My approach to classical music is very accessible, I always play with a strong, natural rhythmic groove and a natural expressive manner. This way, even the most familiar repertoire sounds fresh and spontaneous. I don’t like the tendency of many classical pianists to contrive interpretations that convolute or distort the natural flow of the music. I always allow the music to tell its story without self-conscious design, so that the glorious melodies, harmonies and rhythms can unfold in a unique way, each time I play the music. I enjoy complex virtuosity but avoid hollow display, as I prefer a clarity and sincerity to the expression that flows without forcing.
I compose pieces in a classical style, often influenced by current pop or film music. My music makes sense tonally and rhythmically and there is nothing avant-garde or affected. My fluency in the language of music enables me to improvise music on the spot, unplanned and this is something I love to do as a performing artist. There is something magical about creating music without design, allowing it to flow from some inner space. When music is commissioned by other people, I feel that the music is created from the space between us.
Playing the piano has always been an act of meditation for me, especially improvising. Music tells the story of our inner awareness, direct consciousness of life rather than the more reflective realm of words. Music says what words cannot. Music actually led me to meditation and now I have developed a music-centric meditation practice that I share with others. I like to teach people to hear music in a more active way so that it can bring them to this experience of direct consciousness beyond the chatter of the ego.
I always create a very live, unplugged sound, even though I use a digital setup. The range of physically modelled pianos that I play (created by Modartt’s Pianoteq) are truly amazing. The piano is a magical instrument for me, and this technology feels alive and expressively connected just like an acoustic instrument. My aim as a classical artist is to express myself as honestly, fully and naturally as I possibly can using the language that I know, to discover some deep truth about life that transcends the mundane and brings solace and catharsis and ultimately peace.
As a nu soul jazz musician, I am unashamedly nostalgic for the soulful, funky sounds of the 70s. I adore the old electric pianos and the sweet, jazzy soulful vocal style that goes with them so well. I produce my own tracks but try to keep a natural, unplugged, live feel: when music is quantised to have perfect rhythm and intonation, it sounds robotic to me. So I like my studio-produced music to breathe and feel alive and human. As a producer, I’m like a kid in a toy shop with all the amazing technology that I’ve acquired. That’s why I chose the name Louie Harrison: my Grandma’s name was Louise Harrison and when I was a kid doing lots of music exams and competitions, she always encouraged me to approach music with a playful sense of joy and wonder.
Singing in this soulful way has been quite a long journey of discovery. Now that my voice feels free and connected, singing is as great a joy as playing the piano. The electric piano is an instrument that I use a great deal in my jazzy soul music. The acoustic piano is my first love but those dark, sweet, warm sometimes crunchy sounds of the old Rhodes, Wurlitzer and Hohner pianos have a certain magic. Whether generating funky riffs or sweet, vibrating chords they evoke a special, obviously nostalgic but I’d say timeless atmosphere. Pianoteq has some amazingly realistic and expressively highly responsive examples that are a joy to play. The drums, bass and other synths in my studio-produced songs are all input via the keyboard using just my ten fingers but I’m always open to the possibility of collaboration…
Soul music is traditionally about love. But love songs are not my usual kind. Influenced as I am by Stevie Wonder, I love to write songs that can carry social and spiritual messages. The rich harmonies and melodic sweetness that I create come from a place of longing for connection, love, fellowship. In a competitive world where success and status are made too much of, I want my music to offer a kind of innocence and compassion. But my songs are not pink fluffy clouds of utopian dreaming, there’s a bit of gritty truth-facing. It’s just that I’d like to see a fairer, kinder, more cooperative, more communicative world that celebrates difference, and I believe that music can play a powerful part in moving us towards a place of genuine hope.
I do live performances from time to time, both playing the keys and singing (I’ll post details here). I love to improvise and generate a very natural, spontaneous and directly expressive show that is accessible and intimate. Every performance I do is different, as the unique space generated by everyone in the audience inspires my process.
My setup gives me access to a huge range of piano and keyboard sounds. I might even experiment on the spot and play sounds I’ve never heard myself. The software Pianoteq has a vast range of pianos including historic and futuristic ones. I also have a Roli Seaboard which is a very innovative kind of keyboard – or waveboard, so called because of the smooth wave-like bumps of the silicone rubber surface of board which means I can play very organic sounds that are complex and highly atmospheric.
I like to create a close rapport with my audience. So I talk about the music: not too much though – I’m a musician not a storyteller or stand up comedian and music needs no explanation but I enjoy creating a show that amuses, entertains and guides my audience through the musical journey. As well as venues, I also enjoy doing house concerts using my amazing portable setup. If you’d like to book me, please drop me a line.