2024 Interviews

The Other Artists That Inspire My Music

I wanted to share the music of other artists who have inspired, helped and supported me along my musical journey.  These composers come from all over the world and have created some beautiful work.  I asked them whether they would be interested in an interview and they agreed.  The answers they have provided have not been altered by myself in any way and I have shared some link to their music as well.  I plan to add articles once a month.  So without further ado, let's meet them.  

Martino Vergnaghi

MARTINO VERGNAGHI

MARTINO VERGNAGHI

I was born in Italy in 1985.  I have always loved music and love to share it with the world.  I currently live in Milan, where I work and where I write and record my songs.

My favourite piece by Martino - Hopefully

What was the first piece you can remember composing? What inspired its creation?

I was a nerdy middle school kid and I composed a piano piece called “Allegro”. It just came out spontaneously, nothing inspired it in particular… it was a happy piece.

Do you have a favourite key to play/compose in?

As we Italians say, “do maggiore” the easiest, with no black keys.

Have you played your music in front of a live audience?

Yes, many times.  But now not anymore, because I am terribly insecure and playing in front of an audience makes me feel very anxious.

What time of day and what time of year are you most inspired to write music?

In the morning, I am an early bird. If only I could, I would go to bed every day at 9.30pm!

What methods do you use to help you compose?  Do you improvise and stumble onto something or go in with a clear structure of what you want to do?

The birth of a song is a gift and a mystery.  I just sit in front of a piano and let the emotions flow, until they take a musical shape that I like.

What other artist has inspired your music the most?

Enya. And the sacred music you hear in church.

If you could play any other instrument that you don’t already play, what would it be?

The guitar. If played well it's mystical and very spiritual instrument.

If you could go back and give yourself one bit of advice about making music what would you share with your younger self?

Oh, this is a good question.  There are many tips that “Old Martino” would give to “Nerdy kid Martino”.

Study and practice the piano. A lot. Study and study again.

Take voice lessons.

Take care, a very special car of your image. Be elegant, slim, fit and trendy.  Because in 2024 very few people will care of your music but everyone will judge you based on how you look, both offline and on social media.

https://www.martinovergnaghimusic.com/

https://www.instagram.com/martino_vergnaghi/

Elia Lo Monaco

ELIA LO MONACO

ELIA LO MONACO

Self-taught pianist and composer born and raised in Italy. I found music as a tool to give life to my emotions and feelings, and I hope you can find in my songs a place to shelter from the world for some minutes.

My favourite piece by Elia - Nostalgia

How/when did you start playing the piano?  Do you play any other instruments?

I started playing piano back in 2016, when I discovered some Ludovico Einaudi's songs and I had liked them so much that I wanted to learn them on my dad's upright piano, even though I had never studied piano, watching some tutorials on YouTube. And no, I don't play any other instruments but I'd love to!

Do you have a favourite key to play/compose in?
 I am more familiar with the good old C Major, but if I had to choose one I'd probably go with C#m, I really like the sound of it.

Have you played your music in front of a live audience?
 It happened multiple times that I found a piano in a public place, and some times I played also some songs of mine. But never played in a show, with or without band. But it's something I definitely wanna do in the future, doing a concert for my music!

What time of day and what time of year are you most inspired to write music?
 I love playing in the night, when everyone is asleep. I love the slowness and the calmness of it, it helps me find more inspiration. I don't have a preferred season, but I'd say all of them except summer because at least I don't have to play with my hands sweating ahaha.

What methods do you use to help you compose?  Do you improvise and stumble onto something or go in with a clear structure of what you want to do?

Having a clear structure for me is very rare. Usually when I want to compose, I sit at the piano and start playing random things, to find some chords that I like. I rarely start with the melody. So yeah, 90% of the times a song of mine comes from improvisation.

If you could play any other instrument that you don’t already play, what would it be?
 Definitely drums, guitar and the clavinet!

What is your favourite piece of music you have written and why is it your favourite?
 As composition, my favourite piece of mine is "Reflections", it's the first piece that I released that it's recorded on the acoustic piano. It is an important achievement for me because it's something I've always wanted to do since I started making music and never had the chance until now. But the piece that has the most important meaning to me it's "For You", the first song I dedicated to my girlfriend.

If you could go back and give yourself one bit of advice about making music what would you share with your younger self?
 I'd say to start studying music as soon as possible, and to enjoy the process, taking it step by step and not to settle and try to learn more about many things in the music field.

https://www.instagram.com/elialomonaco/

Saah

SAAH

SAAH

Saah is an Austrian neoclassical solo pianist and composer who loves to create
melodies on her piano. Music has always been the most direct way to the heart for her.

My favourite piece by Saah - And Faith

How/when did you start playing the piano? Do you play any other instruments?

I started playing the piano at the age of 9. I was given an old piano. To be honest, I wanted
a flute, but I didn´t get one. I got this old piano from my Father´s Father, who never ever
played. And then I fell in love. And still am.

What was the first piece you can remember composing? What inspired its creation?

From the point I was given this old piano, I started improvising. I can remember that I
soon recorded something on a tape and wanted my piano teacher to listen. Unfortunately
he was not very interested in my first piece, haha. I think i was 10 or 11 years old, I called
my first piece “Destiny”.

Do you have a favourite key to play/compose in?

I really like Eb, C# major and D minor.

Have you played your music in front of a live audience?

Yes, in my younger years I used to play with a jazz/pop band, we also had gigs, but I
haven´t played a solo piano concert yet. I remember that I was asked to do
that, but I was too afraid …. I am going to do that, when the time is right and I am ready for
that. I'm really looking forward to it.

What time of day and what time of year are you most inspired to write music?

I absolutely love to play in the morning, after my morning walk or training. AND I also
love to play and compose at night, when everybody is asleep, it feels timeless and kind of
infinite, that´s magical. I think each season has its own vibe and I like that. Usually I play less in summer, because then the kids are at home and we try do spend some time together.

What methods do you use to help you compose? Do you improvise and stumble onto something or go in with a clear structure of what you want to do?

No structure. It always starts with a feeling and I start improvising. Then when it´s a good
day I stumble over something I really like or that touches me, and then I play around with
it, over and over and over again. I learned that it´s useful to immediately record ideas, so
that I could get back to them another day and to not forget them. Sometimes melodies
suddenly appear in my head, while doing something completely different, like cooking or
learning for school with my daughter. Then I run to the piano and try to catch the idea. I
love that. My daughter doesn´t, because sometimes noodles get cold or inedible or fries
get too crispy! I also often hear music when I sleep in my dreams, but most of the time I
can´t remember the themes in the morning. But it is always very intense and beautiful.

What other artist has inspired your music the most?

I guess my biggest inspiration in my younger years, when I started playing, was Tori
Amos. I absolutely loved (still love) her way to play the piano and her way to create
feelings with melodies, and then there was Keith Jarrett. I listened to his Köln concert about thousand times, while travelling by train to school or while studying. I guess their music shaped me.

If you could go back and give yourself one bit of advice about making music what would you share with your younger self?

Please, don´t overthink everything you do a million times. Just do it.  Don´t be obsessed with perfection. Please, don´t compare yourself with others. It won´t make you happy.
Enjoy what you do, be grateful and absolutely celebrate each and every step you take.
***one step at a time***trust the process. Smile.

https://www.instagram.com/saahmusic/

https://www.facebook.com/SAAHmusik/

Melany Thompson

MELANY THOMPSON

MELANY THOMPSON

Since the age of 4, sitting at the piano has been a place of comfort, relaxation and expression for Australian pianist and composer, Melany Thompson. Described as ‘hauntingly beautiful’, her emotive compositions are written from the heart, to help inspire the mind and provide a peaceful space for deep reflection.

 

Melany has released her original music with several independent record labels both at home and abroad and her instrumental compositions have recently been heard in TV shows across Australia and the US.  

My favourite piece by Melany - All for You

How/when did you start playing the piano?  Do you play any other instruments?

 I started music appreciation classes when I was 4 and was fascinated by the teacher who played us the piano. I asked my parents for a piano apparently and they bought me a small toy one which I managed to learn a few nursery rhymes on. Soon after they bought me a lovely big second-hand upright piano and the rest is history! I don’t really play any other instruments, I tried to learn the flute for a little while and have picked up the guitar every now and then.

What was your personal musical highlight from over the last year?

A highlight from the past year was definitely having some of my music placed on various TV shows here in Australia. The music I write for TV is different to the solo piano music I release on streaming platforms but it has been challenging and stretches me to write in different genres and use all sorts of different electronic instruments to create rich sounds. 

Have you played your music in front of a live audience?

No, not since I was in high school really. There aren’t a lot of venues around that would be suitable, and that have a nice piano. It’s hard when you don’t play a portable instrument. Plus the thought of it now makes me very nervous!

What time of day and what time of year are you most inspired to write music?

