WITH LIONEL SCARDINO
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 Argentinian composer Lionel Scardino. The artist takes some time to tell us about himself and his first album Ethereal Chronicles; a fascinating composer both through his music and the way he creates it!
Lionel, you are a composer, multi-instrumentalist and much more—tell us a bit about yourself!
Well actually, I only really play the piano, but I am learning the saxophone and I work on improving my singing. I trained a lot in digital programming and MIDI. Since I cannot afford hiring a large group of musicians, I work a lot on my production in order to achieve realistic timbral and sonic results through virtual instruments. Very often it’s a matter of trail and error.
Ethereal Chronicles is your first album, and release with Blue Spiral Records. Tell us how this project came to life? How long have you been working on the music?
Aside from Deriva—which was written when I was around eighteen—all of the the album was composed in a week. Because of technical difficulties it took me a little longer than I thought to finish the production of all the tracks. I sent my demos to many record labels, and Blue Spiral Records—with whom I had already collaborated for the Minimal Piano Series 2 with my piece Quimera—accepted to release the album!
Your pieces are very—close to being—ambient. What is the amount of influence, old and recent, ambient music have had on your creativity?
Actually, what triggered it all was the second movement of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto. To me, the first measures were really influential in the creation of ambient music, as well as being one of the best concerto ever written! With ambient music, it is very important to find a balance in order to keep the music away from boredom and predictability.
Some titles have made me very curious—Virtualización - Poema de un Módem or Poema Electrónico, would you like to develop on them?
The physical copies of Ethereal Chronicles all come with a booklet that describes the story behind each piece. In Virtualización - Poema de un Módem, it’s all about digital transformation of acoustic sounds to electric sounds, through a Modem—portmanteau of modulator-demodulator, a hardware device that converts data into a format suitable for a transmission from computer to computer.
Explain us your creative process? Between the composition and the production, which comes first? Or do they go hand-in-hand? How important is technology when you create?
I usually start with a pen and paper. I will then try the playability of what I wrote on the piano, and decide whether it needs instrumental development or not. I also improvise a lot, and every once in a while a good idea pops out. I spend a lot of time programming each instrument until it sounds like I want. To me technology is very important; without it I would not be able to produce music.
After such a release, how do you see yourself? As a composer or a producer? Do you think there are any differences today?
To me, most composers are actually producers. Everything has already been written, and all we do is extract small fractions of sounds to create something new. We recycle. True composers are explorers; electroacoustic music, atonalism, serialism or working around Fibonacci numbers, the golden ratio; this is what pushes the music further.
So after Ethereal Chronicles, what’s next?
I just released Pollux Piano, a selection of twelve pieces for solo piano!
Thanks very much Lionel. Last one for the road—one book, one album, one film—tell us about your latest cultural pearls?
Books: Tragic Sense of Life by Unamuno and The Stranger by Camus—I love its absurdity—or anything from Alejandro Dolina. Movies: Immortal Beloved, on Beethoven’s life, or anything by Tim Burton and Quentin Tarantino. And music-wise: My favorite musician, Charly Garcia with Como Conseguir Chicas!
Bouncing on Lionel’s words; another master of absurdity to rediscover is Czech writer Franz Kafka! Read my review of Ethereal Chronicles.