Luke Navin – Interview

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‘Musical mastermind’ is the only way I can describe Luke Navin. I was so thrilled that he was brought to my attention and am now converted into an ever devoted fan! A first year student at Oxford , Luke’s talent is undeniable both in the forms of pianist and composer. His debut album 7 and a Half Visions of Love is a stunning collection of original compositions for the solo piano, emitting a romantic approach to a beautiful, modern real-life love story. Full of gorgeously rich, melodic phrasing throughout, the album is sprinkled with contemporary touches, creating a listen that’s appealing to anyone from new audiences to those who enjoy film music and works from the great Romantic composers.

‘7 and a Half Visions of Love’ follows a dreamlike journey of love that so many people can identify with along the way, from the moment strangers’ eyes meet across a crowded room, to infatuation; the blossom  of developing love. As the album flows, we are transported through a hurricane of emotion to a beautiful but tragic end, with tracks expressing the grief behind loss of love, when two people are parted from each other forever.

The album features inspiration taken from various forms of art, the classic Romantic composers (Rachmaninoff , Puccini) film composers, things he’s seen, places he’s gone, and of course personal experience. It offers a listening experience full to the brim of depth, meaning and stunning musicality.

I think it was the third listen to the album that made me reflect on the power of human emotion and love, how can we possibly feel so much, and with such depth? This debut disc is huge testament to Luke’s maturity and understanding of emotion, in composition and in playing ability – and he’s only just getting started. A bright, sparkling future for this chap!

Here’s our chat:

Hi Luke, really thrilled to have you on Meander! How are you? 

Thank you, I’m delighted to be featured. I’m having a great time – I remind myself each day that I’m so lucky to be doing something I love. So few people get to do that. I’m just heading back to Oxford for the summer term, which should keep me very busy for the next few weeks!

You’re a composer and a pianist, what would you first and foremost consider yourself?

A composer. Every composer needs some medium to express their ideas, and the piano has always been mine. The piano feels like an extension of me. Any idea that comes to mind, I will play through on the piano before doing anything else.

Where did you receive your musical training? Have you been playing the piano from childhood? 

 I’ve been playing for a long time – since the age of three, although I wasn’t allowed to have lessons until I was five as I was rather small and my arms could barely reach the piano! I had a wonderful music teacher who I badgered every single day non stop until she gave me lessons. I had a string of wonderful piano teachers, the last of whom was the concert pianist Warren Mailley-Smith. He’s always been tremendously supportive.

Much of your music is characterised by the late romantic style of playing, where did your love for this particular style stem from?

Like anything, I think it comes from experiencing different styles of music and discovering how they affect you. I found that there was something about the late Romantic style that really had a profound effect on me – harmonically in particular. I saw Tosca when I was very young and it sparked an interest both in opera and the late Romantic style as a whole.

You compose for a number of different things, personal commissions, to sacred events and for film and television – what projects do you enjoy working on the most and why?

I love anything with singers, and I love music that tells a story. Increasingly I enjoy writing more secular music as I find it better allows me to embrace my natural music style. That said, Christmas is always a fun time for sacred stuff – last year I composed a very uplifting carol for SATB for a large London choir, which was really tremendous fun.

Your debut album 7 and a Half Visions of Love is absolutely stunning. How did the creation process start? Did you tinkle about with a motif in yourmind or take inspiration from a particular piece?

Thank you, I’m so glad you’re enjoying it! I rarely compose at the piano. I started with really a lot of ideas in my head – for every day I thought about this album I found I had another ten ideas. I think a lot of the creation process was actually filtering down the multitude of ideas and piecing them all together in a way that made sense. It’s impossible not to take inspiration, especially when you’re young, and both Puccini and Rachmaninoff have been great inspirations for me. If I were to name one piece, I think the Intermezzo from Manon Lescaut probably had a big impact – I must have listened to that piece a thousand times!

 

 

As a listener, I grew incredibly emotional as the album developed. Following the journey of the various stages of love – how did you manage to capture such raw emotion and translate it into music?

I’m delighted to hear that. To me there is no right or wrong way of capturing emotion – it’s something every composer tries to do, and each will have a different idea of how to do it. You have to write in a way that means something to you, and I’m lucky that what appeals to me and what affects me musically is often in line with what will appeal to a broad range of future listeners. My music is in no way elite or specialist, and will speak very directly to the emotions of everyone.

