Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Eric Speed and His Vorpal Violin

A few weeks ago, Eric Speed and his violin went viral. Speed covered the classic song Maniac and produced a music video—collaborating with a slew of other artists from his hometown of Montreal—that set the song to a Scott Pilgrim-style real-life arcade adventure. Eric Speed is already internationally known, having set a world record and having been invited to Italy to perform a private show, but Speed’s Maniac video connected him with a new audience, an audience that admires creativity and shares his fascination with video games. I was fortunate enough to talk with Speed about his career and his aspirations, which was somewhat of a challenge because English is not his first language, but he gave me an insight into the mind of a musician bent on changing his industry. If you haven't seen the video, watch it now:

MC: How did you get started as a musician?

ES: I was three when I started to play violin. The violin was so little, and I still have it. I remember doing 4-5 hours of music a day. I took private class in a little place. When I hit my 9 years old I got a special audition to enter the Conservatory of Montreal. Twelve years later, I got my Baccalaureate and a lot of skill thanks to all my teachers making me sweat by practicing so much.

MC: What are some of your major influences?

ES: Good question. I really like the soundtracks of video games and movies. If I don’t think too much, the first answers are these ones: Queen, Elton John, 80’s music, Bon Jovi, and Coldplay. I can say that I’m picky with music, but if the song is simply catchy, I will embrace it.

MC: When did you start gravitating toward your current style of music?

ES: People who know me know that I’m “speedy.” I’m always running, doing three things at the same time. Living very fast and sleeping very little. It’s the same with my violin. I like to play fast, as fast as I can. For me, it’s like adrenaline. You know, last summer I broke the record for fastest violinist in the world, and I did that for fun. I practiced very hard, but it was still fun.

MC: What's your most memorable moment as a musician?

ES: Last summer I did a big wedding for a very rich man in Venice, Italy. It was so beautiful. Three huge stages were custom made for the wedding, there were flowers everywhere, and over 350 technicians and musicians were there. I got my four minutes of glory in front of people from around the world. I was playing one my tracks (Rediscovering Powers, on my second album). Shakira and Gotan project each did a concert two days before the wedding!

MC: How did the idea for the Maniac cover and music video come about?

ES: I really like the 80's. I never really liked the movie Flash Dance, but this track haunted me for more than four years. I was sure that I could do something with it. I’m so proud to have done this video clip, which I also produced and wrote the script for with my very cool friend Pierre-Luc Boucher, the director.

MC: What was your process for putting the video together? Where did you find the talent to help you?

ES: Montreal is a big community of artists. Just think about the Jazz Festival and The Just for Laughs Festival. And every day there is a concert somewhere in town. So I met different people, especially Bboy (break dancers), and different musicians. We shared a lot, and they liked the violin. Who doesn’t like the violin by the way? It’s the instrument of the heart.

MC: Was the viral success of the video a surprise to you?

ES: Well yes for sure, you never know when it will happen, but one thing is for sure: I can't say thank you enough for all the fans that share that video! Thank you all!

MC: What projects are you working on now?

ES: Well I have so much in my mind, you have no idea. I'm working on a big movie script, working also on my third album (I will release the first single on iTunes in two weeks). Also, I have another cover song that I want to do for sure with another video clip, but one thing at a time.

MC: What do you see in your future? What are your goals?

ES: Well it will depend on two things: Is the future ready to accept a Electro violinist into the music industry? And if yes, will they be able to follow the fastest violinist who also has some crazy ideas? Because when people ask me about what my ultimate goal is, I answer them. There isn’t a Michael Jackson of the violin in music history yet, right? I will take my chance.

Special thanks to Speed for the interview and to his collaborators for helping him to produce a great video. Give Speed's latest album a listen by clicking the link below.

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