Songwriting Interview With Vitalij Kuprij

Ryan Buckner: Welcome to another exclusive interview! Today I'm speaking with virtuoso pianist and composer Vitalij Kuprij. In his extensive music career, Vitalij has made a name for himself as a highly in demand solo pianist, performing artists such as Liszt and Chopin in many countries worldwide. Additionally, he has released many full length albums which have truly raised the bar for compositional excellence in the progressive metal and instrumental metal genres, making him a house hold name for aspiring “shredders” and virtuosos. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with me Vitalij, it’s great to be able to talk about songwriting with such a high caliber musician such as yourself.

Vitalij Kuprij: First of all Ryan, I want to thank you for giving me opportunity to do an interview with you on a very fun and important subject of any artist and their career.

RB: Great! So here is my first question: Who inspired you most to start writing music?

VK: Well, I have been performing all over the world as a classical pianist for many years. However, as much fun and experience I gained through concertizing, I still was performing mainly the works of others.

Basically, I decided to explore the world of composition and start creating my own original works, so that I would be able to express myself with my own creations. That led me to write and grow as an artist/composer in this case. It is a very exciting world to be part of for sure. I’m blessed:)

RB: If you could tell other songwriters one single thing to focus on in order to become a great songwriter, what would it be and why?

VK: I believe that every creation begins with passion. Once you have that, you are half way home if you will. I think the main ingredient for successful songwriting is the “REASON” for doing it. One must have a purpose as to why he or she writes. Ultimately, we are composing something so that we can share with others and hopefully make them understand, feel and relate to what we create. Unsuccessful writers are those who are selfish and they compose only to satisfy themselves, without anticipating how others will react to it. You have to approach this with multi-dimensional attitude. Composing is a very “giving” art. By expressing yourself emotionally proper, you’re most likely to succeed. Technically speaking, writing must present a very logical structural form, and all the elements, instruments, arrangements must be well thought out and correctly placed, applied in to your composition. And once again… an exciting world to be part of.

RB: How much time do you spend planning out your songs ahead of time?

VK: Well, that depends on the time-frame I have to work with. I prefer to write when I feel I have something to say musically… I'm trying to capture my ideas and develop them further.

When I face pressure, or a deadline, I usually go on the HUNT and try to squeeze something in terms of ideas. That happens sometime and that’s when the songwriting becomes constructive and somewhat forceful. Of course, I prefer to write when I'm free of time constraint, pressure and when I have a strong idea.

RB: What role does improvising play for you when creating or developing ideas for new songs?

VK: Improvising is very, very important, not just for the purposes of writing but, for a full control of your instrument, understanding of harmonies, theory, and courage to take risks going into fully foreign territories. Improvisation is essential art form to understand and is very important for every artist to explore, in my opinion. It is so beneficial for anyone’s growth and development. I improvise all the time, even when I'm not composing, but yes, it does have a strong connection to your writing.

RB: What are some of your favorite songwriting techniques that you use in your music?

VK: Open mind and open heart is all you really need.

RB: Do you ever get a case of writer’s block? Do you have any advice for those who struggle to come up with ideas in their music?

VK: Of course, for me this doesn't happen often but when it does, I just get away from it. There is no point in forcing something that you don't feel or have in you at that moment. Drop it and do something else :) haha

RB: What is your favorite topic to write about in your music, and why?

VK: I write for the purpose of sharing my musical vocabulary with others. If my audience feels what I’m trying to say compositionally, that’s all that matters. The rest is not important.

RB: Do you now have (or have you had in the past) any methods you use to practice songwriting?

VK: You have to have a training and knowledge of music theory, counterpoint, solfeggio, etc., etc. It’s an important foundation for everything. The rest is life experiences, the more you get out up there and learn things on your own skin, you will have plenty of ideas and experiences to motivate and inspire yourself to great songwriting opportunities.

RB: What do you think are some of the keys to writing great songs?

VK: Is to work hard at it and the magic will come to you.

RB: What advice would you give to anyone who is looking to make writing music their career?

VK: Like in anything else in life, practice makes perfect, or better. I leave that for everyone else to decide for themselves:) So far, it worked for me.

RB: Vitalij, thank you again for taking the time for this interview. It means a lot to me to be able to interview someone who has inspired me so much as a songwriter and musician!

VK: Pleasure is mine man.