“I am a composer before I am a musician. “
“I often compare music with painting. Nobody asks a painter to paint live. A painter takes all the time in the world to produce his masterpiece for the world to admire. Many musicians claim that there is no real music outside of live music. I find that intolerant. In the studio, I create music like a painter creates his painting.”
Pierre was born in Brussels, Belgium, he studied at the “Universite Libre de Bruxelles” to become a chemical engineer. After working in the field of engineering for a number of years, he went back to study for a doctorate in Biomedical Sciences which lead him to work at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in Brussels.
“It is here that I bumped into my first computer…. I loved it. It was clean, dry and did not stink like chemistry”.
This in turn lead to Pierre forming his own company, called BBX Ltd, which to this day provides software development services to a number of international companies.
Pierre’s love for music started when he was only a lad.
“I started music at a very early age. I wasn’t even born that I was tapping my little embryonic foot on my mum’s bladder”. Well maybe he wasn’t that young when he started learning to play the piano.
Studying classical piano at the Brussels School of Music and then with a private teacher. Lots of scales and, of course, the mandatory inescapable Bach fugue to practice over and over. “The fugue is tricky. Neither hand knows what the other is doing”.
It was good for the learning process of developing the independence of the hands, but it wasn’t his future, too classical.
“I wanted to play my own compositions but the teacher was not interested. There was the program and the program was the program. Composing was probably perceived as arrogance”.
These pieces are now part of the Nouveau Piano album and among the most liked.
‘…. It makes for a breezy and refreshing style from the urgency of Full Steam to the resonant Boom, Boom Piano, to the sheer, floating beauty of Born in Aquarius.’
Stewart Hunt, Nelson Mail, October 2002
Through his teenage years Pierre studied guitar, voice and saxophone.
For the guitar, his method was simple: get a record from say, Bob Dylan, or Simon and Garfunkel and try to do exactly what they do, without cheating.
“I did not need a teacher for that, just a good pair of ears and lots of practice”.
Friends also helped him a lot by showing him tips and techniques. One breakthrough in Pierre’s guitar playing was when he learnt finger picking. It opened new vast territories.
Pierre has developed the guitar’s finger picking syncopated technique for the piano and it is this that helps to give the unique ‘Pierre’ sound to his piano pieces. This technique is particularly obvious in track 1 ‘Double Shot’ and track 3 ‘Falling Down’ on his latest CD ‘When The Tide Turns’ (WTTT)
The guitar enabled Pierre to become a proficient songwriter. Through the 1980s, he did solo performances at cabarets in Brussels.
“Brussels’ good for that, lots of tiny, dark smoky places in cul-de-sac. People go to these places. It is vibrant.”
In 1983, he hired professional musicians and organized his first concert.
“I performed my entire repertoire of songs (about 2 hours) in front of a happy crowd of 250. It was a total success.”
In parallel to the piano and the guitar he was a baritone singer in the choir “La Villanelle” in Waterloo. The choir’s repertoire was complex and varied, Schubert and Bach as well as contemporary French songs. Pierre wanted to learn all the different voices himself and conduct the choir. He pursued this by attending a 2 week seminar in Vaison-La-Romaine in Southern France to study and practice choir conducting and ended up fulfilling his wish by having his own choir for a while.
In his twenties, Pierre also learnt the saxophone and played in a wind orchestra for 3 years. “I loved the saxophone. It is a Belgian instrument, did you know?” He also played in a crazy jazz band for 3 months. ”It was pure improvisation, no scores, total chaos and the leader was yelling at us all the time.”
More recently he has learnt how to play the bass guitar, the drums and mastered the art of music recording, mixing and mastering.
Well, this is where his computer skills and the musical talent merge into one, in New Zealand. A friend of his told him one day that New Zealand was ‘the best place he has ever seen’. So Pierre went and had a look for himself, and he’s never looked back.
In New Zealand he made enough money in software development to buy recording gear. His knowledge of computers allowed him over time to set up and run an entire studio with computers, MIDI equipment, sequencers and samplers. The studio is called BBX Music.
In 1997, Pierre self produced his first album ‘Thinking About You’. This is a collection of songs inspired by love and loss and his travels. Thinking About You was released as a CD-R and sold privately by word of mouth as far away as places like Alaska and Russia.
In 1999, he produced his second album: ‘Bronte Easterlies’. These are piano pieces. The CD had modest sales not so many people want to listen to just piano these days.
In 2000, he produced his third album: ‘Rat Race’, a more upbeat CD comprised of songs inspired by life in New Zealand. It was also released as a CD-R and only sold privately.
By 2002 the studio had reached a professional level that enabled Pierre to release his first pressed commercial CD: Nouveau Piano – Traveling Within. It received excellent reviews including Pierre being hailed as possibly ‘NZ’s answer to Yanni’. Nick Batt, NZ Musician, January 2003.
2003 sees the release of Pierre’s fifth album and his second full commercial release. When The Tide Turns (WTTT) is inspired by recent world events and the pleasure of coffee.
To be continued …