Who/what are your musical influences?
Well I’ll try to mention most of them if I can- it’s quite a mixed bag. Not a whole lot of solo piano music ironically. But I do love the general sound of piano by itself. Solo piano is a wonderful expression because it is so simple and yet so complete. It can be relaxing and also very intense when you need it to be. Anyway- here is my best version of a master list of musical influences that have inspired my self-expression over the years in no particular order: The Beatles, Chicago, Jimmy Webb, Yes, Traffic, Fredrick Chopin and his preludes, Beethoven, The Four Seasons, The Moody Blues, the folk songs of Stephen Foster, Sting, David Gates (Bread), Burt Bacharach, Bossa Nova music in general, Pat Metheny, Randy Newman’s film scores- along with Mark Isham, James Newton Howard, James Horner, Thomas Newman…In general I like authentic folk music from any country; certainly Spanish Flamenco and Irish tunes. I tend to respond to genuine emotional heartfelt content in music over fanfare and execution and showmanship.
Do you write down your music when you compose?
No, or very seldom. I will when I am arranging music for other players etc., but for myself and especially my solo piano music I never do. I have a good memory and always have the recording equipment handy. Sometimes I’ll just be relaxing away from my music studio and have something come to me and grab anything I can to write on and scribble down my own odd little notes on what I’m hearing that only I could decipher later.
Is the sheet music to your songs published?
Some of it is. You would contact Hal Leonard Publishing for that. My plan is to have most of my solo piano music published as times goes on. I may be doing that myself soon and having it available online as downloads. The main problem here is simply the transcription of the music as it takes time and energy to get that all together and right. As I mentioned I don’t write out my own solo piano music most of the time, since it’s less time consuming and much easier to work that way for me.
When did you start playing music?
When I was in first grade. I began studying the accordion, then the organ, and finally the piano; where I really felt I had found my home with music. There’s something about the touch of the keys; it can be soothing, relaxing, exciting, healing, sad, joyous, angry, or tender etc. It all depends on what you’re feeling when you play. When I discovered the piano I realized how responsive it was to human emotion and I wanted to use it to explore that and share it with others. Especially solo piano because it’s so raw and naked really when you think about it. This longing to express better and more deeply has easily turned into a lifetime project for me- there is always more to learn about it. The other great thing about piano instrumental music and piano songs in general is that the sound of the piano has been around for a very long time. Almost everyone on the planet has heard the notes of a piano playing for many generations now and usually can relate to it somehow.
Are you classically trained? Where did you study music?
I am not classically trained. I studied with private teachers most of my childhood. Later on I went to Los Angeles and got some more theory/harmony stuff going through a great music school that actually is not around anymore, called the Dick Grove School of Music, as well as attending some UCLA extension film scoring/arranging classes. Dick was a very evolved jazz pianist when it came to harmony and voicing the instrument. In retrospect I think I wanted to do more of my own thing than be told how to write music; though for some people the more extensive training is perfect and very helpful.
Do you like live performing or being in the recording studio better?
They both bring me a lot of joy for different reasons. I loved getting caught up in my own world in the studio and seeing where the journey takes me. But there’s also something so magical about letting the music flow through me and out to others. It’s certainly one of the best natural highs available in my book. I’m really a hermit type by nature I suppose, but the performing and meeting the people who love what I do keeps me from getting too introverted. It also makes all of the hours of work that goes into the writing and recording feel like it matters when I see the effect of it live. I think there’s a part of all of us that would like to make a difference in the lives of others somehow.