UK pianist Bill Laurance was one of the original members of Snarky Puppy. Here he talks about his new album and answers questions from one of our readers.
Tell us about your latest album, Flint, and how it all came about.
“Flint is the result of 10 years of searching and not always finding the sound I was looking for. In the past I'd made albums with specific genres in mind. I made a straight ahead jazz album, a pop vocal album and an electro duo album. This time I wanted to make an album of all the music that I have come to love. Irrelevant of genre. As a result Flint is very eclectic and one of the things I'm most proud of.”
Are your teaching methods similar to how you were taught?
“The thing about my most memorable teachers was their pure love and enthusiasm for music. That's the thing that I try to remember whenever I'm teaching. What is it that moves me about the music, why and how it is so powerful and how do I get that across.”
You’ve done quite a lot of travelling with Snarky Puppy. Do you get much time to see the sights? What have been your favourite places?
“Australia was great because I lived there for a year and stayed with a family so the whole band went to visit them for a BBQ. That was really special. The day after the Grammies in LA was pretty special too. Me and Mike League went to the beach, drank caprinias and went on a rollercoaster. It's pretty rare we get down time but when we do we make the most of it.”
The following questions were sent in by one of our readers. What has been your musical journey, in terms of the styles that you’ve learnt?
“My first teacher was a ragtime player. He instilled the interest and made me want to do grades to get my technique together. I was classically trained and then did a restaurant gig for three summers in a row playing every night. I think that's where I really learnt how to play.”
What are the influences on your musical style- it seems to incorporate lots of different types and textures of music- contemporary and traditional.
“To me the more styles and genres I can refer to, the better. I try not to limit myself to any genre. I want to try to break down the boundaries between genres and show how classical sensibility and deep groove can sit happily side by side.”
What is your creative process?
“Most of the time I have the compositions complete either in my head or as an mp3 demo on Logic. Then I bring them to the band to flesh out. I make sure to allow a degree of freedom to allow the musicians to personalise the part and bring it to life, but the concept is clear before we get in the rehearsal room.”
How much is composed versus arranged in advance- and how do you go about deciding that?
“Sometimes an idea just isn't working so we would have to try another approach. I feel that I'm getting better at knowing whether an idea is going to work or not.”
Bill Laurance’s album Flint is out now on GroundUp Records, available from iTunes. Expect a UK tour in October with dates in London and Brighton.
Snarky Puppy appear at the 2014 Love Supreme Festival on Saturday 5th July, 2014.
Snarky Puppy’s latest album We Like It Here is out now and available from iTunes.
Bill Laurance answered questions from Charlie Anderson and SJM readers.