There’s often a perception that classical music requires a trained ear in order to appreciate it, when in fact this is often not the case – particularly when it comes to romantic music, and particularly not here. The very words ‘classical music’ can be so plagued by this dogma that I’m almost reluctant to use the label on my music – it’s seems unfair as this album certainly has popular appeal.

 

Were tracks of this album based upon personal reflection?

The entire album, in fact, is inspired by my experiences over the past two years. I took a year to focus on composition before beginning my time at Oxford University last year. However, midway through, I met a wonderful girl in Covent Garden who lived in Rome, and my year of composing became somewhat sidelined by the wonderful love story that ensued. Nearly two years on, this album tells that beautiful story. You could say I’m making up for all the pieces I didn’t get round to writing a year ago when I was whisked off to Rome!

 

Well that’s just quite beautiful! Whilst it’s clear to hear that this album features huge amounts of Romanticism qualities, you can also clearly detect modern skill. How do you take modern technique and apply it to the Romantic style?

It’s certainly not a conscious effort. Neither is it a conscious effort to hark back to romanticism – it’s just what feels natural and expressive to me. Rather than harking back, I feel that I’m picking up where romanticism left off. Music went in many different directions in the first half of the 20th century, not all of them good. With the benefit of hindsight, I’m going back to a real musical high point and working from there. That’s not to say that the 20th century didn’t produce some fabulous new music – of course it did. I just feel that romanticism is far from dead and so much more can be made of it today.

Are there certain composers that you took big inspiration from through the creation stages? I imagine you took inspiration from a number of film composers as well as classical?

Film music is terrific – it’s perhaps the most exciting medium for musical expression around today. Puccini was a master of musical expression, and if he’d lived a little longer there is no doubt he would have got into film music. It’s such a terrific platform and allows some great music to reach more people than ever before. As far as inspiration, I love Schubert – his music is so exquisite. And Rachmaninoff – much like great a great film score, his music can transport you to the farthest corners of the earth, and of course as a pianist Rachmaninoff has an extra appeal in that so much of it you can play! That said, I’ve spent months of my life playing through Puccini and Wagner’s operas in vocal scores… just playing through the Liebestod from the end of Tristan and Isolde, even without a singer, brings tears to the eyes.

What else influences you as a composer and musician? Art and Culture? Travel?

I love the visual element to music as well as the emotive one, so both art and travel are very important. Rachmaninoff composed one of his most dramatic pieces based on a painting entitled ‘The Isle of the Dead’, and the vision of this place (a dark and gloomy island in the middle of the ocean) in the music is profound. Every place and every image can in some way be captured musically, and working out how to do it is a real joy. I suspect this is where my love of both opera and film music stems from, on top of the emotional element involved. Music that depicts and enhances both location and visuals, and deep human emotion seems like such a complete package.

What’s your personal favourite piece from 7 and a Half Visions of Love and why?

I like the fourth track ‘Till Death Do Us Part’. I think that as a single piece it has a very complete journey from start to finish, as well as some of the most lyrical and longing melodic phrases in the album.

What’s coming up for you over the next year? Do you plan to give live performances of your album?

I’m quite busy at Oxford for the next few weeks, but after that I will be focusing on concerts. I’ll be doing a concert showcasing the album in London in the summer – it will be something really special and unique, and definitely more than your ordinary piano recital, so definitely one to look out for. I’ll keep you posted!

Thanks so much for chatting on Meander, we wish you huge success with all your future ventures!

Thank you.

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Aled Jones – Interview

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As a trained classical singer myself, on a personal level I was so, so beyond excited to get the chance to chat to the one and only Aled Jones on my blog. So many of us have grown up alongside the infamous vocals of a young chorister that warmed the hearts of the nation, especially with that timeless and truly treasured Christmas favourite,’Walking in the Air‘.

Released through the Classic FM Label, Aled’s new album ‘One Voice‘ takes us all down a trip to memory lane with him but with a bit of a modern twist, as he duets in the present day, with himself as a boy. In fact, this very album is the last he ever recorded as a boy before his voice broke, and as Aled says in our interview below,  is the best he feels he ever sang as a boy.

The folksong classics featured in ‘One Voice’ offer huge amounts of nostalgia, with songs including Danny Boy, O Waly, Waly and The Lark In The Clear Air. With works on the album composed by Britten, Vaughan Williams abd many more, Aled applies his modern-day technique to classic, traditional music we all know and love; the songs that take us back to the good old days. What rings true is the depth of emotion Aled carries throughout each track, as he journeys from boy to man in a simple yet beautifully executed record.

