• Behind the piano

    SPECIAL – Behind the piano: Mike Lazarev

    This is not my photo – it’s a character I have chosen to represent my music.

    Mike Lazarev

    I’ve been making music for about 18 years or so. My uncle has always been very supportive, but it wasn’t until I started making piano music that I really felt that he appreciates the music I make. So this Christmas when he told me to check out Mike Lazarev on Spotify, I gladly did.

    I’ve been listening to Mike Lazarev’s album Dislodged pretty much every day since then; and when he out of nowhere appeared in my Facebook feed I thought to myself; well, I’m just gonna write to him and see if I could interview him.

    He said yes.

    Hi Mike!
    For those who don’t know who you are, please give us an introduction!

    London studio

    Where are you from, and where are you working from at the moment?
    Well, I was born in Ukraine, spent my teenage years in the United States, and recently moved to the United Kingdom where I feel a little more at home. 

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    I am a classically trained pianist (since I was 7 years old), but I never finished the music school as I had to immigrate to the US at the age of 12. There was a long period of time when I didn’t have the piano, until I could afford one myself. But it’s safe to say that I don’t know a life without music.  

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make music yourself!
    I started composing around the age of 12 when I realized that music could be a unique gift that I can create (for someone). First, there was a lot of copying of the chords with my own melodies (like The Beatles, Billy Joel and even Chopin), then I kind of always tinkled around the piano, until maybe six years ago, when I started exploring the outer reaches of spatial and reductionism pianism (the terms I’ve invented myself!) to create some intimate compositions of what I felt inside.

    Can you elaborate those terms a bit more?
    I’m a big fan of ambient music which is mostly concerned with textures, atmospheres, and minimalism. Piano is actually a percussive instrument, and so it is a bit of a challenge to extract “ambient” sounds from it – which is why I play so soft and slow; I want each note to ring out and have its reverberations captured by the microphone. I often have the sustain pedal pressed down all the time, so that each tone blends into another in a continuous sonic din. This is how I attempt to reduce the sound to its bare elements, where silence is an element as well. 

    As I’ve told you before; I found you through my Uncle who sent me a link to your album Dislodged. I know its not your latest release, but I want to ask a bit about it!

    Is there a theme throughout the album?
    Dislodged is actually a second half of my album Unhinged (both are supposed to be played one after another in any order). On Unhinged I removed the wooden casing of the piano to get closer to the instrument with the microphones (these parts were held by a hinge, hence the title). And on Dislodged, I locked in a pedal into a certain position in order to keep the felt between the hammers and the strings to muffle the sound (hence the title, once again – and you can see this on the cover of the album).

    Of course, “unhinged” and “dislodged” could also describe some emotions that I experienced when communicating through music, so there is a play on words too, but generally it’s all about a melancholy state of mind that I was experiencing while composing.  

    When I heard the song Dislodged I instantly recognized it as much as I loved it (especially that part that comes one more time in “TV interlude”).

    What can you tell me about that track?
    The TV Interlude is actually an interesting piece, because it was recorded by accident as I was still composing the melody. As you can hear, the TV was on in the background, and I was just exploring the piece, which I didn’t intend to share. But when the album was complete, I felt it was important to bring back this vignette as an interlude for the listener. For the final Dislodged piece, there is a moment where the entire instrument makes a cracking sound (somewhere deep inside the soundboard), which was also not intended. But I don’t believe in accidents, or perfectionism when it comes to making music; so I decided to keep everything as is: tiny mistakes, noises, and imperfections.  

    Yeah, the first time I heard TV interlude I wasn’t sure where the TV noise came from; my room or the recording.

    You have already given some hints on this; but can you tell me more about how the album was recorded?
    Well, that’s all me playing in my living room, in my condo in New York. This was usually pretty late at night, when it’s dark and the apartment building was quiet. I played very quietly with closely placed microphones (which is why you can hear my breathing and sometimes even the refrigerator hum). So, I’m afraid, it wasn’t a dedicated studio with a professional pianist, which is why I think it’s a lot more intimate, because you’re literally with me in my home.  

