Who or what inspired you to take up the piano/composing, and make it your career?
I made a choice to give some kind of career in music a chance whilst in my last year studying Social and Political Sciences. However at the time I was not exactly sure what, where or how and in some respects I am an accidental composer, as a result of taking a job making tea in a post-production house that specialised in the sound for commercials.
I found my piano improvisation (or fast composition) skills were in demand and it developed from there. At the time, I was setting strict targets about what I needed to achieve (e.g. after 6 months, I said to myself I would quit if I was still making tea!), but after 3 or 4 years with about 100 or so broadcast adverts under my belt, I realised I had become a ‘professional’ musician. This prompted me to go and study! Although this time, I did Composition for the Screen at the Royal College of Music.
Who or what were the most important influences on your playing/composing?
The composers I particularly remember enjoying playing when I was studying piano at school were Bach, Chopin, Liszt, Bartok and Gershwin. I had a flat mate, Tim Fairhall, for a couple of years who was working towards a jazz bass postgrad and playing with him I developed a further interest in improvisation and I started to compare classical and jazz approaches to playing and writing. Now my wife, Kim Sheehan, who is an opera singer, has an important influence on my music-making, as she is always pushing me to be better!
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
My first orchestral film session was pretty scary. It was for Vito Rocco’s indie feature called Faintheart. I did my best to pretend I was an old hand at such stuff, but everyone could see straight through me obviously!
The first year or so of Piano Interrupted too was very challenging: first finding a synergy in the studio we were happy with between piano and laptop and then working out how on earth we would play our intricate digital musings live. And life as a musician- managing the business of music if you like- is of course a constant challenge.
Which performances/compositions/recordings are you most proud of?
Perhaps I am doing that musician-and-their-most-recent-project thing, but I am proud of how my first dip into the fashion world turned out last February, writing the music for Carolina Herrera’s New York Fashion Week show. We made the recording in the overwhelmingly-historic Abbey Road Studio 2 with the London Contemporary Orchestra and the ‘premiere’ was for 1000 guests of Mrs Herrera in the Lincoln Center in New York.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in?
I am only now becoming a regular performer. And the types of venues Piano Interrupted are likely to play tend to be slightly alternative, rather than the traditional concert hall system. I very much enjoyed playing in the Union Chapel in Islington, London.
Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?
I’m not very good at favourites! I like the early/mid 20th century Russians, the American minimalists, Jazz from the 60s and 70s. I also try in general to support music written by people who are still alive.
As for performing, it’s all Piano Interrupted at the moment and it’s a privilege to be playing my own music.
Who are your favourite musicians?
I’m a sucker for a world-class jazz pianist- Brad Mehldau, Fred Hersch, Ethan Iverson. And any fabulous opera singing too- Gerald Finley in Doctor Atomic or Florez and Dessay in La Fille du Regiment immediately spring to mind as being utterly mind-bogglingly good.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
Radialsystem with Piano Interrupted last December. We had not played a concert outside of the UK, but we were given a fantastic (sold-out) welcome in Berlin. I think Radialsystem started life as a water factory and now it is a beautiful arts space. The artists the night before had hired a Steinway D, so I got to borrow that too! I find German audiences are particularly receptive to new and/or experimental music. Or at least my music at any rate!
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Nurture your talent, practice hard, make as many connections with other creative people as you can, keep an open mind to different styles, approaches and attitudes towards music. I firmly believe that the harder you work, the luckier you’ll be.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am just starting on what is easily my biggest and most challenging project to date. I have been commissioned by Silvana Schroeder and Thüringen Staatsballet to write an 80-minute ballet for about 60-70 players. It is called ‘Waiting Room’ and Silvana and I are also collaborating on the book together. I will also be incorporating lots of live electronics, so all in all it promises to be some undertaking. The premiere is on the 6th June 2014.
Before that, Franz Kirmann and I have to get the second Piano Interrupted album out the door by August, so we can tour it in November.
What is your most treasured possession?
The Steinway that I don’t own yet!
What is your present state of mind?
Excitement – after a super productive meeting about the ballet.
Tom Hodge’s album ‘Two By Four’ is available now. Tom will be touring with Piano Interrupted in July and August. Further information and sample soundclips here
Tom Hodge was born in England in 1975 and grew up in Melbourne, Australia before returning to London.
He has been scoring music to picture for just over ten years and his credits include 3 feature films, a handful of TV themes and over 200 commercials for practically every major worldwide brand including Audi, Nike, Smirnoff, Pantene & Max Factor, as well as Sumito Sakakibara’s BAFTA-nominated short animation ‘Kamiya’s Correspondence’
As part of an extremely diverse portfolio. Tom has contributed music to a number of theatre pieces in the UK and his music has also featured in a Carolina Herrera fashion show in New York and at the Thüringen Ballet in Germany.
Other credits include the classical remix of Daft Punk’s Aerodynamic (still the only remix ever to be sanctioned by Daft Punk for synchronisation) released in the UK and Australia on Ministry of Sound, Paganini Rocks with Rob da Bank, Tom Middleton and Au Revoir Simone on Sunday Best and We Anchor In Hope, a remix for post-rockers Codes In The Clouds on Erased Tapes.
“One of the few voices on the scene capable of not just mimicking the serene beauty of classical music, but of matching its compositional intricacy to boot.” Tobias Fischer, Tokafi