How would you describe your music?
It’s a little hard to describe it stylistically as I’ve worked in a variety of genres and styles but I would say at the heart of it there’s always a nostalgic romanticism within while also having a modern production aesthetic. To me, this somehow feels very relevant to a lot of people I know today, a lot of people my age, a lot of younger people. There seems to be a kind of inner nostalgia, an inner yearning and romanticism, often masked by a modern, calculating, seemingly non-romantic facade, which for a lot of people is just that, a facade. I think the struggle between who we are and who we think we are, who we want to be, is ever present and for me that lies at the heart of my work no matter the style or genre.
Tell us about how the history of your project?
This album, Los Angeles Pieces (2007-2017), has been ten years in the making and is a collection of personal pieces I’ve written since I moved here to LA from Thailand ten years ago.
What are you influences/ musical heroes?
A number of my biggest influences are not musical, the writer Samuel Beckett, the filmmaker Michael Haneke, the painter Gerhard Richter, but musically Beethoven, Wagner (who still remains the father of film scoring for me), Herbert von Karajan, Krzysztof Penderecki, Trent Reznor, Max Richter, Jonny Greenwood. I think although it’s great and important to have influences and heroes within your artistic field, it’s vital for a healthy creative life to be inspired by those of other disciplines as well. I’ve often found my ‘breakthroughs’ come from seemingly unlikely places. For instance, one day I was reading some passages by the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor about designing his incredible thermal baths in Vals and the idea of the relationship between water and stone clicked for me with a piece I was working on and solved the riddle I was stuck at. The paintings of J.M.W. Turner have provided a lot of inspiration on a piano album I’m working on which I started years ago.
What inspires you?
I guess I sort of answered this just now. I find passion inspiring and by that I mean someone who is genuinely passionate about whatever it is he or she is working on or creating. At the end of the day art is a mirror that we hold up to ourselves and I think creating something ultimately has to come from within. I’m distinguishing here the difference between inspiration and drive. I think inspiration can come from just about anywhere. The way one wisp of white cloud lingers above the barren mountain contrasting sharply against the deep blue sky can be inspiration. On the other hand, a discarded beer bottle lying on the ground beside a cracked trash bin can also equally inspire. But that’s more about spark. Inspiration can give you a spark, it can stop you in your tracks and gleam like a jewel in a dark cave, but what you do with it comes I think from drive and that’s where the internal—the within—lies. I think what drives you is something much more private, much more allusive than inspiration. It can come from a relationship in your childhood that has positioned you in such a way that you feel compelled to explore a certain kind of character or a certain type of story, or to try and answer certain questions in your work. It can come from an event, a moment, or more likely, a string of them, a criss cross of experiences and deep seated emotion. It’s a much more innate thing, drive.
Do you write on the road? or do you prefer to write in the studio?
I haven’t been on the road in years. Because of my main work in film music, I tend to live in studios, if not my own, then others. So most of my writing is done in the studio. But I have moved away significantly from the large rig of multiple computers to refocusing myself back to one (computer) with a collection of unique sounds, many of which I’ve created and collected over the years and trying to develop my own process for my work.
What is your favourite song to perform live?
Viens a moi, a song I co-wrote with Emily Daccarett, is a favorite of mine. I wrote the music, she wrote the lyrics and it’s quite a personal one for both of us.
What would be your dream tour to be a part of?
Hm that’s a good question. I’d love to do a tour with an acoustic/electronic chamber project. I think that’d be fun and it would be exciting to see how people respond to it.
What are you current thoughts on the music industry?
I’m not sure I can speak fully to my thoughts on the music industry as I’ve always been on the cuff of that and film but I can give some thoughts on the film music industry. I think we’re starting to emerge into what could turn out to be a very fruitful era where the trend seems to be more geared towards bringing in fresh voices, artists/musicians who have spent years cultivating a voice of their own, and bringing them into the world of film. Although I myself come from more of a direct film music background via classical music, rather than from having an established (or establishing) solo career, I do find myself drawn to those types of collaborations and the scores they tend to yield. Jonny Greenwood’s score this past year (and all of his Paul Thomas Anderson collaborations) for Phantom Thread is a prime example. I’m of course not speaking towards the mainstream blockbusters which hasn’t seemed to change all that much. This shift can refocus the process though I feel and hopefully will allow fresher and newer voices to emerge both in film as well as in music.
What is the funniest/weirdest experience you have had on tour?
Most of my experience on stage has been nerve-wracking or downright frightening followed by either elation or disappointment which is how I realized my place is in the studio and more behind the screen. One story I can tell you though, but only in vague terms, is how I once was flown out to do a concert which ended up with me and a friend helping throw a bed out at three in the morning after the show. We had to carry the bed out of the apartment and across a parking lot to the dumpsters. It was an adventure alright!
What are your future plans?
I’m currently working on a collaboration with concert pianist Christopher McKiggan on an album that is a new take on the solo piano album and a compilation of the four Emily Daccarett fashion collections I’ve written music for over the years. A few other projects in the pipeline but we’ll have to see as the year progresses.