Pianist Stephen Wallack explodes onto the new age music scene with his debut album, Chapters, which spotlights his powerful, energetic, cinematic style of composing and performing music that is full of passion, strong rhythms and heartfelt melodies.
“I try to write songs that have a powerful hook, rhythm or emotional centerline,” Wallack states. “That’s what connects me to the music, what moves me and takes over, so I hope it does the same thing when other people listen to my music.”
When composing the music on this solo piano recording, Wallack was inspired by his life’s journey through a complex range of emotional moments: happiness (“Wedding Song,” “Holiday”), traveling (“The Traveler,” “Trains”), his family (“Dad,” “Virginia”), the passing of friends (“Archer,” “Cooper’s Song”) and favorite places (“Oceans,” “Chicago”).
“Each of the songs that I write are like chapters of my life,” explains Wallack. “If there was a movie about me, this album could serve as the soundtrack underscoring what I was going through and what I was feeling during various stages of my life. I describe my music as cinematic and emotional. I really enjoy when music tells a story, connects with you on a deeper level, and takes you on a journey.”
More information on Stephen Wallack is available at his website (stephenwallackmusic dot com). His album, Chapters, is available as either a CD or digital download tracks at online sales sites such as CDbaby, Amazon, iTunes, eMusic and many others. The music also can be heard (and this artist can be followed) at many major streaming platforms such as Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, Google Play and more.
Wallack grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, surrounded by the music his older siblings were listening to such as Depeche Mode, The Cure, and REM. But it would be instrumental music that really connected with him. He began taking piano lessons when he was just five years old, but like many children, he hated performing in front of people. “I would cry so I didn’t have to participate in recitals, it drove my parents crazy!” remembers Wallack. Eventually it led to his parents abandoning his piano lessons all together.
One important thing he did learn from those lessons was that he had a musical ear and could play anything he heard. When he was 12, his best friend played him the album December by pianist George Winston. “That moment changed my life forever. I felt such a connection to his music, that for months I would sit at my little orange piano with a small tape player and just hit play/rewind over and over again until I figured out his songs. I essentially taught myself how to play piano listening to his music.”
“Another important influence for me was film music, which I started listening to at an early age. The first movie song I learned to play was the theme song from the movie ‘Platoon’ called ‘Adagio for Strings,’ composed by Samuel Barber and conducted for the soundtrack by Georges Delerue. I also loved the fantastic film score by James Horner from the Ted Danson movie ‘Dad,’ and the Ennio Marricone soundtrack from ‘The Mission’.”
According to Wallack, “The power of music and film together was very inspiring for me. When I write, I picture the music moving to film and it really helps me to connect on a deeper level with the music”.
Wallack says that when he was 14-years-old he stopped playing other people’s music and started writing his own songs. “I connected with George Winston’s style of music so much when I was young, that writing just became a very natural next step for me. I had a lot of thoughts and emotions that I needed to express, and writing music was that outlet for me.”
Another pivotal moment in Wallack’s music career was when he became friends with Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, who gave him his first guitar and lessons. This helped broaden Wallack’s musical tastes to include not only Pearl Jam, but acts such as Soundgarden, The Cult, Tom Petty and Neil Young. “Mike is such an amazing musician and person, that I am beyond fortunate to have had the friendship I’ve had with him over the years. He really has inspired me to continue pursuing my passion for music”.
Now Wallack has released his first solo album, recorded on a Steinway S acoustic grand piano. “In recent years I came to realize what an important factor music has always been in my life. Sharing my music with other people is something I’ve always wanted to do. I have so many pieces that I’ve written over the years, it was difficult to decide which ten to put on this first recording.”
The music on his Chapters album is forceful, energetic, confident and passionate. The songs capture moments in time that were very impactful in his life. From the song he wrote for his wife to walk down the aisle (“Weddings”) to the piece he wrote after his father recently passed away (“Dad”), Wallack uses his music to connect with his emotions and tell those stories. “These songs have a very personal connection to me, but I want listeners to be able to make their own connections and see their own stories.”
Wallack says, “Since I’ve been writing music so much of my life, I’m very happy to finally have recorded an album. Music is a catalyst to make people feel things, and sometimes it can help people explore their emotions or change their way of looking at life. As a musician, if your music can simply cause someone to reflect on a moment in their life or cause them to feel something they haven’t felt before, that is powerful and that makes the artistic process worthwhile.”