Instrument Talk Levelling up with Erin Fagan - NZ Music Month Feature
Levelling up with Erin Fagan - NZ Music Month Feature
New Zealand Music Month is an amazing annual event that celebrates local music and musicians. For KBB Music we see this as the perfect time to celebrate making music and encouraging Kiwis to take their musical talents to the next level!
In the spirit of levelling up your music, throughout this month we are also profiling the amazing staff of KBB Music. These are the incredible helpers you will meet at our stores who have also have vibrant musical backgrounds. Through the process of a quick-fire interview, we were interested in finding out how they levelled up their music journey and the instruments they recommend to budding Kiwi musicians.
Meet Erin! Our West Auckland-based freelance composer, teacher and pianist at KBB Music’s Epsom store.
A post-graduate student of Auckland University, Erin achieved First-Class Honours in Composition in 2015 and has since been working as a freelance composer for theatre, musicals and short films.
A composer of an eclectic range of musical styles with over 15 years industry of experience, Erin is a veteran composer for the classical and theatrical worlds as well as the 48 Hour Film Festival Competition.
As an active member of the Auckland theatre scene, Erin has been working as a musical director, accompanist and rehearsal pianist for many years. He has been the Musical Director for shows such as the NZ premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ‘21 Chump St’, ‘Pan is Dead’ and ‘Title of Show’.
Erin is also the composer of such projects as the game ‘Battle to the Beehive’, and the sell-out original comedy musical, ‘Love me Tinder’.
His upcoming projects include an original feature-length musical ‘Little Jack’ as well as several engagements with orchestras across Auckland as both composer and arranger!
Thinking back on your musical journey, what were the breakthrough moments that made you the musician you are today?
My 5th birthday present was a keyboard, and with lessons starting soon after. I feel my journey was set in stone a very long time ago.
I studied keyboard, eventually moving onto organ, and then finally piano and progressed through the ABRSM and Trinity exams until Grade 8. Classically trained as a pianist I felt this was my life for many years, however around age 11-12 I started to write my first bits of music. I started to teach myself composition and slowly the interest and ability to write took over my playing career.
I started writing music because I wanted to write music that I wanted to hear and this is something I still hold fast to today. Instead of pursuing my career as a pianist I went to the University of Auckland and trained as a composer and since 2015 I have been working freelance in the community in all possible musical avenues as I began to build my career as a writer and performer.
Breakthrough moments would include passing Grade 8 piano (affirmation that I could indeed play piano well), finding and buying a copy of the PVG for Danny Elfman’s ‘Nightmare Before Christmas (this forever changed the way that I write and understand harmony) and my later discovery of 20th and 21st century Russian classical music (a huge shift in focus as I discovered a whole new language of writing and performing).
Now thinking about your gear: what is the one instrument that you will never part with?
The answer is rather obvious isn’t it, I think.
My piano may not be fully portable, but my 1940’s Eavestaff Concert Upright Piano is my first and only acoustic piano. All of my writing and studies have been done with, on or through this instrument in some way. Alongside this I treasure my Great-Great-Great Grandfather’s violin which I have restored and play when I can find the time. Recent additions include a Blessing Trombone, Pearl Flute and Buffet E12 Clarinet which I enjoy playing around with as I try to learn as many new instruments as possible.
What instruments would you recommend to other keen pianists?
Beginner – Roland FP30X 88 Digital Piano
For beginners, I can only recommend the Roland FP30 – Powerful, responsive and compact this is the perfect companion instrument for a new player who wants the support and response that a real piano action offers with great speaker quality and a handful of wonderful sounds to play around with. You can also purchase the piano without the stand here.
Intermediate – Roland RD88 Digital Stage Piano
For the intermediate player, the Roland RD88 – A new addition to the Roland collection, this portable stage piano offers an expansive internal memory, great speaker and action quality as well as literal thousands of internal sounds creating a compliment of rounded features for the budding composer, music producer or performer.
For the professional pianist, the Roland Fantom series – The most powerful combination of many of Roland’s greatest synthesizers, drum machines and stage pianos. This is a piano that can create, perform and fit into any studio, band or performance situation and would be a compliment to any high-end performing artist.
N.B. Bearing in mind these recommendations have been made with the gigging, creative pianist in mind. For those wanting a more traditional approach a professional-level upright piano is the best investment at any level of education!
Keen to chat further with Erin? You can always find him at the KBB Music’s Epsom store, where he will help you find the gear you need to level up your music. You can also connect with Erin through his Bandcamp or Facebook Page to stay in the loop with his musical journey!