(Photo: Philippe Pache)

Jozef De Schutter is a pianist, composer, and music therapist based in Switzerland, with roots in Antwerp, Belgium. Don't miss our conversation with Jozef De Schutter, covering topics such as creative process, composition, latest album ''Stillness,'' upcoming projects, and life.

Can you tell us about your journey into music and how you started composing?

My journey into music began at a young age, starting with the recorder in my first year of school. I started playing the piano around the age of 9, initially drawn to it through improvisation. Over the years, I was inspired by composers such as Erik Satie, Wim Mertens, and Nils Frahm, among others. Eventually, I found my own style, which I would describe as instrumental, neoclassical or modern classical, characterised by its calmness and often tinged with melancholy.

How do you find inspiration for your compositions, especially considering your surroundings in Switzerland?

My compositions draw inspiration from everyday life and experiences. Living in Switzerland has certainly influenced my music, particularly through my work with individuals with special needs and my observations of how music affects them. The serene surroundings and moments of quiet reflection in Switzerland have also played a significant role in shaping the mood and atmosphere of my compositions.

(Photo: Philippe Pache)

Can you walk us through your creative process when composing a new piece? Are there any specific rituals or routines you follow when starting a new composition?

My creative process is intuitive and spontaneous. Sometimes a piece comes to me in a moment of inspiration, while other times it evolves gradually through improvisation at the piano. I rarely adhere to strict rituals or routines, preferring to let the emotion of the moment guide me. Each composition is a journey, with variations in mood and tempo reflecting different experiences and perspectives.

Tell us about your latest album "Stillness" What themes or concepts does it explore?

Stillness” was born out of a personal need for calm and introspection. With this album, released with Moderna Records, I aimed to capture moments of tranquillity and inner reflection. The artwork by Pénélope Umbrico further enhances the album’s themes of serenity and contemplation. Each piece is like an inner landscape. I was looking to create a sound collection like a haven of peace in this frantic world.

Can you share any insights into how you choose titles for your compositions or albums?

The titles of my compositions often reflect the emotions or experiences that inspired them. They are like snapshots of moments in time, captured in music. Sometimes the title emerges naturally during the composition process, while other times it comes to me later, as I reflect on the piece’s meaning and significance. To choose a title, it’s sometimes the most difficult part for me. I frequently change titles along the way. I try not to start a piece with too many ideas. I rather try to connect to what I am experiencing emotionally and let things come from the depths. I like the unexpected aspect where I surprise myself.

How do you balance the demands of your musical career with your personal life and other interests?

Balancing my musical career with personal life and other interests can be challenging at times, but I find that maintaining a flexible schedule and prioritising self-care are key. I draw inspiration from my experiences outside of music, such as spending time with family and friends, connecting with nature, and engaging in other creative pursuits. For my resources, I try to practise mindfulness in every moment of the day but after years of practice, I feel I’m still a beginner.

How do you feel technology has influenced the way you compose and produce music?

Technology has greatly influenced my ability to compose and produce music, providing access to recording equipment and software that allow me to create from the comfort of my home. Platforms like streaming services have also opened up new avenues for sharing my music with a wider audience, providing opportunities for exposure and collaboration that were previously inaccessible. I produce all my music from my home studio. This allows me to combine my activity as a music therapist and also to remain present in my family life.

Can you discuss any upcoming projects or collaborations that you're particularly excited about?

I’m always excited about new projects and collaborations. Currently, I’m working on expanding my repertoire and exploring new musical territories. I’m starting with a single that will be released on March 22 as part of Piano Day with Moderna Records, and it will also celebrate the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere.

Finally, from your perspective, what is the meaning of life?

As a human being, I am faced with a world filled with beauty, mystery, and endless possibilities. My journey on this earth is an opportunity to discover, learn, grow, and flourish as an individual. By embracing curiosity, compassion, and gratitude, I can marvel at the wonders of existence and find profound satisfaction in the simple fact of being alive.