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Interview with Steven C., August 2013
Interview with Steven C., image 1
The name Steven C might not be a familiar one to you, but chances are that you’ve heard his music. Steven is based in Minneapolis and recently released a three CD-set called Past to Presence that was a “Pick” on MainlyPiano.com and is likely to be a favorite release for the year. I’ve reviewed a lot of Steven’s music over the years and thought this would be a great time to do an interview. Enjoy!

KP: Hey Steven! How are things in the Twin Cities today?

SC: Awesome, great weather for this time of year!

KP: I really love your new three-CD set Past to Presence! What inspired you to put that much music into one package?

SC: A fan of mine went on a crazy quest to find ALL of my CD's, and this made me realize how much of my music was out of print. I found 47 of my songs that were no longer available and I wanted to make it easier for fans to find my music. I also felt that it was important to honor my musical past.

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Click on album covers to read Kathy's reviews.
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KP: That’s a lot of music to have missing! It’s great you could gather it all together! What was the idea behind grouping the music more by tempo and mood than in chronological order?

SC: I considered many options when grouping this music. It felt best to establish and be consistent in mood. It was amazing that the three CD's balanced with the number of tracks and moods/tempos.

KP: Each disc is quite different from the others and they work really well! Do you have any new projects that you’re working on? I know that’s probably a dumb question!

SC: I'm getting excited about a new Christmas album for either this year or next. I want to make this one really special as a follow up to my On Christmas Night. Also, I have a few new originals that my hands have recently found.

KP: I remember first running across your music on VirtualFlorist.com close to twenty years ago. Was that one of your first music gigs or did they just license some of your music to use with their cards?

SC: Wow! That was a long time ago when the whole "internet" was new. They were pioneers and a local company that knew of me. I still get emails from people who found me on that site! I remember creating MIDI files as the playback format.

KP: I loved that site and used it a lot for several years! I guess maybe it was closer to twenty years ago! You also played with Mannheim Steamroller for awhile. Which years did you do that?

SC: I subbed for the legendary Jackson Berkey for a few T.V. appearances in the late 90's. I was also a recording artist on the American Gramaphone Label and really enjoyed my time with Chip Davis and company.

KP: Did you record with them, too?

SC: No, just live performances.

KP: How many albums have you put out under your own name?

SC: Yikes! More than twenty as Steven C and I have a few other names that would take the total much higher.

KP: Are there any aliases that we might recognize?

SC: Christopher West, Michael C, Melody Sweeting, Tia Kia, to name a few....

KP: I’ve read that you also produced a very extensive collection of music with nature sounds. Tell us about that.

SC: I answered a newspaper ad looking for an Audio Director in Minocqua, WI (population 1700). I got the job, and when the owner’s wife heard my CD, they said, "Why don't we put your music out with nature sounds?" I really felt lucky being in the right place and time. They created interactive displays and sold millions of albums. Target was a great account for us.

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KP: Did the series have a name?

SC: The two mail labels were "Northsound" and "Naturequest."

KP: Let’s backtrack and get some info about your early life. Where were you born and where did you grow up?

SC: I was born and grew up in Saint Louis Park, Minnesota (suburb of Minneapolis).

KP: Do you come from a musical family?

SC: My mother played and taught piano; my father is a retired college math professor and also plays trumpet.

KP: When did you start playing the piano?

SC: I started at age 7, but said "Piano is for girls!” I was going to be baseball player!

KP: I’ve heard that one before!!! How long did you take lessons?

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SC: I fought the early lessons and then could not get enough of them through college.

KP: Were you a music major in college?

SC: Yes, Piano and Pipe Organ performance from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN.

KP: Have you always been a professional musician?

SC: Yes. I still chuckle when someone approaches me at the piano and says, "so....is this what you do?" I'm proud of my many years as a professional. Providing for a big family on gigs, recording, and studio production is a lot of work, creation, and passion, but would not trade it for anything!

KP: I’ve had a few similar comments from people about teaching piano. The one that took that cake was, “You’re so lucky. All you do is drive around and listen to music all day.” If only!!! Do you play other instruments as well as piano and keyboards?

SC: I play anything with a keyboard on it and love "fooling" people when they ask, "Who is playing bass?" Me!