    Knowing this makes me feel even closer when I’m listening to the album. Awesome! I am however a little bit curious on your take on sampled pianos. For me, it’s quite impossible to record a piano live in my apartment; if the kids are awake, they will ruin the recording, or if they would be asleep, I would probably wake them up; no matter how soft I played.
    For piano sounds, I am lucky enough to be able to produce my own. With each note always sounding completely different than the other, I am essentially constructing my very own sound library. That being said, on a few pieces I have used a sophisticated sample library of a cello. That’s right, the cello, although 100% real, is played by me using a keyboard, because I am simply unable to create the sounds on my own. Therefore I am pretty open to the idea of a sample library, as long as each note doesn’t sound too repetitive. 

    Do you somehow modify your piano to get that ”damped” sound which can be heard throughout the album? What kind of piano do you use?
    It’s an upright W. Hoffman which I particularly purchased for that sound (it took me more than six months to find just the right one). I used to have a Yamaha baby grand, but I sold it before moving to London, and it began sounding a bit too bright for my liking. The piano is not modified at all beyond the removal of the wooden casing, with all original felt. But I did think about making the felt a bit more thicker for even damper sound.  

    Last but not least;
    Do you have more music coming out soon? 
    I have not accumulated enough tracks for an entire album, but I am playing around with a piece or two, most recently in collaboration with some of my favorite artists, because I think they really compliment my ideas beyond where I could take them alone.

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

    It’s a great question, but the answer may be a bit tough to explain to a 5-year old, but you can try. All of my music comes from within, when it’s impossible to explain what I feel with words. That something, however, needs to come out, and it is expressed through my music.

    Thank you Mike! It has been a real pleasure talking to you about this.

    I usually don’t embed Spotify playlist in my Behind the piano posts, but I think you all need to check out these albums if you haven’t heard them.

    If the playlists doesn’t work, just click here to go to Spotify and listen there instead!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Dominique Charpentier

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I was born in Nîmes, an old roman city in the south of France. After living in Paris for a few years I came back to the south a few weeks ago. I live in French Provence now, in Hyères, near the sea.

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    I started playing the piano at 8. I am 30 now. 

    Do you play other instruments as well? 
    Yes! Guitar, ukulele, accordion and a few others.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I started at a young age, with private lessons. Then I had to stop because it was too expensive for my parents, but I kept playing on my own, trying to learn new pieces by ear. And I finally joined a music school when I was a young adult, to learn the fundamentals I needed, both in theory and practice.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    You mean composing piano music? I think I started in 2003, so I have been composing for 15 years now. But it is a long maturation process.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    It was pure fun and excitement and it felt as if the time has stopped. Then I thought “Wow, I am a fucking genius, like Beethoven”. Lol. I was totally mistaken of course! ☺ 

    Have you made music in other genres before?
    Yes. I am a composer for films and videogames also. So I have to compose in a lot of different genres sometimes. For example I remember creating a kind of “Indian music” track for a videogame. I love doing that, it is so much fun! 

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Easy! Originally the first ones that I loved the most and influenced me the most are Yann Tiersen, Ludovico Einaudi and Phil Glass. Then my latest influences were Fabrizio Paterlini and Olafur Arnalds. So these are still my favourite ones I think. 

    But I discovered a lot of new artists thanks to Spotify, and added the ones I really like to my “Soft Piano Playlist to Fall Asleep”. So, to be precise, all the artists that I love the most right now, are in there. If I have to name a few ones, I would say that I particularly appreciate the works of Luca Longobardi, Dirk Maassen, Simeon Walker, Daigo Hanada, Julien Marchal, Otto Totland, Dmitry Evgrafov, Mike Lazarev, Klangriket, Niklas Paschburg and Federico Albanese.

    And if I have to name the dead ones, Chopin and Schubert are my absolute favourite piano composers.

    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, lately I have been playing a lot two of my compositions, “Experience” and “Raz Blanchard”.

    What song inspires you the most when you’re making music? Can you name just ONE song/composition?
    No, it is impossible to name one, because it depends on what I am composing. Anyway, I used to think of a particular piece from a composer that I like a lot when composing. But I don’t do that anymore. I think that after years of learning the process of composition and sometimes imitating consciously or unconsciously the work of other composers, I am finally free of my musical influences. Since 2016 I think. As I said, for me composition was and still is a long and slow process.

