Paige Somogyi, is the alter-ego you could say, of indie-rock musician Somogyi. Both artists are one musician, and that is songwriter, composer, and singer Ashley Paige Somogyi. Ashley Paige Somogyi is her full name, and Somogyi became her self-chosen artist name for her lyrical music back in 2016.
Now, Paige Somogyi, is her alter artist name for her solo career as a pianist. She has always been first and foremost, a pianist, and a solo record of piano compositions was actually the first type of recording Ashley ever did, which was released solely via bandcamp back in 2013. She has been playing and writing music on the piano long before she ever started writing lyrical music or playing the guitar.
The reason she was hesitant to really claim herself as a pianist, was because she was wary of how people would receive her style of piano playing and she was unsure if a career as a pianist would be achievable.
Due to some recent realizations in 2019, Ashley has decided to establish herself as a pianist as well. While maintaining her identity as a lyrical songwriter, under the moniker Somogyi, she is also creating a new identity as a pianist using her middle name, thus becoming Paige Somogyi.
The reason for the separation is to maintain the artist identity she has already achieved as a lyrical musician. With several releases, radio airplay, and local notoriety in her hometown, she wished to maintain her Somogyi platform for her lyrical music.
Another reason for the separation, is that her piano music is completely different than her lyrical music. It’s still her, but solo piano improvisations and compositions are a drastic change from full-band lyrical music.
She says that if she ever got to a place where she was known for both talents, she would just be herself, Ashley Paige Somogyi, or whatever name she decides to stick with, and meld all the musical stylings she writes into one artist. “People would have to come to like and accept the fact that they might get some piano music, and some lyrical music at one of my shows,” she says.
That is where she ultimately wants to be as an artist she says. “The industry today, with such high genre expectations, is really the main reason for this separation for now.”
She says that pigeon-hole type genres that the music industry sets as standards for every artist out there are the main reason she feels the need to separate the two musical identities at this point. She says that in an ideal world, a musician could just be themselves, whatever that means. She really hates the idea of genres all together she says.
Right now, she’s just getting started with taking this piano career more “seriously” you could say, or really, she’s just now deciding to make something of it.
“It’s not that I didn’t want to present myself as a pianist, in fact that’s truly all I’ve ever dreamed about since I was a kid, it’s that I never truly believed anyone would be interested in it”. She said that self-doubt held her back from this decision for a long time, but that she’s finally ready to embrace the unknown.
Ashley is entirely self-taught on the piano. She has played by ear since before she can remember. Her favorite way to perform is to improvise, although she does like to compose songs as well. Meaning, certain practice sessions will result in melodies and ideas she feels are worth developing into full compositions.
Her first piano recording, Empyreal Transmissions, is of five compositions, which she developed, rehearsed, and honed into what they are on the record. These were recorded at the end of 2012, and released in the beginning of 2013. She recorded them with producer and sound engineer, Alex Bhore, who at the time was also the drummer for post-rock band, This Will Destroy You. She says, “I was actually living in the same city as the drummer for my favorite band at the time, and had no idea when I hit him up about recording some piano music for me.” The record was recorded at TWDY’s bass players house at the time, where there was a nice grand piano they tuned up for the recording. “I was also really influenced by TWDY at the time I wrote those songs,” she says. “So, you may or may not hear the influence in there, even though it’s strictly piano music.”
Her second piano recording, Static, is five improvised songs. In fact, that entire recording was recorded from start to finish in one take. Of course with cut offs and starts where songs end and begin, but the entire piece was recorded in one sitting and entirely improvised. Another interesting fact about this record, is that it somehow picked up a radio frequency that’s subtly heard over the entire recording. She says, “It was strange how it showed up on the recording, and the sound engineers had no idea what happened, but since they were improvised tracks, I decided to roll with it, and thus the title of the record became Static.”
The most recent record, Recherché, which is soon to be released on all platforms this time she says, is of three improvised recordings. These songs were recorded on an Otari MX-5050 half-inch analog tape recorder. She says, “The magic of recording with that tape recorder, was that whatever you played was it. There’s no going back.” It forced her to play well the first time she said, even though the tracks were improvised, it still motivated her to play something inspiring first time through. She ended up recording three songs that way. Included on this upcoming release, is an older track titled Recherché off her first piano record, Empyreal Transmissions. This song was actually the last song on that first record, but this time around she’s including it first on the new release. “It had this magic to it, that I wanted to use to captivate people right away,” she says.
The last thing she wanted to say about the newest tape recordings, is that the piano she played them on was unexpectedly not quite ideal when it came to how soft she could play. “The recording was done sort of spur of the moment” she says, but she didn’t want to bail on the opportunity when it came time. So, despite the fact that the soft pedal, or una corda pedal, didn’t work very well and the keys were a bit stiff, she made it work. “After getting about halfway through the second song, I finally found the sweet spot with those keys,” she says. “It still wasn’t the most ideal piano, but it was what I had in the moment and I wanted to capture what I was feeling in that moment either way”. She also said that, she’s played a ton of different pianos over the years, and learning to adapt to what you have to work with is part of being a musician.
She says that the most important part about recording improv music, is that there needs to be a feeling that the music captures. She said that, the other improv record she did, Static, was not quite there in terms of capturing a feeling. “It wasn’t the sound engineers or anyone else’s fault for that,” she says, “but I just wasn’t completely in the zone that day. But I also didn’t want to throw in the towel halfway through the session, so I tried to make it good even if I wasn’t totally feeling it that day.” Capturing the truly special, and captivating moments, is what’s most difficult but most inspiring she says. “I hope to someday have the opportunity to record more, and hopefully have the freedom to record when those moments of inspiration do it”.
Photographs by thflwrgrl