I like writing at night, or first thing in the morning. There are less distractions at night, after the kids have gone to bed and the house is quiet. But depending on deadlines I have to just grab any time I can during the day. 

What methods do you use to help you compose?  Do you improvise and stumble onto something or go in with a clear structure of what you want to do?

I generally sit and improvise for a while until I come up with a theme or melody that I can then build on. Sometimes I know the kind of style or tempo at least, and sometimes I choose a random key that I haven’t composed in before to start me off. 

If you could play any other instrument that you don’t already play, what would it be?

I would love to play the cello. It pairs really well with the piano and has such a beautiful warm sound. But I would also love to play the guitar well, which is probably more of a realistic goal given I have one sitting next to my piano! 

What is your favourite piece of music you have written and why is it your favourite?

Well I’m hoping the best is yet to come, as I am probably the most critical of my music. But I do really like the piece ‘Walk With Me’ that I wrote a couple of years ago and released with Yellow Rose Records. I don’t play many of my songs but I do still love playing this one. I always play it a bit differently to how it’s recorded and I would love to maybe re-release it again one day. 

If you could go back and give yourself one bit of advice about making music what would you share with your younger self?

I never really considered my ability to write music as anything special, it was always just a bit of a hobby after I stopped formal piano lessons. I assumed that everyone who played an instrument could also compose music and play by ear. So I would probably tell my younger self to take it more seriously, to commit to it, accept it as something unique to me and work on it, grab it with both hands and focus on it to become better at it. I kind of floated along and went in all other directions before coming back to music later in life but I often wonder what I would have been able to achieve if I had of stuck with it from a younger age…

https://melanythompsonmusic.com.au/

https://www.instagram.com/melanythompsonmusic/

 

Helen Keeling-Marston

HELEN KEELING-MARSTON

HELEN KEELING-MARSTON

Helen Keeling-Marston is a British composer who writes in a variety of styles but mainly focuses on contemporary classical music.

My favourite piece by Helen - Pipe Dream

What was the first piece you can remember composing?  What inspired its creation?

When I was younger, I used to love improvising on the piano. Fast-forward twenty years, and I resolved to re-engage in the activities that I’d loved doing as a child. To cut a long story short, the music-making went better and broke fewer bones than the downhill roller-booting, so I began to write contemporary classical pieces. My first piece was a piece for piano and cello and was about a walk through a forest. I’m not sure it was very good, but it whet my appetite and reminded me just how much I loved writing music and creating something from scratch.

Do you have a favourite key to play/compose in?

I am a huge fan of D major. What a key!

What time of day and what time of year are you most inspired to write music?

I seem to be most creative in the late afternoons and early evenings when the sun starts to set. I’ve always loved that time of day, as I think it has quite a magical and mystical ambience. 

What methods do you use to help you compose?  Do you improvise and stumble onto something or go in with a clear structure of what you want to do?

I’d like to say that I have a clear idea and structure of what I want to do, but I just don’t! My pieces come through improvisation and randomly landing on hooks and ideas that I like.

What other artist has inspired your music the most?

I learnt piano when I was a child, and I had to practice, and perfect, three classical pieces when preparing for an exam. I remember that I used to end up despising those pieces (and my family probably did too), and I wished I could spend time playing different pieces and dabbling in different genres. Fast-forward twenty years, and I was introduced to the music of contemporary classical composers, Max Richter and Ludovico Einaudi. I loved their music. Simply loved it…which then led me to discover other fabulous composers such as Per Storby Jutbring and Olafur Arnalds. I think Max Richter is my biggest inspiration, though. His work is so incredibly moving and beautiful; often with a bewitching simplicity. 

If you could play any other instrument that you don’t already play, what would it be?

Perhaps the organ for the incredible workout and coordination skills it would give me. Or maybe the bagpipes to increase my lung capacity and make me a faster runner. I’m not sure that my neighbours would appreciate me learning the bagpipes, though.

What is your favourite piece of music you have written and why is it your favourite?

I wrote a piece of music called “Our Fragile Earth: The Overview Effect”, which is about the cognitive shift that astronauts often experience when first seeing the Earth from space and realising how small and fragile it is. This is one of my favourite compositions, as I feel that the music really fits the narrative. I was delighted to have this track played on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune show.

If you could go back and give yourself one bit of advice about making music what would you share with your younger self?

Write a piece, then leave it alone for a good while before coming back to it.


https://www.helenkeelingmarston.com

https://www.instagram.com/helenkeelingmarstonmusic/