    Tell us something about you latest release.
    The favourite piece of my latest album Carnet de Voyage is “Raz Banchard”. The “Raz Blanchard” is a strait that runs between Alderney and the Cap de la Hague, on the Cotentin peninsula in Normandy (France). There, a strong current runs through the race north of the Passage de la Déroute, that can run up to about twelve knots. It is one of the most powerful in Europe.

    What’s happening next? New releases etc. 
    Right now I am working on an original soundtrack for a feature documentary, and then I will release a new piano solo EP, at the beginning of next year.

    Anything else you want to share?
    Thank you for the interview! 

    And thank you Dominique! You can find more info about him and his music on the following social media:

    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Homepage

    And of course you should listen to Dominique on Spotify!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Giuseppe Costa

    Giuseppe was one of the first persons to contact me about playlist placements a couple of months ago. We had a bit of a language barrier when making this interview and had to use Google Translate a lot, but I hope you understand most of it!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am Italian and I live in Sicily, in a small town. Where I live there are no great possibilities and today the cultural situation in Italy is really poor. The space dedicated to pianists and composers is reduced to almost nothing. If you do not have a manager behind an important record company, you do not do anything, especially if you are not chasing a standard but try to express yourself for a greater love THE MUSIC and also those who listen to you. I trust the possibilities of the network and I really say it. My music is heard in America, Australia, Spain, France, Mexico and even in Italy. And I hope to receive a bigger response and offer more and more, but not for a protagonism but to allow me to offer something important.

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    I started studying music at the age of 18, much later than many other pianists who started playing pretty early, but I always liked music and I wanted to become a jazz player. I was not a child prodigy, but I think I have guessed early enough that making music has to do with sounds and especially with the senses, with the exploration of what we have in a subtle communication that becomes a spiritual bridge with a deep peace. I firmly believe that music understood as an art has an effect on others. Stravinsky in his poem states: “The unity of the work has a resonance: which our soul perceives, it resounds little by little. […] music appears to us as an element of communion with neighbor, and with Being “.

    Do you play other instruments as well?
    No, I don’t play other instruments, but I am fascinated by almost every instrument and I’m trying to fulfill my desire when I write for orchestra, for chamber training, for solo instrument. It’s only the piano and only with this tool that I find an identity.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    The desire to hear sounds was too strong, I was not interested in anything else. I had to play.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I am 42 years old, and have been playing for 22 years. My first concert was about 16 years ago, my first recording project about 12 years ago.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I started studying late and surely this puts you in front of so many difficulties. Writing and expressing myself with music has always been a need, not something I have chosen but something that I had to do. I do not know if there is something that has convinced me that I must write but I feel inside the conviction of doing it to try to make the sensation feel and to share my thoughts with others. I believe the concept of making music today is instrumental, commercial I would like to show between music not to do with all this but it is a more spiritual need.

    Have you made music in other genres before?
    I have not ventured into other genres apart from contemporary music, but in my music there’s some jazz! As a child I loved Jimi Hendrix very much, but it is difficult to play it on the piano.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Definitely Keith Jarrett is my point of reference and I deeply love Brad Mehldau, Maurizio Pollini, and Marta Argerich.

    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?
    When I sit at the piano I like to improvise, but two songs that I like to play are L’arabesque No. 1 by Debussy and the Sonatina by Ravel.

    What song inspires you the most when you’re making music? Can you name just ONE song/composition?
    The album “Sun Bear Concert” by K. Jarrett.

    Tell us something about your Recital album.
    I cannot play the songs in this album, but recently I recorded an ambitious album at least as the “Sun Bear Concert” is called “Recital” and there are 5 improvisations from 50 minutes and performed in 5 different days. It is a very ambitious project because I created these pieces but starting from nothing without a starting motive, or something I had written before and every improvisation is completely different from one another. I would like to put this joy of mine to improvise!
    W

    Anything else you want to share?
    A wish! Play at Carnegie Hall!

    Thank you Giuseppe!

