As much as the society we are living in tries to discourage the current generation to use art-forms as a liberal and constructive way to express themselves, it is rather refreshing to hear, to these days, success stories happening through the power of that marvelous art that is music, particularly, the one about the Edinburgh-based pianist and composer Sean Logan.
The young Scottish artist didn't have exactly the easiest start in life possible, having to struggle with diagnosed neurodiverse conditions already at a very young age. Still, though, learning to play piano in his teenage years, as a sort of communicative vehicle, helped him a lot to boost the necessary confidence to go to local clubs or small venues and play music on open mic evenings to relatively small crowds, something that gave Logan the possibility to express in all its beauty his great personality, together with the talent and creativity of the Scottish artist.
Then, in recent years, two important moments brought to the national attention of media and music press the remarkable craftmanship of Sean Logan; the first took place in 2021, when Scottish filmmakers Will Hewitt and Austen McCowan shot a short docu-film called Harmonic Spectrum, a Scottish Bafta Winner documentary based on Logan's personal overlook to music and how to explore it in different sonic alleyways, together with the US drummer Anthony Ravelo, with whom Logan had an on and off professional collaboration at the time the documentary was shot. Harmonic Spectrum also provided a breathtaking insight of Logan's personality and how much more he understood himself when he started to play the piano.
The second pivotal moment in Logan's rise as an artist happened at a national TV Show broadcasted on Channel 4 in United Kingdom in 2022 and called The Piano, where worldwide celebrated music artists Mika and Lang Lang chose, in 4 different cities in UK at their local train station, 4 different young artists that would emphasize, through their individual talent, the concept of how much music (and playing the piano, in this instance) can empower individuals' minds and souls and free their personalities simply by letting a piano speak for them. One of those 4 young artists who ended up, as a reward to their individual talent, to play at that splendid venue in London that is the Royal Festival Hall in front at almost 3000 people, was Sean Logan.
Our website has been privileged to talk to Logan about those aforementioned special moments that helped him to boost his media exposure and also about the next chapter of his musical career, which includes the launch of his first single called Meet Machine and an album due to be shortly released. Naturally, the first question that comes to mind, it is about Logan's immediate memories about that memorable night in London at the Royal Festival Hall. "I played in really very loud bands, for a very long time, prior to the London show and, when you perform with those kind of bands, I guess it never really happened to me to be able to explore the more tactile and complex palette that you can get out of live instruments playing, especially when music isn't trying to express something that is super high energy, super fast, dance-y, like go-go-go, you know. It was a great opportunity for me to be able to explore these many sides of playing piano so much more, that night, because the piano has been my main instrument, although in recent years I have moved away from it considerably and using a lot more instruments with electronically generated sounds, like synthesizers, which obviously don't provide that immediate and natural tactile response that a piano can give you. A piano is that kind of instrument where the emotion that you try to express is not about what has been played but it is a lot more about how it has been played. Something that allows you to breath and to paint that emotion exactly how you feel it. Of course, I owe a massive Thanks to the show, most of all to Mika, Lang Lang, Claudia and all the Production Team at The Piano for allowing me to express myself and for giving me such a massive opportunity".
The way that the TV show The Piano was constructed, where Logan first appeared on the show, involved every person playing at a train station in front of a passing crowd and at the end of every show, one especially talented musician was selected to perform, at a later stage, at the London venue. Sean Logan obviously won the attention of Mika and Lang Lang, when the Scottish pianist played at Glasgow train station. We ask Logan how he found out, about the show and why he decided to participate to it. "To be honest with you, the Channel 4 people were the ones that came and found me. I was, at the time, doing a show at a bar in Edinburgh and they just came up to me and explained that they were doing a show and they wanted to have different pianists to come and play the piano in Glasgow Station. So I said "Yes, it would be a pleasure to come and play the piano", then I went and played and that is pretty much all about it".
