Marcus Olgers

Marcus Olgers is an Amsterdam-based composer and pianist. He studied jazz piano at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. He composes and produces music for short films and documentaries as well as albums for other artists and also made an album under his own name. His music has been used by Google, Microsoft, AT&T, and Johnnie Walker among many others. As a session pianist, he works with major artists, bands, and orchestras in the Netherlands, such as Ilse DeLange and the Metropole Orkest.

When did the journey start for you?

I guess as a four-year-old, listening to the radio.

Who are some composers/artists you pull inspiration from?

My influences are extremely eclectic. As a kid, I grew up with Bach and the Beatles and the pop & rock of the 1980s. In high school, I was into the art and jazz-rock of the 1970s. I studied jazz piano at the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music, so the whole jazz tradition shaped me a lot as well. It’s a rich and beautiful world. I tend to be inspired by artists and composers who create new worlds, drawing from different styles. Bach did that, Strawinsky, Miles Davis, Peter Gabriel, and Pat Metheny, to name a few.

Which instrument(s) do you have the most fun playing?

Being a pianist, almost all of my time goes into that, but I would love to be a decent guitar player!

What was your latest gear purchase?

A Squier Telecaster.

What's your favorite piece of gear in your studio?

The boring but honest answer is the computer. It’s amazing what it allows you to do now, the only limit being your imagination.

Is there a piece of music you're most proud of?

More than a decade ago I made an album called Hiding in the Hinterland, an amalgamation of my influences. Mostly, I would do it all very differently today, but there’s also music on there that I’m very proud of.

What are two things you're most proud of? One musical/professional, one personal. No humility allowed.

I sometimes play with the Metropole Orchestra, a fantastic orchestra here in the Netherlands specializing in pop and jazz. That always brings a special feeling of pride. Personally, I’m very proud of my seven-year-old son, his lust for life, and my own part in that.

If you could join any band, past or present, which would it be and why?

I could say the Miles Davis quintet in the 1960s, but then I would put myself up there with Herbie Hancock which would be the biggest joke ever! So I say Coldplay. I love their concepts and the energy they bring into the world. Their last album was great.

In your opinion, what's a score (or soundtrack) that is better than its movie?

Under the Cherry Moon by Prince.

What's your favorite score of all time?

John Williams’ score for E.T. was life-changing for me as a kid. The way it works with the picture, especially the end sequence, is just marvelous. There is a great little clip on YouTube with footage of the scoring session but also of Williams at home playing those themes to Spielberg for the very first time. Must see!

Who is your favorite composer and why?

Bach. The blending of the emotional and the intellectual, the sense of math and melody, the minimalism and the grandness, everything really.

Who is your dream composer dinner guest and why?

My dream composer dinner guests would be Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, Sting, and Björk, preferably on the same night, talking about songs and sounds.

What's the oddest job you've ever had?

I did not have many odd jobs, from 15 on I was playing piano in restaurants. But I worked one summer in a factory for traffic signs with dangerous machines. Surely wouldn’t want to do that again!

What are your other hobbies when you're not in the studio?

I’m also a session pianist, performing and recording with artists mostly here in the Netherlands. Between that, composing, and family there’s not much time left. I’m into history. I’d love to read more.

If you were stranded on a desert island with one album on your Walkman that somehow never ran out of power, what would it be?

That’s always such a hard question. Today I say Close to the Edge by Yes.

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

Don’t give up!