    You can find more info about him and his music on the following links:
    Facebook / Facebook / Instagram 

    And of course on Spotify!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Magnus Murel

    This week I’m introducing you to Magnus Murel!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I’m from Tjøme, a small town a couple of hours south of Oslo, Norway. Today I live in Oslo.

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    I’ve been playing the piano for maybe 23 years. I think I started when I was ten. When I was 15-16 I moved to composition as my main musical activity. Though I still play piano I never use sheet music and always improvise my material.

    Do you play other instruments as well?
    I’ve played accordion, cello, acoustic guitar and some flute.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    I don’t remember how it started. My parents told me I pointed at a shiny accordion when I was around five years old and they bought it to me.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I’m making a lot of music in general, and piano music is not my main category. I’ve been composing since I was 15 years old, I’m 33 at the moment. 

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    Hm, I was 15 years old and my piano teacher told me that I always keep adding notes that wasn’t in the sheets, and that I maybe was a composer myself. After that I went home and wrote my first piece for piano and cello.

    Have you made music in other genres before?
    Yes, I’ve made music in a lot of different genres. Ambient, electronic, synth pop, rap, African, afro-cuban, jazz, orchestral, folk tunes, film music, dubstep etc. The list goes on, that’s one of the best thing working with film and tv, that I get to explore all these different genres.

    What are your favourite artists in this “piano genre”?
    This is a though one, recently I’ve discovered lots of great artist that makes beautiful music. I recently discovered Brian Crain, and the usual suspect Nils Frahm, Ólafur Arnalds and Max Richter.

    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?
    Hm, the last couple of years I always improvised when I’m at the piano, but before that I always had time to a quick play through of Beethovens third movement in the Pathetique sonata, and Souvenirs d’Andalousie by Gottschalk.

    What song inspires you the most when you’re making music? Can you name just ONE song/composition?
    At the moment it’s Hans Zimmer main theme from Interstellar that keep’s popping up when I’m in need of inspiration.

    Tell us something about you latest release.
    My latest is a release is a solo piano piece that was improvised a nostalgic love scene in a Norwegian feature movie. The movie featured a wide variety of genres, some of it kan be heard in my album “Selected Music From Film & Television”.

    What’s happening next? New releases etc.
    I’m always working on different film and tv projects, but I’m also working on my next EP and a stand-alone single. I don’t know which is going to be finished first, but the EP is an mixture of electronic ambient music and choir, and the single is a cinematic piece that is going to be fantastic! 🙂

    Facebook / Instagram / Youtube / Twitter / Homepage

    An of course, have a look at the music on Spotify!

    Thank you Magnus!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Merrill Crissey

    Every now and then you start talking to someone and it doesn’t seem to be and end to the conversation. Merrill (or Chip) wrote to me a while back when he had just started to release music, and we started talking. Still going! See you in Orlando, someday, maybe!

    What is your real name?
    Merrill Crissey, but I actually go by the nickname Chip since I share a name with my Dad.

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    I started piano lessons when I was ten and started taking snare drum lessons which I eventually quit. Paradiddles are hard.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I started picking out songs when I was pretty young but didn’t really start writing piano pieces until college. I studied classical piano and some composition at university. But mostly I wanted to write for ensembles and orchestra. It wasn’t until last year that I started writing for piano again.

    Tell me something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I don’t recall the exact moment, but I had a moment once when I was writing my first orchestral piece entitled Svensk Sommar (I had spent a month in Sweden that year). I realized the magic of composing. A part of the piece I was working on just suddenly came together and I fell in love with composing.

    Have you made music in other genres before?
    Like many, I listen to a lot of different types of music. Everything from choral to indie rock to orchestral. I’ve written pop rock songs, but they weren’t very good and I’m not a lyricist. Most of my stuff is instrumental falling into the classical, cinematic, or neoclassical genres. I scored a short film where it was mostly a jazz trio. My Dad played sax on it. Jazz is one of those genres I love, but don’t feel very at home playing. 

