Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?
I became inspired at the age 16 to pursue a music career because of my love of music and the emotional language it speaks to me and all of us. I had fallen in love with creating music and composing songs and wanted to continue experiencing this, and sharing my music with the world. I started learning piano at age 6 and, by age 16, I was composing and performing publicly. A pure artist at heart, I launched my professional music career at age 21 and performed across Canada and Germany.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
I was raised on the classics (Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, etc) and fell in love with the emotion in their music. It was incredible to listen to their melodies, the line of their music, and the movement. This experience gripped me and created great passion inside me. I am no Handel or Bach but, in my own way, I strive to create the same – beautiful music that is felt and understood by those who hear it. Keith Jarrett and George Winston are two other important influences – their ability to dive into the piano. On a personal note, another important musical influence was one of my sisters who, when I was quite young, taught me the first steps of composition.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
Getting back to my music career after many years away has been my greatest challenge. When I became a father at the age of 30, I was forced to step back from my music career and pursue a regular pay cheque. Eventually I became a single father which made the situation even more challenging. After 26 years of working in the corporate world it was easy to accept the fact that I would never have the opportunity to pursue music full time, but it was also impossible to accept this fact. During this time, I learned patience, persistence and faith – to have faith all would work out as long as I kept pushing and believing…and stayed true to myself. This wasn’t easy because so many years had passed and I was no longer a young man, but I am most proud that I have stayed true to my heart and my artistic values. And now here we are – I have a new album out, many new songs composed, and my first tour begins this fall, on October 4!
Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?
There are a few performances I gave during my earlier music career in Canada and Germany that I am very proud of – performances that touched the audience and we all felt the music together. Often people would approach me after a performance to shake my hand or slap me on the back in thanks for the music and the evening. During these performances, I shared a strong connection with the audience. The music touched us and connected us to one another. In addition to these memorable performances, my new album is the first in a while and I am very proud of it as well – the songs offer beautiful melodies and the whole album quietly moves forward to the final note.
Tell us more about your new album…..
My new album is called, ‘here’ – a solo piano album that celebrates our existence. The theme of this album is something that’s been building in me for a while – a quiet acknowledgement that we exist in this amazing place, and we exist right now. We are all so busy with our lives and, as a previously single dad, I can absolutely vouch for how busy people are. But it’s important to look up and pause and take in the magic of our existence. So many generations have come before us and right now it is our time.
The album design has an original oil painting of an ancient cave wall with my hand on it. This is to replicate the ancient cave paintings in Spain and France and other places – paintings that were created thousands of years ago. These ancient cave paintings have always fascinated me and the hands that were painted on the walls, for me they are shouting, “We are here!”. Their hands on the cave walls are proof they existed. This is something I wanted to do as well – acknowledge and celebrate that I am here…that we all are here.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
Small venues are my favourite because I am close to the audience and it feels as if we are all sharing the evening together.
As a composer, how would you describe your compositional/musical language?
Composers create music that expresses their soul and, by that, I mean it represents our personality as well as our emotions, our hopes and aspirations, and also the mood we are in at that point in time. My compositions are very transparent of me and reflect very closely what I’m feeling at the time of the composition. If I am in a quiet mood, the composition will mirror this, and the same if I am feeling upbeat. In general, my musical language is soothing and quiet, which I believe reflects my inner thoughts and feelings.
Who/what are the main influences on your composing?
I would have to honestly say the main influence on my composing is the ocean. I am from Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada, and grew up along the ocean. It had a very profound effect on me and still does to this day. I spent years sitting next to the ocean, absorbing its calm and quiet, as well as its fury on stormy nights. Even though I have lived in Ottawa, Canada for the past many years, I return to Vancouver Island regularly and continue to visit the beaches of my youth. They have the same affect on me now, as they did when I was young – they are mesmerizing and soothing.
As a composer, how do you work?
If you stand at the edge of the ocean, remove all your clothing, and ease yourself into the water until you are fully immersed, and then if you dive in and begin to swim underwater while looking around, that is how I compose and work as a composer. I enter the piano as if it is my ocean and, as I begin to play, it’s as if I am inside the ocean swimming around. If something catches my eye, I swim over there to investigate and, by saying that, as I am playing, if a note or a chord catches my ear, I will explore it further, which leads me to the next notes and chords. My entire playing is an improv where I sit at the piano and simply play…most often quietly…testing the waters, so to speak. And eventually I find my way…a chordal arrangement finds me (or I find it) and I move forward, pushing outward while circling back…building on what I’ve created as it all naturally comes together to form a melody or passage. And when it’s done, when I come up from this underwater experience, I know I am outside of it now. I am always reluctant to end because I know the new improv is over. But then, if I love what I played, I will return to it and formalize it into a song that I then record and share publicly.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
A small town outside of Frankfurt, Germany. A late summer evening. I had auditioned to perform and was told I was accepted. We confirmed a day for my solo piano concert – a couple weeks away. I gave it no special thought and was simply happy to be performing at the venue in this quaint German town. When I arrived, I was floored to see the entire place was packed to standing room only. I was told word had gotten out that a Canadian pianist was performing and the owner of the venue had apparently raved about my talent and style. I remember walking into the room to thunderous applause and seeing what appeared to be people hanging from the rafters (it was that packed!). This concert experience was my most memorable and the evening was very special.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
As a musician, my definition of success is capturing a melody line perfectly so it is beautifully presented and touches the hearts of the listeners. This is achieved by leaving myself behind completely, and entering the melody fully, to become one with it so that each new note is natural and right. When I am inside a melody and composing like this, there are no mistakes, no matter what is played…there is only new directions as the melody moves forward and circles back. For me, as a musician, there is nothing finer than this experience.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Be true to yourself and your music. Focus on what you love and learn from others who are similar. Ignore everything else. Be clear on who you are and who you want to become. Be honest with yourself and your music. Believe in yourself and know your musical expression is valid. Let the music live and breathe, outside of yourself, and inside every vein of your being. If you do all of this, you will find your muse and your audience, and the world will be a better place because of it. And practice, practice, practice.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
In 10 years, I plan to be living back on Vancouver Island, and enjoying continued success with my music. In approximately 3 years I intend to return to performing in Europe, and perhaps other continents. In 10 years, I would like to be continuing this – composing and recording prolifically, performing internationally, sharing my music with the world, touching hearts and inspiring others to be good and gentle people.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
For me, perfect happiness is a state of mind, and also a result of inner strength, of loving and being loved, having good friendships, sharing inspiring thoughts and conversations, and enjoying good health. In the end we only have our memories, which is the result of what we did and how we did it.
What is your most treasured possession?
While not possessions, my most treasured are my beautiful and loving wife, and my two incredible adult children.
What is your present state of mind?
I am currently happy and at peace with myself. I am proud of the journey I completed, which was being a single father and raising two children, while working in the corporate world for 26 years (having to put my music career on hold to take care of my children). I have since left the corporate world and circled back to my music and am now picking up where I left off – composing and creating beautiful music, and sharing that music with the world. All of this combines to bring me great happiness and peace in my heart.
Tim Nast’s new album ‘here’ is released on 4 October and he will be touring Canada through October and November. Further information
Tim Nast is a Canadian pianist and composer with a rare talent for melody and improvisation. Tim Nast grew up on Vancouver Island, just outside Victoria, BC. This tranquil setting played a key role in defining his musical style, which he refers to as freestyle piano – a mix of classical, jazz, folk and improv – with the bending of rules as required.
Frequently compared to Keith Jarrett and George Winston, Tim Nast’s music offers rich melodic landscapes which allow listeners to escape their lives and enter the world he creates – a world of harmony and rhythm.