Interview – Anton Commissaris

Anton Commissaris’ track, Living My Life, was featured recently in a round-up review and playlist I completed based around music with elements of the blues. Whilst it does have bluesy parts to it, Anton’s music is also rather jazzy, making it sound very diverse. You can find out more about him here:

By Jane Howkins

You recently released a song titled Living My Life, which we reviewed. What can you tell us about the track, and where can it be purchased?

I was writing a song for a friends milestone birthday about how life is for living, as he is such a bon vivant. During that process, this song appeared from my subconscious, but it was blues-based and seemed to carry a message, so I ran with it. The song conjures an image of a guy in a bar who has seen his ups and downs in life, telling a young lady with troubles on her mind (a sister) and then a young gent (a brother) and then everyone in the bar, to just get on with life as best you can. In the end, it’s a waste of energy to fret over things you can’t change or control, so just try and live your life to the fullest degree, like the singer tries to do.

What does the title refer to?

The singer is living his life as best he can despite the inevitability of setbacks. It’s how you cope with those that are important.

Has the pandemic hindered your work much?

It has hindered it on the performance side, but it has more than made up for it on the creative side, as I’ve written more songs than usual.

What is the writing and recording process like for you?

I don’t typically try to write a song. If I do, it might be ineffectual and stilted. Rather, I wait until an idea comes to me from out of the blue and I capture it. Usually, it’s just the initial melody and lyrics. I develop the song and see what story unfolds with accompanying harmonies. Then I sit down at the piano and reverse engineer what has formed in my mind by finding the key signature, chords and melodies. I write these out on a lead sheet in notation format.

I then engineer a demo to practice singing the song and work on all the horn arrangements with my musical director. In terms of recording, I have a band rehearsal and then go into the studio to capture all the instrumentation sounds, followed by the vocals. From there, it’s a mixing and mastering process to finalize the recording in a professional recording studio environment.

Do you plan to release any more singles in the near future?

Yes, I’m about to release another EP, and there will be a couple of singles rolling off that. I haven’t decided which songs will be the singles yet though.

Can you tell us more about the new EP?

Yes, my new EP, entitled Awakening Sounds, should be out by the end of March of this year.

What/who influences you most as an artist?

In terms of composing music, I was most inspired by the beautiful works of Lennon-McCartney and, earlier, Cole Porter. Frank Sinatra is a male vocal influence, but I’m also partial to Ray Charles and Donny Hathway. I need look no further than the great Sarah Vaughan, Etta James, and Ms. Lauryn Hill on the ladies of jazz and soul side.

What have you been listening to recently?

I’ve been digging back into The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill because it’s a beautiful blast from the past. The lady is a once in a generation talent!

Where are you based?

I’m based in the San Francisco Bay Area, otherwise known as Silicon Valley – in Menlo Park, which neighbours Stanford University.

What is the music scene like in your part of the world? Are you influenced by your surroundings?

Yes, in terms of the nature that I see which is beautiful around where I live. A lot of these natural images will show up in my song lyrics. I also use hikes in the surrounding hills, by the bay and along the coast to dream up new melodies.

There’s quite a bit of good music in San Francisco, but things are also picking up on the Peninsula, further south around Palo Alto and Menlo Park. Many world class musicians perform at Stanford’s concert halls and arenas. Recently, a retro movie house was turned into a state of the art concert theatre in Menlo Park called The Guild. There are some fantastic acts lined up.

Do you have any tour dates lined up?

Not right now.

What can people expect from one of your shows, and why should people come and see you perform live?

Warmth, empathy and humour. Musical conversation and connection.

Any last words for the fans?

I hope they enjoy that I’m trying to put a modern, blues-based and soul-soaked spin on jazz.