Inside Stories is a collection of unplanned improvisations. Just before Christmas last year (2012), I began to record my musings at the piano with a view to putting some of it together to create an album. I have very occasionally included some unplanned improvisation in live performances but only very small amounts and the idea of producing a whole album exclusively made from unplanned extemporisation was a radical one. But this music – in its classical, jazz, pop, new age hybrid form – is intimate, emotionally very connected and personal; and I think it is also undeniably accessible. It forms the heart of my musicianship as I have improvised on the keys compulsively since I was a very small child and my musical skills have formed more from this expressive yet private space of musical exploration than from theoretical or technical study.
This album is fundamentally artless! I cannot really claim to have exercised any critical evaluation until after each piece emerges finished. And then I either keep it or I don't! So can it have any artistic value? To be an artist can mean many different things but I recognise that my ambition here is to create something of artistic value by way of simple revelation – an act of unvarnished honesty. These pieces are my moments of inward contemplation, examples of my habitual turning to the piano for solace in a world that is undeniably stressful.
To create these harmonies, rhythmic patterns, melodies and textures, I planned absolutely nothing but simply allowed the music to unfold in its own way: very occasionally, I may use the computer to copy and paste a passage of music to form a repeating section if it feels right but other than that, I make no changes at all. Music is subjected more and more to endless adjustment and refinement which is possible using the amazing studio technology that is now available and which I love to use when working as a producer. So Inside Stories is my way of returning to something naïve and essentially spontaneous. People often tell me that my improvisations sound very sweet or beautiful so “raw” is not a word that seems apt to describe this album and yet it is indeed an unprocessed outpouring. I like to imagine that I am simply opening some kind of channel in my consciousness to the patterns of nature so that the music which comes out of the piano echoes nature's formations and flows in a way that is unforced and natural.
I selected these particular improvisations to form a set that works together as a whole set and which might take the listener inwards to an almost nostalgic space. I would not claim that I have a soundtrack to my life running in my head but rather that my past experiences – be they painful dramas or moments of bliss and anything in-between – are the inspiration for this music; at least in part. Also, there is a kind of innocence or childlike state that such spontaneous music relies on for its creation and I invite the listener to enter a similar state to see what that is like. My ultimate hope is that the healing that I know I receive by doing this improvisation might be something I can share with others and that they might find something in the unfolding stories that touches them deeply.