What he does: It might seem like a simple question: What do you do? For composer-pianist Kris Becker, it's not a simple answer. "First I laugh," Becker says. "Then I consider my audience. And then I try not to confuse people out of their minds." His success rate with that varies.
"At my core, I am a nu-classical composer-pianist." The order in which he uses terms like rock, fusion and classical to describe his style depends on what he's working on at the moment.
Becker has described himself as "classically trained, jazz-influenced, with rock and roll sensibilities." What exactly does that mean? "Mostly it means I use classical skills to create music that most people wouldn't call classical."
Why he likes it: "The process of creating is one of my favorite things in the world. I get in a zone and write, write, write. I'm not even aware of anything around me. That's not always good, because sometimes I don't take care of myself. I enjoy recording, although that's really very different from performing. Basically when I'm recording, it's just me and the audio engineer.
"When I walk into a room, people say, 'Oh, that's Kris Becker, that guy who created such-and-such, not Kris Becker, that guy who performed such-and-such'; I like that. What I don't like so much is grueling day-in, day-out things that a classical composer has to do, like tidy up scores and [musical housekeeping chores]. I don't mind the tasks, but it can get very, very grueling."
What inspires him: Becker says he's never at a loss for ideas. "I tend to get ideas pretty much all the time. I carry a recorder and make notes about ideas that come to me through the day.
There are some times when I say, okay, I want to write a piano fantasy and I want it to be about such-and-such." He admits that technique isn't always productive. "I can sit there and try to eek out an idea from pure intellectual force, but that never works out. It's usually just horrible. Most of the time I just sit down and something comes out of my fingers; it's the most bizarre thing.
"We all have a life that was lived and that comes into play. Whatever's going on in my day-to-day life is sure to pop through. A friend of mine told me once, 'I can't wait to see what kind of music you write once you get married.' And he was right; things changed."
If not this, then what: "As a kid, the astronaut thing was appealing. As an adult, a couple of other things have crossed my mind, including NASCAR driver. I would love to win the Daytona 500. I would like to be a writer, addressing truth and policy and everything. But I know none of that would never happen. I'm not built for that. I'm doing what I want to do."
If not here, then where: "Texas is a fantastic place for classical music, specifically classical piano. In spite of all the other influences and audiences in the state, classical music is really appreciated here. Would my music require me to live somewhere else? That's been a question lately. At this stage in my career, every time I've considered moving to New York or LA, I've decided against it. There may be the time when that is the right thing to do, but it hasn't been yet. Every time I consider it, opportunities arise here.
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"I do need to get in the European scene; I think what I do would play well there. Now, as to how to do that, I have no clue, but I may need to figure it out one day."
What's next: "Right now getting in front of people is my primary goal," Becker says. He points to lots more on the horizon including another classical album, some recording with his rock band and some videos that are ready to go. "I want to take my name to the next level, whatever that might look like."
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