MISSTIQ: SELF MADE
I started learning classical piano at the age of 6 and gradually developed an interest for heavy music in my teen years. Instead of practicing for my classical piano exams, I would learn practice songs within my interest that I found online as sheet music. I knew I should have been putting more effort into practicing my exam repertoire, but it was much more important to me to truly enjoy what I was doing and embrace my blooming originality. I felt like this could lead to something big. Customising my practice regime increased my enjoyment and interest in music as a piano student, allowing me to continue learning the instrument and later gaining a Licentiate Diploma in practical piano and theory.
Over time, I got to a point where I got bored of playing other people's versions. Plus, there was only a limited amount of songs available anyway. I had the determination to learn songs of bands that didn't even exist on the internet as piano sheet music (Avenged Sevenfold, Parkway Drive, Bullet For My Valentine, I Killed The Prom Queen). What started off as mimicking guitar riffs lead to full song arrangements. That is when I decided to learn how to arrange full length songs by ear all on my own.
My less than average self-esteem and confidence in high school affected my motivation to excel academically. However, I found myself to be getting better with my arranging and was constantly analysing various heavy songs. My growing ability to arrange heavy songs on piano sparked my confidence as a person as I didn't know any other people that could do the same; I didn't compare myself to anyone and still don't to this day. I've always firmly believed that every moment we spend comparing ourselves to others is a moment we waste upon our greatness. Although I didn't have the motive to participate in many school events nor have the courage to put my hand up in class, I still truly felt that I will do something great with my music and have more pride in myself. At the age of 14, I developed an interest in drumming as it was one of the most contrasting instruments from the piano; the technique, sound and sensation felt while playing it. I was signed up to drum lessons for one school term. My progress in these lessons skyrocketed; I was sight reading pieces above my expected level; I felt like this was finally a right path for me. However, I had to cancel my lessons as I believe my parents wanted me to solely focus on learning piano. I always wonder what sort of musician I'd be if I continued to avidly learn the drums. It is never too late to learn, though, and I hope to buy myself a nice kit one day in the future to 'catch up' and perfect the skills I missed out on.
Deciding on further studies after high school was quite straight forward for me: I wanted to study music as that was my primary interest. Towards the end of my final high school year, my parents bought me by first mini synth that I used to help me record a bunch of contrasting songs for my university audition. I got accepted into The University of Melbourne to study music composition and continued to learn who I was and how I thought as a musician. I learnt how to produce music writing for film, video games, and developed my understanding on how to arrange and orchestrate. A few months into my first year of study, I started teaching piano at the music school I was taught at. Knowing that I am making a positive difference towards my students' lives kept me energised and motivated in my teaching. After completing my Bachelor's Degree, I took one year off to focus on myself and travel to Poland and England to visit my family for a couple months. The following year and a half was devoted to my Master of Teaching degree at The University of Melbourne which was influenced by my piano teaching. I wanted to broaden the spectrum by being legally certified to be an instrumental piano and/or classroom music teacher at schools.
I graduated from my Master's late 2017 and have been working as a Casual Replacement Teacher (CRT) since mid 2017. I get a call very early in the morning when a school needs a teacher for any subject, school and grade. I still teach as a piano teacher two other days a week after-school hours. On top of that, I work as a freelance session pianist as advertised on this website, plus I manage Misstiq and my band Don't Die Like I Did.
Misstiq began the summer after I completed my first year at uni. My ability in producing music increased which gave me the confidence to put a Parkway Drive arrangement out on YouTube. I came up with the name Misstiq many years prior this moment as it was my PlayStation Network name. I've always been into the mystical and unknown world of aliens, spirits and conspiracy theories, and I still am. The way my videos from the first couple of years look and sound are very different from my most recent videos. I used to mic up my family's upright piano and mix it with my limited skills. The mic lead ran from my room upstairs to the piano in the downstairs study. I even filmed myself playing some arrangements wearing my pyjamas. The setup was stressful, so my parents got me an 88-key Roland digital piano which I use to this day.
I frequently upload a 'raw jam' covers a week to my Facebook to show people I am not all about editing and tuning my music. Every few weeks, I upload a full-length arrangement which is just solo piano. From these two examples, I want people to see how interesting an existing song can sound with added piano and allow them to appreciate the art of arranging. I create these piano arrangements to also show my appreciation of music as an art form. They allow me to embrace my originality and express my strong belief that no matter what your interests are, you can always connect them together in an exciting and unique way, making something special out of it which can also be admired by others.
My arranging process is generally the same for each song. Firstly, I listen to the song and write out all of the sections on the whiteboard and write key words in each section: if there is a guitar melody in verse 1, my whiteboard reads V1 guitar melody. As there are a lot of open-chord sections in heavy songs, I make a note of this too: breakdown create melody from rhythm. This is where things get interest as I assign my own melody to the original rhythm. All in all, I try to use as much of the original melodies and rhythms as I can in a way that makes my arrangement sound pleasant. Adding my own harmonies and changing up the chord progression (my favourite being i-vii°) to my liking is the cherry on top, as is deciding what ranged dynamics to play various sections in. If the chorus consists of a beautiful melody that sounds best mid-range in mf dynamics, I ensure that the previous sections of the song are played in a contrasting range and softer dynamics. It's like one big strange puzzle that is neither right nor wrong.
After featuring on The Amity Affliction's 2015 DVD and writing piano and strings on their 2016 album, Misstiq started to become highly recognised in the heavy music scene. It's a nice feeling to know my skills are a part of something big and people believe in what I do. Beside my teaching, I also work as a session pianist for bands and artists around the globe. Aside from Misstiq, I focus on my dark pop duo 'Don't Die Like I Did' which released their debut EP late 2017. I write the instrumentation and Brett Anderson (Buried In Verona frontman) writes the story-telling lyrics. Having a work and life balance is extremely important to me. I'd rather live more hours in my life than work for someone else. Having a strong vision and being persistent is what makes Misstiq special to me. If you really want something, do whatever it takes to get it. There is not one good reason in the world why you can't. Pace yourself, don't race yourself.