Here’s my little interview with Aled on ‘One Voice’ and his hugely exciting, upcoming Cathedral Tour:

Aled, welcome! Firstly, a huge, huge congratulations on the release of your truly beautiful album, ‘One Voice’. How have you found the response so far?

It’s been phenomenal and very humbling.  I never in my wildest dreams thought that it would resonate with so many people.  I’m thrilled!!

Not to mention that you have, ahem, overtaken Adele’s ’25’ in the best seller charts?!

Well I’m sure it’s a fleeting thing!! She is an incredible artist and I bought her album.  I have to admit it’s an amazing feeling being top of the best seller chart.  My producer still can’t believe it and checks the chart every hour!!!

What’s the back-story to the creation of ‘One Voice’? The last ever album you recorded as a boy was discovered almost by accident, where was it lying all this time?

It was in my mum and dads airing cupboard – lying there for 30 years – only in there to keep warm as moisture would have destroyed the original recording.  It was my last record as a boy but never released as my boy voice broke.  When I heard it a year ago I was bowled over by it – I’d forgotten that my boy voice was so sparkly.  I honestly do believe this is the best singing I ever did as a boy.

You spent years and years of your life avoiding listening to the 16 albums you had released as a child, what made you listen to this particular album?

I suppose I’m at an age now when it’s OK to look back.  I almost feel as if I’m the grandfather being proud of a grandson. I’ve listened to this album more than any other I’ve ever released.  And for the first time ever I’m proud of what I achieved as a boy.

 

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And so you should be! Do you remember recording the album as a boy?

No!!!

Haha! What was it like to sing alongside your younger-self for the very first time, were you struck with emotion?

There was no guarantee that both voices would blend or that the project would work.  We decided to record Eriskay Love Lilt first and the moment both voices sang in harmony – the producer and I stopped and at the same time said – ‘did you feel that?’ Hairs on back of neck and arms were standing on end.  It was the first time I had ever experienced anything like it.  People have said they feel the same thing listening to the album which is great.  After that it was the easiest most pleasurable recording session I’ve ever done.

 

Do you have a personal favourite track of the album? If so, which song and why?

I love ‘Eriskay Love Lilt’, ‘Danny Boy’ and ‘David of the White Rock’. Although to be honest I love them all!

 We have to agree with you on that one, they are all pretty stunning. Are these original duets something you’re considering to continue with in the future or was ‘One Voice’ a really special one off?

It’s a one off – apparently we’ve made world history with this one – so let’s end on a high!!

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A world-first, impressive! Your Cathedral tour sounds absolutely divine –  have you sung at all the venues before? Where are you looking forward to visiting/going back to the most?

I haven’t sung at all the venues so there will be a few surprises for me too.  It will be very emotional for me to sing at Bangor Cathedral again where I was a chorister – I haven’t sung there since I was 12! To be honest I’m really looking forward to all the dates.  What a treat to sing in these amazing buildings – and every one of them is different.

What can audiences expect from your tour? Will we be graced with hearing you duets in the live performances? 

Yes – the first half will be me duetting with my boy voice live as it were – with films and projections of little Aled being played.  The second half will consist of inspirational music – songs, hymns and special guests too!  It definitely won’t be a stuffy evening – but more a real celebration.

Thanks Aled!

Celebrate with Aled Jones as he embarks on his Cathedral Tour, kicking off in May! All the dates can be found below!

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AyseDeniz – Interview

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Hailing from Turkey, classical pianist AyseDeniz is nothing less than a musical genius. Her talent undeniable, her originality admirable. Following the major success of her Pink Floyd Classical Concept album, AyseDeniz has returned with a project that has, and no doubt will continue to blow the minds of music appreciators across the globe.

‘The Nirvana Project’ is a stunning interpretation of a number of grunge-band Nirvana’s most famous tracks, cleverly incorporating her own traditional, classical technique in the most authentic and nostalgic way. Grabbing inspiration from Kurt Cobain’s personal journals and musical motifs, AyseDeniz’s project reflects the last five years of Kurt Cobain’s life, symbolising his spirit, through to his wife, child and characters in the music he wrote. At the age of 27, which just so happens to be the same age as Cobain’s when he ended his life, AyseDeniz has dedicated this entire project to celebrate Cobain’s legacy through the connection of classical music, rock and grunge. When listening to ‘The Nirvana Project’, the clarity in what AyseDeniz is trying to achieve is easy to hear. Her passion for the project, for her music and what inspires her is portrayed so strongly in this album, you feel so connected to it. The album is not just a tribute to Nirvana, but also a project that conveys human interest, a dedicated concentration on the human mind and demonstrates the power of music.

