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“I met people who inspired me to develop as a musician”

Pablo Hassmann

Working in what you love

In conversation with Marcos Meza, music composer from Chile.

We met Marcos Meza in Berlin in 2017 when we collaborated with our production company Sisterhood Lab for the release of his album "Dimensions of Time" by making a music video. Now settled in Brandenburg, he lives in a refurbished former train station, converted into a house to host musicians and offer artist residencies, Musikbahnhof. We interviewed him by video call and got a glimpse into his everyday space. He talked about his almost casual origins in music and how today he feels fortunate to be able to make a living doing what he loves. His latest project has been a piano release ¨Contestaciones¨. He has also written and published, with the help of "Ediciones el vals", a selection of music books.

I never thought that at the end music was going to be my partner

Porträt Berlin: How did music come into your life and at what moment did you realize that it was going to become your profession?
Marcos Meza: When my parents got married, my father bought a piano as a gift for my mother. So from then on it was present in my house. I started studying music when I was seven years old in Chile and when I had to choose an instrument for me it was very easy.
To be honest, I never thought that in the end music was going to be my profession, at that time it was just a game for me, purely entertainment. But it was thanks to music that I started to meet people, to participate in projects, and create small bands. My first approach was to become a beat maker and around that time I also started singing.
At the same time, I had several people around me who guided me along the way. Thanks to my piano teacher I discovered classical music, then I dedicated myself to the interpretation of popular music and little by little I began to compose small pieces. In college I formed a hip hop band, a jazz band, a rock band and I also became interested in composing music for movies, something I enjoy very much. So what was that entertainment gradually became a profession: I started to give live concerts, to make practicing music a habit, a part of my daily routine. In short, I was lucky to meet people who inspired me to develop as a musician, among them I can name the musician Camilo Salinas and my first piano teacher as my mentors.

I really needed to be honest with the music that came from me, listen to my own voice”

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PB: And in this process of discovering music as your profession, what made you think of Berlin as a city to live in? And how is your way of working?
MM: In Chile I was living and working in different projects related to music so I got some experience but in a small size, let's say. At some point I felt I wanted to explore new paths and I had the opportunity to get to know the city thanks to a tour I did with a band. Berlin freaked me out, in a positive and negative sense. When I arrived I had to start from scratch, create a network and at the same time try to find my own voice and my way to share my music.
In general I'm a person who likes to work with people I can trust, so I try to keep my work simple, reduced to the indispensable. For example, I give my music to a small agency that sells my instrumental tracks to different projects around the world. However, when I produce an album the process is different, I take it as a personal goal.
For this task I am generally inspired by composers and musicians, of course, but also by art in general, sometimes fields like architecture, photography and certain books inspire me much more than music.
The world of musical arrangements is my passion, popular combined with the classical. Now I am working with a singer from Chile, Paula Herrera. I'm also doing some arrangements for the Mexican singer Julieta Venegas and also for a pop singer from Barcelona.

Marco speaks calmly, taking his time, as if resting in his pauses, composing each of his phrases. As he does so, he accidentally lets us see a little more of his space, a table full of instruments, large windows that let us see the snowy trees that surround him. It’s a truly inspiring place.

PB: What can you recommend to musicians who are trying to break into the industry?
MM: Something I can highlight is the importance of daily work, the fact of generating the habit of being fully concentrated for at least a few hours of the day. Training is the key, as well as experimentation, both are necessary. In my case, when I first arrived I was making electronic music for clubs and playing with some electronic machines, this is the city for that, let's just say that.
But something about that process didn't sound good enough for me. So I got a glimpse that I really needed to be honest with the music that was coming out of me in order to hear my own voice, metaphorically speaking. That's what I think an artist should do. And in this search, in my case, I found instrumental music as my great ally. I love what I do and I feel lucky to be able to do it every day.