We recently had the pleasure of speaking to the wildly-talented bass-player, producer and composer Liran Donin, to find out what drives his passion for music and how both physical and mental space shapes his creative process.
You seem very natural as a musician – was your path to becoming a professional a straight line?
There has never been anything else for me, music found me at a very young age. I’m not from a musical family but my parents were very supportive. In one way it was a very straight line, I never questioned my choice to make music, but it does, on the other hand, become more interesting when you try to make a living from your passion. After I trained at university, I did feel a little lost with it all – it took a while afterwards to rediscover the reason I got into it and find my own style again.
Can you recall your earliest music memory?
I think I was 4 or 5. I would love playing Michael Jackson on the record player, and I’d surround myself with pots and pans for drums to play along! I remember changing parts in the band all the time, picking up a tennis racket to play guitar – I just wanted to play all the different parts.
Are there any instruments today you wish you could pick up and instantly play?
Yeah, definitely; the trumpet! There is something about the trumpet, I would love to be able to play it. The sound of it smacks you in the face, to control it’s dynamic range would be a real joy. Either that or a tennis racket…
Your music seems to balance complexity and energy with a beautiful coherence. When you compose new music, what is your process like?
I appreciate that, thank you. My musical background was listening to Leonard Cohen, right through things like Nirvana and metal. I’m really interested by songwriting and the song form, a lot of the inspiration comes from this – I will often leave lyrics out and work around an idea. I usually feel an abundance of ideas, and they come out quite quickly so it becomes about funnelling things down and looking for the gold. It’s important to trust what comes out – you need to be aware of this as your own identity. A lot of love goes into it too.
Is there a time of day or particular mood that needs to take you to write?
Not at all, it is 24-7. If I could work all the time I would do, it’s important to listen to what’s in your head. I hear compositional pieces like a voice and actually have to find ways to shut it up sometimes! But as soon as I step into the studio and sit at the piano or the bass, it comes out so quickly. Meditating helps too, the beautiful thing about meditation it is it allows new things to emerge.
How has the new garden room helped in your process and work?
For me it’s a really mediative space, it just allows you to shut out the outside world. Entering a space that is quiet and allows you to just soak into it is so important. When I sit at the piano in the studio it is just joyful. I love having no distractions and it’s just the right environment to write in.
What’s next for you?
I’m writing another album with my band, 1000 Boats which is going great, as well as touring the first album that has just been released. It’s been really exciting hearing how the press have gone crazy for the first album, and very humbling too. It created the platform for album number two. It really feels like the beginning of something. I’m producing a full album for LedBib that is happening now, and also working with singer Ranjana Ghatak. There is a lot going on, writing, producing – many new projects. It’s a good place to be!
Liran’s garden studio in London is an Aspect design, with custom acoustic insulation.
8 Songs by Liran Donin’s 1000 Boats is out now – find out more at lirandonin.com
Photography: Beth Davis