AyseDeniz’s use of classical techniques is beautifully infiltrated throughout the album, from the polyphonic baroque style in ‘Come As You Are’, to a style reminiscent of Prokofiev in ‘In Bloom’ and even similarities with Chopin’s Funeral March in ‘Something In The Way’, this album is a stroke of genius and once you finish the album, you feel like you’ve taken a huge journey spanning across Cobain’s final years that were dark and full of mystery. This record is mesmerizing and I couldn’t think of anyone better to interpret Cobain’s last five years as thoroughly, creatively and beautifully as AyseDeniz.

I had a chat with the beautiful AyseDeniz below, see what she had to say!

Hello AyseDeniz! Welcome to Meander, thanks so much for coming on the blog.

It’s a pleasure for me to be on your blog.

For the readers that may not be so familiar with your work, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How old were you when you started playing the piano and compose music? 

I started playing with my piano as a baby, and I would spend a lot of time singing and banging notes on it. Since I was 4 my mother would take me to a piano duo in Ankara, a Turkish couple educated at Eastman & Juilliard. The wife was the main teacher for all the kids and if you were good enough you would get the chance to study with the husband.

They were both very disciplined, however, they refused to take me on until I was 5 and a half, saying my hands were too small to start professional training. I was very keen on the piano and with my mother’s help in between her medical career (during lunch times she would call to have me play for her over the phone and then fix my mistakes), I started an accelerated programme and quickly upgraded to the same class as students double my age. When I performed JS Bach’s 5th Keyboard Concerto with an orchestra at 9, it was clear that I would be taking the path to become a concert pianist.

Regarding composing: it was actually a way for me to take a break from the pressure and perfection of classical music. I would seek mental escape from all the structure and discipline, by improvising whatever I wanted.

In middle school I took some jazz lessons and played with a band occasionally, learning about different scales and styles. When I chose GCSE Music Composition, this made me familiar with writing scores on Sibelius and later in university, when I got an Apple computer, it came with Garage Band, on which I wrote many 80’s-sounding pop songs, fuelled by failed romantic endeavours. In fact the lyrics to this day are in secret folders never to be opened!!

Generally until now, I treated composing as my diary – it was not something I wanted the public to hear. It was a way to channel my thoughts, express my craziness, my faults, my wishes and guilty pleasures. I could break all the rules of my education secretly and no one could tell me what to do.

Yet, as I grew up, the part of me that wanted to bring more personal ways to my performance style began dominating my thoughts so I started doing rock arrangements for piano, in order to merge the music I listened to growing up, with music I admired as a performer. I realised these had the potential to bring audiences together, and to attract younger people – especially those who are my age, for a change!! So I took my chance and released three Pink Floyd arrangements that I arranged in the style of Franz Liszt – who was the rock star of his time. This attracted surprising amount to interest from both Prog Rock and classical audiences that people wanted more. Thus came the Pink Floyd Classical Concept Album, followed by Nirvana Classical Album.


When did you begin to explore the idea of taking your classical techniques and 
applying them to alternative music? 

After graduating from university, I was very excited to finally have the skills and technique to experiment with the non-classical music that I listened to growing up. Mostly in my teenage years I had difficulty communicating with my friends of the same age, as they did not have any interest in classical music. I would be hanging out with their grandparents after my concerts… I had to find a way to bridge the gap between old and young people. I also thought classical performers were very strict, formal and unapproachable. I did not find most going to classical performances fun as a kid, although I absolutely loved performing. I preferred listening to CDs at home, where I could be myself without the formalities. I could dance to it, accompany it or turn it on so loud that the neighbours would complain.

I wanted to bring back the traditions of making music that people can relate to, and enjoy while they can actively hear what is going on. If you think about it, all famous composers were also great performers: Mozart, Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Paganini… They drew so many inspirations from visual arts to folk songs, from street music to ballroom dances in their compositions that their audiences could follow what they were trying to explain with notes.

