This Sunday 17 July sees the UK debut of French pianist Sofiane Pamart. The video below, of him playing at the Montreux Jazz Festival, has had over a million views since being released. And he is popular on streaming services: his four most-played Spotify tracks have over 30 million streams combined.
Sofiane Pamart is originally from Hellemmes in the suburbs of Lille. Classically trained at the regional conservatoire in Lille, and emerging from it with a gold medal, he has gone a different route, and worked in collaborations with French rappers and hip hop artists : Koba LaD, Vald, Maes, Sneazzy, Hugo TSR, Scylla, Lord Esperanza, Frenetik and Dinos.
He has explained (*) : “My life, especially during my childhood, was split in music conservatory and the world outside, the street, listening to rap music with people of my neighborhood and from the same background. So it has been natural for me to play with rap artists, because they were like the people that I grew up with.”
Early musical life
Known as the ‘Piano King’, or as the ‘rebel pianist of France’, he has said of his early musical life: “When I was three or four years old my mother bought me a small keyboard, one of those with only twelve keys. She discovered that I was able to find notes of melodies I was listening to the radio or in movies. Of course, at that time I was playing like a baby can do, but I was doing it the right way and she realized that I was enjoying it so much. I used to play music from cartoons like Dragon Ball-Z, Sailor Moon, or movies like The Godfather.”
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And yet…”Chopin is my favorite composer. Even at night, his pieces are playable. It’s like you can speak for yourself with the piano and you don’t need anything more.” in fact this is something I did so many times: not sleeping at night, just playing music and telling stories to my piano and listening to the stories that my piano tells me.”
Horowitz and Callas
“I was a big fan of Vladimir Horowitz, even if he was an old man not from my generation, because he was perfect in the way he expressed emotions. I have always felt inspired by Maria Callas, too, and I love her capacity to find the best way to sing phrases and sentences, giving them intensity and feelings.”
“Today I often listen to quiet music and minimal electro music. Sometimes I listen to funk music and calm jazz. That makes you into a mood where you can imagine people smoking cigars in the room and playing poker. It makes me imagine scenes from ancient movies.”
(*) Quotes from press materials and from an interview in Lampoon magazine (FULL INTERVIEW HERE)
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BOOKING LINK: Barbican. 17 July 2022
Categories: Features/Interviews (PP)