This French pianist and composer who lives in Paris started out with classical piano studies at a conservatory. Later, he was heavily influenced by New Wave and Techno and became famous for his rearranged songs from Depeche Mode, The Pixies, and others.
Since then he has composed many pieces for piano, has published seven albums, and is currently working on his eighth.
OKTAV: How did your love of the piano begin?
MAXENCE CYRIN: When I was a child, my mom wanted me to do something extracurricular to keep me busy. I tried gymnastics – but did not like it at all. Then I tried piano, and liked it right away!
OKTAV: When and how did you realize you wanted to turn your passion for piano into a professional career?
MAXENCE CYRIN: That didn’t happen overnight even if I could feel the effect of the piano back when I played “I was made for loving you” by Kiss in music class at school. Later, I tried electronic music but couldn’t really express myself through that. Finally, when I started adapting electro music themes on my first album “Modern Rhapsodies” in 2005, it took off. I toured a lot and played for contemporary art galleries and fashion shows.
OKTAV: Did anything specific help you become the musician you are today?
MAXENCE CYRIN: I think it’s because I can’t do anything else! But seriously, it was my passion for music, hard work, and perseverance that got me to where I am today. And there was definitely some luck involved as well.
On How He Creates Music
OKTAV: Where does your inspiration for composing music come from?
MAXENCE CYRIN: From all kinds of things – the memory of a trip, the joy of being alive, a feeling of loneliness, the calm after the storm… in short, whatever comes to my mind at a given moment. There is also an aesthetic approach, as I try to be original.
OKTAV: Tell us about your routine when it comes to working and composing music!
MAXENCE CYRIN: I learn pieces from the repertoire whenever I find the time. If I have to work on compositions or a concert, I make a little program with a list of interesting pieces to play again. Right now I have some Bach preludes, movements from Beethoven sonatas, a Rachmaninoff prelude, and a Gershwin piece on this list.
When composing, I record a lot of ideas on my phone so I can listen to them again and keep the best ones to develop into new pieces. Sometimes, there are rare exceptions like when I improvised during a residency this summer and decided to keep two of these improvisations just as they were.
On Playing Covers
OKTAV: Many people discovered you through your album Novö Piano, released in 2009. This album included covers of popular songs such as Where Is My Mind? and Crazy In Love. Is it as fun and stimulating for you to work on covers as it is to create your very own compositions?
MAXENCE CYRIN: Now that I have finished writing my 3rd album of original compositions for Warner Classics, I feel like doing covers again. I’d stopped doing covers because I was tired of being considered someone who only knows how to do covers. There’s a playful side to it that I definitely enjoy.
OKTAV: Fast forward a decade (and a pandemic later) – has your relationship with piano playing and performing live changed?
MAXENCE CYRIN: Yes it has intensified. I have been concentrating everything on the practice of the piano. I reworked my technique seriously about ten years ago, and it was fascinating to study the classical repertoire. As far as concerts are concerned, I have decided to take a break for a while, as I am very busy with the production of my next album.
On Social Media
OKTAV: You are pretty active on social media. As an artist, is it a pleasure for you to promote your work this way, or do you see it as a pure necessity?
MAXENCE CYRIN: For me, it’s a way to be in direct contact with my fans and also to discover other artists. I often find inspiration for the covers of my albums on Instagram!
OKTAV: If you could recommend two of your own pieces to OKTAV piano players, which ones would you choose, and why?
MAXENCE CYRIN: I would recommend
- “Mer de Velours” because it is a simple piece to play and leaves room for the imagination, and
- “As the Darkness Falls” – a small, calm, and moving piece.
Maxence Cyrin on OKTAV
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