Oliver Patrice Weder is a Swiss composer, pianist and music producer releasing modern classical and experimental music under Moderna Records. He is the lead composer for the sample giant Spitfire Audio and the founder of Smokestack Music. Don't miss our interview with Oliver Patrice Weder about music, new album ''The Shoe Factory'', composing and life.

What initially drew you to the world of music, and how did your passion for composing and performing develop over time?

When I was about 12 years old I watched the movie ''Forest Gump'' and in it I heard a track called ''Break On Through (To The Other Side)'' by The Doors. Curious about that kind of sound, my father opened up the doors to his vinyl collection, gifted me his old record player and let me listen through each and every single record. I was fascinated by the process of dropping the needle onto the wax, blown away by the music and taken into each artist's world looking at the artwork and reading in the booklets. Listening to The Rolling Stones, The Animals, Led Zeppelin, Dylan, Elvis and all these legendary 50s and 60s artists, it was again The Doors that captured my attention the most - specifically their keys player Ray Manzarek. I've started to learn all of their songs on the piano and played along with the records. That then opened up a whole world of blues and jazz which I've begun to study thoroughly on the piano - to this date that's my biggest passion and I listen to blues music every single day (I'm currently reading Howlin' Wolf's and B.B. King's biography simultaneously). 

I then moved from Switzerland to the UK where I've spent 4 years studying keys and songwriting as well as playing and touring with various bands. Accidentally, I got to write a score for a student art film and that opened up a whole new world for me: composition and music production. Curious about learning more, I've blindly applied to Berklee College of Music to learn more about computers in music and orchestras. To my surprise, I was accepted into a one year Master's programme where I've learned using DAWs and working with orchestras. I then went to London to record and conduct my final thesis piece at Air Studios, where I'd met Christian Henson, co-founder of Spitfire Audio, the sampling company. I've worked closely with him for a year, which was extremely inspiring and since then I was fortunate enough to compose not only my own music, but also music and scores for moving images. 

Could you share some memorable experiences from your travels that have directly influenced your compositions?

My debut album ''OPW'' is strongly shaped by experiences and sounds recorded in Brazil and Africa. In Africa I went to visit some friends in Uganda, from where we've visited other places such as Zanzibar, Tanzania or the forests near the Congo border. There I've picked up a bunch of instruments or recorded some loops and sounds that I found inspiring. The second trip, which was a couple of years later in 2019 was through Brazil. I have a huge passion for Brazilian and West African music too, so going to places like Salvador De Bahia, El Pantanal or Rio de Janeiro were hugely electrifying for me - just seeing the vibe and picking up some instruments was exciting. Actually, you can hear a ''rattling'' kind of sound in ''A Stone's Throw'', which is a percussion instrument made out of pet bottle lids in the favelas of Rio. 

Another manifestation of the way the surroundings influence my records are the collaborations; in ''The Pool Project'', the main sounds come from the vocals of ''Club del Rio'' and the woodwinds of ''Zopli2'', both bands from Madrid. On my new record ''The Shoe Factory'', I have recorded sounds of the machines in shoe factories here in Mallorca and collaborated with some jazz brass players.

Can you share some insights into your creative workspace and the tools you find indispensable in your music production process?

As I move around quite often, the actual studio space changes frequently - I've turned my flat in London, an indoor swimming pool, an Amsterdam loft by the canal or a garden shed into studios. Currently it's a former shoe factory, where I've recorded brass in and where my grand piano stands - I played it on my album ''Grand Piano Works Vol. I.'' and use it often to come up with new ideas. 

Though the surroundings and collaborators change, I have some tools that make up the essence of my productions; a prepared upright piano (currently it's a Schimmel) with a pair of C414s, my Wurlitzer through some effects such as the Strymon timeline, an RE-20 chorus echo, a Juno 60 through an RE-501 tape echo and some reverbs, as well as a Mini Nova and a Novation Bass Station. I like these old drum machines, though they rarely make it into the final production as they are temperamental - I have an Ace Tone Rhythm Ace, the one JJ Cale used in his famous album ''Naturally'', well, the same instrument not the exact same model. 

How do you adapt your creative process when working on projects that demand different musical styles, such as scoring for visual media versus creating your solo compositions?

When creating music to briefs and pictures it's more mechanical, I usually try to learn something such as a new production style or a way of arranging instruments. I tend to go with the first idea and let others decide whether it's good enough or not. When I create my own work it's much more emotional, there's usually a personal and deeper meaning behind the track and I am much more connected with each element 

of the track. Sometimes I have sleepless nights over the way I want my piano reverb to sound - every detail has to be perfect, in my eyes. 

