Doug Hammer is a friend and fellow solo piano artist of mine. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know him over the years, and he’s such a good and decent human being to tour with. Below is an interview with him. At the end of the interview I’ll include a playlist where you can listen to our music as well as several other solo piano artists.
PW: Please tell us about your background?
DH: I’ve always been involved in music. I started piano at age 6 and never looked back. Very much interested in Science, especially space exploration, but couldn’t pull myself away from music and didn’t want to. I played an assortment of instruments in school band: trumpet, trombone, baritone horn, drums and percussion, tympani, xylophone, marimba, etc. Even triangle. That was hard one. But piano has been my first love and will always be. Music isn’t something I do, it’s who I am.
PW: What did you want to be when you grew up?
DH: In music, I idolized Sting and Peter Gabriel. I wanted to be a pop star. I wrote a number of pop tunes but the vocals were never there and could only improve so much. I decided to focus on my strengths: composition, piano, arranging and music production. But if I wasn’t in music, I wanted to work for NASA, specifically JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and robotic (and later human) missions to Mars.
PW: How old were you when you first started playing the piano?
DH: They inserted a small keyboard in my mother’s womb. But seriously, we had a Wurlitzer spinet at my house (my Dad used to play) and I would tinker with it when I was 4 or 5, maybe younger. I was already responding to music form the very beginning.
PW: Who where your earliest music influences?
DH: Man, there are so many. I always gravitated to pop music and the 80’s were my decade so Peter Gabriel, Sting, Kate Bush, Howard Jones, Thomas Dolby. I took classical piano lessons as well and so I have to include Bach, Handel, Mozart, Debussy. My musical influences grew to include so many genres. Film music: John Williams, James Horner, Jerry Goldsmith, Alan Silvestri. I love some country and folk: Emmylou Harris, Mary Chapin Carpenter. I can go on and on.
PW: What got you into playing the piano?
DH: It’s just always been there. Luckily, we had that Wurlitzer spinet in my house. My feet barely reached the pedals back then.
When did you know that you wanted to be a solo piano artist?
After I went to Berklee College of Music, I started my own recording studio and production company: Dreamworld Productions. I love working with artists and making music. After helping so many artists, I decided to focus on my own music. I wanted to start out with something simple. No lush orchestrations or production. I wanted my compositions stripped down and distilled to just piano. I started understanding how pure and immediate that could be and so I really focused on it. Glad I did! I’m branching out more now with different kinds of music and production but I always come back to solo piano.
PW: What inspires you musically?
DH: So many things. I like to say everything. It’s all input. Nature is a biggie. I like quiet, well except for the birds and the crickets and the wind rustling through the leaves. I find a lot of music there…
PW: Your most favorite song in your catalog?
DH: They’re all my kids so I don’t have a favorite.
PW: Biggest joy in your career/life?
DH: Touring with Philip Wesley! Well, that’s up there for sure! We’ve had fun (and will again!). My two boys are my greatest joy. My wife, family and friends. Career-wise, there was that time I played Carnegie Hall on my birthday. Very memorable! I love performing and having that immediate connection with the audience. So much of what we do is solitary so it’s great to get out there and connect with listeners.
PW: Biggest struggle in your career/life?
DH: I’m lucky that I really haven’t had much struggle in my life. There have been family health things that were very trying, but we push on and triumph.
PW: Advice you’d give to up and coming artists?
DH: We live in such an instant time. Everything now. Things can take time, to nurture, grow and develop. There are no instant careers. It’s hard now that everything is so number-related. Subscribers, followers, views, charts, streams, etc… What if one of your songs helps one person in a difficult moment? There’s value there. Keep putting your music out there. You never know what it will do and where it will bring you.
PW: How do you want to be remembered?
DH: I don’t think about that. I would love for my music to live on and continue to touch people. It’s quite cool. To create something that has its own energy and can keep doing its thing long after you’re gone.
PW: Thanks Doug! I look forward to touring with you again one day after this covid stuff is over.
Now here’s a Spotify playlist with our music as well as other artists. Listen HERE