Lampoon, Sofiane Pamart portrait
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The rebel pianist of France – Sofiane Pamart is mixing neoclassical with rap music

Childhood and adolescence split between conservatory and street. This is how Pamart’s love for classical music and rap grew and gave results


Born in a suburb of Lille and based in Paris, Sofiane Pamart is known as the rebel pianist of French music for his habit to break the elitist codes of classical piano with his compositions, also bringing his neoclassical style in rap and hip hop.

Despite the Gold Medal obtained at the Conservatoire de Lille for his technical and interpretative skills, he took a different track to the typical classical music path. After the success of his debut album, Planet (2019), his sophomore record, titled Letter, has just come out via the label PIAS.

The love story with piano, the king of instruments

A certain distance from the classical repertoire and from the classical vision appears, despite his ability and technique. But his relationship with the piano reveals a love story with this instrument and with classical music, too.

It began when Pamart was just a little kid. «When I was three or four years old my mother bought me a small keyboard, one of those with only twelve keys. She discovered that I was able to find notes of melodies I was listening to the radio or in movies. Of course, at that time I was playing like a baby can do, but I was doing it the right way and she realized that I was enjoying it so much. I used to play music from cartoons like Dragon Ball-Z, Sailor Moon, or movies like The Godfather.» 

So, Pamart’s mother was right and she decided to enroll his son in a music school two years later, when he was six years old. «There I discovered classical music. We did not listen to classical music at home, but my mom dreamed of these instruments while she was watching people on the TV playing piano. When she saw me with my little keyboard, she had the vision of me doing the same. She told me that in a documentary somebody described the piano as the king of instruments, so she realized she wanted that for me».

Sofiane Pamart’s own music

It didn’t take long for Pamart to understand he preferred to compose his own music, instead of performing other’s compositions. «When I was around seven years old, because I was able to play piano quite good at that age, every time we were with my family all together at home, they asked me to play something at the piano: sometimes I didn’t know what to play so I just improvised, pretending that it was something from a classical composer, like Beethoven, Mozart or Chopin.

Instead, I was just improvising something, but they believed me because they weren’t musicians and they didn’t know classical music. Seeing my music being able to inspire emotions made me realize I was capable of creating my own music. Then, from 11 years old to 16-17 years old, I did not have time for composing my music, because I had so much work from the conservatory. I had to learn many classical pieces, studying all day. I started again later, rediscovering something that I have known for years».

Exploring new world, driven by atmosphere

Today Sofiane Pamart is famous for his collaborations with many French rappers and hip hop artists. Including Koba LaD, Vald, Maes, Sneazzy, Hugo TSR, Scylla, Lord Esperanza, Frenetik and Dinos. Not so strange, considering he grew up in the suburbs of Lille with other guys, who probably listened to or made rap. «Rap and hip hop culture have always been very close to me. My life, especially during my childhood, was split in music conservatory and the world outside, the street, listening to rap music with people of my neighborhood and from the same background. So it has been natural for me to play with rap artists, because they were like the people that I grew up with.»

classical musical and great masters

Despite a desire to explore new territories, those that Pamart considers his greatest masters are mostly from classical music. «Chopin is my favorite composer. Even at night, his pieces are playable. It’s like you can speak for yourself with the piano and you don’t need anything more, in fact this is something I did so many times: not sleeping at night, just playing music and telling stories to my piano and listening to the stories that my piano tells me.

Then, I was a big fan of Vladimir Horowitz, even if he was an old man not from my generation, because he was perfect in the way he expressed emotions. I have always felt inspired by Maria Callas, too, and I love her capacity to find the best way to sing phrases and sentences, giving them intensity and feelings. One of the most important masters for me has been the French pianist Henry Barda: I had the honor of meeting him and he told me so many things about music.»

From classical music to other genres, more contemporary, Sofiane Pamart is looking for atmosphere and emotions.
«Today I often listen to quiet music and minimal electro music. Sometimes I listen to funk music and calm jazz. That makes you into a mood where you can imagine people smoking cigars in the room and playing poker. It makes me imagine scenes from ancient movies».

