Interview with the German musician Carlos Cipa

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Carlos Cipa is a young musician and composer residing in Munich (Germany). His debut full length “The Monarch and the Viceroy“ saw the light of day via Denovali Records in June 2012. His piano music impresses particularly because of its intensity and great attention to detail. In January 2014 he released the “Relive“ EP in collaboration with pianist and composer Sophia Jani.

All Your Life You Walk“, his second personal album, is due to be released on 21st November by Denovali Records. Mix Grill contacted Carlos Cipa, who kindly answered all our questions. You can find more information about him and his works in his official site, in Denovali Records' website, and in his bandcamp.



- At the age of 6 you started with classical piano lessons. Later, at 16, you played in a hardcore band. How did all these result in “The Monarch and the Viceroy“? How did you experience the transition periods in between – from piano to drums, from classical music to punk or indie rock?

On the piano I only played classical pieces; Bach, Beethoven, Prokofiev, Liszt, Franck, Debussy, Messiaen, to name just a few. With the drums, it came very naturally; I played already in a band three months after I picked up the sticks. Of course, I could benefit from my piano playing, the knowledge of rhythms, the musical feeling. In the band, we wrote our own pieces from the beginning on, which brought me also to improvising and writing my own pieces on the piano. I think of “The Monarch and the Viceroy” as an album between classical and popular music, so I am quite confident that my background and my history with performing those different kinds of music resulted in this record.

- In one of your interviews I read that you are currently studying classical composition. Are you a fan of lifelong learning?

That is nicely put. We are living in a very lucky time; we have access to so much music, history and culture or art that we’d need more than a lifetime to check everything out. I personally think, that it is very important to never stop learning, studying and practicing or discovering new music, art or technology. Regardless if you’re in an institution or not, everything is available. Just pick up a record and listen to it; or pick up a score and study it very thoroughly. I, myself strive for a life where I can compose and make music until the end of it, so I am actually looking forward to discovering and learning from new music everyday of my life.

- You have shared the scene with many of your mates in Denovali (e.g. John Lemke, Greg Haines, Federico Albanese among others). I myself have also seen you attending a concert of Poppy Ackroyd and Sebastian Plano. What kind of bonds are you building there in Denovali? How important is this for you and your work?

This might be the most fantastic thing about it. All the people I’ve met so far through Denovali are incredible nice and inspiring people. You are in a constant artistic exchange and profit so much from one another. That is really great and I am very thankful for it.

- How did you receive the success of “The Monarch and the Viceroy“? Did you expect it? Can you interpret it?

Actually, I didn’t have any clue at all how people would respond to the album. It was the first music I’ve ever written, so I was pretty curious how people would like it or how they would experience it. In the end I got so much positive feedback all over the world. I cannot describe how happy that makes me when my music reaches out to people and touches them.

- In the beginning of the year you released an album with your girlfriend, Sophia Jani. Are you still together (JOKE!)? Which role does music play in your relationship?

Of course, we are together. Right now we are not making any music together, because everyone is involved in their own projects, but we enjoyed composing the two pieces on “Relive” very much, so we are actually thinking of making some kind of an album in the future. For us, music is a very important factor in our relationship, as we are discovering music together and learning from another, helping each other or being the most important advisor for each other.



- Your new album ("All your life you walk") is coming out in a few days. Which were your aspirations while composing and recording it?

I was thinking about it, planning and composing it for nearly 2 years. But most of the work was done this summer. It is quite a step in a new direction, because I’ve added a whole bunch of new instruments and sounds to my music. Still, it is focused on the piano, but I created a mixture of rather strange instruments and sounds that build a world around the piano where you can dive in. The result is a record that has an equal focus on sound and composition; a musical story with musical chapters that relate to one another, with fragments and transitions that wrap the album in a kind of flowing aura. To experience this, I would love to encourage people to listen to the album as a whole.



- You originate from Munich. Do you still live there? Where is your "hermitage"?

Yes, I still live here and love it. I have no intention to move, because I have good living situation and I can work from home. I have my own studio in the basement, where I can compose and produce music. Munich is also a great city with a lot of musical history throughout the past. Right now it might be a little dry, but I have a strong feeling it will change again; hopefully I can also be a part of it.

- You have made several tours in Germany, of course, but also The Netherlands, Hungary, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Belgium, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Latvia. Excuse me, if I forgot any! Which concert do you remember more? When will you come to Greece? Do you aim to a tour outside Europe as well?

I would love to come to Greece and also outside of Europe. I don’t know when it will happen, but I am sure in the next 1 or 2 years. It’s always hard to go to new countries, when you’re not that well known yet, but I am surprised and amazed where my music has already led me. I can’t really say which concert I remember the most. I remember every city, every venue, every piano I played. it’s always very different, but always a great experience. Sometimes people talk (which I don’t like), sometimes people are so silent and enjoying the music so much; it’s unbelievable. Sometimes I have such an old piano on stage, where the pedal is squeaking or the whole thing is tuned one key lower. Sometimes it’s really hard to play an acoustic piano show at places where normally rock or electro is playing, but when it happens and people are responding to it, it can be a really magical moment.



- Apart from classical music, what else do you enjoy listening? Did you go for example to any rock or pop concert recently? Somewhere I read that you love The National. The next image in my mind was you playing piano in "Pink Rabbits". How did you like their last album?

The last proper concert where I went here in Munich actually was “The National” and it was an incredibly good one. Their playing is so precise and still so emotional and heavy, it was a real blast! I adore their new album, it’s incredible. Apart from that, I am listening to a lot of different kinds of music. At the moment I am very much into the new Alt-J, the new Imogen Heap or the new My Brightest Diamond and some old records from the Wipers, Beach Boys or The Beatles.

- Which is the best environment for listening to your music? A dark and cold room, a sunny province, a crowded bus?

Interesting question, but unfortunately I cannot answer it, because I don’t listen to it. I would love to know, though, where or how my fans are listening to my music. Will definitely go to the bottom of this.

- Your next tour is in December and includes Germany and UK, until now. What should we expect from these concerts?

Actually, I am working on the new live set up at the moment. As I added plenty of new sounds and instruments to my music on my new album, I am working on a way to do this all live. I will bring some musicians with me on stage, so you can definitely expect some new things happening on stage!



Next week we will listen to the mixtape Carlos Cipa prepared for Mix Grill.
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