As part of my Masters at Royal Academy of Music, I began searching for a new idea in which I could do the same. One day while practising I thought of how Liszt turned Dante’s Inferno into a musical work, which criticised society and talked about the wrongdoings of the people who then suffered in Hell. Victor Hugo’s interpretation of the book in his poem “After Reading Dante” emphasised how this was in fact all existent in the real world and that the whole concept was a metaphor by Dante. It clicked: the music of Pink Floyd had the same underlining messages especially in their philosophical film “The Wall” – criticising humanity, faulty education system, war and consumer culture. Liszt’s use of the chant: Dies Irae in Totentanz was so similar to Another Brick In The Wall’s theme that I started with this arrangement and continued with other songs.

 

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Your previous album was a Pink Floyd Classical Concept record – a huge triumph. Have you always taken inspiration from this kind of progressive rock and grunge genre? Were these the kind of bands you listened to growing up? 

I listened to a lot or Rock and Pop music in my teens because of my classmates who introduced me to Aerosmith, RHCP, Metallica, System of a Down, Offspring, Nirvana and Pink Floyd… I always thought of them as the post-romantic composers full of energy and contrast. I also listened to a lot of Cat Stevens, Freddie Mercury, Beatles, Supertramp, ABBA, and musicals like Grease, Hair and Cats because my parents loved them. MJ was my favourite artist of all time, and I also listened to some Turkish Rock and Pop artists: Tarkan, Duman, Mor ve Otesi and Teoman.

Just to add, Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, Destiny’s Child, Madonna, Cher, Celine Dion, Atomic Kitten, Mr. Big, Elton John and Britney Spears were pretty big in my playlist as well! I guess this is why I became a confused pianist!!

Haha, Atomic Kitten! Now that takes us back to the good old days! Now your latest record release is the Nirvana Project. As a listener, I felt strangely attached to a few of the tracks. Its quite an intimate experience, is that what you aimed to create? 

I really wanted to create a new experience of listening to the same melodies of Nirvana but from a much more personal perspective – from Kurt Cobain’s own imagined mind during his last years. As I would be 27, this was a perfect time to try to relate to him and understand what difficulties he went through. I also wanted to include his feminist, anti-racist and anti-consumerist social messages in the album.

I also composed a suite for him, with many sounds symbolising his struggle with drug addiction.

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The Nirvana Project was a live experience too, involving not only yourself on the piano, but also using electronic music, and choreography – was this something you envisioned from the start of creating your project?

Although the core of the project is the Nirvana Classical tracks which are only for piano, the Nirvana Project developed into a collaborative work. I was always dreaming of collaborating with a dancer and a DJ. This was the perfect excuse to start, so I asked Ekin Bernay if she wanted to make a music video. Meanwhile I got in touch with Ivan Shopov, who was very keen on the project, and we began working on the whole album together. I learned a lot from them during our sessions.

You must have had to do a lot of research into Kurt Cobain’s personal life, I bet that was fascinating? 

I learned so much about him by reading his journals – he was so creative, unique and sensitive. The more I read, the more I was inspired by him. Too bad the media only focuses on his death – there are so many more important stories of his life that need to be emphasised – especially what he lived for and his social messages.

I imagine a few of the lyrics from Nirvana’s tracks were a personal inspiration for you when composing the music? 

The lyrics of Kurt’s songs were actually not that direct and he also did not like explaining their meanings. Most are almost surrealist and there are many different takes on what people think they symbolise. I think he was a wonderful poet, and because of his talent of being vague, he makes one question and think for herself/himself.

What really captivated me personally whilst listening to the album (many times!) was that you really do stay true to your classical roots, and adapt all your technique into creating something that a true music fan would appreciate as a tribute to Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. ‘Come As You Are’ for example, you can clearly distinguish the use of baroque style, then hugely washed over by the depth of romantic playing. The album is an incredible theatrical experience! How on earth did you do it?! Haha! 

Thanks :)) My roots are classical, and it would be dishonest if I tried to destroy those. I did, after all, have Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev in the same playlist as Nirvana, and whenever I was frustrated with the world I would do headbands in my room as a teenager listening to them. After many years I loved reconnecting with my past, and the journey of trying to link classical to grunge music.

Another thing I really love is the fact that you’ve reiterated Cobain’s viewpoint through this album. Watching the live experience version of ‘Rape Me’ is incredibly powerful, especially with his quote at the beginning, only to then translate this through the use of choreography and, of course your musical interpretation. Did you feel emotionally connected to this album through the creation process?

