Cody Carpenter - Interview
Cody Carpenter is a third generation musician. His father, John Carpenter, is a director and composer and his mother, Adrienne Barbeau, is a star of film, television and the Broadway stage. His grandfather, Howard Carpenter, was a founding member of the Nashville Strings.
How did you choose and start playing the piano?
CC: We have an upright piano at my mom’s house that I grew up with and have always loved to play on. When I was really little I think I had piano lessons, but I don’t really remember. I just remember always loving that piano, (I still do!)
How old were you?
CC: I think I was about 3 when I started on the piano.
What were your first attempts at playing like? What do you remember?
CC: Unfortunately my memory is not so good, I don’t remember much other than the textural feel of the piano
PRACTICE / TRAINING
Did you take lessons or are you self-taught?
CC: I had piano and guitar lessons off and on during my childhood and into junior high school.
What is your practice routine like?
CC: I was never really good at practicing in the traditional sense, I really just wanted to play around and do what I wanted. I was not a very good student. I’m still not. To be honest I don’t consider myself a very good player either!
How would you define your style of playing?
CC: I have a hard time defining what my style is. I guess it’s a bit of an amalgamation of the different styles and techniques I got into over the years. A bit of proggy fusion?
What one piece of equipment would you advise all piano players to own?
CC: An open mind and ears!
What’s the most important bit of advice you could give to new piano/keyboardists?
CC: Hmm… I don’t know… Maybe they could give me some advice?
Did you have a concept for this album and/or what inspired you to pick those songs on this album?
CC: I do have a very rough concept for each of the instrumental albums I’ve released, but I prefer to let the listener come up with their own story. Or, if they prefer to listen to the album simply as a collection of unrelated tunes, I encourage that as well! Although the songs on the first two albums were a mixture of old and new songs I had written, the songs on “Control” were almost all written with the last few years.
Lets talk about your creative process. How do you approach writing original music?
For the songs on “Control”, my process always starts with improvisation. I pick a sound, be it a piano, organ, synth, and just start playing. I see where my fingers take me. If I come up with an interesting idea, I’ll record it and start elaborating on it. Sometimes I’ll mix and match ideas from different songs, but I generally like to build organically from improvisation.
Who inspires you to on the piano and/or keyboard?
One of my biggest inspirations is Vince DiCola. I’ve been listening to his music since I was little, and I recently had the honor of playing backup keys for him live. His style as a player and as a composer has always been a huge inspiration for me.
What other types of music or artists do you derive inspiration from?
My influences are many, be it the classic prog rock groups from the 70s I got into when I was in High School, the classic video game music I played when I was young, or the more jazz fusion-leaning groups like Return to Forever and T-Square that I got into later in life, I definitely have a tendency to wear my influences on my sleeve.
What’s the most important bit of advice you were given by another musician?
Never stop making music! I don’t remember who told me this…
LIVE | STUDIO
What equipment do you use live and in the studio and why?
In the studio I generally just use a 61-key midi controller with a bunch of software. Although I love playing actual keyboards, it’s just so convenient to have everything in the computer when recording. For live performances, I have a laptop running MainStage which holds all of my sounds, connected to a midi controller, and a Yamaha MX49. The MX49 is very lightweight and portable!
What’s been your proudest playing moment?
Being able to perform with my dad has been my proudest moment.
What’s the biggest disaster you’ve ever had onstage and how did you cope with it?
On tour with my dad, we had a show in a rather big venue in London, and the show was to be filmed to be part of a live DVD. I had come down with a cold the day before, not being used to the constant travel involved in touring. By showtime the adrenalin had kicked in and I was ready to play, but as the first song started up and I plunked my fingers down on the keys to play the first notes, no sound came out. I quickly checked all the connections between the computer and keyboards, and everything seemed fine, but no audio was going through. Our amazing monitor guy ran up to check it out and we both fiddled around but couldn’t figure out what was going on. As the song rolled on, I decided to just restart the computer, which ultimately fixed the problem, but by that time the song was about halfway done…
Do you warm up before a concert and if so how?
After soundcheck is finished, I like to play a bit longer after the rest of the band has left, just to get some time on my own with the keys before the show. I don’t have any sort of backstage practice rig, so I usually just get my warmup in during that time.
What profession other than music would you like to attempt?
A classic game speedrunner! Maybe that’s not a profession…