Close Up Interview with Pianist & Composer Jonas Dept

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.

Belgium is the country where I grew up. I think that was a very central place in Europe, and the Arts are present in everyday life. I focused my life and studies on Music, in many different ways. I studied the piano since 6 years old, but then I was soon interested in more musical disciplines: ensemble, composition, music writing, counterpoint, harmony… After graduation in Piano Performance, I started another program in Composition and another one in Orchestra Conducting. I think those two additional approaches brought a new vision in my piano playing.

Who (or what) inspires you to do what you love?

My second piano teacher, Georges Deppe, is certainly the most inspirational figure of my musical development. He taught me from age 9 until 20. But his teaching was much broader than just piano. Each class would last for three hours at least and include subjects such as Physics, Arts, Philosophy, Morality and many others, all in relation to Music and piano playing. He made me see the world through music, gave me the ability to find Music in anything, or find any meaning or description within Music.
That was a direct inspiration. But I think I also got many indirect inspirations through Cinema, exhibitions, personalities, a painting, a song …

Where do you get your inspiration from when you compose or perform at a concert?

During a performance, I like to get inspired by the surroundings. What is the atmosphere of the location? The temperature, the smell. How does the sound travel from the stage to the listeners? What other sounds will interact? Who do I play with? How many people will sit?
When there is a great audience, it is very inspiring to hear the heavy silence of 100 people holding their breath, trying not to move or make any noise. Sometimes, I have the feeling that I can hear their heart beat (but that might just be my imagination!).

What are the five words that people who know you would use to describe you?

I asked two of my good friends here in Chiang Mai. The first one said engaged, outgoing and colourful. The other friend thought I was crazy intense and elegant. Both so different! If you would like to add any, please help yourself!

Tell us about your very first job and what path have you taken since then?

When I was 15, I was selected to be the pianist for a demonstration of new teaching techniques with piano and computers. The experience was great and it was then my biggest audience with 1200 people. It was very impressive for me. But I didn’t get paid, so I don’t think we can call it a job.
I was 18 for my very first real job. I was then a student at the Brussels Royal Music Conservatory. After class, I would go to a big concert hall in the city. My job was to help the audience find their seat in the hall. It doesn’t sound like a fantastic job at first, but actually I got to see amazing musicians on stage and backstage several times a week. It was definitely an inspiration.
My first paid job as a pianist was during summer break. It was a Broadway Musical production and touring in France. I really liked the fact that the stage would have lights, smoke, dancers and singers. It was very busy and visual. I always like to add visuals, even to a regular piano concert. I think the experience has more emotional charge if many senses are involved.

What make you choose Chiangmai as your new home?

Chiang Mai is very charming to me. It has the feeling of mountain village but it has the facilities of a big city. It is also quite convenient to fly directly for performances to other places like Bangkok, Singapore etc Chiang Mai also offers great living conditions, housing, food, spa. All you need for a good, healthy and inspiring life. I love to take my motorcycle and just drive out in the mountains.
AUA Chiangmai

As an Expat what are the advantage and disadvantage living away from home?

To be absolutely honest, I don’t see disadvantage of being away from home. I think that purposely decided to make Chiang Mai my new home. I don’t miss friends or family because they all love to come and visit Amazing Thailand. One great advantage of living as an expat is the freedom that you can feel. In Belgium, I know most of the musicians, and even if many of them are good friends, there is a lot of competition and there is also some very conservative musicians who don’t like musicians who try to go beyond boundaries. In another continent, I feel free to experiment and collaborate with all kind of artists.

As a  Musician, what is your biggest frustration?

That is a very easy question! I think most pianists would answer the same: it is very frustrating that we cannot carry our instrument around. For every concert or performance, we have to adapt to a different piano. Sometimes, it’s a great one, sometimes it is a catastrophe! But that is what pianists have to deal with…
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6 Hand 1 Piano- Rossini’s Barber of Seville

Can you please tell us about how do you connect with other artists, and your audience/fans (i.e. how do you network)?

Unfortunately, I am very old-fashioned and the computer is one of my worst terrors! I usually use posters and flyers, like the old days but I really need to explore modern ways to connect with other artists and audience. Do you any suggestion? I do have you tube videos and I am trying to work on a My Space page but it’s all quite undeveloped so far.

What advice can you offer other creative people who are just starting out and following their passions?

Never compare yourself with the others. Take the inspiration you can from them, give them inspiration if they want it, share the most possible. All artistic interactions should be about sharing, exchanging. If you do it for the sake of the Music or the sake of the Art, not for you own popularity, then you get closer to the truth.

What dreams do you still want to achieve or fulfil in your life?

I have many extravagant dreams, like a concert under the sea or in a cave, experimental recordings about sound spacing, a piano on the back of a truck touring around small villages in the countryside or in the desert…

What is your proudest moment so far?

I would say the 2 concerts that I performed accompanied by an orchestra. The first time with Brussels Symphony Orchestra and the second time with H.O. Bangkok Philharmonic Orchestra. The feeling to be supported by a hundred musicians is just amazing. The sound is so incredible. I would do that again anytime!

Who do you most want to meet and why?

There are certainly a thousand people that I would like to meet.
I would love to meet conductor Leonard Bernstein. He has so much musical knowledge, but mostly his aura brings the orchestra together. Even when he makes jokes, he has an extreme intensity about him that I believe no one could ever forget. But if you ask me the same question another day, I might think of Dalai Lama, Salvadore Dali, Andy Warhol, Franz Liszt…
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6 hands 1 Piano- Rachmaninoff’s Waltz

What is the most important lesson in life that you have learned?

I believe you learn lessons every day. And I think I still have a lot to learn!

What book are you reading right now, and do you have a book you would like to recommend?

I just finished Dorian by Will Self, which is contemporary transposition of Oscar Wilde’s classic Dorian Grey’s Portrait. My favourite novel is Rayuela by Julio Cortazar. But for artists in general, I would certainly recommend Letters to a young poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. I think it describes the ultimate position artists could take towards the Arts.

How do we contact you? 


Vinh Van Lam
the authorVinh Van Lam
Vinh Van Lam, co-founder of ArtSHINE, is a visionary art coach and entrepreneur with a passion for fostering creativity. With a diverse background in art and business, he brings a unique perspective to empower emerging artists, enabling them to thrive in the dynamic art industry through the innovative platform of ArtSHINE.

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