“navigates through her own time-memory universe with Debussy-like impressionistic daubs, but sublimely she draws the listener into a strangely familiar landscape where the past confronts the present.”
Zinovia, who composes post-classical and ambient electronic music, started taking piano lessons at the age of 8 and composed her first piece when she was 13. With her 2018 – third – personal album’s style considerably different from that of her first 2013 album’s, the unvariably present feeling of beautiful melancholy remains typical of the composer’s music.
Approachable Art prides itself in being able to unveil some of the aspects of creative life of the undoubtedly talented Zinovia, who kindly agreed to answer my questions in person while providing me with a most pleasing tea-drinking experience 🙂
Was the profession of a composer an obvious choice for you from the beginning?
My initial thought was to become a lawyer. Firstly, because my mother was a lawyer, and secondly, because at school I was a good student and I had a natural aptitude for Ancient Greek, Latin and philosophy.
Meanwhile I was growing up in an environment full of music because of my father who is a singer. I was learning piano from a very young age and I had a strong aptitude for music as well which seemed to develop faster over the course of time. I started writing my own music pieces when I was a teenager, and that was taken very seriously by my parents who decided to fully support me on what they considered as «natural talent». Eventually I dedicated my studies and my life to music.
What type of music do you compose? Why did you choose to work with that particular genre?
I cannot say that I compose a specific type of music because I feel it would narrow the spectrum of my inspiration. So far I have composed ambient-electronic, contemporary classical, orchestral themes with ethnic influences. All the music I make comes straight from the soul, and that’s the only thing I can say to describe it. It’s emotive, eclectic and diverse.
What’s your typical day like?
I wake up around 8 or 9 AM, eat breakfast, make coffee and sit at my computer to make music. When I am not working on a specific project I am more flexible with my daily schedule. I can take a break from my work’s routine to either read a book, listen to music, go out and meet with friends more often than when I have a deadline to meet.
What are your sources of inspiration?
My environment, passionate people, traveling, nature, my life’s experiences, movies, art, music, books and stories..I love to watch biopics or read biographies of great artists, I find it very inspiring.
How do you compose music from scratch? What’s the creative process like for you?
When there is a project with a specific theme, a storyline, I begin with trying to feel the emotions I have to highlight. I am always aiming to understand first what the story is about and where it’s going before I start writing.
Once I get the picture, some melodies are starting to form in my head randomly until I sit at the piano and my computer and slowly put the pieces of the puzzle together. Sometimes it’s an instant inspiration that manifests through my fingers and sometimes it’s a trial and error thing. I write down ideas just to delete them and re-start again until I have something I truly like. It’s more or less the same when I write for an album of my own with the difference that I have more freedom of choosing my own stories to tell.
Who plays the music that you composed and that is about to be recorded?
I am the kind of composer who writes music on a computer and therefore I do all the production which includes playing all the instruments. When I have the need for real instruments, I, of course, hire musicians who play the parts I want to record.
How can people listening to your music understand what it’s about?
They just have to listen with their heart. I can’t and I don’t want to explain my music because there wouldn’t be any point doing so. Since my music doesn’t have lyrics it’s more open to different interpretations and I like that. I like the mystery and, sometimes, the ambiguity of the titles I choose for each track.
Is being a composer more about an inborn talent or hard work?
It’s definitely both. You have to be born with a natural talent to perceive, perform and/or write music. After that it’s all about practice and hard work to improve your skills and to enrich that talent with as much knowledge as possible.
Are modern-day artists technically capable of composing music similar to that of grand composers like Mozart, Bach, Tchaikovsky, etc?
Yes, modern-day artists, whether they are classically trained or self-taught, can technically imitate the classical composers. It’s only a matter of talent and skill.
When I was studying at the music conservatory it was part of our exercises to write like Bach, Mozart etc. so that we understand the «rules» of music through their way of composing. Of course, once we’d learned how to apply the rules into our creations, we had to learn how to break them.
The point, though, is not to imitate but to incorporate all the knowledge and the influences we have from these magnificent composers into something new and unique.
Interested in learning more about the artist or getting in touch with her? Here is where you can find Zinovia Arvanitidi and her works: