10 Questions With Joe Kirby

December 15, 2020

Another "10 Questions Interview" Session today! This time we will be diving into the Classical Piano genre! We had a great time interviewing today's artist. Check below our 10 questions with Joe Kirby!

When did you start doing music and how was your childhood?

I started off playing the drums in school when I was 9 after watching ‘School of Rock’. I was very saddened to recently hear of the untimely passing of Kevin Clark who played Freddie Jones the drummer. He ultimately inspired me to start playing music from those sweet drum solos in the film. I later started to loose interest with drums and wanted more harmonic freedom. I asked for an electric guitar for Christmas when I was 11. It came with a ‘learn guitar’ book. I managed to teach myself chords and learn every song in the book before Boxing Day. At the age of 21, whilst studying music production at university. I decided to pick up the piano after being inspired by Ludovico Einaudi. I loved how he could make a simple 4 chord sound like a masterpiece just by the way he played it. I would compose pieces from my bedroom in Brighton, avoiding the black keys which confused me, and not knowing how to read music, so my first EP “Rain” was mostly played in A minor.

How has been your music influenced compared to the place where you grew up or live now?

My music hasn’t been influenced so much by the place I grew up, but more from the places I’ve visited. I lived in Australia for 2 years from 2018-2020. Whilst here I wrote my album “The Great Ocean Road”. This album was inspired by all the things a saw whilst working and traveling the country. I took a handheld audio recorder around with me and recorded lots of texture and ambient sounds which I put into the album. Lots of sounds of the ocean, jungles and wildlife can be heard accompanying the album. I spent three months of 2021 living in Palma Mallorca. I didn’t have a piano with me so after a trip to try and rent an electric piano from the piano store called “Musicasa”, I managed to strike a deal with the owner, Carlos, to play the pianos in the shop for €2 per hour. I found myself visiting the shop every day, writing and practicing the songs to my upcoming EP “Time to Come Home” and working on my Spanish with Carlos. I later recorded the album at Palma Music studio which was the most enchanting building I’ve ever seen. A mixture of beautiful Mallorcian rock and top of the range music equipment.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by a few composers in particular: Olafur Arnalds, Lamber, Einaudi, Nils Frahm. Whilst in Australia, I managed to see live performances from Einaudi and Lambert. Einaudi was from the Sydney opera house. It was incredible to be sitting just three meters from the man who inspired me to pick up the piano in the first place. I watched Lambert from an intimate performance in Melbourne recital centre. After a hard day of removals, carrying Australian fridges up and down stairs all day I was pretty exhausted, until I heard the beautiful, unique melodies of Lambert which resurrected me, leaving me on the edge of my seat for the whole performance. I have tickets to see the wonderful Olafur Arnalds in the flesh in September from London. I love how all of these composers create music that touches the soul, stemming from simplicity. From analysing these artists, I’ve come to think “it’s not about what you play, but how you play it”.

What is your creative process like?

When I create a song, I will start playing around on the piano until I find a melody or an idea that I like. I will then keep playing and playing that song until it evolves into something that I feel can’t be improved any more, and that I can play with enough emotion and expression to perform with confidence. I often think about a certain topic whilst writing the song for inspiration. For example, “Fire in the Jungle” was written from Sydney during the Forrest fires of 2019-2020. For months I would wake up to a black sky, a thick smell of smoke and bits of ash falling on to me. It’s estimated that 3 billion animals were killed or injured over the course of the fires. This song features ambient sounds I recorded from the forests in the Blue Mountains which suffered devastating bush fires.

If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?

I would change how unfair the payment is for artists from streaming services. Spotify alone is worth billions of dollars, yet they pay their artists $3-$5 per 1000 streams! It makes it hard for small artists to survive from their passion alone. They often have to take part or full time jobs to support their dreams which often results in them having to give up on music all together.

If you would have the possibility to collaborate with a big artist, who would that be? why?

I would want to collaborate with Olafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm on a live improvisation performance. The two have often performed together where they just turn up and create some music on the spot. This reminds me of my childhood where I’d jam with my friends for hours. I can see their friendship and how much they enjoy playing coming through from each performance they do, and I’d like to be up there with them on the piano.

What's your favourite thing to do in your free time?

In my free time I like to explore green spaces and forests with my friends. After being locked up for so long during the pandemic, it’s nice to be able to have forests and woods available as a refuge from the busy city life.

How would you describe the music that you typically create?

I would describe my music as melancholy with a touch of hope. Like a dark tunnel, but with a very visible light at the end of it.

Name 3 things you want to achieve this year.

1. Perform live - I have not yet had the opportunity to play in front of people other than family and friends. However I feel like it’s the next step for my music, especially now that venues are open again. 2. Find a label - I would love to collaborate with a label to help me reach a wider audience. Sonder House would be my dream label, they have a great ideology and each of their artists have a sense of wonder and beauty in their music. 3. Keep releasing music consistently - I want to keep releasing a song every couple of weeks. Since buying my own piano I’m able to record from home whenever I want, instead of having to hire a studio and play a foreign piano that I’m not comfortable on. I have lots of songs ready to release and even more to record!

What is one message you would give to your fans?

Thank you so much for listening to my music! I am offering free sheet music to my songs. If you’re interested, please give me a message on Instagram and I’ll send it over to you!

Message from the artist.

My next project is called “Time to Come Home” which was written and recorded in Palma, Mallorca. You can find it on Spotify and live performance videos on YouTube. The first track is called “as we drift apart” and is already out on all platforms!

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