Q&A Scene: Alexi Musnitsky

Zia Album Cover Tell us about your new single/ album/ tour?

The new album is Zia and this is my debut album, so without a doubt, this is a turning point in my life. The music comes from my feelings & emotions – from things that happen to me whether good, bad, happy or stressful. [pullquote]Although I am young, I still have lost people, been angered, hurt and disappointed by friends, challenged by rules and roadblocks. [/pullquote]All these interactions create emotions that come out when I play. Zia comes from New Mexico, where I was born and a place so completely different than France where I live. You can’t live in New Mexico without being influenced by the Native Americans and Zia represents that. It is the symbol of the sun, the name of one of the pueblo tribes and on the license plates and state flag. There are parts of that childhood I miss even though I would not be happy without the majority of my life spent in Paris. These are the images behind Zia. So I think each song contains many feelings and they basically flow into the music in the same way they go through my mind.

What’s your favourite work at this point in time?

Well, to know something about me, I tend to always say my favorite piece is the one I am working on now. This is where my focus usually is and it is drawing from what I am thinking and feeling at this moment. There are elements in other pieces that I favor a lot. I know that War of Love is perhaps the most popular along with Dream Catcher. I like War of Love and the feelings I drew on when composing it, even though some of those feelings were melancholic. What really strikes me, though, are parts of the album that Eugene Friesen plays. The way he just joined in, unrehearsed, with no sheet music and very much impromptu. Yet he flowed with and enhanced the music as if he were there in my head with the same thoughts and emotions. I can’t explain how he did it, I just admire it.

Tell us a quick, on the road or studio, anecdote.

Hard to tell an “on the road” story for a debut, but two things pop into memory. One was when I was very young and still playing classical music. I was with my family at a large hotel resort in Catelonia, Spain and the guest pianist asked me to join him in the middle of his concert. He put me at the grand piano and then left. I played but I was so small that people couldn’t see me over the piano. They saw the pianist walk away and then heard me playing and some people got up to try to see who was playing.

The other story is more recent when I recorded Zia at the Imaginary Road Studios. This all came about because Will Ackerman discovered me. Producing Zia with him was amazing and I still can’t believe how much he is behind me and helping me. Aside from the music, we took a drive together from Vermont to New York City with a pit stop at Five Guys. [pullquote]A “road trip” with Will Ackerman. How many people get that opportunity? And I can say that no matter how big he is in music, he is the most kind and deeply rooted person I ever met.[/pullquote]

What, or who, inspires you?

My inspiration comes from my feelings & emotions from things that happen to me. The music is an expression of my thoughts and this is my way of communicating. In this regard, I play for myself, not to entertain or to be famous but to talk about what I deeply feel. This is one of the reasons I never went through the competition circuit. I thoroughly enjoy playing for others but it is not a game for me to win, rather it is my pleasure in talking to people through the piano.

Which song do you wish you wrote?

Great question! Ludovico Einaudi’s “Nuvole Bianche.”

What’s next for you?

This is my question, what’s next for me? I am new to the music world and really can’t say that I know the plan. We produced Zia and I had no idea what would come of it. Now, I am amazed at the wonderful reaction and the positive reviews. This has inspired me and I started to compose new pieces and am planning to play concerts as can be arranged. On top of that, I have had the support of Fiona Joy. She won this year’s ZMR award for best piano album and I would love to find a way to play with her.

What’s your scene?

On the weekends in Paris, taking a 5K run. In the summers, everyday, teaching sailing on the Brittany Coast.


For musicians with ambition to do so, deciding to launch a career as a recording artist will occur at some point in the person’s timeline.. Some start early, some at a mid-point and others later in life. Alexi Musnitsky definitely falls into the early stage. Despite being only 20 years old, he has already attracted the attention of no less stellar a talent than Will Ackerman, the Grammy-winning founder of Windham Hill Records and now the man behind Imaginary Road Studios, arguably the hottest place to record instrumental music in today’s contemporary music scene. To have Ackerman (and co-producer/engineer Tom Eaton) contact you and ask you to come to their studio for your first recording—well, you can well imagine how that felt to the quiet, reserved young man. “As a rookie…to be chosen by Will Ackerman, to play with four-time Grammy winner [cellist] Eugene Friesen and work with Tom Eaton has been an experience that humbles you as much as you feel honored to share the room with them.”

Born in New Mexico in 1995, Alexi, with his parents and sister, soon moved to Paris where they have resided for most of Alexi’s 20 years. After watching his sister play the piano at a small performance, Alexi decided to try the piano as well and jumped right into formal lessons at the age of 4. He took to the instrument as if fated to play it. Immersed in classical lessons (and that was the only music he played until recently), he was fortunate with his first teacher to get someone “…who was supportive for such a young player and particularly open to letting me feel my own way as opposed to following strict rules.” In his formative years, he was fortunate once again, this time by becoming a pupil of the renowned Russian classical pianist, Marina Ravor. Unlike some protégés, though, Alexi did not aspire for accolades. “Playing piano has been something I do for myself. I was never interested in competitions,” although he did win first prize in the Flame International Piano Competition, the one and only time he entered. While he rejected competition, he loved performing in front of people. On a family vacation at a large resort in Catalonia, the resident pianist asked the young man to take over and play to those who were in attendance, even though “I was so small that people couldn’t see me behind the piano.” In recent years, he has enjoyed playing both for pleasure or, more importantly, at charity benefits and events.

When he turned 18, Alexi started composing his own music; it just came to him naturally. Being a child of the digital age, he hooked up an output line from the piano to a computer, made some home recordings, and then posted them on the website SoundCloud.com. The music garnered a lot of hits and many favorable comments and eventually led to him being named as an upcoming artist by the French/Belgian Project Daybreak, which features interviews and articles on rising stars in the music business. Shortly after that was when Will Ackerman reached out to Alexi and asked him to come to Imaginary Road Studios to record his debut album, Zia. “…knowing who Will Ackerman and Eugene Friesen are, I am amazed at their support, attention and generosity towards me.”

Currently, Alexi is finishing his final year at the Paris School of Business, completing his BBA (Bachelor in Business Administration). Even though he is passionate about music, he’s deeply involved in his studies, too. “I…really enjoy certain aspects of business, especially the creative side of business development and new business creation.” His true “second passion” (as he refers to it), is sailing, which he also started at an early age. Spending summers with his grandparents on the Brittany coast (they lived next to one of the most prestigious sailing schools in France) provided him ample opportunities which he took full advantage of. He currently holds national sailing instructor certification teaching at all levels of competition.

Whether he is performing one of his own piano compositions and holding an audience spellbound with his reflective melodies, learning about new and creative ways to do business, or piloting a sailboat off the coast of France, Alexi Musntisky is embracing the challenges of the journey which rise up to meet him with his youthful enthusiasm and quiet strength.

Zia is out on iTunes now

More information: http://www.aleximusnitsky.com

About Mary Boukouvalas 1442 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs Rocklust.com where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos, blistering.com, theaureview.com, noise11.com, music-news.com. She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.

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