During the course of our conversation with Logan and as mentioned above, the Scottish artist said that the use of synthesizers or keyboards as his main instruments, was taking over, momentarily, his passion for the piano. Keeping in mind Logan's current attraction for synthesizers, our website wondered whether, at least, playing piano is still the starting point for him, from a compositional perspective, as the initial platform to then develop his compositions on synths. "I am about to release a solo instrumental piano album in the next few weeks, therefore, in answer to your question, playing the piano has become once again a massive part of my life, both as an individual and as a player in a way that I would have never dreamt before. To me, playing music and playing the piano, in particular, has been an important tool to connect with people, a way to meet friends or people that gets me as a musician and overall, a tool for me to enjoy life. Music is my art, my practice. To be part of The Piano show, it was also great because I was able to take what I learned, on the show, that mentorship and musical direction I received and take them forward in everything else that I am doing right now as a musician. The Piano was really amazing, for me. There was such a short amount of time to tell a lot of stories and that TV show achieved so much, in that respect. The behind the scenes moments of the show, in particular, for me, showing how much I developed as a person, through time, it was incredible, because I was able to have the experience to learn first hand from the people that I admire and I see as masters, like Lang Lang and Mika. Chuffed to bits, really! (smiles). I look forward to release my album and release the sheet music from my first single Meet Machine as well, something that will be available for everybody very soon".
The Piano TV show 4 finalists with host Claudia Winkleman, pianist and composer Lang Lang and Pop superstar Mika
There is a wonderful venue in Edinburgh called the Pianodrome, an amphitheatre made entirely from upcycled pianos created in 2017, where Logan had the opportunity to blossom even further as an individual and as a musician and where he also met like-minded lovers of the piano. Our website asked the Scottish pianist how much of an impact The Pianodrome had for him as a human being and his growth as a musician "The Pianodrome was a doorway to me that I am so happy that I found, because what music was for me before and the way I was spending my days as a musician, it wasn't ideal, because I wasn't surrounded by people that truly understood what my principles and values were and what I was trying to create in my work. The Pianodrome had (and still has) a sentiment that was very much about making art for art sake and therefore was a lot more "cerebral", a place where people really cared about musical concepts being described for their intricacies, for the musical choices, the art history, all things that I really appreciated, especially in view of the fact that, before joining The Pianodrome, I never met people that was on my same wave length. I was able to be surrounded by like-minded people that knew the music industry, understood me and liked what I was trying to achieve as an artist. The Pianodrome is also incredibly well connected and it surely helped me to understand that there are no such things like social barriers between myself and audiences, which was an idea that I had initially built in my head. To realize, through that experience at the Pianodrome that those barriers were just a figure in my head, it was amazing, it really made my life so much better. I really hope that the projects does in America as well as it did here in Scotland, because it was really special for me. It really transformed my life as an artist for the best".
With his first single Meet Machine out now, Bluebird Reviews was curious to discover whether the piece had been written a long time ago, even before the time he started going regularly to The Pianodrome and before he played a sketch of the song for The Piano TV show in Glasgow. "Well, Meet Machine is a sort of a Frankenstein version of a lot of different pieces of music I wrote and I would like to say that it came initially from myself and Anthony Ravelo's collaboration and is an extremely sentimental song format. OK, now has got a final rendition released, but I have to admit that Anthony helped me considerably to, sort of, trim down the chaos that often surrounded my compositional style. He is a lot older than me and he has always been a great mentor of mine. Back then, it was the first time that we really collaborated and took things down to precision level, with Meet Machine. That experience built the bare bones of the piece of music that Meet Machine is now and also, what you heard on the TV show, it came from that collaboration with him. The tune has been around for a while but my compositional style has always been guided by the ability to read my crowd and the room where I am playing every time. The way and the style is very often dictated by the vibes I feel surrounding me, in a venue, which is something that changes every night because the people coming to see my show is different every night. A lot of times, I add even stand-up elements to my shows, by talking, making people laugh and make them talking about things. It's a way to engage them, an interaction between myself and the crowd that I very much enjoy. One of my favorite games with the crowds, it is to get three different words from three different people from the audience and I make up a song about them on the spot. I decide what the structure and the mood of that song is going to be, pick up a key and start playing. Then the song would keep on evolving, in terms of tempo and rhythm, during the performance. This is just to explain that there are tunes that I have been playing for years and, at each performance, those numbers would change in terms of music style, tempo and arrangements, because I get guided by my instinct about the audience that I have got in the room where I am playing, night after night, an audience with different musical likes and dislikes any given night".