How do you balance your roles as a solo artist, composer for visual media, founder of music production studio Smokestack, and the lead composer for Spitfire Audio? As a composer, how do you stay inspired and avoid creative burnout, especially when juggling multiple roles and projects simultaneously?

It all goes hand in hand, it actually helps me keep writing and being creative. I see it like a muscle that is being trained, inspiration needs to be created, not found. So the more I write and create, the better I get and the more ideas I have. 2022 was a tough year and I didn't know why until I started setting up quite a few projects already in January 2023 - the reason was that I got into a spiral of self-doubt and negativity, simply because I wasn't involved in anything exciting (or rather, I was waiting for things to come to me). 

The way I work is that I create these fairly short but intense work junks, the creative ones in the studio (meaning writing and music production) and the admin ones (oh yes, tons of admin!) somewhere else - I'm writing down these answers at the kitchen table while I'm rocking my 3rd newborn to sleep. I also sit on my grand piano often to come up with new ideas - some of them are being used as an album track down the line, or perhaps they become the next Spitfire demo, or I'm using a new chord sequence for a trailer via Smokestack. 

Can you share the inspiration behind the concept of "The Shoe Factory"?

Two years ago I moved yet again into an acoustically interesting home - a former shoe factory in the Tramuntana mountains of Mallorca. The moment I walked into it I knew I was going to record something here, it's big, lush and sounds lovely. 

I've talked to some locals and done some research about this interesting fact that there was this factory in the middle of the village - turns out there were over 60 in and around my village. Via a contact of a friend I got to visit a still intact shoe factory - Bestard. Equipped with mics and cameras I went there to grab some atmos sounds as well as some machine sounds. When I was talking to the workers there, some of them for 40 years at the same machine, it turned out that the sounds of the factories were hugely present in their childhood; as it was very hot throughout the summer months, the factory doors stayed open and these sounds would spill into the villages for everybody to here. So I realised that these sounds have quite a historical and emotional meaning for a lot of locals here. These sounds and this story became the building blocks of the album, combined with my usual upright piano, affected Wurlitzer and synths. And as for my own factory, I've decided to record a brass trio (Sax, Trombone and Horn), it seemed a logical thing to do when thinking about shoes and factories. 

Moving to a former shoe factory in the Tramuntana mountains of Mallorca is quite a unique setting. How did the physical space and history of the shoe factory influence the overall atmosphere and direction of the album?

Oh it's everything - that's the whole reason for the album really. The actual recordings of the atmosphere are on the tracks, the mechanical and repetitive sounds of the machines are turned into rhythms and the brass recorded at my house (the factory), build the essence of this album. I have workshopped a lot with my friend who is the sax player, and it's now even more present then I thought it would be - he came up with some beautiful stuff! Furthermore, I have turned the sounds and recordings into a sample library, which will be accessible via Spitfire Audio

I also think that the visit at the factory and speaking to these humble and amazing workers has really shaped the overall vibe of the album, it's honest, and down to earth. 

Can you talk about the role of improvisation in your music and how it influences your compositions?

I love improvising - I believe when someone composes or writes music, it's always improvisation at the first stage, unless you are physically reading notes from a paper and playing them. Many times I have a loop going on the Wurli or on the Juno and I just improvise on top with the piano and it ends up being on the final track, even though it sometimes isn't as perfect as it could be. I'm also not patient with my own music, I like things being relevant in the moment and so many times when I tried to replicate a take it doesn't feel right or I can't get it as good as the first time I played it, so improvisation for me really is the main tool to write and record music. 

Once I have a little more time on my hands I'd love to put together a live set, though a set that consists of different kinds of loops and perhaps pre-recorded bits but it always allows me to move these loops around and improvise different things on top. 

Are there any future projects or goals that you are currently working towards?

I'm writing and planning my next ''Grand Piano Works'' album, which is a conceptual idea of recording a short one-take set on a grand piano anywhere in the world. So far it's been the one at my house, the next location will be here in Spain too, but who knows, I'd love to take this concept around the world! 

I already have an idea for a next album, though I'd like to get Smokestack Music off the ground first and embark on a new, still secret, adventure with Nic and Évo from Moderna Records. There's also a thing that Snorri (Hallgrímsson) and I, amongst some other brilliant artists, have created, which is pretty spectacular and we'd love to share that in 2024. 

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

Someone once said that life's about creating oneself and creating things, not about finding oneself or finding anything - I quite like that, I believe it was Bob Dylan.