Thomas Umbaca: emotions beyond words

Thomas Umbaca: emotions beyond words

Thomas Umbaca is a Milanese pianist, who grew up in the Conservatory of his city, who went on to publish his debut album entitled “Umbaka”. A handful of compositions for solo piano with the addition of some other sound inserts. A very intense album well placed in the musical universe of the “solo piano”, which currently sees good and prolific production in Italy and around the world. The double classical and jazz training of the Milanese pianist is the basis on which the ten tracks contained in “Umbaka”, the debut album released last October and which is now engaging Thomas on a tour which currently includes these dates:

02 March – Rome – Home of Jazz
14 March – Settimo Torinese (To) – Garybaldi Theatre
April 14 – Florence – SHED626 Club
17 July – Camaldoli (AR) – Naturally Piano

Why does the “k” replace the “c” of your last name in the album title?
I liked the idea of ​​seeing this word more like a sound. With the K it almost seems like something that recalls a percussion, a phoneme and that letter exalted a this more sonorous sense also in graphic form. And also the idea of ​​detaching myself, of unhooking myself from my person. I want to underline that the one with the “K” is the title of the album.

Can you tell us about your artistic origins?

I, who am now 26 years old, started making music when I was very young, around four years old. My parents tell me I tapped everything, almost a mania evidently to vent. Then they enrolled me in a music school. The first courses I took were those related to gaming and so there was everything in it: piano and percussion were played, singing was done. It was an initial approach very linked to the game, playful and therefore reality More than anything it was for fun. Then I started studying a little more serious, linked to the piano. In addition to the study there was also a first approach tothe composition: since I was a child I I liked to experiment with sounds and I made little pieces. Then after that it became more serious, so I enrolled at the Conservatory, where I did six years of classical piano and then instead of continuing with the classical course I switched to to the jazz piano I studied for six years. In short, I have always done a a bit of this mix.

Mixture che I’d say finds in your record, in your music.

Surely. It’s a question of the unconscious, in the sense that I never chose to Do the classical repertoire rather than the jazz one. The two things remained right in my hands as well as on a level of memory. Something comes from classical input, from the development and inspiration of that world, some from jazz, some comes from different stimuli and recalls other atmospheres.

Even something ambient

Probably Yes. Let’s say I’ve always listened to a bit of everything. I elaborated and fused different things together. However, so much has been done of everything, included the possible synthesis of fusions. So I definitely feel a bit like a fruit of this moment. But precisely for this reason, rather than thinking in terms of musical style, I prefer to focus on the essence from the communication that occurs through sound and on what evokes from a point of view emotional.

Where they come from these sensations that you want to convey? What is the creative process that leads you to compose?

I believe it is a music that speaks with the first instinct, with our ability to get excited, to experience sensations in front of the sound precisely because human beings even before doing it in front of a specific music box. I like to think of music as a bond between people, an experience of sharing moments. A is born a bit of everything from an improvisation that comes at the moment when I feel good because I like to play when I’m fine, in the sense that to have a certain type of availability, listening and of connection with the sound I have to feel good. That’s when I compose, develop things and I’ll work on it straight away because otherwise it will drop that attraction towards something that has been, that I have found.

So is it a sort of compositional and creative urgency?

Yes, but I really like playing afterwards long moments of silence, when the sound is like something that pierces the silence. However it’s not always like this, there are some things that happen instead from chaos or more situations confusingAnd. Let’s say that perhaps there is also a relationship between the result, the dynamism of the composition and the creative moment.

In addition to the piano there are also piano of the other inserts sounds, vocalizations; when, how and why do they arrive?

The voice is something that I have always brought out, but in a way linked to the piano, in the sense that when I play, when I improvise on the piano, it instinctively comes to me to follow the music with singing. This makes me connect more with what I’m doing, even at the level of physical sensation. At a certain point I asked myself why not highlight this aspect in the recording because it is part of my way of playing anyway. The voice, however, is understood in an instrumental sense as it is linked exclusively to sound, separated from words.

Haven’t you ever felt the need to use a text?

No, because my composition is instinct eland words carry you right away to have to do reasoning regarding other concepts which are detached from music. I feel like I’m 100% inside the sound and don’t think about anything else some external stimulus.

Does instrumental music give you a broader perception and vision of what you want to express? That is, a text inevitably brings the listener into a certain environment, into a certain world, but if I make music that has no words it doesn’t force the listener tod go towards the direction in which I as an author want you to go with words? With the instrumental, as a listener, can I range much more?

Yes, absolutely and that’s why I make instrumental music, to try to give as few hooks as possible, even if, obviously, the market actually tries to do the opposite. However, even in instrumental music, we tend to give a concept to what we do. But yes, definitely, the absence of words leaves much more room for the imagination. There are then different levels of reading in the song, one is on the meaning of the word, the other, which is the one that interests me most, is on the sound of the word, how it is said, how it is used, taking care of its “sonic” meaning. ”.

So what is the broad spectrum of feelings and emotions that you want to communicate with your music?

I believe in fairly universal communication. I believe that my music is of great “freedom”, a lot of openness in general and therefore be able to find things that we know. Getting excited by sound is something we all have in common, I really believe in this concept and I like the idea of ​​communicating openness, to free something. It’s creating The context in which people can feel “at ease” or even uncomfortable, but where they can find each other. Let it be a space accessible and where they are emotions not defined.

Have you got an idea, a personal identikit of a typical listener of yours? CWhat people do you see at your concerts? What kind of audience do you have?

Me It’s nice to see that it’s a music that you seeunderstood by people who listen to opposite genres, perhaps those who are more linked to electronic music, even techno. The important thing, in my opinion, is not to consider the piano as an already defined instrument, as we usually tend to do this by inserting it into the “relaxation playlists”.”. There is a bit of a prejudice towards the piano, in the sense that the people he expects to hear something specific. And instead I think and hope to open many more doors and therefore of let in different people and not those who follow a predefined musical genre.

How it transforms, if it transforms, your live music?

I think it’s music that in the end he is born with a approach linked to live, in the sense that the music must in any case be shared with others. Even the album, as it was recorded, searches to capture the way of playing live, with few recordings, even if some songs were worked out in the studio. What I really allow myself live is to free my instinct, digging even further into the compositions, using a lot of dilation and improvisation.

Do you have other projects?

Let’s say that I’m quite focused on this album, even if I’m always composing new things, which for now remain in a drawer. These live shows I’m playing are just presentation of the album. Even if there’s something new I always try to include it, thus having the opportunity to “test” what I’ve written. You realize of the character of the composition, of how one piece turns rather than another, especially when you propose it in front of someone. You perceive the energy that is there from the outside, in short, if the song is there or not. In general, however, I am very focused on this project. I would also like the idea to make some “feats”, perhaps in the future. I’m available.