Notching 500 million streams worldwide and a number of Classical Billboard High 10 releases, Lawson continues to combine piano music into at this time’s streaming panorama together with his latest EP irreplaceable, a meditative four-track solo piano set that provides solace and encourages self-reflection. Sitting down with AllMusic, Lawson mentioned the journey behind the EP, explaining his melody-centric composition course of and the way the which means of irreplaceable fell into place, earlier than describing the function of the piano within the age of streaming providers and the connection between music and psychological well being.
AllMusic: To begin off, may you briefly describe your writing and composition course of in your new EP irreplaceable? How did every part come collectively?
Chad Lawson: Yeah, I imply, I really feel dangerous when folks ask what conjures up me so far as musically talking, as a result of it sort of bursts the bubble a bit of bit for folks. I am really fairly reverse in how I write music. I am not a kind of people who will get impressed by an occasion or a second or a sundown or one thing like that.
The best way I write music is a bit of completely different. And so what occurs is, I begin getting melodies in my head. And I’ve to attend till all of these melodies are in my head, and so they start to drive me loopy. After which that is after I sit down on the piano, and I write out the melodies. After which I begin constructing the chords and the songs across the melodies. And so sadly, I am a kind of people who have to attend till my physique, my thoughts, is mainly saying, screaming at me, “Hey, it is time to write an album.” I do know some folks, they write forty-five minutes a day as a apply, or some people who have this routine in how they write. And I discovered for me personally, that till I’ve that melody simply pounding in my head, it may fall flat if I attempt to do it another method. Which works to the principle level of how I do music, which is melody. Every thing is melody for me. The most important think about writing music is, what’s the songbird? What’s the melody of every part? To be sincere, I really feel like on this circle, we have sort of been void of melody for the final variety of years…And I assume that is simply what folks want proper now. It is a kind of issues the place I believe for me personally, although, my largest factor that I wish to deal with is simply melody.
The very first [song] that got here with this EP was “irreplaceable,” so far as the melody is anxious. And so what’s fascinating for me personally is, I by no means know what the songs are about till after the music has already been recorded. So I do not identify the songs, I haven’t got an thought of what the tales are…I write the music, I document it, after which I take a couple of month away from it. I do not wish to return and take heed to it. After that break, then I sit down. I like to learn. And so I simply learn poetry whereas I am listening to those recorded items. And slowly the items will start to inform me what the story is. So as an example, “fields of perpetually,” I had no thought what that music was about. I simply had this melody. I listened to a whole lot of Henry Mancini inside the previous yr, yr and a half. And since he’s so melodic, like who would not know “Moon River?” And so I actually simply devoured every part Henry Mancini was due to his melodic construction. And so even with this music, “fields of perpetually,” I had an amazing melody, I simply actually did not know what the story was about or what the music was about. And it wasn’t till I began recording that, like really [the] finish [of] the recording session, that I simply began getting these pictures of what the music actually was about.
So two years in the past, I assume, arising a couple of yr and a half in the past, my dad handed away. Throughout this recording of this music, “fields of perpetually,” I simply began getting these pictures—they had been simply flooding me—of my dad and mom and their happiest moments. And I do not imply grandiose moments like weddings or stuff like that. I imply simply easy daily, be on the park or having a picnic or simply watching TV collectively. I used to be simply flooded throughout the recording, like really with the purple mild on and taking part in every part. I am about to simply burst into tears as a result of that music actually started displaying me what it was about. And so for me personally, how a music comes about is sort of by itself, and I am simply sort of the facilitator of it. It is actually actually uncommon for me to be impressed by a second or an occasion—it has occurred—however for probably the most half, it simply begins with a melody, after which I simply launch that melody and it tells me what it is about analytically.
AllMusic: And going off of that, I do know that in a press launch, you revealed that the EP revolves round “that particular person you may by no means stay with out” or “that favourite reminiscence that at all times brings a smile.” And I do know you stated very hardly ever are you impressed by an occasion. So how did the journey find yourself main you to this which means?
Lawson: Now, that is nice, I tremendous respect that. So after that music was recorded, “irreplaceable,” there was a second the place somebody was in a recording studio. And so they walked in whereas we had been recording it. And so they had been similar to, oh my gosh, this simply feels a lot a couple of pricey buddy that they had been speaking about. That they had simply had this dialog, and it actually struck with me. The final two years have undoubtedly been a second of self-reflection, hopefully not solely only for me however for everybody, to the place we have taken this time away from what we usually have instantly in entrance of us always. The previous few years, we’ve not had that any extra, be it distant faculty, be it people who you have not been round, be it issues that weren’t as accessible as they was.
And so for me personally, there’s been a large season of self-reflection and simply wanting again and simply appreciating these moments of what I did have. And never in a very unhappy method. Like “irreplaceable,” in a roundabout method, it might sort of come off as, “Oh, I am actually unhappy as a result of this particular person is not in my life.” My dad, as an example, being not round. And I did not wish to take a look at it that method. I wished to take a look at it like, what, there was a wonderful season that I’ve when my dad was right here. And now I wish to take that season, what I realized from being with my dad and convey that to different folks, that emotional embrace. I take a look at my spouse, and I am simply so grateful for what I’ve in her. Taking these issues that we simply sort of, up till the final two years, we have sort of taken with no consideration in a roundabout method, and simply realizing the importance and truly what they do convey to us.
That actually was the impetus behind irreplaceable, simply taking that second and simply being like, “Hey what? That is really actually lovely.” Even me personally, I am in all probability the one individual that’s grateful for the season of COVID as a result of it saved me house. I could not tour. And somewhat than be actually distraught over it, I am simply embracing the truth that I used to be capable of be house for 2 years, I used to be capable of be round my dad when he was going by all that. I have been capable of be round my children for the final two years and get up in my very own mattress for the final two years. These are the issues the place I am actually hoping that all of us have that second of self-reflection and simply appreciating what’s irreplaceable, what does make us smile. What makes us sort of heat throughout after we give it some thought.
AllMusic: Yeah, undoubtedly. And transferring away from the EP and extra to your music as a complete, certainly one of my favourite issues about your work is the way it reinvents piano music for at this time’s streaming scene. As a result of I really feel just like the piano is commonly considered a classical instrument in a method. So on condition that, what would you say is its function within the digital streaming age of at this time?
Lawson: I like this. Thanks a lot. Yeah, it is fascinating. So in 2014, I did this factor known as The Chopin Variations, and I recorded that album as a result of I wished to introduce classical music to the Spotify era, this younger viewers that had by no means heard classical music earlier than. And it is no fault of their very own. Possibly they grew up with a piano in the home, however it’s coated with photographs of previous standing mirrors and it is dusty and so they do not even know tips on how to flip it on. I wished to take Chopin and convey Chopin to this younger viewers. And so I stated, “You realize what? If Chopin was going to launch an album at this time, what wouldn’t it sound like in 2022?” So I reached out to 2 associates of mine—certainly one of them is the violinist for Girl Gaga [Judy Kang], and the opposite is a cellist [Rubin Kodheli] that is performed with everybody from Snoop Dogg to Philip Glass.
And I stated, “That is my thought: Let’s convey this music to them as an alternative of ready for these folks to search out it.” For me personally, I believe the fascinating factor about that’s, we took one thing that was historically classical, and we flip it on its head, and we stated, “You realize what, let’s put this into this panorama.” And the fascinating factor is, I believed I might get huge pushback from folks saying, “You’ll be able to’t do that. Chopin, that is sacred.” And folks wrote in to say, “Hey what? I’ve really by no means listened to Chopin earlier than, however now I am actually curious. I wish to return and I wish to hear the unique.” So hastily you’ve got obtained this younger era that is now inquisitive about, following that rabbit gap of “Effectively, the place did this actually stem from?” And I believe that is what’s so fascinating, that I like a lot about this youthful viewers that is arising—or after I say “youthful” I imply 30 and below. It isn’t classical to them. It isn’t.
The fascinating factor about streaming providers, like Spotify and Pandora, is I equate it to a document retailer. Again within the previous days, you’d stroll right into a document retailer, and also you’d go on to your style of desire. So to illustrate you go in and also you go on to the Gospel part. And so that you go in, you seize what you need out of that part, you pay for it, and you permit, however you by no means regarded over to see what was new in world or pop or nation or western. You simply sort of stayed in your lane. And I believe the fascinating factor about this youthful era is that they need that crossover, they need to have the ability to look over and say, “Hey what, that is one thing I am probably not accustomed to. I am actually curious, I wish to test it out.” I believe that is what’s taking place with classical music. It is like, now you’ve got obtained this, quote unquote, neoclassical to the place for those who had been to look and say, “Hey, you understand you are listening to classical music, proper?”, their response is usually, “Yeah, so? What is the massive deal?” After which it is probably not a reputation or a style, it is extra like this emotive feeling of, I appreciated this simply as a lot as I like Adele or Moist Leg or Arcade Fireplace. It would not need to be separate anymore.
And the fascinating factor is, I am an enormous information particular person. I like the analytics of music. And so throughout the week, my listening numbers are sky excessive. They had been actually up there. However come Thursday evening, Friday notably, they drop like a rock, as a result of principally no one desires to take heed to it on the weekend. That is not what this music is for. It is meant to be chill and to be calm. And so forth Sunday evening, my numbers hastily, they simply soar once more, they simply return up. This actually illustrates to me that my viewers, if I take a look at the demo of it, it is heavy heavy heavy 18 to 34. That is super! That age group is listening to this. And it exhibits to me that it is often once they’re finding out, they’re studying, that they need one thing on within the background with out it being distracting but in addition sort of simply good to have listening to. And so I believe what we have finished is, we have transitioned with the piano and with this fashion of music, we have taken this instrument to a degree the place it was like, yeah, it would not need to be simply conventional Beethoven anymore. This will really be one thing that we are able to placed on within the background with out feeling prefer it’s esoteric or feeling we won’t join with it. And I like that. I believe it is superb that this youthful viewers has embraced it this manner.
AllMusic: Yeah, I like how it’s so relevant to at this time’s world. And in an analogous vein, at this time, psychological well being is a part of the dialog greater than ever, particularly additionally now with it being Psychological Well being Consciousness Month. How does your music match into or additional that dialog on prioritizing our psychological well being?
Lawson: I am glad you requested, that is my favourite subject. Previous to the pandemic, I get emails on a regular basis from folks saying, “Hey, I am going by a troublesome season in my life proper now.” Individuals would write me and say, “I simply misplaced a liked one to most cancers” or “I am going by a divorce.” And so what I discovered is that folks, they’d say, “I’m going house and lay on the ground. And even when it is simply forty-five minutes, your music simply sort of stops the world for a bit of bit.” And we will always remember this, I’ll by no means ever ever overlook this, this girl wrote me an e-mail, I assume it was a couple of yr in the past. It is a Saturday morning at seven o’clock. And he or she stated, “I am listening to certainly one of your songs.” And he or she talked about the identify. And he or she stated, “The pacing, the tempo of the music matches the pacing of my husband’s respiration as I watched him take his final one.” And there’s such a heaviness to that. That is why I do what I do. And after I obtained these emails, particularly a few years in the past, that is when for me, I knew it wasn’t about Chad Lawson. It isn’t what I am attempting to do as a quote unquote artist. It isn’t about furthering my identify or my model. It is about facilitating and holding the arms of what individuals are going by.
And that is extremely highly effective and emotional. As a result of a whole lot of occasions after we write a music, and we document it, and when it leaves that studio, it leaves that door, we by no means know the place it lands. As a composer, you by no means have an thought till folks attain out and so they share these tales with you. And the fascinating factor is throughout the pandemic, I used to be getting them increasingly more and increasingly more to the place it actually simply had an influence. And I had been finding out the wedding of music and psychological well being for an excellent bit simply earlier than the pandemic hit. As a result of I used to be actually curious. I used to be like, sure, music makes us really feel good. Why? What about it really, like scientifically and logically, what occurs after we take heed to music? And so I actually attempt to dive into that.
After which as soon as the pandemic hit, and I could not tour, and these emails are coming in, actually extremely so, that is after I determined to create the podcast Calm it Down, which is centered round emotional and psychological well being, as a result of I wished to additional the dialog of what music is doing for folks. And since I could not tour, I additionally wished to have the ability to proceed to attach with my listening viewers. And that is actually how the weekly podcasts, Calm it Down, started in September of 2020. And it is taken on a whole, completely different lifetime of its personal that I by no means anticipated, getting fifty to sixty thousand listeners every week now, only for the podcast alone. And also you see the place music has that calming impact. There’s research from the Oxford Press and from Harvard that say listening to calming music even for 3 minutes, it simply raises this hormone in our physique that prompts us going calm.
There’s a lot science behind the dialog of psychological well being, however what makes me the happiest is that we’re really speaking about it increasingly more and extra. It is unhappy in a single diploma that it is taken us this lengthy to have this dialog and it is also unhappy that it is now so prevalent, that it is undoubtedly on the forefront. However I am ecstatic that increasingly more individuals are feeling extra snug about it. And so if there’s any method that my music can assist and heal somebody or maintain their arms or assist them, that is why I sit on the piano. It isn’t about what Chad Lawson is attempting to do as an artist. It is nearly what I am attempting to supply to folks going by what they are going by.
…And that is actually what I hoped this EP could be, to the place folks can simply shut their eyes and simply take heed to a melody, and simply connect themselves to that. Even only for a season, even only for just a few moments…It took a pandemic for all of us to truly cease and say, “Woah, what am I feeling proper now? How am I?” How usually did we ever ask that to ourselves? So if I can create one thing that sort of opens that dialog, then convey it on. I am all for it.
Hearken to the four-track EP right here.