Coming from the Middle East, I have witnessed oppression of women and the amount of sacrifice they make in order to sustain peace and love in this world. I arranged “Rape Me” which is an anti-rape song, to be deliberately aggressive. The clusters and the crying ethnic voice represent the cries of women, facing terrible crimes such as rape, honour killings and child brides. Kurt was a feminist, and I thought the best way was really going for it.

That is so incredibly powerful, and effective. Its unbelievable, and actually soul destroying to think that it is still such a major global issue. Thank you so much for talking to Meander, and for giving us an insight into your world when creating the Nirvana Project. What’s coming up next for you, AyseDeniz? 

I have released the unplugged versions of the tracks as Nirvana Classical – they are available as well as my Pink Floyd Classical Concept on my website aysedeniz.org in signed edition!

I will spend most of May recording new albums, which include Classical Hits, as well as my own compositions that I have never released before. There are also a few Coldplay covers as well as jazzy surprises, so stay tuned! I will also be playing some of these pieces at Piano City Milano on May 22nd, which is really exciting! You are invited!

We’ll be there!! We wish you all the best and hope to see you on Meander again soon!

Thanks for the wonderful questions!

Kate Copeland – Interview

World, meet Kate Copeland.
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Not only is she one of the sweetest artists I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to throughout my blogging days, but she’s also one of the most versatile, heartfelt and honest singer-songwriters I’ve come across on my music blogging journey. A native New Yorker, Kate represents fine musicianship as a singer-songwriter, composer, producer and arranger – she does it all, the works. With a strong family musical background, it’s clear that Kate’s talent, work ethic and passion stems through upbringing, experience and really comes from the heart.

Recollection Room (released June, 2015) is a super record, and above anything else, really demonstrates Kate’s ability to create music that appeals to all, full to the brim of versatility, telling stories and sharing experiences that we can all absolutely relate to. But her latest releases, in particular ‘Unpuzzle me’, are something else.  Kate has taken her talent to the next level with these releases, seriously showcasing her vocal skill with depth and harmony. These tracks, along with others coming up on her new EP ‘Red and Blue’ I think will be Kate’s best work to date, giving listeners the chance to hear her music through her own perspective, as if you’re taking a step right into own mind through her music;  feeling what she’s feeling,  seeing what she’s seeing. Counting down those days to the EP release, baby!

 

Kate’s sincerity is completely refreshing and I think Meander has found someone really special; a gem of musical discovery. Read our chat below:

 

Hey Kate, how’s it going?
It’s going well, thanks!

 

 

Great! For the readers of Meander who may not be familiar with you, can you give us a little introduction?
I am a New York City-born singer-songwriter who also likes to compose, produce, and arrange. I actively engage with many different styles and genres of music, and try my best not to be pigeon-holed into sounding a certain way. I like to stay busy with several different projects at any given time, whether I’m writing songs, composing chamber music, working on a film score, or collaborating with another artist as a producer in the recording studio.

 

 

 I know you were brought up in a musical home, especially as your father was a composer and singer/songwriter, that must have been super inspirational?
He definitely supported my musical development from an early age and made sure that I took piano lessons and sang in choir. When my interest in composition took hold he found me someone to study with privately and encouraged me to apply to a music conservatory when the time came to look at colleges. My mom played flute and tenor sax, and used to sit on the couch with her eyes closed while I improvised on the piano for hours. They both believed in me and my musical potential immensely, right from the beginning, and to this day still. I don’t think I ever deliberately intended to follow in my father’s footsteps – it certainly wasn’t a decision I made at any point – I think it just happened naturally, and he was a wonderful resource and mentor. There was a lot of music in the house during my childhood and it had an effect on me. As a family we were always singing along to something, and my parents used to sing me and my sister lullabies at night.

 

 

That’s so beautiful, it sounds like those intimate days of the past have really stuck with you. When did you decide to make music your full time thing? Was there a certain moment or experience that triggered you to think ‘this is what I want to do’, or did you just always know?
I think it happened pretty organically. When I was younger I really loved to act, draw, paint, dance, and write fiction. For a long time I couldn’t decide which of these things I wanted to pursue as a vocation, but little by little, over time, my interest in everything else wore away until music was the obvious winner. I still enjoy those other things, but I know now that when I’m engaging with music I become energized in a very special, specific way, and that’s how I know it’s what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.

