WITH LAURA CHRISTIE WALL
During this interview, I change seat, place myself in front of another artist and ask him the questions I wish people asked me. Today, I speak to British composer Laura Christie Wall. The pianist takes some time to tell us about herself and her latest EP Things I Couldn’t Say, as well as talk a little about how she perceives psychology and music.
Laura tell us about yourself. How did you start composing?
I have loved music for as long as I can remember, and my first experience of piano was actually playing a small toy keyboard I was gifted when I was probably about ten years old. I then began playing by ear at twelve, and composed my first piece of music when I was fifteen with the influence of minimalistic composers such as Ludovico Einaudi and Ólafur Arnalds.
Tell us about your latest EP, Things I Couldn’t Say.
Things I Couldn't Say is my debut EP for solo piano which was released in June 2019 with Blue Spiral Records. It consists of five pieces in which I have aimed to capture different moments throughout my life that hold significance for me.
Things I Couldn’t Say is a very suggestive title—could you elaborate more on it?
It is suggestive, in that I have used music to explore the emotions and feelings I have found hard to explain; from happiness and love to sadness and loss. It really suggests that we experience some moments in time that simply transcend words, but which can be harnessed and portrayed through the power that is music.
Your music is very song-like and has a strong lyrical quality—how do you approach composing?
I think you are very right about that, and as is the case with many musicians I generally compose best when I'm experiencing a particularly strong emotion. The process for me is actually very simple and almost instinctive, in that I tend to sit at the piano and see what melodies come naturally to me. By using the piano as an outlet to capture my thoughts in this way, there is a part of myself and my life in every piece of music I write, and I think this is what gives it the lyrical quality—because they quite literally tell the story of something I have felt or have been through; it comes from a very real place.
Tell us about your psychology studies.
Psychology has intrigued me since my school studies and specifically its connection with music. I am just entering my third year of a psychology degree and hope to eventually specialise in the field of music therapy.
How do you feel psychology and music work together? What is their relationship?
I have always been in awe of the way music connects us to everyone and everything around us; to special moments, places and emotions. I think music therapies derived from psychology break boundaries for those with learning disabilities and mental health illnesses, by helping them to express their feelings and communicate with others in ways they may not be able to, verbally or otherwise. The use of music therapy in dementia patients especially intrigues me, in how a familiar piece of music can reach someone and; even if just for a few moments; bring them back to themselves. I find it truly inspiring.
So after Things I Couldn’t Say what’s next?
I have recently collaborated with fellow composer Andy Pullen who has produced a very special orchestral arrangement of the first track from my EP Before Light, which releases on September 30th, 2019 across all digital platforms. I am also in the process of shooting a video for one of my new piano pieces, Euphoria which will incorporate contemporary dance and I am sure will make for great viewing!
Thanks very much Laura. Last one for the road—one book, one album, one film—tell us about your latest cultural pearls?
Book: I regret not having much time to read, but my favourite classic is Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. Album: My most listened to album at the moment is Ólafur Arnalds' Re:member, I saw him perform this live earlier in the year and he was breathtaking! Film: Not a recent one, Shane Meadows' This is England; hauntingly powerful and of course, beautifully scored by the great Einaudi.
Bouncing on Laura’s words; I recommend to urgently discover the works of Arnalds, who has very quickly demonstrated his positioning as one of the most important composer of the decade! Read my review of Things I Couldn't Say.