on 1/11/19 titled “Four Movements”!! It’s truly my best work. Check it out wherever you listen to music!! 

    The last question is asked by my 5 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 
    My songs come from deep inside my heart and soul. They are often inspired by what I see and experience in my daily life. 

    Thank you for sharing Amara!

    Please check out these social links about Little Sailboat:
    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Website

    And of course check out the music on Spotify!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Rikard Mathisson

    I first came across Rikard in a facebook group for “bedroom producers”. He needed help with mixing and mastering after he recorded his debut EP “Piano without my name”. And now he’s about to make several new releases! Right?

    Well, I’ll let him tell you the details about that.

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am from Hässleholm in Skåne county, Sweden, and now live outside Ronneby in Blekinge county, also in Sweden. 

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    Since I was 4 years old.
    How long have you been making piano music?
    Since recently, I never finished any songs or made public releases but in 2016 that changed with my first EP, and today I’m more productive than ever. I probably always had it in me, but it just took me a few decades of playing the piano before I “came out” as a composer.
    Tell me something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    This was something that happened because it just had to happen. I had just become a parent and the music started to grow slowly on the inside, and when my boy was born, so was I – as a composer. The music on the inside eventually so loud that I had to express it real life, and then I figured out how realize it into music productions. The realization itself was overwhelming, and sudden, but also something that came natural. The process of learning music production required lot of effort and the learning process will ever go on… Still, it feels like “hey, what happened?”
    Have you made music in other genres before?
    I have performed music in many genres; jazz, country, folk, pop and classical. The last two years I’ve spent most of the studio time in producing pop music in style of Coldplay and Coeur de Pirate with my dear friend Alexander as “Aleco and Mathisson”. So in short: yes. I think one can work cross-genres in general, and that also promotes personal development when one goes beyond the comfort-zone.
    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    “This piano genre” is what I would interpret as “romantic”, “neo classical” or “nordic folk” and then my answer is: Yann Tiersen, Béatrice Martin (a.k.a Coeur de Pirate), Benny Andersson and the late Jan Johansson (as seen in co-op with Georg Riedel or Monica Z). Also I’m influenced by some Swedish expressionst, do not recall the name right now…
    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    Honestly and simply: Most played is my own “Erika’s Song” because it’s deeply connected to my work, my love and inspiration in everything. But also, on repeat, goes “Visa från Utanmyra” as played by Jan Johansson, Kanon by Pachelbel and a few Chess pieces by Benny Andersson.

    What song inspires you the most when you’re making music? Can you name just ONE song/composition?
    Visa från Utanmyra!

    Tell me something about you latest release.
    There’s been a lot of piano pop music the last two years, and latest release is actualy pop “Falling” with Aleco and Mathisson, our most recent piano production is “Someday” released during the summer and in this “piano context” I think that one is relevant. That song is built around a mostly left handed piano riff that actually frames the song rather nicely with the sensation that the lyrics are intended to bring even without the words. And I need to go back to early 2016 to point out my latest piano record. But in the studio lots and lots of songs lingers waiting for the right mood and context… which brings us to the next question.
    What’s happening next? New releases etc.
    Ah yes, this is an exciting question! I’m currently finishing a bigger composition of a moody piano solo suite and I’m planning to let it out during 2019. And as we go there will be a few other songs related and unrelated to the piano suite released as well. In parallell, I’m also working on an album with some ballads with swedish lyrics that will address the local audience. So there’s a lot of things going on right now.
    Anything else you want to share? 
    Every song has it’s own soul! It is vital to take the time to explore each melody and track before letting it go. It is worth the effort, some even say that music is spiritual, but at the least it may lead you and the audience to places you never knew existed before. If I touched a heart once, that’s plenty. And so have the music touched my heart!
    Thank you Rikard!
    You can find more info about Rikard and his projects here: