Today, i have an amazing pianist, who started as a 10 years old playing soundtracks from the Lion King, Which all started when his Grandmother gave him a keyboard for Christmas.
David Sides takes us through memory lane and his journey so far as a pianist, i suggest you read what he has to say, I’m sure you will find it inspiring in some ways.
I would like to thank Tony Nguyen for making this interview possible.
Hope you enjoy the interview.
Hello David, Thanks a bunch for doing this, how are you feeling today?
Thanks for the opportunity, I’m feeling well, just a little sore from my workout yesterday. I’m trying to keep in shape.
Many give up playing a musical instrument in their youth, but few return, let alone to forge a career. Can you describe discovering not only your talent for, but also your passion for music and the ways in which music has impacted your life both tangibly and intangibly?
Well I discovered my talent at a young age, like most musicians. I was about 10 when I got started on the piano, but I didn’t really consider my ability to piece music together a “talent” until people around me told me it was a talent.
I figured if I could learn to play the piano, anyone could, so I didn’t really see the big deal about it initially. I’ve always had a love for music and the sound of the piano. Now days especially, music is my life. I also accredit my optimism to music. There’s just a special feeling that comes with music that keeps me optimistic about life when I listen to it.
Who were some of the significant musical influences from your youth?
Well when I was younger and just got started on the piano, I listened to a lot of music from The Lion King soundtrack, which featured Elton John. One of the first songs I learned, “Can You Feel The Love Tonight,” was the version he recorded for the soundtrack. I also listened to classical music from Bach and Beethoven. My parents were positive musical influences as well. I come from a very musical family.
Would have imagined your career so far from the time your Grandmother gave you that keyboard during Christmas?
Actually, I never saw any of this coming. I never really took music serious enough to want to form a career out of it until I was older. At a younger age, I saw playing the piano as more of a hobby than anything else, just something I liked doing whenever I could.
Going down memory lane, you said you’ve been playing since you were 10 and were inspired from The Lion King movie soundtrack, please explain, what made you as a 10 years old connect to that particular track?
Looking back on those days, I realize that I always had an understanding and a love for harmonies. Although I didn’t know what “harmonies” were at that time, I recognized them and fell in love with them instantly. I love the sound of choirs and collective voices, and those were prevalent all throughout that movie’s score.
What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?
To always pray for and about things.
They must have been days you probably felt like things weren’t working out, what or who gave you that believe to keep going on?
You know what? I always felt optimistic about things in my life, so I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever had that feeling.
What inspires you to play music?
The love for the sound, the ability to connect with music, and the positive inspirational influence that comes with making music are what inspire me to play music.
What have you sacrificed for your art? Is it/was it worth it?
I think the thing I’ve had to sacrifice the most for my art has been a social life. Music definitely keeps me busy and demands a lot of my time, so being able to step away from projects and just go out and do a lot of things that most people my age do doesn’t come around too often for me. And yes, I feel it’s worth it.
Do you feel sacrifice is a part of become an artist or a musician, is it something anyone looking to become a successful musician have to go through or have in mind?
What has been your greatest challenge?
Now days? Trying to balance everything that I have to take care of so that I’m making the most of my time and being efficient in all of my projects.
Is there something you would change if you could turn back the hands of time?
Actually no. I believe that everything happens for a reason, so I’m where I am now because of everything that’s happened in my past, and I have no complaints.
There's been a marked shift in commercial thinking in recent decades away from making what people want, to making people want what is being sold. With art being both a form of self expression and a source of commercial profit, how do you balance creating music for your tastes with catering to the market's?
I try not to think too much about that. When it comes to making music and songs that I choose to cover, I try to just stick to what I like. I figure, if I like it, I’m sure others with similar taste will like it as well and ultimately music is for them. I try to give people what they want, through what I want... Does that make sense?
Of course, i get what you mean.
How do you feel about listening to your own musical recordings?
Honestly, I like them, but I can’t listen to them for too long after I’ve recorded it on Youtube or on a CD. It’s a little like asking an artist how they feel about singing or listening to a song they’ve had to perform for the past 10 years while on tour. Eventually you get to a point where you’d rather not listen to it as often.
A lot of pianists I spoke to, make analogies between their pianism and singing. Do you sing along with the music, or hold the intention of creating a “singing line.”
Oh no, I don’t sing along with the music. I create a “singing line.”
What are your strengths, and are there places where you’re still striving to communicate or achieve something? Where would you like to see improvement? I’m asking for criticism/self-criticism here.
I’ve been told that I’m pretty good at capturing the little intricacies from the songs that I cover and include them into my renditions. Over time, I’ve also gotten pretty decent at learning songs quickly. In terms of improvement, I would love to get faster at getting songs perfected, and I could use a lot of work in sight reading. I’m not too good at that.
How do you balance the balance between down time and performing time?
That is a constant struggle. I am somewhat of a workaholic, so I’m always looking to work on music. I just feel like there is a lot to be done so there’s no time to stop grinding. My family and friends have been trying to talk me into scheduling in some down time so I’ve been trying to do that on weekends. So far it’s been working well.
What can people ultimately get from music?
I think that above all, music gives people a sense of inspiration and sense of community unbound by geographical borders.
What advice would you give to a young musician?
Practice, practice, practice, and be yourself. I think that a lot of people fall into the mistake of trying to be like this person or that person. No matter what you do, even outside of music, be yourself.
What are your thoughts about your future in music?
I am very optimistic about my life, especially when it comes to music, so I am looking forward to a very successful and bright future.
Thanks for your time David.