Soho Classical meets Kaada

The song titles on John Erik Kaada’s latest album “Closing Statements”, are inspired by historical peoples’ last words. Or, presumed last words – the Norwegian composer and musician suspects that most so-called famous last words are polished slightly to ensure a more memorable exit. “What’s remembered as someone’s final words aren’t necessarily the very last ones. They might have been uttered on the deathbed, but they’ve probably been followed by other, less memorable phrases” says Kaada. ‘Closing Statements’ was released in May and can be enjoyed here – Soho Classical meet him for a few questions:

When did you start playing your instruments and why? When did you discover your interest in composing?

I started playing piano when I was around seven or eight. The first years I found more joy in playing pop and rock, but slowly found my way into the classical world through crossover acts like Queen, The Who, ‘Emerson, Lake & Palmer’ and Frank Zappa. The plan was to become a classical pianist, but I found more joy in improvisations. The turning point was around 16, when I started to improvise over classical literature. Trying to make music on the fly in the style of the great masters. Then the route over to composing my own music was not far off.

What is your favourite piece of music for the piano?

My taste changes depending on what I am working on and listening to. I find it too hard to pick favourites. But looking back, it is probably Das Wohltemperierte Clavier I’ve spent most time playing. When I was a student, I tried to learn as many of them as possible by heart. Now it is one of those books that I often pull out of the shelves and play through just for sight-reading and enjoyment. I skip over the ones I don’t like, but there is enough gold in there to keep me occupied.

Describe your musical style in 3 words.

Think I’ll just go with what I am working on at the moment, which is a quirky, charming and sensitive piece. Hope those three words can cover up some of my other works too.

Tell us your first memory of London.

I was playing support for Tomahawk in 2003, and we played at the ‘London forum’. I had bought in a few liters of glitter in which I threw up in the air on our last song called “Thank you for giving me your valuable time”. When the song ended, I still had a cup of glitter left, which I pour over a guy at the front of the stage. He literary lit up the whole place, hahaha. He must have used months to get the stuff out of his clothes.

What is one piece of classical music you couldn’t live without?

A friend of mine recommended an amazing album by Chico Buarque and Ennio Morricone to me this weekend. Ennio Morricone has naturally been one of my orchestrator and composer heros growing up. His arrangements are so full of life, contrast, beauty and inventiveness. I am actually sitting on a balcony in Sardinia, in the town of Alghero, answering these questions. This album is accompanying my stay here, making life better than good.

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