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 Czech composer Noirepolde (aka Václav Benda). The pianist takes some time to tell us about himself and his second album, Decade II.
Václav, tell us about yourself. What is your story?
Well, I am a Prague based pianist and composer. I started producing mostly electronic music during my teenage years but with no good results. That is why I switched to piano and started composing more minimalistic music; it all resulted in my first album called Songs from Nowhere which I released in 2017, some Piano Day singles and my second album Decade II, released via Blue Spiral records.
Decade II spans music written over the last fifteen years? How did you decide which pieces to select for the album?
Some of the pieces are pretty much recent, some of them are based on quite old ideas but I have finished most of the album in the past two years. I am obviously a different person and musician than I was ten years ago and some of the music needed revision. Basically, I picked the ideas and motives which resonated with me the most and finished them.
Although it is presented as a compilation album, is there a narrative line in Decade II?
I think there is, yes. For me it is the evolution of the way I perceive music and how it affects me as a musician. You can listen to it and take it as a compilation, but this diversity also symbolises how different kinds of music shaped me as musician and person.
There are many different elements in your music, some more electric or acoustic, some melodic and some textural. Can you tell us about your creative approach?
Usually it all starts with me jamming on the piano. I try to improvise until I get some interesting melody or chord progression. Then it depends if it is meant to be a solo piano piece or if it needs some more arranging. I focus on composition and use my imagination to support the piece with convenient elements and instruments. Sometimes I let my friends help me—it is always great to involve another creative person, because they can see your music from a completely different perspective.
The sonic diversity of Decade II is fascinating; tell us about your approach towards production.
The production is quite an organic process and it is quite hard to generalise it because it differs from one piece to another. Most of the time, I follow my intuition and let the music itself tell me how to complete it. Obviously, I experiment a lot with different sounds or structures but I often realise that the first version of the piece or composition is usually the best because it was born intuitively with a fresh state of mind.
How do your influences—I am thinking of Chopin, Satie, Schubert as much as Arnalds, O’Halloran or Jóhannsson—reflect on your music?
I think the minimalist approach is a major aspect which influences my work a lot. It still reminds me that sometimes less is more and you don‘t have to make things complicated to get great results: that‘s why I prefer to keep things simple!
So after Decade II what’s next?
I am working on some solo piano pieces which I would love to record this fall. I feel like it is refreshing to go back to solo piano music for a while, and I am planning on releasing some singles in the near future. Also, I am collecting ideas for my third album, but it is still in the very beginning and I have no concept or idea on how it is going to sound.
Thanks very much Václav. Last one for the road—one book, one album, one film—tell us about your latest cultural pearls?
It is hard to pick just one, but here you go! Book: Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast; album: Floex & Tom Hodge, A Portrait of John Doe; film: Beats, directed by Brian Welsh.
Bouncing on Václav’s words; a great discovery and strongly recommended, Beats. Read my review of Decade II.