Photo Credit: Ben Brooks
Cameron Brooks is a 21 year old musician, pianist and composer currently studying Creative Music Technology at Falmouth University. His latest EP, ‘Vicissitude‘ reflects a period of darkness in his life. In conversation with Cameron we talk about his musical background, inspirations, his EP and more.
Hi Cameron, we hope you are well. Can you tell us more about your musical background?
Hi, firstly it’s a pleasure to be on Contemplative Classical as I am a big fan of what you’re doing for modern classical music at the moment!
Well I guess it all began for me by learning the piano from an early age, I can’t really remember it not being a part of my life. My earliest musical influences were probably classical and jazz and playing these styles on the piano and clarinet. I then studied music technology at university and got more into the production side of music for a while. During this time I slowly began to realise I could combine my love of playing the piano and improvising for hours on end with recording these ideas and forming pieces from them; which is how the EP came about really.
What do you find about the piano that entices you to play and compose on it as opposed to other instruments?
I like it because it’s the only instrument I could sit down at for hours and just play whatever comes into my head. I think it would be easy to say because of its versatility or the way it sounds or any other reason that makes the piano so special. But really it’s just because I connect with the piano the most so it allows me to express my emotions so much more openly through it than through words.
Studying at Falmouth University must be fantastic. Do you draw inspiration from the stunning landscapes for your own music?
Yes it’s a really special place. I finished my final year music technology course there recently but I am already thinking about returning soon as I miss it so much. Definitely, while writing this EP I would go on walks along the Cornish coast and come back to the piano really refreshed and full of new ideas. I think just being outside and among amazing scenery has the ability to unlock a lot of creativity, particularly as dark music studios can actually be quite uninspiring to work in.
Congratulations on releasing your first EP ‘Vicissitude’. How would you describe the sound of it to someone who hasn’t heard your music before?
Thanks, well firstly I have to pay tribute to modern classical artists such as Nils Frahm and Olafur Arnalds because when I discovered their music about two years ago it was a gateway into this new musical world for me. I think I’m still developing my own musical style really but for this EP I would say it is a bittersweet collection of piano and strings pieces. Throughout all my music I like writing in those kind of grey areas between emotions where you can create a sense of tension between the more sad and hopeful parts of a piece.
To us, this EP sounds incredibly emotional and touching. We particularly love Hope and the moment the fragile sounding string parts enter. Is there a meaning behind this piece that you would be willing to share?
Thanks, I’m glad it had an impact on you. Well I guess like a lot of creative people I went through a period where nothing I made really felt good enough to put out there and I lost my love of music for a bit. This combined with a dark period for me personally – recovering from a period of physical injury and mental illness. During this time I really rediscovered my love of the piano again and when new ideas started to flow I realised they could make a nice project. The piece ‘Hope’ is really the turning point in the EP, telling the story of recovery as the piece unfolds and builds momentum to break through to the other side of the vicissitudes in life that we all experience.
What is the meaning of music for you?
Good question, I think the biggest meaning for me is that of expression, being able to explore the complexities of different emotions when composing a piece and then knowing that this could have an impact on somebody else as well. It can also definitely be a form of escapism, being completely present in each piece you listen to or note you play on the piano.
Are you working on any music currently and/or do you have any gigs coming up?
Yes, I am currently working on a lot of new music at the moment although I’m not sure how much of it will see the light of day. I am hoping that the ideas I am working on will form the beginnings of a second EP/ debut album continuing from some of the themes of this EP but introducing more electronic elements as my style develops. I am really excited about this new music I am making as it combines my love of the piano, clarinet and ambiences so I can’t wait to share more about it as the project progresses. As for gigs, I haven’t actually played my own music for an audience yet but it is something I am hoping to do in the near future.