Two years after the release of SUSTAIN comes the long-anticipated follow-up, SUSTAIN VOL. 2. This fresh collection of works centered around the piano includes a range of contemporary compositional styles: tonal, atonal, and everything in between. This volume is steeped in the dynamic complexity piano music offers, including Bewildered Soliloquies by composer Santiago Kodela and performed by the Fidelio Trio.
Today, Santiago is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our composers and performers. Read on to discover the connection he makes between classical and metal musicians, and his inclination toward chess as a hobby…
If we looked through your music library, what would we be surprised to find?
Hmmmmmm, a wide collection of musical styles and ranges. However, I really see a strong connection between classical music and metal (in all its variants). I believe that the versatility classical music has is only paralleled by the likes of metal music. To pinpoint some of my favourite acts — which I believe are simply classical musicians playing with high distortion guitars — I strongly recommend Meshuggah, Opeth, Devin Townsend, Gojira, Dream Theater, Symphony X, and Nevermore, to name a few. I believe no other genre of music has the ability to go to such extremes as classical music and metal do.
Do you have any specific hopes about what this album will mean to listeners?
Yes, millions and billions of dollars in revenue, hahaha. I would simply like to fantasise that someone will listen to my music and become interested in knowing what other music I might have put out, learn about my story, and eventually become an avid listener of my musical endeavours. I would love to get some nice feedback and comments on the piece, and if it has, in some way or another, inspired a creative effort on their side. There is no bigger reward than serving as inspiration to others.
How have your influences changed as you grow as a musician?
I would say I most definitely switched from being attracted to virtuoso repertoire towards more comprehensive and well-thought compositions. I suppose that when you are young you are easily attracted to the fanfares and seductiveness of virtuoso playing, but as time goes on you start to become — not always — a bit bored by excessive virtuosity and speed, and start appreciating a well written harmonic progression, an interesting melody, and overall musicality. Maybe it is because I can’t play as fast as I used to, lol.
How do you prepare for a performance?
I select a repertoire of the pieces I know I play the best in a live situation, choose the order these pieces will be played in, and stick to it. I define this as early as possible and try not to change it around unless absolutely necessary. Then, focus on the difficult sections, and once a day play the entire repertoire as if I was performing live. I actually have won the 1st prize in classical guitar in Ireland’s largest classical music competition recently, and took the opportunity to make a video with my complete approach to competitions. Feel free to check it out here.
Where and when are you at your most creative?
Uffff, tough one. I suppose that completely depends on my mood and how my day is going. I usually sketch and draft music constantly, but that doesn’t mean I always absolutely love it. Most of the time I write down ideas, concepts, rhythmic patterns, a harmonic progression, etc. Then, I would try and concatenate different ideas into a string of music that makes sense and then leave it. If I come back to it after a couple of hours — or the following day — and I like it, then I will start making adjustments and embellishing it. I usually try to present drafts and ideas to my colleagues and mentor, and if the review is positive then I’ll feel more motivated to twist and make it more interesting. If not, I will adjust it so I am still happy with the overall essence of it. The reality of the musician’s life is that it is almost impossible to live solely from your music and compositions, and most of the time, as we have to work our everyday job — the real one as they say — our energies and focus will go unfailingly into such a job. It is a tough life to balance out, but it is a rewarding and penny-less one hahahah.
What are your other passions besides music?
I wouldn’t say I have any other passion as strong as music because everything I do is basically shifted towards my musical endeavours. That being I said, I really enjoy playing chess and football. I am not going to say travelling, spending time with my family and friends, and socialising, because I take those for granted and basic necessities in life. I’ve always loved playing chess and would like to take formal lessons and start participating in competitions. It is a sport that can be practiced throughout one’s entire life and keeps the mind active and engaged in logical reasoning and mathematical calculations, very interesting.