For many, classical music has long seemed like an inaccessible thing, an old-fashioned ivory tower institution – aka not something that would instantly spring to mind when making your daily playlists.
But one person swiftly changing these preconceptions is Alexis Ffrench, a UK-based pianist and composer, bringing soul influences and flavour to classical music. And it’s about time too.
From stints at Latitude Festival to this year’s Classic BRIT Awards at the Royal Albert Hall – there’s no guarantees when it comes to Ffrench, except that people are hyped on his stuff. One million active Spotify listeners and over 75 million streams of his independently released music? Casual.
We chat to the musician below…
I read that you started out by imagining piano keys and “playing” the dining room table – how did you progress into making actual music?
From playing the kitchen table and pretending to the music of greats like Stevie Wonder, I progressed to an actual piano shortly before my 5th birthday. I think my parents tired of hearing the relentless finger tapping!
How would you describe your music?
Classical soul – music to escape to.
Who did you listen to growing up?
Stevie Wonder, Sam Cooke, Nat King Cole, Bob Marley and a lot of Chopin.
How do you think this music has influenced your music?
The soulful expression, lyricism and honesty expressed in the music I listened to at that time is what I responded to the most. Unbridled honesty, having something to say and passion is what’s important, whatever the genre.
We’re interested by your mission to ‘cross-pollinate’ genres – do you think classical music and mainstream pop can merge?
I want to democratise classical music and create a ‘borderless’ landscape in which there are no barriers. I definitely think this can be achieved and I would like to lead that charge.