IT has been great finding out more about Olivia Belli…
and her latest album, Where Night Never Comes. The composer discusses her musical path and what themes have inspired her latest work; if she has a favourite song from the record and whether there is anything more planned for the rest of the year.
I ask which musicians have inspired her and when she took to the piano; if there are tour dates coming up and whether there are any rising artists we need to get behind – Belli ends the interview by selecting a beautiful song.
Hi, Olivia. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi, Sam. Today, unfortunately, I have just a little cold but I hope to recover soon. My weeks are always busy and I fell really privileged to dedicate so much time to my music. As you know, I have just released my debut album as a composer (Where Night Never Comes); I’m touring right now to present it and, meanwhile, I’m working on ideas for the remix of it and for a new album too! Very busy indeed.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m a pianist and composer. I have been releasing albums since 2016 - so just few years. I love to try new ways to make music so I recorded my album Max Richter and Philip Glass: Piano Works using the amazing sound of the contemporary piano (UNA CORDA). Even if I’m still very involved as a performer of the music of great maestros from the past and the present, now I’m concentrating on my own music. I have been composing since I was a child but, for a long time, it was just a personal activity. I felt I had to study and learn from the works of other composer and, in my opinion, the best way is to perform their music and, alas, find another perspective.
Now, I feel ready to share my original music with all the people that love my genre: a Neoclassical style, inspirational with influences by Satie, Einaudi; Glass and Richter. For my album, Where Night Never Comes, I had to build a special soft pedal to use in a Yamaha U3 upright piano: it was the only way to find the intimate sound I was looking for. And now I’m trying to manipulate the sound with the lives electronics.
Your new album, Where Night Never Comes, is out. What is the story behind the album? How do you think it varies from your previous efforts?
This is my debut full album as a composer, so it’s completely different from all my previous releases where I performed the music of the composers I admire. I did an E.P. but only four songs as a tribute for the Piano Day 2018.
Where Night Never Comes is a place of memory. It is my life, my passions; my interests and tells about my dears, my land and my surroundings. It’s the soundtrack of my daily life: a collection of big and small things that moved me, impressed me; left a trace on me. All together they symbolize my ideal day. A day that all of us sometimes experience, a day we wish it never finishes.
Do you have a favourite song/moment from the record?
All of them give me a strong feeling because now, after so much time, they make me remember the moment I had the need to write them. But, if I must choose one, I would say The Secret Vein - dedicated to my mother and to her sweetness that always accompany me.
When did you first take to the piano and fall for it? Was there someone who inspired you?
In my family, everybody play and love music. We had a piano at home and I used to touch the keys from just few years old - but I began my first lessons around seven/eight-years-old. I immediately understood I would never stop! Many musicians I met along my way inspired me, but the real mentor I had the (good) luck to find was and still is my husband Enrico, who now is my sound producer.
In terms of influences; which musicians did you grow up around?
My first love was and still is Bach: I can’t imagine my life without his music. Then, I must mention Chopin, Ravel and Satie - they influence my compositions. From the contemporary composers, the ones I admire most are Philip Glass and Max Richter; Ludovico Einaudi for how he can make the piano sing; Ólafur Arnalds for the way he mixes all the genres.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
Hard question! Actually; the main goal would be to reach - with my music - the heart of as many people as possible through the concerts, the streaming platforms or videos.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
All the moments in which, while playing, I find a promising idea and I chase it, losing track of time. That’s the place I would love to live in.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Bach: The Goldberg Variations by Glenn Gould (1955); Bach: The Goldberg Variations by Glenn Gould (1982). It is amazing to feel, in these two versions, the two completely different interpretations of the same work and both are so convincing. Of course; I have many more albums than one to mention but, if I have to say one, I would say Recomposed by Max Richter- Vivaldi - The Four Seasons. For me, it represents the beginning of my time as a performer and a composer.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Jakub Ciupinski: a visionary musician who, in my opinion, should deserve much more attention. I discovered him through his work, Morning Tale: i. Nocturne. I would like him to write more for piano solos.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Never give up! It’s hard to find our way in the new music market but keep updated; do your best and, at the end, something will happen.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
Now, I’m touring in Italy and I’m dealing for dates in Europe. On my site, you can find all the news.
IN THIS PHOTO: Douglas Dare/PHOTO CREDIT: @ozgecone
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Douglas Dare - because his songs are strong, like a punch in the stomach
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
When I get some free time, I love walking around the woods near my house (in 2012, I moved to the countryside); reading books and taking care of my garden!
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
From the E.P. Bach Reworks by Víkingur Ólafsson, the track For Jóhann
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