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    For a project at work we were trying to find some cool aesthetics for an album we were designing. We ran across the Erased Tapes label and that is where I first heard of Olafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm. I guess they have sort of pioneered the latest iteration of pop piano classical. At first I felt like the felt soft piano thing was strange. I mean I was classically trained so I was used to bright pianos that almost sounded like bells chiming. Now here’s this group of musicians making music with the practice pedal on. But slowly it started growing on me and now I love both. I don’t know what it is with the Scandinavians, but they are killing it in this genre. Half of the stuff I’ve grown to love in the last year is either from Iceland or Sweden. But of course there are folks all over the place that are doing amazing things. Thomas Enhco of France is one of my current favorites. He does it all—classical, jazz, contemporary. He’s the kind of pianist I wish I could be.

    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? 
    J.S. Bach is probably my favorite composer and his music feels so good in the fingers. Recently, I learned of the amazing pianist Vikingur Olafsson. He recorded a Bach organ Sonata movement transcribed for piano that I’ve been trying to learn. It’s such a beautiful and yet fairly unknown piece.

    What song inspires you the most when you’re making music?
    That’s so tough to answer because everything belongs to a context. I tend to write melancholic music if I let myself, but I try to push myself to break out of the natural 72 bpm mode I’m naturally inclined towards. 

    Can you name just ONE song/composition?
    Another hard question because there is just so much that moves me. Elgar’s Nimrod from the Enigma variations ranks pretty high on my list of favorites, but there really are too many to say. 

    Tell me something about your latest release. 
    I released a couple of singles called Bach Reimagined. I took a couple of his preludes from the WTC book 1 and recomposed them. I tried to use a similar compositional device but make the music my own. In other words, I used similar rhythmical or even harmonic motifs but made them go in a different direction. I’m not trying to improve on the master. I like to think that I am telling the same story but in my own words.

    What’s happening next? New releases etc. 
    A lot really. I’m working on some piano pieces for an album that is partly related to my life in Japan. I lived there for most of the 2000’s and I want to write something that expresses my feelings about that time of my life. I’m also working up some pieces for string that I hope to get recorded. Ideally, I would love to branch out and be writing orchestral as well as piano music someday. 

    Anything else you want to share?
    Just that I’m grateful to any and all of you who listen to or share my music. I hope it adds some joy to your life. Thanks for letting me talk about music with you. I’ve really enjoyed the little online community of composers I’ve been introduced to in the last year.

    Thank you for your answers Merrill!

    Please check out the social media below for more information about Merrill and his music. 

    Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

    And also, of course, on Spotify!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Kristoffer Wallin

    When I released my EP “Spring” in October. Kristoffer was the first person to put one of the songs in a public Spotify playlist with a decent amount of followers to it. For that – I’m grateful. He’s also a great musician and songwriter himself!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I’m originally from Arjeplog, North of Sweden and now living in Alingsås, also located in Sweden.

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    Since I was 21 years old. Before that I played the acoustic guitar.

    Do you play other instruments as well?
    Double bass is my main instrument but I also play guitar.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    I started to play music in the swedish music school.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    Since I was 16 years.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I remember when I was 16, I wrote for the first time a song with my friends.
    At that moment I understood that I could write music and that I liked it very much.

    Have you made music in other genres before?
    As a musician, I have walked through many genres, and so I have also written music to the context in which I found myself for the moment.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Benjamin Gustavsson and Luke Howard

    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 , a song called “Here I Am” that I composed with my close friend Ola W Jansson. That song put me in a emotional mood.

    What song inspires you the most when you’re making music? Can you name just ONE song/composition?
    It is different songs all the time but Luke Howard actually have some interesting harmony that’s inspires me.

    Tell us something about you latest release.
    November 30, 2018 I released a new album “In My Sleep”.
    The music was composed over the course of a few months when I every morning tried to write down or draw the dreams I dreamt. “My dreams became music”

    What’s happening next? New releases etc.
    I´m working on music that will be relased in February 2019.

    Anything else you want to share?
    Thanks to everyone who have listened to the music this year, 2018!
    It’s been amazing to see how it’s gone all over the world.
    I never wrote music for notoriety or commerce.
    I wrote it to try and make sense of the beauty when melody and harmony interact and with the wish that this will affect the listener.
    I wrote it to put into sound that which cannot be expressed through words.
    To navigate the waters of the deep soul.
    To explore the melodies that flow in my veins.