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Read reviews: Kathy'sMichael's
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KP: How old were you when you wrote your first piece?

SC: I always improvised as a kid, but wrote my first "real" piece when I was 22. It was Easter 1988 at Hamline Church and while waiting for the service to start, I composed "Sunday's Reflection." I can still recall that moment!

KP: Do you play live in concert very often? I’m really excited that you might be coming to play here in Florence, OR next year!

SC: I play a variety of different venues and I've always played a series of house concerts when I have a new release. (I've also done a few "Whisperings" concerts with David Nevue.) It's nice to have a strong local following. Live performance is definitely something I'm looking forward to expanding further. If it works out, playing your place will be a highlight of 2014 for sure! I love the feel and energy of live performance. For the Past to Presence live concerts, I enjoyed engaging my audience with the songs’ stories, inspirations, and inner personal meanings. It really layered the feel and depth of the performance. I'm looking forward to finding new audiences through collaborations - perhaps some "deep" book authors and other musicians.

KP: Who or what are some of you biggest musical influences and inspirations?

SC: I was in a nice musical soup growing up with classic rock, classical and jazz. In college, I heard and resonated with George Winston (yes, on vinyl). I was also inspired by David Lanz, Liz Story and many other artists in this genre. I feel the more you experience, the more you can draw from. Kinda like Google - the more it's used, the better it gets. But ultimately, living and feeling deeply all of life is what is the most inspiring to me. Spiritual Piano came from an awakening that started for me as I began searching for deeper meaning and asking those big questions: "Why are we here?" "Who am I?" During this time, I began reading many deep authors that were inspiring and also aided me in opening deeper within myself. Working on and releasing Past to Presence aided in this movement as I looked deeply at my past. Honoring the work and my life allowed me to move further into a state of Presence. I'm embracing authentic conscious awareness as I move forward. Living life in an aware state and wholly present is the ultimate inspiration of life for me. It is here where you can truly touch and be touched. I am really looking forward to being my own witness of what will be birthed from me musically.

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KP: Have you done any composing for films or television?

SC: Yes, some for documentaries, but mostly radio promotional work!

KP: What has been your most exciting musical moment or experience so far?

SC: Recording Heartstrings at the Abbey Road studios with the London Symphony Strings. That was in 2001 with Arnie Roth (Mannhiem Steamroller). To work in that environment with world class musicians and engineers - it was beyond words.

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KP: How long have you been a Bosendorfer Artist?

SC: Since 1996. I love that piano everyday! It's been on many recording projects and had one "black swan" incident. After being used for a benefit concert, the movers "forgot" to strap it in and it fell over onto a 7 foot Steinway! It was amazing that there was only cosmetic damage to my piano, but it was not so good for the Steinway. I swear the piano's bass is deeper since that crazy accident. The look on the movers’ faces when they rang my doorbell - can't find words for that.

KP: Wow! Is there a particular philosophy or message that you try to convey in your music?

SC: I use the image of a circle to feel that what I do and what they experience are one. I hope my music inspires people on many levels and that it can find personal meaning, touching listeners deeply emotionally, physically and spiritually. I want my music to be transportive and move the listener wherever they need to be. I especially feel joy when I hear from people going through health challenges or any type of hard times and that my music is helping them.
KP: That has to be a great motivator for you! Who are your favorite composers?

SC: Ahhh so many! Chopin, Beethoven, Copeland, Manfredo Fest, George Winston, David Lanz, Billy Joel, Elton John and lately Ludovico Einaudi.

KP: Who are your favorite performers?

SC: Same as above!

KP: I have read that you have five kids. Are any of them showing musical promise?

SC: A few have started and quit various instruments. My youngest, Chloe, is the next Taylor Swift!

KP: Then you can retire!!! If you could have any three wishes, what would they be?

SC: 1. Continued health and happiness for my family and everyone.
2. More people like you doing great work for this music genre.
3. 8 days a week so I could attempt to take a day off!

KP: Thanks for #2! What’s up next for you?

SC: Drive kids, book gigs, practice, expect the unexpected and find joy in all of life.

KP: Thanks for taking the time to chat, Steven! I hope to finally meet you next year!
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To learn more about Steven C and his music, be sure to visit his website and his Artist Page here on MainlyPiano.com.
Kathy Parsons
August 2013