 

 

You’re a singer/songwriter, composer and arranger – what would you consider yourself most comfortable with? Lyric writing? Melody writing? You seem to take to all roles really comfortably! And not to mention the fact that you’re a multi-instrumentalist…
When I write songs I almost always start with a feel/groove and a chord progression. These can change and evolve as the rest of the song comes into focus, but instinctively that’s where I tend to begin. Lyrics are probably the trickiest part for me. I am always trying to avoid clichés but it can be so difficult! I also struggle with writing humorous songs, even though I’m always cracking jokes in my day-to-day interactions with people. Overall, I think that melody comes the most naturally to me, even if I don’t always begin a song with one. I love finding melodies that feel good in my voice, and I tend to let my gut guide me to the right notes.

 

 

I adore your LP ‘Recollection Room’, released in the summer of 2015, particularly ‘Leave You To The Sea’, what is your favourite track of the record and why?
It really changes, to be honest. The album has so much variety on it, my favourite track tends to shift with my mood. ‘Sarah Walks’ was perhaps the greatest accomplishment because it went through so many versions and metamorphoses, so I like it for that reason. But sometimes I just want to get lost in the deep, tremulous bass line of ‘Wintersong.’ ‘Ten Silver Apples’ also holds a special place in my heart – I get chills when I listen to Doug Wieselman and Steven Bernstein on clarinet and trumpet!

 

 

 

 

 I’m listening to your latest releases from your upcoming EP ‘Red and Blue’  as I type, and the music itself feels like a much more raw and intimate experience – was that the aim of this EP? To create something more intimate?
 Yes, I was trying to create something that felt more like a direct line of communication from me to the listener, without the complex electro-orchestral arrangements of Recollection Room. I write most of my songs on mandolin these days, and it seemed strange to me that there wasn’t any mandolin on my first album. None. I wanted to create something that felt a little bit more like what I have to offer in a live setting, and ideally, I want Red and Blue to give listeners the impression that they are hearing my songs as they sounded in my head when I first sat down to write them.

 

 

I think your EP has absolutely delivered the above and then some, from the tracks you’ve released so far! It also sounds like you love a good harmony too?
 Oh yes!!! I have adored singing harmonies and coming up with vocal arrangements since I was a little girl. I have sung in choirs my whole life and grew up singing harmonies at the campfires of the Oregon Country Fair & beyond. Voices singing together is one of my very favourite sounds – I think it’s truly medicine for the mind and body!

 

 

Couldn’t agree more! The best remedy! Unpuzzle Me is a dream. What was the inspiration behind this track?
 I had recently entered a period of restlessness and uncertainty, something that affects a lot of twenty-somethings I think. I had been splitting my time between New York City and Port Townsend, WA for about 3 years and was beginning to feel like I didn’t have roots anywhere because my life was straddling the continent. The song is an attempt at describing the feeling of drifting through time and space without a clear sense of direction, while searching for greater purpose and human connection.

 

Wow that is so beautiful, Kate. What is your lyric writing process? Following your above question, I guess a lot of what you sing about reflects real life experiences…
Nearly all of my songs are at least partly auto-biographical, most of them heavily so. Even still, writing lyrics is a really tricky process for me, and usually the ones I like best are the ones that come to me when I’m not really thinking about it. If I have to work on a line for more than a minute or two, then I’ll probably never like it. It’s funny – sometimes I write a song, put the lyrics in my notebook, open it up the next day, and think to myself “gee, I don’t remember coming up with those words at all!” It’s almost as if I can only write lyrics if my brain gets out of the way. Otherwise I’m too busy second-guessing myself!

 

 

 What are your plans for 2016? More EP releases? A tour? A 2016 LP would be pretty damn neat… just putting it out there!
 I am definitely planning on releasing the remaining three tracks of the Red and Blue EP, but I don’t have another LP in the cards. I will be working on projects with a few different singer/songwriters though, in the role of producer and arranger, and I’m very excited to get back into the studio for that! I may do some touring during the summer and fall, but nothing has been solidified just yet. I’ll let you know as things unfold though! In the meantime, I’ll keep playing shows around the New York area while also rehearsing/performing with a few artists as a side-woman on mandolin and keys (and singing harmonies, of course!). There’s plenty to keep me busy!

 

 

 Absolutely! Finally, for anyone new to your music, describe it in 3 words!
 Whimsical, Intimate, Melodic.

 

kate copeland1