Interview with 15 year old jazz pianist Will Kibel
On March 25, 2020 long-time BJA member and professional woodwind player Seth Kibel live-streamed a concert from his basement with his son Will on piano. This was my first time hearing Will, who did an impressive job accompanying his father and soloing through a wide-ranging repertoire of jazz standards and two of Seth’s originals, including a klezmer tune.
I interviewed Will, a freshman at McDonogh School, on April 9, 2020.
BJ: Can you tell me about your first musical experience?
WK: From a very young age I was going to my father’s gigs. That early exposure really helped jump-start my “career”. At age three I went to him and said I wanted to learn how to play real piano, and at age four he got me lessons.
BJ: Why piano?
WK: It’s pretty easy to pick up at that age. It’s a good basis for musical knowledge if you start with piano.
BJ: What has your music education been?
WK: I took a few early lessons at Peabody. Next I moved on to classical music for a little bit, and then I wanted to learn to play jazz. I started playing lead sheets and accompanying at age seven or eight. I took private lessons with Ms. Lee Cooper and then Jeffrey Chappell, who works at Goucher College.
BJ: How did you start improvising?
WK: Before I knew how to improvise, I would just repeat the melody. Then I started to have my own little flairs and that turned into improvising. I used to fool around on the piano and software. When I was about ten or eleven I came up with this progression or melody I really liked on Finale. Then I moved on to more complex chord progressions and what-not.
BJ: I learned from your live-stream that you compose electronic music. Please tell me about that.
WK: For about four years I’ve been producing and writing electronic music. It’s become one of my main focuses. I’ve been trying to intertwine electronic and jazz music. I host under the name Audix.
BJ: Who are your favorite jazz artists? Why?
WK: I’m a big Dave Brubeck fan. His Time Out album is one of the first I got for myself. In “Three To Get Ready,” he starts with a simple waltz, then gets progressively more complex and jazzy. It’s really impressive and sounds really good. I listen to a lot of more modern artists and fusions of electronic and jazz, such as a Canadian called Anomalie, Kamasi Washington, and Mark Lettieri, who’s more on the funk side.
BJ: Who do you like in other genres? Why?
WK: I like a lot of electronic music, drums, and bass. There’s this one underground artist, Defsharp. He does a good job of inserting music theory into the electronic world, which doesn’t often happen.
BJ: Have you played with anyone other than your father?
WK: I’ve done a few solo gigs under the electronic music name Audix.
BJ: What would you like to accomplish musically that you haven’t yet?
WK: I want to get infinitely better at my jazz stuff. I want to organize my compositions enough to make an album, to put an album out there into the world. I’m trying to branch out instrument-wise, into bass and guitar.
BJ: What are your non-music interests?
WK: I’m a big fan of programming and game design. I play a lot of video games. I want to work on creative writing. But music is definitely my main hobby.
[If you search Youtube.com for “Will Kibel” you can see the above video and also one of Will at age eight, playing a boogie-woogie version of “C Jam Blues” in front of a large audience of senior citizens. Will’s electronic music site is soundcloud.com/audix-music].