interview: CARLOS CIPA

Shortly after his second record, “All Your Life You Walk“, German composer Carlos Cipa talks about the development of his artistic profile, whose expression is now not only centered on piano minimalism.

How and when did your start playing piano?
I started playing the piano at the age of six, back then I was in first grade. I learned playing the piano the hard way with a sound classical education where at the end you are expected to become a classical concert pianist. After I discovered composing and improvisation I left this path at the age of 17. From that moment on, I took lessons in composing and film music composing, which definitely had an impact on my work. At the age of 16 I started playing drums, which are playing a really important role in my career as a musician. Through the experience of playing our own songs in my first (hardcore) band, I felt that interpreting classical literature on the piano doesn’t fulfil me at all and so I had to start writing my own songs on the piano.

Do you feel that piano is the ideal instrument for expressing your inspiration and feelings?
Well, right now it is, because it is the instrument I am able to play the best and I think the better you play an instrument the more emotions and feelings you can express. Also the piano is a very good instrument to compose and improvise on, because you can play or imitate a whole orchestra, because of its great range. I am actually very happy that I chose the piano as a child.

Is there any artist you consider important in your musical formation or at least someone you feel close to your way of making music?
I don’t think that artists who are working along side one are having a great impact on someone, mainly I feel inspired from artists that were working before me or artists that are working in totally different fields of music. I am someone who listens to a lot of music all the time I can find to do this, so everything can have impact on my thinking, my understanding or my feeling of music. I think I can even learn more from music that has no connection to what I am doing right now.

Has there been some important difference in the creation and recording process of your two albums?
Yes, the first album was more or less me playing my songs on the piano with a microphone recording everything. It was a very natural thing, there was not much editing or producing involved. Whereas the new album is something totally different. It’s still me playing the piano, but I added a lot of different instruments, so the recording and producing progress became way more important. That of course also had an impact on the way I had to compose the music. I first wrote the parts of the piano and composed every other instrument or sound on top of if, mostly everything during the producing progress.

How much important are the places where you record your music?
It’s very important, because I am recording everything from my home studio. ;-) Here’s my piano and every other instrument I collected over the last few years. Sometimes it’s difficult to work where you live because you can never really separate work from home, but then again if you’re making music, you actually don’t want to separate these things.

Many artists are now turning back to the bareness of piano music, “solo” or together with other chamber instruments or electronics: do you feel it more as a neo-classical renaissance or a trend of experimental artists?
Well, as I said before, the piano is a very rich instrument with a very distinctive color and wide range; it can function as a melody instrument or an accompanying instrument as well as a bass instrument. The inside of the piano is a never-ending source of all kinds of different sounds, so it is without say that the piano is one of the most important instruments of all time. But I don’t feel that it has vanished at some point of the musical life, so I don’t think we could speak of some kind of a renaissance, it’s been there all the time.

For what definitions might mean, what do you think of the expression “modern classical”? Do you think it fits your music?
Definitions or genre terms are never very significant, and I think mostly stand in the way of enjoying music or art in its full form. But apparently people all over the world need them and relate to them to find or enjoy different kinds of music. I personally don’t think the term “modern classical” would fit my music, I relate the same way to popular music as to classical music, just because I play the piano and don’t sing doesn’t necessarily make it classical music. So I guess my music is somewhere in between. I aim to draw from both worlds, the notated and the non-notated world, as both worlds can offer something the other can’t, and that’s something I am very interested at the moment for creating my music.

Contemporary music somehow similar to yours is often used for soundtracks, art installations or similar: have you ever thought of an association between your music and images?
Oh yes, of course. I am a huge film lover and of course it is one of my aims to compose music to images. I have already done a few (short) movies, but I am also very picky. I only work with/on someone/something I believe in. I hope that some of the pieces on the new record will find a place, such as a movie, TV series, dance production, installation or anything else, that fits together with the music. I always love when existing things find a new home that relates to it in a totally different and interesting way.

You played a four-hands piano album with Sophia Jani, “Relive“: how’s been working with another artist? Is there any other artist you’d fancy working with?
Oh, It’s been great, but also because Sophia is my long-time girlfriend and musical companion. There are all kinds of artist I might want to work with in the future, I am even thinking of starting a band, but these are all just some thoughts. The next thing I have planned is working with a Munich-based producer called “Occupanther” who did a remix of one my album tracks that will be released soon. We’ll get together in January, and I am curious whatever comes out of this.

As in “All Your Life You Walk” there is a wider instrumentation than piano solo, would you like to play accompanied by an orchestra?
It’s actually not a dream of mine actually, not just at the moment. I would more love to compose a piece that is then played by an orchestra and that is definitely something I aim to do in the future. Recently a string quartet piece of mine got premiered and that was a really amazing feeling, so I can just imagine how great it will be if an orchestra is playing a piece of mine.

What else can we expect from you in the near future, and what do you expect from music?
I hope a lot, and will always try to do something different than what I have done before, so I guess no it’s time to move away from the piano. Right now I am very much enjoying composing with scores for ensembles, so I might be getting something out of this. I myself of course don’t know what the future brings but I expect a lot, music is my life always have been, always will be, so I am looking forward to spend my life with a lot of different kinds of music.

(full English version of the interview published on Rockerilla issue no. 413, January 2015 – Italian version)



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