London based keyboardist, musical director and producer Amané Suganami has approached creativity through music since he was a child. We caught up with Amané this week and he gave us some insight into life as a creative in the current climate and how he came to work with the likes of Jorja Smith and Maisha.
When you were growing up and before you moved to London was it always the piano and keyboard that you were primarily interested in, or were you more of a multi-instrumentalist? Did you know that music was always going to be your calling in life?
Piano has always been my first love, i’ve been playing for over 20 years! I did learn to play a few other instruments (flute, saxophone and guitar), but it’s hard enough to get good at one instrument so I decided that I would concentrate on just the one as my primary instrument. I can’t really remember a time in which music wasn’t a part of my life, so even though when I was younger I didn’t aspire to be a musician, it was inevitably that music was always going to be a large part of my life. I think I was about 15 when I realised that it was what I wanted to pursue professionally and haven’t looked back since.
“I think what is happening right now in the industry is potentially the biggest existential crisis we may ever face.”
In terms of your working process, where about’s does most of your artistic inspiration and ideation take place? Do you need to be in a certain frame of mind or location for everything to flow?
Mostly at home where a corner of my bedroom is a dedicated music space. I generally find that inspiration and creative flow have to happen organically, i’ve never been able to force it.
Knowing your musical influences and interests span so many genres and decades, how do you come across new music or artists to listen and be inspired by?
A lot of the new music i’ve discovered has been from people sharing the music that they’ve been checking out. Also that function that Spotify has where it starts playing songs based on the album you just finished has led to me coming across some absolute gems.
What was it that bought you across the paths of Jorja Smith, Maisha, and other artists, and led you to work so closely with them?
Honestly a lot of being in the right place at the right time. Being open to working on new projects whenever I get asked has led to many of the musical relationships that I have developed over the years. I don’t think I ever joined or started a project with the knowledge of where it would take me, just that I was excited by it.
How do you see the creative, and especially music, industry being affected by what’s going on in the world right now where no gigs can take place, and no live venues are open?
I can’t lie, I think what is happening right now in the industry is potentially the biggest existential crisis we may ever face – particularly when we have a government that doesn’t care in the slightest about the Arts. I think the creative industries will largely be able to survive and recover, but I think generally the landscape of the world after this is going to look very different and the next challenge will be about how to adapt to the changes that might happen.
“I’ve gotten really into fermentation and coffee which seems to dominate most conversations I’ve had recently”
How have you yourself adapted over the last half a year in terms of your daily schedule and working mindset?
I’ve been very privileged to be able to use this time to look into and explore other interests that I have. I’ve gotten really into fermentation and coffee which seems to dominate most conversations I’ve had recently. Music wise i’ve tried not to force myself to do anything beyond what I feel capable of that day. I generally spend my time keeping up the maintenance of my technique and exploring and developing new sounds on my gear. We’re not living in the most inspiring of times so I haven’t been writing as much of late.
Are there any up and coming artists in your circle who you think people should be paying particular attention to?
Yes! There are so many projects i’m really excited by. Here are a few:
Harry Edwards (@harryedwardsmusic)
Sahra Gure (@sahra_gure)
Is there any advice you would give to young musicians in London just starting out on their career?
Be open to working on as many projects as possible, you never know where they will take you.
As part of our ‘Creative Atlas Conundrums’ – what creative tool would you bring if you were stuck a desert island for a year?
Without a doubt I would bring a piano with me.