Interview Fine Pop and the piano
Featured Artist Interview:
Since 2000, the prolific and ever creative Bruno Sanfilippo has released 23 albums and EPs of original and always engaging compositions, exploring both minimalist piano concepts and a startling range of electro-acoustic possibilities.
In October 2017, Bruno released Lost & Found, an experiential reimagining of previously released material described by Norman Records as “gorgeous ambient piano radiating warmth and light”; and Textura as “ethereal settings [that] exemplify his sensitive handling of atmosphere and mood, as well as his gift for producing elegant piano performances enhanced by supplemental detail”.
Today marks the release of his stunning solo piano single DOLL, exclusively through ad21 on all digital platforms, in which “Bruno is kind of a Puppeteer who tries to bring to life his imaginary creatures through his fingers”. We are very excited to be able to reveal that DOLL is an advance of a new album to be released in 2018. See the beautiful video here.
Video editing: Manuel Mira
Our first Featured Artist interview of 2018 is with Bruno.
You grew up in Buenos Aires, and later moved to Barcelona. Have these cities influenced your music in any way?
Yes, beyond the internet, the environment always influences me in some way, especially these two great cultural cities.
Basically in Buenos Aires I trained as a musician, both in my piano studies at the Conservatory and attending courses focused on different aspects of music, such as Music for dance, theater and media, synthesizers and samplers programming, sound engineering and electroacoustic music workshops. I also used to give concerts and experiment in my rudimentary studio, and I even started releasing on CD my first electro-acoustic based albums; ‘Sons of the Light’ in 1991, ‘The New Kingdom’ 1995, and ‘Solemnis’ 1997. Those works were discontinued by my own choice because later I considered them as sketches.
In 2000, when I finished composing ‘Suite Patagonia’, and just before the financial and social crisis in Argentina, I had to migrate to Spain. As a foreigner, my early days in Barcelona were difficult. Of course, I could not afford a piano, and that was a huge frustration. I was, however, very enthusiastic about meeting new people, and being interested in the famous artists of my new city, such as Antoni Gaudí, Federico Mompou, Pau Casals, Antoni Tapies…
After a while I got a Korg TR-rack synthesizer and a Lexicon processor with which I recorded Visualia (2003), Ad Libitum (2004), InTRO (2006). And later with a Korg Radias, I recorded Auralspace (2009), Subliminal Pulse (2011), Urbs (2012) and other albums based on electronic sound and field recordings, some released by American labels.
In your recent interview with Piano & Coffee (October 2017), you mention that you start your creative process without a preconceived idea and try to be unprejudiced and daring, like a child; also that dreams are an inspiration. This sounds incredibly open and unrestrained. Did a teacher encourage you to approach composition this way, or did it take experience and confidence in your craft to be able to be so free and let go of a more formal technique? Did this way of creating come naturally to you?
I think the way to create comes naturally. With time, each one finds a way to compose as one gets to know oneself. Even though Silence and Nothingness could also be powerful sources of inspiration, without a preconceived idea, no matter how small, we could not create anything, since the mind always seems to need to cling to something. I think children have a delicate balance in that sense when they play creatively in their own fantasy world.
Anyway, it is a constant evolution, in the very moment that you think that what you are doing is close to perfection, it actually means that you are stagnating. I suppose that part of my inspiration comes from dreams, from that inexhaustible and shameless fortress, and of course, from what one lives and listens to, in fact I do not think that a hermit artist could get much inspiration, since a creative interpersonal environment nourishes us all.
We love the concept for your album Lost & Found (released 19th October 2017), which is a reimagining and rebirth of older compositions that ‘were once buried and lost in other collections’. Do you keep everything you write?
Lost & Found is an album that brings together piano-based music that had mostly already been published on different labels, and that somehow with time, were “lost”. Peter is my contribution to the Ambientblog 10th Anniversary Collection released in 2015. InTROpiano is a piece which belongs to the album InTRO [ad21 2006]. Piano Texture Found is a piece which belongs to the EP Piano Texture Found, released by the Italian Net Label Laverna in 2012. Solitaire also belongs to the EP Piano Texture Found. ‘What I Dreamed’ was just rescued from the hard drive of the studio recorder computer. I don’t keep everything, but somethings are forgotten in my hard disc 😉
Can you tell us a little about your label ad21?
ad21 is a personal label that was created in 1998 in Buenos Aires. At the time it seemed like a good idea to have my own label so I did not have to depend exclusively on a labels’ release schedule. Currently it is also an artist platform of diffusion and management, operated by my wife Ximena, however in the past years we have added two collaborators/friends who alternately deal with different areas, such as design, photography, social networks, and even on occasion they travel with me on concert tours. It is a great advantage, we also discuss everything together, they are very creative, and we have a lot of fun.
Piano Textures Series is the main publishing project; it is closely linked to the label.
Your studio space looks seriously impressive. What sort of piano do you have? What else is in your set-up? Was the space itself a lucky find, or were you involved in shaping it? Please, tell us more!
I live and work in a mountain house, that I moved into in 2011. The studio, located in the lower part of the house is spacious, and it probably draws attention, but I do not have tons of sophisticated equipment in there. Actually, there is very little, although I try to make it good. I try to squeeze every piece of equipment to the maximum, even the software, of which I am not a collector either. Anyway, I usually look at eBay when I am curious to know about particular equipment… that is very typical, it happens to almost every musician.
In the center of the room, there is a large Kawai RX3 piano. It has a beastly soundboard. I am delighted with it. Many pianists decide to record here.
At one end we have the “control” where the computer is, also a keyboard controller, processors, synthesizers, samplers, a microphone preamp, and of course the Mixer with its near field monitoring system. At the other end of the room, is the place where I can hear the finished work or music in general. There is complete HI-FI equipment, with an armchair placed in a geometric shape with relation to the speakers, in order to appreciate the stereo landscape in detail.
Hey Ian! (Hawgood), here I usually listen to your finished analog masterings, they always sound awesome 😉 I think the headphones are very practical and detailed, I have plenty of them, but I personally rather listening with the speakers, with that block of “air” between the sound source and my ears. I also have an old vertical piano to experiment with.
Something that we’ve noticed is how supportive you are of other artists. How important is the musical community to you? How has it changed over the years?
In the past, I had some adversity and in solitary, my path has drawn incredible curves. Such persistent enthusiasm can only come from passion, where else. What can I do with everything I learned from the experience? How can I not support other artists who need it? In art, I like the concept of collaboration, not competition. As a musician, I feel that I do not belong to any musical community, let us not forget that the industry is in charge of “labeling” by musical genres and creating, together with the listener, the different channels of communication. However, we aim our music where it is appreciated.
How has it changed over the years? On this, I can affirm that, regarding previous decades, today we live in the cloud age, an impressive cloud of artists that struggle to stand out, each one within thousands of sub-communities, in which there is a handful of micro-celebrity artists. I think that this diversity is very interesting, but I also think that there are many low creative level musicians; some of them even stand out within a powerful framework with the use of marketing.
What are your plans for 2018?
Today, January 1st, we have launched DOLL, an on-line piano single released only through ad21.
Probably in February, I will be releasing a new album on a nice label, about which I cannot speak at the moment, but that I’ve spent a lot of time on. I hope that the European tour programming evolves, and I hope that I can spend as much time as possible in the studio, experimenting and making new music.
Thank you for this interview and for these thought provoking questions.
Thank you for speaking with us, Bruno!