Below, you can read our interview with Pablo Embom and listen to his album In Your Skin. Check out our full music review of In Your Skin, HERE.
Q: Great to be speaking with you, Pablo! You tell us you’ve lived in Argentina, the U.S., and currently Israel. What kind of impact has living in each of these wildly different places had on your music?
A: Due to my specific background, I’ve been exposed to several influences in music in different parts of the world. I also spent a few years in the States, so my influences are very wide which varies from Rock, Progressive, Latin, Middle Eastern, Asian/Indian, Argentinian Folk, and of course Jazz. Being exposed to different music approaches shaped my music in a unique way enriching music possibilities and composition styles. This has been a very useful toolkit in every music piece I create.
Q: Your current musical style is unquestionably jazz, but you tell us you didn’t begin exploring this genre until you were well into your career. Have the many other musical projects you participated in prior to this had any effect on the music you’re currently making?
A: I believe that every musician carries a backpack in which he/she collects all music experiences he has gone through, throughout his/her career. Nothing is really lost, it typically merges, transitions, and modulates along the way and forms a part of what we are at any given musical career stage. This is what identifies us as musicians even when we decide to take our music to a different style. And this is also what has been happening to me for the last 35 years. Every musical moment gets imprinted in my subconscious mind continuously.
Q: “In Your Skin” features a number of collaborations with other artists – including your daughter Melissa. Has your family always been musical?
A: My two grandmothers were piano teachers and they both had acoustic pianos at home. Hence, I got naturally attracted and curious about the instrument and to modern and classic music as well. I believe that at age of six, I already composed my first instrumental piece on piano, very intuitive in nature using basic concepts I used to hear from the music I’d listened to. My daughter Melissa and my oldest son Ariel both carry this musical “gene” and they also have adopted music as an important part of their lives. In another artistic plane, my aunt was an amazing poetry writer, so I used to look closely at her work, and thus she brought to me the awareness of that specific emotional response through language as chosen and arranged in sound and rhythm forms. This helped me in my early years to develop some of my songwriting skills taking her as a model.
Q: Your compositions are complex and nuanced pieces of music. What is your songwriting process like? Do you have a different process when writing instrumentals compared to writing songs with vocals?
A: The piano is my core musical instrument for writing music. It is usually enough for me to sit at the piano with a clean mind and things start popping up naturally. It can start with just a chord progression, a musical passage, or something even smaller and tiny at first. When ideas come up, I typically start shaping them up through the arrangement. In my mind, the arrangement of a piece of music is as important as the content of it. It’s the opportunity to bring a musical idea and take it to a unique dimension. This is the reason I rely on myself playing several instruments, in order to shape the idea into something I truly get passionate about. My new album “In Your Skin” is a good example of collaborating with other musicians for some of the vocal tracks included. I found that composing for vocals in collaboration with others is fascinating. Composing for vocals is what I used to do several years back. The difference with instrumental music composition is that you need to stay focused on the lyrics’ message and make sure that you have an aesthetical connection with the music, some sort of a symbiosis combination that has the right balance. This is typically accomplished by creating a specific arrangement that works for vocal which would typically not work for an instrumental piece. My new album “In Your Skin” features lyrics of songs such as “Simple Days”, “Click on Me” and “Primera Estrofa” written by Gabriela Fernandez Mantaras with whom I have such a long history together when I lived and played music in Argentina. All of this is part of my own growth as a musician, as I have never done it before in previous projects.
Q: How long did “In Your Skin” take to record? You tell us some of it was recorded remotely due to the pandemic – can you tell us what that was like?
A: The new album “In Your Skin” was produced and recorded by myself, between February and November last year, some of the vocal recordings were done remotely from Argentina and mixed and post-produced in Israel. I’m also featuring some vocal tracks I performed myself, the first ones I recorded in several years. Producing music in remote was quite an experience since we were not able to play together, we did lots of offline work in order to get the results. Virginia Tepsich – vocal lead in “Click on Me” and “Primera Estrofa” – is a very talented and flexible singer, and due to her background as a choral arranger, we’ve been able to produce the vocal sounds and the integration to my music as I had in mind.
The musical part of the album was performed by myself, in the recording there is a variety of instruments I used. Throughout the years, I have developed skills to be able to integrate playing on different instruments with the purpose of creating a true band sound. Also, my guitar playing style is quite different from my piano style playing since I developed the instrumental skills for each instrument from different backgrounds. This serves the purpose of increasing musical gestures, which I very much focus on when I record a multi-track project.
Q: You mention that this album is a turning point in your career, a breakthrough inspired by changes in your personal life. Can you elaborate on that?
A: Personal events affect music as any form of art it’s triggered by emotions, state of mind, and experiences. Throughout the years I have become true to myself and embrace life in the sense of an urgent need to make myself and anyone I love truly happy. Looking at things that are important relieves you from that negative energy we tend to carry day to day. The music output is different in these situations, so it was the outcome of “In Your Skin”.
Q: What was your first instrument? Do you still have/play it?
A: My Uncle gave me this nylon concert guitar as a birthday present when I was 5 years old. I was always curious about the instrument but in my earlier years, it was easier for me to play on the piano, which I felt more intuitive in nature. Since I moved from Argentina, I lost track of that old guitar.
Q: Perhaps in some unspecified amount of time, your musical career explodes in the best of ways. What does that look like for you?
A: I do not believe in sudden career booms. To grow as a musician is a process and I can feel that happening every time a new project of mine is out. Each album I have released during the last 15 years helped me looking at my music retrospectively. To me, each one of them was some sort of a picture of where I was as a musician and where I wanted to go from there. Since my youth in Argentina, I haven’t been playing live. I dedicated most of my time to crafting the compositions in an attempt to bring the listener to a new music experience, transmit messages so that if my music was listened to actively it could transport to new landscapes and ideas. My goal is to be able to make people happier and relaxed when listening, experience something else, the same as I experience when I listen to amazing musical pieces, and transport me to other places. Bring out a new music project alive to the world is in nature very exciting. I experience that every time a new album is released. It is also very exciting to read and listen to listeners’ feedback sharing their feelings when listening to my music and the way my music positively impacts their lives and transports them to other places.
Q: What would you like fans to know about you that they’re most likely unaware of?
A: I have a serious hearing impairment in my right ear. Upon the onset of hearing loss several years ago, I had initially the feeling that my music career would be over. Since then I learned a lot from myself about how to compensate for it and how to bring balance in life and continue making and producing music. The human body is an extraordinary machine in the way that if you offer it a “happiness fuel” it will continue supporting you no matter what. Today I’m truly grateful for what I have accomplished throughout the years.
Q: Any shout-outs you wanna make?
A: I’d like to give a sincere huge thanks to all those who support my music on a regular basis, those music lovers with whom we are able to engage and keep making music for them. Those who wish to keep in touch with us for updates on my next release can visit my web page www.pabloembon.com.
Thanks to The Ark of Music for having me today.
(Want to be interviewed by The Ark of Music? Click HERE.)