31 May 2016
Okiem has toured the world performing with mainstream artists. Now with his own classical album, Okiem's contemporary take on the classical genre is something worth knowing about
Pianist would like to introduce a not-so-typical classical pianist from London, Okiem. He's travelled the world performing with some of the biggest names in mainstream music, taken part on the famous game show 'Deal or no deal' and won a full music scholarship to Brunel University. With his debut solo album XIRO, we wanted to get to know him a little better.
What should Pianist readers need to know about you?
I’m a pianist and composer. I grew up learning classical music but for many years I’ve toured as a professional keyboardist for artists including Tinie Tempah, Leona Lewis, Duke Dumont, Kian Egan (of Westlife), Sergey Lazarev (in Russia) and various others. I’ve recently released my first solo piano album called ‘XIRO’ which is all instrumental and I’m absolutely loving performing it live at venues across the UK with my very talented string section. I love introducing people to this style of music.
Is there a particular classical composer who you most favour?
Rachmaninov. Listening to his music performed Live was the first time I was truly inspired by classical music and made me want to learn and play his music.
Are you still learning new piano techniques as you compose new music?
I’m always learning new techniques, chords and songs as that always helps to inspire an idea. However, currently I’m more focused on listening than playing! Listening to interesting styles of music and letting myself be influenced by it. I’m really enjoying electronic music right now and the interesting sounds and textures created by synths. In my own music, I combine a lot of synth textures with the piano and orchestral instruments so this keeps me inspired.
When you're at home and perhaps entertaining friends and family, do you have a favourite piece you like to play to people?
It would either be ‘Hallelujah’ or Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’. People love to sing along to music and be entertained without anything too intense and these are great songs that people instantly love.
Do you have any tips or advice for people who might be lacking motivation while learning to play the piano?
If you can’t already, learn a song you love to listen to off by heart and just enjoy playing it. Enjoy the music without working towards any exam or any particular goal – just to take it back to basics and enjoy playing the piano. Also, constantly discover new music and listen to it. Broaden your musical palette to stay inspired to want to learn.
In 3 words, how would you best describe your playing style?
For someone of 30, you’ve already achieved a lot more than most artists could possibly dream of. What is next for you?
I have a headline concert on August 4th which I’m putting all of my energy into. It’s taking a lot of organisation but it’s going to be a truly special evening of live music. The venue is the beautiful St Giles in the Fields Church in central London and I’m assembling a small orchestra to accompany me.
Beyond that, after all the years of touring playing other people’s music, I look forward to touring the UK playing my own.
To find out more about Okiem and even listen to his full abum, visit his website. PLUS, be sure to stay tuned as we have a very special giveaway coming up that is sure to excite!