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Joseph Livingstone - Sirius Contest - The interview. Questions asked by members
21 Feb 2021
Adagio members had the opportunity to ask questions to English composer Joseph Livingstone. This interview was part of the Sirius Contest - The interview. Members could win prizes that are given away at the end of the interview.
What would you consider is the most challenging aspect of composing music?
As of yet, I don't feel as though there are any challenging aspects to composing. This, I suspect, has a lot to do with my approach ie I only compose when I feel I have something to say.
What famous composer(s) do you admire and how have they inspired you?
I suppose every musician who ever moved me has been an inspiration. Whether that be the jazz giants of improvising like Clifford Brown / Buddy Rich / Joe Zawinul or the giants of classical music like Beethoven / Mahler / Bach. From the electronic music world, Karlheinz Stockhausen stands out. Although stylistically these people have little in common, the thread which runs through all of them is their individuality. That is how they have inspired me…to find my own voice.
What is your favorite piece to perform?
A piece called 'Running Out Of Daydreams', from my new album 'Dying With The Most Toys'. It has a relentless energy from beginning to end.
Did the good or bad events in your life affect your compositions?
Yes, most certainly. All of my music is autobiographical.
Which piece is the most obvious example of this?
The pieces about my three children: '1321', the time of birth of my son Thomas. 'Karl', my eldest son and 'Eve', my daughter. Another example of the autobiographical nature of my music is 'Resurrection Time!' which is about overcoming difficulties.
If you don't mind, can you tell the story?
Just the difficulties which we all face from time to time.
Joe, I know you as a skilled drummer but it is clear that you have had such the melodic and harmonic influence. Which came first? Was it the chicken or the egg? :)
I was always sensitive to melody but drums came first. My father had an album with the Buddy Rich band version of The Beatles tune 'Norwegian Wood' on it. I was 5 years old and I was hooked. It was a combination of the lovely melody and the propulsive drumming.
Why did you pick Degas's painting "Interior" also known as "The rape" for the cover of Physical Overtures?
There was something dark, yet beautiful about it. I liked the idea that the events depicted were open to interpretation, much like the music.
How do you choose your covers?... they all seem art sensitive.
I always choose the covers based on the atmosphere of the music on each particular album.
Do any of your immediate family members or more distant relatives compose or perform music?
No composers, although my father is a drummer. He's 92 years old and still plays. The composing side was / is really from me.
If so, have they had an influence on your work?
As far as the drumming side of my music is concerned, yes. My father was instrumental in introducing me to the jazz greats. Without this, I probably wouldn't have got to watch and meet so many of them.
What instrument or instruments do you play?
Piano, Electronic Keyboards, Drums and Percussion.
Bonus question: If the answer to question 12 is greater than 1, which is your favorite instrument and why?
I love them in equal measure as they all express different characteristics of my musical imagination and personality.
Who (or what) is Verloren? Quite a lengthy piece of music compared to others of yours.
'Verloren' is the German word for 'Lost'. It's a journey where one becomes lost, in a good way. Each piece seems to have its own natural length. The title track of my album 'The Futility Room' for example is less than a minute long.
What was written in those "damage letters"?
I heard an English comedian talking about his battle to overcome his alcoholism. A way of coming to terms with his struggle was to put in writing all of the damage he'd caused to both himself and the people around him. Hence 'The Damage Letters'.
I would love an explanation of the title "paint on Sundays"!
This is taken from a John Lennon quote about how the education system is lacking with regards to creativity. Even at art school, he was actively discouraged from pursuing life as an artist. Instead, he was advised to become a teacher, so that he could 'paint on Sundays' as a hobby.
Do you have a favorite piece that you wrote? and what is your favorite genre?
There are pieces where I feel I managed to capture exactly what I set out to achieve musically. Verloren / The Futility Room / The Damage Letters / Poet's Corner / Gold From Grief / Resurrection Time part 2. There are some really strong pieces on the new album 'Dying With The Most Toys'. No favourite genre as such as it's the changing nature of the music that interests me.
Which country would you like to visit when it is safe to travel again, and why?
Maybe the Far East. I imagine it's radically different from Liverpool.
What are the factors you think that will influence emotions to be perceived or induced?
My inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. A word, a phrase, a feeling about someone or a situation, real or imagined.
Do you ever find yourself stuck in a rut & you needed a way out due to time pressures i.e. while producing an album? If so, what is your personal find a way?
I never feel pressure as I only compose / record when I feel compelled to. In other words, if I'm not in the mood, I won't even attempt to. I have to be inspired, not coerced.
The final questions are to ask you to mention what were the most original, interesting and funniest questions (Q1 - Q20) to determine who will get the prizes
The Futility Room + digital copy Dying With The Most Toys, CD signed by Joseph: For the most original question
Physical Overtures + 3 months VIP membership, CD signed by Joseph: For the most interesting question
Resurrection Time!, CD signed by Joseph: For the most funniest question
Who gets The Futility Room + digital copy Dying With The Most Toys, CD signed by you, for the most original question and please explain why?
Q19 Aved. It made me think.
Who gets Physical Overtures + 3 months VIP membership, CD signed by you, for the most interesting question and please explain why?
Q7 Pete C. It was a question which addressed both sides of my artistry.
Who gets Resurrection Time!, CD signed by you, for our the funniest question and please explain why?
Q15 irincou. It put a smile on my face.
Thank you Joseph for taking the time answering the questions. Maybe you want to say something to the members of Adagio.FM?
Thank you for listening! It is always appreciated. X