    You can find more info about Kristoffer and his music on these social links:

    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Homepage / Spotify

    Thank you for participating Kristoffer!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Lynn Yew Evers

    Let’s do a little Christmas special! Since Lynn’s latest track is a Christmas song I though it would be a perfect fit. And for those wondering; in Sweden we celebrate Christmas on the 24th, so thats why I’m posting this today. 

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I was born and bred in Malaysia.  I live in the USA for 9 years now. 

    How long have you been playing the piano? 
    I started at 4 so I have played it for 46 years now.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I got a toy piano as a birthday present at 4, I tried it on the first time and almost immediately fell in love with the instrument so I begged my parents to buy me a “big” piano and teach me to play. 

    How long have you been making piano music? 
    I composed my first song at 9 so I have been doing it for the past 40 years.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself! 
    I remember the first song I composed from a poem “Two Little Blackbirds”, I was reading the poem and find it bored so I went to the piano and started to put in “tune” to match with the words and worked out nicely. From then on I composed more and more tunes! *

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?  
    Jim Brickman, Yiruma and Kevin Kern.

    What song inspires you the most when you’re making music? Can you name just ONE song/composition?
    Without Words

    Tell us something about your latest release. 
    It is a Christmas single – Winter Wonderland with my arrangement in a light jazzy style.

    What’s happening next?
    New releases etc. I am ready to release a cover song single in January 2019, following a solo piano album in February.  

    Thank you Lynn! Please check out these link to social media:
    Facebook / Twitter / Instagram 

    Ans also, of course. SPOTIFY!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Erik Slättberg

    The first pianist/composer I want to introduce to you is Erik Slättberg. My friend Bernt had borrowed my sound card and was in some fancy piano studio with Erik, trying to record Erik’s second album. Bernt had some problems, but together we solved it, and the album was recorded. When Erik released the album he contacted me and wanted some advice on how to promote his songs on Spotify. I was happy to help out once again!

    I’ll let Erik introduce himself!

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    I didn’t really come up with a name, so I decided to keep my own name. I’ve always loved to explore the piano and in many ways it feels very personal to me, so keeping my own name felt very honest and natural. I do however have a different company name – Music With Erik – as I do a lot of different projects where i’m not doing it solo. I also work as a piano teacher.

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    I started to play sporadically when I was around thirtheen, but I didn’t really do much with it until I was around eighteen. I used to play guitar back then but got tired of it. Everytime I didn’t want to play guitar I went to the piano instead. That is basically how I got into it.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    In one way or another, i’ve been composing for as long as I’ve been into music. I’ve always have had a very strong ability to hear music inside my head. So whenever I was practicing something and it got into my head, my brain started to juggle with it and create new ideas and variations. I guess that’s a big part of how I always learned music and to compose. I play something, my head plays with it, then I go back to the instrument and see what I can do with it. So basically, composing has been a big part of how I learned to play music.

    Have you made music in other genres before?
    I’ve made jazz, classical and pop music. I also like to mix those three genres together.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    It’s hard to pick just one. I also tend to like music that mixes genres and have also been a lot into jazz. I guess Brad Mehldau’s solo piano albums have formed me more than any other pianist, with his striking virtousity and ability to create piano music with a lot of layers. On the more minimalistic side, I enjoy Nils Frahm a lot. He got a lot of interesting stuff and I really enjoy the sound of his productions.

    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?
    It varies a lot from time to time. At the moment, I do a lot of free improvisation and basically just see what happens.

    What song inspires you the most when you’re making musik? Can you name just ONE song/composition?
    Also varies, but right now I would pick Brad Mehldaus cover live version of a song called ”Bittersweet Symphony”. For me that is 16 minutes of ecstasy.

    Tell me something about you latest release.
    My latest release ”Growth” went out November 9th ,which I recorded it earlier this summer. It consists of nine tracks and it is a mix of neo classical, jazz, pop and occasionally some folk. I went through a lot of personal growth this year, and also developed my playing and composing a lot. So ”Growth” felt like the most fitting name. Compared to my previous album, this one has a lot more energy and spirit. If you like piano music that doesn’t close itself from being experimental at times, and which cares more about the emotion of the music than how it fits into a certain style, ”Growth” might appeal to you.

