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Brilliance Without Borders: AyseDeniz

In Mordents’ new interview, star pianist AyseDeniz shares her experience filming in an UNESCO World Heritage site, how she first took an interest in composing, and the story behind her Borderless Piano Project.

Mordents Magazine: How do you manage to stay on top of things between a concert career, maintaining a YouTube channel, and a lively social media presence? What does your daily routine look like?

AyseDeniz: As a typical artist, I usually don’t have a set schedule as inspiration comes at random times. I absorb a lot of energy from people, so keeping up with my social media followers is a blessing – especially as I’m super lucky to have such amazing fans from all around the world who support me and send me words of encouragement. However, social media & content creation is also a curse as you’re always behind a screen, and it’s very overwhelming because our bodies are much more in need of real humans. Performing live is nothing compared to a digital stream. It’s like a zoom meeting vs. a real meeting. Which would you prefer?? I usually change my schedule according to the upcoming shows projects or interviews, and most other times, I create my own projects to keep being productive and paving my own path! When I have someone to help me, it’s the most amazing feeling – having a team member is such a great way to get work, especially if they are passionate and not money-oriented! I have given my entire life to music, so it’s quite hard for me not to be doing music – I need to force myself to get out of my studio!!

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photo by Ray Tarantino

MM: Looking back at your early start at music, how do you feel now? When did you first realize music was the career path you wanted to take?

AD: I wanted to be a pianist at age six and always imagined traveling the world performing… I did that, and I think the younger me would be super psyched about the adult me! I still want to expand my horizon and get into various sectors, including film and tech, so stay tuned for my upcoming projects!

MM: Your experiments with genre-bending have led to you going viral and brought you international fame. What were some of the first rock albums you remember growing attached to?

AD: Definitely The Wall by Pink Floyd!! That’s it… so meaningful deep, and creative. I also loved Nevermind by Nirvana.

MM: A decade since Pink Floyd Lisztified, do you think things have changed in the world of classical music? Has the internet brought the world much-needed democratization of genres, or did it only enforce more divisions?

AD: Absolutely – I think the purists have realized classical music has to adapt to new technologies, and it cannot be contained in a locked history box. The classical musicians are some of the most creative and talented people I met, and it’s so lovely to see them use social media to reach audiences worldwide! I think that the internet definitely brought democratization; however, I wouldn’t say the same about the streaming platforms – They are exploiting artists, and it’s unfair to put a classical artist with a pop artist and pay them by popularity. It should not be a popularity but a quality game.

MM: What’s currently on your playlist?

AD: My composition “Home” questions the meaning of home – what is it? Is it a city, a family, a house, a culture?

MM: When did you first take an interest in composing?

AD: I was always composing as a kid – I’d mostly improvise and then create piano suites with stories and write pop songs when I fall in love… however I was always very shy and scared of showing them to people. I should’ve been braver, but when you study classical music, you’re already playing Mozart, Bach, Beethoven at 9-10 years old, and you have such a huge benchmark that it makes you intimidated! I only shared my compositions after many years – when I accidentally finished a recording session early and had extra time in the studio. I ended up creating the Earth Prelude album, and it went to the top 10 in UK and USA, and Turkey iTunes Charts! Then I realized I could be myself and people like me for my music too!

MM: Unlike most composers, you don’t hesitate to share your writing process. In what kind of way does sharing your work with other people stimulate your composing? Does feedback you get on social media influence the work in any way?

AD: Absolutely – I create all my projects according to my fans! The more I engage, the more satisfied and inspired I get – when I make music all alone in a room, it’s the most lonely feeling!

MM: Can you share some Turkish composers with our readers?

AD: I would say Ulvi Cemal Erkin, Fazil Say, Toygar Işıklı and Pinar Toprak for film scores.

MM: Let’s talk a little about those fantastic music videos filmed in Cappadocia. You shared a lot of the behind-the-scenes experience in your vlog. Looking back now, what was that whole adventure like for you?

AD: Cappadocia is my favorite place on Earth… it was a blessing to be able to film there. I want to do it again!! We took a digital grand to go over hills and got stuck many times… there was also a grand piano in a hotel there and it was great to perform there as you don’t ever see buildings – just caves! It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

MM: Can you tell us a little more about how the idea for the Borderless Piano project first came to be?

AD: During the pandemic, all my concerts got canceled, and I suddenly had so much time and thought – what can I do to give back to my fans so they can also start learning how to play the piano… as they’re all global I called it Borderless Piano Academy! I’m happy to give a discount to Mordents’ readers for BorderlessPiano – (info@borderlesspiano.com with “MordentsVIP” in email subject)

MM: What are you working on at the moment?

AD: I’m working on a new piano album of waltzes!!

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