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Eighth Note: Simon Eastwood

‘The Eighth Note’ is 8 quick Questions with Wellington Musicians.

A chance for us to catch up with people & see what they’re up to, or introduce you to a new musician/band and their music.

Today’s guest is composer and double bass player Simon Eastwood.

Who are you? Tell us a bit about your music:
I’m a composer and double bass player. I’m classically trained, I’ve studied at the New Zealand School of Music and Royal Academy of Music in London, but I grew up in Wellington and have always enjoyed the opportunities here to play different kinds of music.  My main focus at the moment is on new music for classical instruments, but I’m also very interested in cross-cultural collaboration and particularly working with taonga pūoro players is something which I’ve found really rewarding.

What have you been working on lately? Any new tracks or albums on the way?
Lately I’ve been finishing off a set of duets for violin and snare drum. I’m enjoying the idea of doing something which is portable and can get out of the concert hall.  Maybe you could call it a quirky little busking piece or something.  The coming year is looking incredibly exciting, but also a little daunting!  I have an orchestral commission in May for Orchestra Wellington and Arohanui Strings, a sistema-influenced organisation for young musicians in Taita.  I teach the kids bass there so am looking forward writing something for them.  Later this year I’ll be going to Alaska as part of a residency called Composing in the Wilderness. The idea is to write some music in the Arctic influenced by natural surroundings, the resulting piece will be premiered in New York later in the year.  After Alaska, I’m planning to head back to Europe for a while to write and collaborate as part of my DMA research.

Where is the best place people can follow you & find your music?
You can find my music at Soundcloud and my Website, and if you’re interested in my scores you can go to SOUNZ for scores by myself and a host of other great NZ composers.

What were the 3 most influential albums to you growing up?
Growing up I listened pretty widely, but actually spent most of my time listening to Rock music from the UK. It’s strange, because even though I’ve gone into classical composition and my music sounds nothing like any of these people, that seems to be where I really come from musically in many ways.
Pink Floyd – particularly The Wall. Listening to it now I’m not sure if I connect to it in the same way, but growing up there was definitely something about the grandeur of that concept which I found inspiring.  Also the general idea of experimentation in music, particularly in their earlier albums.
Radiohead- Kid A, completely blew my mind at the time and opened me up to new kinds of music.
Wayne Shorter- Footprints Live! The inventiveness and interaction between the members of this band is amazing on this album.

Which other Wellington musician (s) would you most like to work with?
Anyone really! I think the main thing is to find someone you can get along with and really connect.  I’m lucky to have some great friends in Wellington who also happen to be great musicians.  I’ve been cooking up a few things with NZSM Composer in Residence and taonga pūoro musician Rob Thorne, which is exciting!

What’s your favourite Wellington venue to play in?
Playing at the Pyramid Cub is always a good time, – anything goes!

In your songwriting or composing how do the compositions and songs take shape?
Every piece is a little different but generally it’s a pretty messy process, some kind of concept or idea behind the piece is often useful. I’ll draw some idea for the musical structure graphically before spending weeks locked in a room by myself sketching out ideas by hand on manuscript paper, going back and forth between different musical possibilities before eventually typing it up on some kind of software like Sibelius.  For me a deadline is important because it forces me to commit things to paper, otherwise I’d just procrastinate and experiment forever.

Where/when is your next gig?
With all this writing to do, I’m not playing in public too much at the moment, but you’ll be able to hear my music being played at the Orchestra Wellington concert at the Walter Nash Center in May.

Fluxion from Michaela Czech on Vimeo.

A collaborative project between UWE animation students Kyriakos Taliotis, Jade Bessant, Michaela Czech and composer Simon Eastwood from The Royal Academy of Music in London.

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