Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?
As a child, the piano was my favourite thing. As young as three or four, I was obsessed by it. My Dad had a decent record collection, as music was something he loved, so I would play my favourite tunes by ear.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Chopin’s music is my greatest source of improvisation closely followed by Bach and Mozart. I also grew up loving Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock and soulful, funky jazz sounds. This influenced my singing style too.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
The greatest challenges I face are the demons in my mind. I did far too much competitive music when I was a child, adolescent and young adult. The pressure to succeed and not let teachers and parents down was quite traumatic and I’ve always struggled to promote myself as an artist. As I get older, it gets easier.
What is your most memorable concert/live music experience?
I’ve played in big venues, with orchestras and had some very exciting performing experiences but the one that stands out for me is when I was 12, I was on a poetry course with about 15 kids who also loved creative writing as well as two professional poets and a few English teachers. They asked me to play to them. I didn’t feel that they needed me to impress them at all so there was no pressure. I just shared lots of my favourite music and talked a little about it, improvising and playing with spontaneity. I am always wanting to recreate this space…
How would you describe your compositional/musical style?
My style is reflective and soulful and occasionally dramatic. I love music to unfold with a poetic or story-like rhythm and structure. Whether improvising or playing, I like to give my music a clear, resilient and expressive rhythmic quality.
As a composer, how do you work?
I improvise then revise…
Who are your favourite musicians?
I’m a big fan of pianists Alicia de Larrocha, Emil Gilels and the conductor Semyon Bychkov. Also Keith Jarrett and Bluey Maunick.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
Success for me is simply to share my music with other people and for it to give them something – maybe a little solace or catharsis…
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
I am obsessed by the idea of musical fluency. This is the ability to express music naturally and freely in a way that is a seamless as speaking our native language. When people play or sing directly from their body and soul with authenticity, it is always a joy to hear.
What is your present state of mind?
Calm and communicative!
‘Nocturnal’ – Phil Best
Friday October 12th 2018, 7.30pm
St Paul’s Centre, Hammersmith
In this release show for his new album ‘Nocturnal’, Phil Best will perform some of Chopin’s Nocturnes together with his own, including some that are unplanned and improvised on the evening.
Played in his natural, vivid and accessible way with powerful storytelling, these dark and beautifully melodic love songs come to life. They express all kinds of emotions that tend to surface after dark as the human soul yearns for love: desire, rapture, jealousy and passion.
Listen to Phil talking about ‘Nocturnal’