Monday, May 27, 2013

Catching Up With Romain Collin Part One

Romain Collin's The Calling was one of the finest piano trios for 2012 and while Collin works on his next project he was kind enough to field a few questions for us.

The Calling received wide spread and well deserved critical acclaim. Recently you mentioned on social media you were working on your next project. What can you tell us about the upcoming release and compare that work with The Calling and who might be playing with you as well.

R.C. "I see my next album as a further exploration of the concept behind The Calling. I wasn't to keep pushing the boundaries of that sound, and of the musical vision I have been developing in the last few years. It essentially focuses on the integration of the piano trio with sound design, and soundscapes. I first write trio music that is rather through composed, while still allowing for spontaneous and organic group improvisation. After tracking the group in the studio, I work on post production to sculpt textures and soundscapes around the trio. The idea is to give this extra sonic dimension to the band, without ever interfering with it. I have new ideas for the instrumentation, and the textural elements, that I would like to incorporate in the post production of my next record- all of which are heavily influenced by the film scoring work that I have been doing recently. I've recently had the opportunity to play some of my new material live, and it was a very exciting and refreshing experience...I can't wait to get in the studio!"

Piano trios dot the landscape in New York like taxi cabs however I keep coming back to your last release which definitely goes in the memorable pile! You have a strong lyrical direction and keen sense of melody and how to develop a vivid harmonic flow. Some pianists may be outstanding performers while lacking in the skill of composing work that has an emotional connectivity for the audience. You obviously don't have this problem so could you tell us what you think has influenced your work as a composer and where do you see your compositions heading in terms of artistic direction?

R.C. - "First of all, thank you for your support! It is encouraging to see my priorities as a musician slowly making a difference in my work. No matter how complex an art form, I believe that it always needs to come from an honest emotional core in order to connect with an audience. Virtuosity and chops are only ever a means to an end, nothing more. The only way I can move someone is by composing something so honest that it moves me first. For that reason, I can only write when in a certain mood, or mindset. I usually try to have the bulk of a composition pour out all at once, in an improvised way. Then the fine tuning happens. But if too much tweaking takes place, the composition looses its essential message, and direction.
I draw influences from a wide scope of musical genres. Aside from jazz, classical music has had by far the greatest impact on the way I hear and conceptualize music. Strong themes and melodies are ever present in classical music, along with the art of developing those themes in a structured manner. I want my tunes to sound, and feel, like compositions. That doesn't necessarily mean complex compositions, but rather pieces that feel like statements, that convey a vision, that have a direction. Whenever I finish writing a piece, I ask myself: "what makes this tune different, memorable, and worth being put out in the world?". I really appreciate a listener taking the time and energy to discover my music. It's almost an act of faith in a way. So I always hope to give something back to the audience for taking this leap. The only way I can do that, is by offering the listener music that will hopefully have an impact on him or her, on a truly emotional level. We all deal with left brain stuff all day- planning, working, problem solving etc. I believe art in any form should bring a relief from that state, and allow the audience to connect with a part of the self that is more fundamental and existential.
As for the direction of my writing right now, I keep focusing on melodies and themes, while exploring new compositional structures. I am trying to write in a way that allows for a more organic group interpretation of what's on paper, so as to avoid the usual head-solo-head formula. This way I'm hoping to be able to express myself more freely, and holistically on the piano. I also try to broaden the role each instrument takes in the trio. Finally, in terms of post production work, I'd like to start incorporating elements of orchestra writing, along with sound design."

You did a righteous cover of a John Mayer tune "Stop This Train" which probably had some jazz purists on edge. You seem unafraid to put a contemporary riff on a more straight ahead presentation. Your deft touch lightens the mood and keeps your sound far from one dimensional. Is the straight ahead world becoming too academic and too rigid by not embracing a wider approach such as you have with a variety of influences all transformed to your own artistic voice?

R.C. "New York City has an incredibly open, and vibrant art scene. I am very fortunate to be surrounded by extremely talented and creative artists, that I am lucky to call friends. A lot of my peers incorporate different musical genres in their art form, which is always inspiring.
Everybody has a story, and comes from a different background. Whether one is willing to embrace, and express those differences, is an entirely personal choice. I see myself as a musician first, not necessarily a "jazz musician". I love music. I love sounds. I grew up listening to pop, rock, classical, jazz and electronica music. If something moves me, it naturally becomes a part of what I do- hopefully in a genuinely integrated way. It so happens that I emotionally connect to many different musical genres. Writing specifically for any of these genres has never been a priority. So my music became what it is.... It might be less easily understood at first, but that is a risk I have always been willing to take. After its release, The Calling was very enthusiastically welcomed by the press, which really encouraged me to keep pushing."

Part Two