Lampoon, Sofiane Pamart
Sofiane Pamart is known as the rebel pianist of French music

Letter, the new album from Sofiane Pamart

Letter is Pamart’s new album, written in the last two years during a long trip in Asia, across six countries: Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan. An impressive journey, full of colors, scents, sensations

«In every place I have a piano and I like to compose while traveling, because I want to be surprised by life every day, discovering new things that make me creative. Being in Asia is something that made my senses more prepared to listen to myself, because everything is very different from Paris, where I live. For example, Singapore is impressive: driving in the streets, you see lights and contemporary architecture, but also cows and traditional clothes, and you feel to be in a place where traditions meet modern culture. That atmosphere has been a big source of inspiration. I was with my piano on an upper floor of a building, so I composed new music while I was looking at that beautiful view».

about isolation, loneliness, distance

Not only places, but also people and their stories are in the middle of Sofiane Pamart’s songs. He talks about distance and absence in love in his first single from Letter, called Love. A topic that sounds familiar to many people from the last two years of life in a pandemic with situations of isolation, lockdown, quarantine, or emergency. Remembering to keep the distance every time, with people we love and miss, too.

«The meaning of the song is twofold: from one side, it comes from the situation we have lived in the past two years with the emergency linked to the pandemic and its consequences, such as isolation, loneliness, distance, but on the other side it comes also from the condition of the artist’s life. As an artist I am always traveling, moving from one country to another to play gigs, so living a love story can be very exciting and intense but also difficult and tiring. On the other hand, not all the people are willing to accept it.»

Nature and environment: love for the Planet

Beyond the cities and people’s life, in Pamart’s imagery – music, photos and videos – the natural element seems to be important. 

«Nature for me is perfection. Sometimes I would like to recreate what nature offers to us like a painter does. This is also one of the reasons I play the piano and I compose music: I know that I cannot be a painter, I can’t paint at all, but I know I can try to work with my piano and my music at the same way, as if I were painting with the keys on my piano».

Pamart is sensitive to environmental issues, like climate change, even if he has never publicly expressed his involvement. «Environmental issues, nature, and the environment on Earth are very interesting to me. I called my first album Planet because it is something urgent for me. It shouldn’t be a political issue, this is our planet and we should make sure it is in excellent health. The more love we give to Planet, the more love we receive from it».

Planete

The same word (in French), Planete, is also the title of a book that Pamart. It has been released with his manager and friend Guillame Héritier, co-director with him of some music videos. The project is a collection of photos and poems by them.

«My relationship with Guillame Héritier is special, because he’s my manager – and he is a top manager  in France – but he’s also an artist and I like to have a manager that is able to understand me as an artist, to make music video clips, to take pictures. Even we write together, traveling around the world for work. We discover new things together and sometimes, because everything happens fast, we write about our emotions on the road to not forget them and not lose the inspiration from the moment. We started to write together about four years ago and at one point we had a lot of material that could have become a book, putting together our writings and pictures that remind us to always be astonished by nature and life»

The Piano King NFT collection

Curious and forward-looking, Sofiane Pamart has been a pioneer in the world of NFTs, having yet created a collection called The Piano King NFT. «I built this collection to offer more access, more privileges to people that would like to invest in my career. So I offer the opportunity to have private listings of my music or private gigs or to assist in rehearsal before one of my shows. It is also a way to build a community that makes people meet each other, exchanging experiences and things.

In fact, when you buy one NFT, you have a key to access to a kind of membership and this is intended to allow people who believe in me and in my music to bet on my career and, at the same time, to allow me to continue to be a free artist. My career went so fast within two-three years and getting one of my NFT is just a bet on how my career will go on into three, four or five years. Who knows what I can add to my music journey, what roads I will take. This is the philosophy of the NFT community»

As Pamart says, «It is an opportunity for musicians or artists, but it requires many technical skills to make it smart and sustainable. I’m surrounded by a staff of expert technicians: technology is also one of my passions, so I used to attend many IT technicians and I could choose trustworthy people to work with, but this kind of activity can also be very dangerous with the round of money that is around it. Then, this kind of opportunity makes us think a lot about the music industry and its role in artists’ careers».

collaborations with fashion brands

In all things, passion is what drives Pamart, who have also collaborated with many fashion brands.

«Especially luxury brands and the way they tell their stories inspire and fascinate me. The passion, the skills and the care you need to make a very specific jewel, for example, are the same I need to compose a piece of music. The relationship they create between the time, the work, the story and the dream. With fashion we can use our look, our style and clothes as a language. It is a game you can decide to play or not and I like to play it.»

Sofiane Pamart 


Sofiane Pamart is a rebel pianist of French music for his collaborations with many rappers and hip hop artists. After his debut album, Planet (2019), he has just published the new record, Letter.

Claudia Galal

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

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