What inspired you to go for the Guinness World Record for most piano key strikes in one minute?
As a student I always played pieces much faster than they were meant to be played and my teachers and friends always joked I should break this Guinness World Record, “it’s a perfect fit for me”.
How did you train for that?
I had to practice how to avoid muscle tension in my arms, because keeping up intensive repetitive and fast playing for a long time is really hard. I also did rehearsals, recording myself and counting the notes in slow motion just to make sure I broke the record.
I understand Portuguese-American pianist Domingos-Antonio Gomes set a new Guinness World Record with 824 key strikes in 2017 – do you hope to claim back the title?
I don’t think so. I only did it for fun, there is really no point to do it again.
Your piano covers have a distinctive edgy, percussive feel – how did you arrive at this sound?
When I was a small kid I also wanted to play the drums, but didn’t have the opportunity, now I think these old desires are making their way into my music today. I was also inspired by Michael Jackson, the way he interpreted his music made me realise I wanted to do the same, but on piano.
Peter Bence. Photo © Simone de Luca
What got you into film scoring and how has that influenced your performing and recording?
Star Wars was the first movie I became such a huge fan of, not just the movie, but the film score as well. It actually inspired me to become a film composer and made me apply to Berklee College of Music in Boston, where I even met John Williams after his concerts with the Boston Pops Orchestra. Film music opened my eyes and activated my taste buds for all kinds of different music, before that I was a classical music geek.
Who have been your greatest musical influences? Are there any pianists you particularly look up to?
I had many throughout my childhood like Mozart, Chopin, Bach or Bartók, later John Williams, Hans Zimmer, then Michael Jackson, who definitely shaped my craft a lot.
Today I draw inspiration from pretty much anybody or anything, even chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Raymond Blanc or Jamie Oliver, Gennarro Contaldo (because I love to cook a lot) and every day I find some similarities and parallels between making music and making food.
You’ve had massive success online with your music – was there a moment when you felt like you had “made it”?
There was a point when I’ve done Michael Jackson’s Bad, but only to later realise you never really “make it”, the journey never ends, and it’s important to move onto the next thing and the thing after with the same enthusiasm.
It’s like traveling the world. The more you see, the more you realise you saw actually very little.
What will you be playing on your Australian tour?
I’ll be playing the songs and covers everyone expects from me, and I’ll also play some of my original music from the album I’m about to release (The Awesome Piano), which are super exciting for me to share with the audience, because I think of myself more of a composer than a performer and I finally get to share this side of me as well.
Peter Bence tours to Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney April 7 to 22