The Piano TV show was a monumental advertising platform, for Logan as a pianist but also served as a way for several millions of people to understand and appreciate the amazing journey that Logan went through, a journey where his passion for music helped him enormously to overcome the social struggles that, very often, people diagnosed as neurodiverse as Logan face. Logan is still in touch with some of the fellow pianists that reached the final night in London at the Royal Festival Hall and our website is curious to know whether Logan is, perhaps, still in touch with Lang Lang and Mika too. "I don't see the point for me to take any of their precious time, to be honest, given how busy they both are with their lives and careers. The thing that I wished, from the show, for the people that watched it, it was for them to take away from it the fact that, when I was a young teenager, I used to watch artists like Mika and Lang Lang and idolize them. Then, when you become an adult and life gives you a chance, like the one I had with The Piano show, you get the opportunity to realize that gifted artists like Lang Lang and Mika are just like all of us, very normal people and that is really a big realization. And with that realization, you also realize that the world is at your fingertips and everyone is really a few touches away from you. I really wanted to get a message across; I had something important to say, at the TV show and it was for a damn good reason. I guess that you probably got that message, otherwise, maybe, we would not be here talking about myself and my music".
With such a versatile and talented artist like Sean Logan, his debut album will be surely a body of work that will incorporate different genres, mood and vibes. "I am doing this record with the love, help and support of various institutions supporting arts. It's coming together very well with all that I had in mind to do, for this record, after I received the green light by a bunch of people that seem to understand about art and what I wish to achieve with mine. On the album, which will be available on several streaming platforms, what I am going to play is going to be quite varied, which is something that was inevitably bound to happen with me. The type of music I play is quite intense on the body, you know, almost watching somebody that is doing a back flip, in a way. When you try to record a three and a half minutes piece of music that involves some of the most thunderous hands-straining runs on a piano, you almost got to develop a new skill set, which is a resource management between what you actually have in the tank and what you think you can give, as a performer. Basically, it's like, when you are trying to do a super impressive show, at a different level and at one point, you realize that you suddenly have to manage your own health and your own body strength a lot more, you know. I am actually very thankful to have been inspired, on the latter, by Danny (one of the finalists of The Piano TV show), who I met on The Piano show, because he really showed me how healthy and great it is to apply some little changes in your perception about how you live or go about your day or your physical health. That was extremely important for me to understand, something that I have overlooked for ages and I have to thank Danny for that. On a different subject, I really hope to be able to increase the media visibility of my music with time too, after my album is released, because I have got a lot of stuff coming up and music festivals to attend, where I shall not be surrounded by people wearing tuxedos, like it happened at the Royal Festival Hall! (Smiles). Playing these festivals, it's really something I look forward to".
Music has taken Logan, undoubtedly, in a journey of formative discovery of himself on many levels and our website is guessing that, perhaps unconsciously, the young pianist is giving back to music all of himself every day through his formidable ability and passion for the piano. Before parting company with Sean Logan, we would like to ask whether has he ever wondered what his life would have been, without music. "Honestly? How honest of an answer do you want me to give to you here (Laughs)? A lot healthier, for sure, because sitting and playing the piano all day long and to feel truly fulfilled in what I do, it's rewarding and tiring at the same time. Like, when I stand on a stage, performing a piece of music in front of an audience and getting their genuine appreciation, many may not realize the amount of stress that goes on too, at the same time, for what the reaction, the response of the crowd may be. But, by the same token, it's incredibly rewarding on many levels too, for me. Music is the most important thing that I could possibly think of doing with my life. Even when you, as a musician are travelling back and fore around the country for hours, doing long train journeys and eating sandwiches while travelling back home, it doesn't even start to equate to the feeling of a life well lived doing something that I truly love".