AAAMusic met the brilliant Phamie Gow, find out what she told us about her love for harp, piano and singing:
AAAMusic: Your curriculum is incredible: you are a harpist, pianist, singer and composer. Let’s start with a simple question: which of these four things do you prefer?
Phamie Gow: It depends on how I’m feeling. I go through stages of being in love with one more than the other. For example, just now, I’m in love with the piano!
AAA: With which instrument do you usually compose your music?
PG: I compose in different ways. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with a full orchestra in my head, or a simple melody, and I’ll try to write it down. Other times I may be playing some classical music by Bach or Mozart, and suddenly an idea arrives. I generally compose on the piano however, as it really is like having the whole orchestra in your hands.
AAA: How and when did you approach classic music?
PG: I started to play the piano when I was 8 years old. Later when I was 15 years old I started studying with the amazing concert pianist and composer, Ronald Stevenson.
AAA: You are Scottish, but your music is influenced by French melodies, how do you conciliate the elements of folk tradition with a more “elegant” style?
PG: My nationality is Scottish yes, however I feel like a citizen of the world, as I tend to live a lot out of my harp case! My latest album ‘Road of the Loving Heart’ has some French influences because I lived in France while I wrote most of the CD. I am very easily influenced by the sounds I hear, the experiences I have, the things I see, and the languages I learn, including new music, as I consider music to be a language too.
I also have a love for folk and traditional music and this always seems to percolate through my music. I see it as my Scottish accent coming through in the music! Not necessarily a bad thing!
AAA: You performed with Philip Glass and he appreciates your music, did you collaborate with him for your new album?
PG: No I didn’t collaborate with him on this album. Just the live gig we did at the Carnegie Hall in New York.
AAA: Road of the Loving Heart is the title of your new album: how do you describe it? Musically speaking is it different from your other works?
PG: This is a solo piano CD – music from my heart, for the heart. I’d rather not describe my own music with too many words, and allow you as listeners to define that. I have my own experiences and influences, but at the end of the day, each composition is an expression of an emotion or experience. I feel this is musically and compositionally more developed than my previous piano solo album ‘Moments of Time’.
AAA: Which road has to walk a loving heart in your opinion? What is the concept behind this album?
PG: The road of the loving heart was the name of a pathway that led to the house in Samoa of the great writer Robert Louis Stevenson. It was built by the locals in appreciation of the support they received by Stevenson who eventually settled there for the rest of his life. I thought it was a very beautiful and inviting title.
AAA: What we have to expect from you live performances? How many musicians will you engage?
PG: Again, it depends where I play, and for what occasion. When I perform solo, I rotate between the harp, piano and both with my voice. When I have my band I usually have a bassist, drummer, guitarist, and sometimes even a guest artist. I have recently written and recorded my first orchestral piece at Metropolis Recording Studio, so you may see me in the future with a whole orchestra backing me! It’s all so exciting and colourful as there are no rules.
AAA: You collaborated with “pop” artists, like Band of horses and Ray Davies, what do you think of their music and of pop in general?
PG: One thing I don’t like to do is to put people in boxes of whether they are pop, rock, or jazz artists. That is good for the marketing of an artist, however when you work with great people that are great musicians and artists, it goes beyond any genre. That is how I feel – there are no boundaries. I really want to continue to collaborate with many other creative souls and enjoy a musical conversation that the listeners will also enjoy. It’s all about connecting with people at the end of the day. And what most people forget is that the listeners are as valuable as the musicians themselves!
AAA: Would you like to realize a pop album?
PG: I’d love to one day. In fact, I have written quite a few poppy songs already. I recently met Chris Porter and we talked about possibly working together so you just don’t know what is around the next corner.
AAA:Which artist do you admire the most?
PG: Sadly, a lot of them are dead, like Michael Jackson and Bach. I don’t have one in particular, however I do love the work of Sting, Gary Barlow, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Andrea Bocelli, Keane… the list goes on as there are so many!
Author: Roberta Capuano
Photo: Courtesy of Aidan Stephen
Phamie Gow’s outfit by Joyce Paton