Italian composer and producer Ed Carlsen is known for blending components of modern classical music with electronic beats and ambient soundscapes. The secondary key to Ed’s work is inspired by live performances of other artists and human interaction.
His creative process enriches typical neoclassical piano (warm and stripped to its raw form) with elements from both electronic (guitar, synth, drum beats) and organic sounds.
Ed Carlsen’s music has now reached 10 million streams across all digital platforms and was acknowledged by media outlets BBC, Elle, Exclaim! and more. Ed has been promoting his third album ‘Morning Hour’ as well as playing live shows across Europe this year. He took some time out f his busy schedule to share his influences, sound and future endeavors.
Describe your sound for us. What do you want people to feel when they hear your music?
My audience would probably answer this question way better than me, as they sit on the receiving end, but the way I understand my sound is a matter of contrast. It feels quite natural to pour contrasting ingredients in my music, I believe this is part of my nature. Nuances (both in the music and in sound) are the watermark of a song and that’s what generates interest.
Ideally, I’d want my listeners to pick up on such contrast and nuances, and to get inspired by them. I guess every musician would want their sound to be spotted at first listen. It’s never easy though, as nowadays there’s so much music that it’s quite easy to ‘sound’ like something else.
Which three artists have influenced you the most growing up?
The Beatles influenced my songwriting. They still teach me a lot, but in particular, they remind me how important it is to find a distinguishable, often ‘pop-ish’, element around which structures need to be built.
By listening to prog-rock, I’ve gathered knowledge and inspiration on how to arrange and to make things fit together within space. The most influential artist in this regard is by far Steven Wilson, former member of Porcupine Tree.
Finally, it is thanks to Ólafur Arnalds that I found an interest in the neoclassical world, as I’ve immediately fallen in love with the astonishing beauty of his simple (yet awfully effective) tunes.
How did you discover your particular sound?
This happened in 2015, while I was a student at the London College of Music. Playing very few notes on a keyboard made me realize that, by means of the keys, I could finally find a way to convey my ideas and everything started to make sense. I’ve tried to come up with ideas on the guitar for so many years, yet nothing good ever happened until I sat at a piano for the first time.
What are the most important pieces of equipment to you?
Besides laptop and (many) hard drives, my essential piece of equipment is my custom piano tube preamp made by Rerun Electronics in Berlin. Some wise man once told me not to waste any money on crazy equipment, provided I had great preamps and mics, and therefore I invested in that direction.
What outside of music inspires you to create?
Anything does. It just happens when I feel calm and at ease. I am largely inspired by life experience, past events, and people. But I often get inspired by a lot of other things, like movies, books, long walks, landscapes, anything really.
Do you have a favourite memory of your career so far that you will take with you forever?
My very first gig. More specifically, it was the first time I got to play my own music in front of other humans. This happened in Montréal, Canada, Moderna Records’ hometown. It’s funny that I flew across the pond to play my first show, and it’s been such a rewarding, crazy experience. I’ll never forget my first audience.
If you could work with, or perform alongside any artist living or passed, who would it be?
Steven Wilson, most likely. He’s what I call a ‘sound philosopher’ who makes the most enjoyable music I’ve ever come across.
Most artists say that if they weren’t artists they would be mailmen/women… what would you be?
Probably an airliner pilot. Easy answer, as before graduating in Music Production, I got my qualification to fly planes.
What can we expect from you in the near future? Any upcoming projects or gigs in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?
I’ve got two upcoming UK dates in November (at Butley Priory and Brudenell Social Club) and I have already started writing new material. I’m in the process of consolidating my musical direction and I’ll be working on that very hard for the next records to come.
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