    What’s happening next? New releases etc.
    My plan is to start composing this winter. I’m going to write 24 piano preludes. That is one for every musical key. A lot of the old composers use this format and i’ve had this idea for more than ten years now. So I think it is time to do it now. I think i’ll release the first set in spring 2019.
    I will also have a release concert for ”Growth”, Mars 10th in Örebro, Sweden. I will play a lot of music from the album, but with an open setlist and with room for free improvisation. I like to challenge myself and the audience by trying to be as responsive as possible to the ”vibe” of the moment, rather than getting to fixed about what i’m going to do. That way, I remain more present in what I do.

    You can find more info about Erik and his music here:
    Facebook / Homepage / Instagram / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Sleepy Songs

    Of course, I will have to start with interviewing myself to see if the questions will work!

    This should be interesting; and I’ll try to keep it short…

    What’s your real name?
    My name is Johan Eckman.

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I grew up in a small town called Arvika in Sweden. When I was around 20 I moved to my current city with is Malmö in the south of Sweden,

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    When I first started making piano music; I made it for the kids at work (I work as a preschool teacher for kids in the ages of 1-5). Usually we had some kind of calming music during nap time, but I wasn’t very happy with the old CDs my workplace provided. So I decided to make my own relaxing music. Sleepy Songs was the name I choose when I finally released those songs on Spotify and has stayed with me since.

    How long have you been playing the piano?
    I started playing the piano my second year of what we in Sweden call “gymnasiet”. I guess you could compare it to high school in America. I was about 16 years old. I’m actually more of a drummer…

    How long have you been making piano music?
    Since around 2011 when I started my first job as a preschool teacher.

    Tell me something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I guess it’s pretty common as a kid to think that rockstars and artists arn’t human. They’re something else. I started making music with my computer when I was around 14. Thats kind of how I learned to play instruments; by “composing”. That’s still how I learn and get better with my instruments; by composing. I don’t know that many songs by other composers…

    Have you made music in other genres before?
    I have made so much music in my days… From singer songwriter to Swedish schlager. When I was about 20 years old I got a publishing deal with a company that tried to pitch my “hit-songs” to Asian record companies. They didn’t succeed. I have made songs in pretty much every genre you could think of. I consider myself to be a better songwriter/producer than a piano player. I’ve also made a gold selling children’s music album called Prinsessans Rockband.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Olafur Arnalds. He’s the only one I get back to every 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 is three songs I always come back to. One of them is my own song 0334. Another one is Tomorrows song by Olafur Arnalds, and the third one is a song called Längtar, which is written by my buddy Dan Sigurdson for our band Broms Friskusen. 

    What song inspires you the most when you’re making music? Can you name just ONE song/composition?
    That would be Tomorrow’s song by Olafur Arnalds.

    Tell me something about you latest release.
    My latest release was the single Arvika (7th december 2018). During the summer vacation of 2018 I only brought with me my Maschine from Native Instruments and a tiny keyboard (only two octaves). I’ve has my Maschine for many years without knowing how to use it properly. I figured it was time. But I couldn’t do another one of my piano solo songs, so I decided to make something more electrical, but still with the piano as the main instrument. So down in the basement of my parents house in Arvika I made this song. When I got back to Malmö again, I decided to make a piano solo of the song as well, so this single contains two versions of the same song; one with electronics, and one with only the piano.

    What’s happening next? New releases etc.
    I have one single coming mid January, another single late February and a four track EP coming in March. At the moment I’m doing the last finished of another EP which hopefully will be released in May.

    Thank you for reading! I think it went pretty well, didn’t it?

    I’m not going to bother you with social and streaming links here. They can be found all over the place.

  • Behind the piano

    On Thursday…

    On Thursday I will post the first post in my blog series Behind the piano. It’s a really soft start since this first post is all about… me! Of course. 

    I have gathered a lot of interviews during the past weeks, and I’m more than excited about introducing all of these people to you! Some of them you might now already, and hopefully you’ll find a couple of new favorite piano players!

    See you Thursday!