We had the good fortune of connecting with Richard Palalay and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Richard, why did you pursue a creative career?
I have always been involved in music. My first public performance was at the age of 7. Playing the piano in front of an audience was for me a natural thing to do, and aside from piano studies and playing familiar pieces and popular songs, I also loved creating music. Sitting at the piano and coming up with my own melodies was just as satisfying as learning a new piece. There was never a decision to be made where I had to choose what I was going to do for the rest of my life. Music was it.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
What I am most excited about is that I get to play and write music, and I get to do it for a living! It’s not a sideline thing, a hobby, or something I dabble in on occasion–it’s a full-time profession that elicits (when playing for an audience) an instant response to what I do. That immediate shared experience is very gratifying. It took many, many years, traveling down main roads and a good number of side routes to get to where I am today. All of it, the good and the not-so-good, contributed equally to my success. Indeed, some of the negative episodes made me a better musician–and through it all I learned that persistence and never losing sight of one’s goal (no matter how sideways things ended up at times) were crucial to achieving success as a working musician. Looking back, I would say that a lot of things came easy, but there were times when I really had to work at something. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for those difficult moments! Whenever I am on stage, my approach is to play the way I would want to hear that music if I were sitting in the audience. One of my mentors early in my career, a very successful entertainer, always said you never play to, or at, an audience. It’s the same when I am writing music. Today I find myself at a point where everything has come together for me—and I am able to combine performing and writing music, which are really two parallel tracks, into a hugely satisfying career! For the past 4 years I have been involved in a collaboration called WildeP’lay, partnering with singer, saxophonist and songwriter Donna Wilde, writing and performing our own music, which could best be described as music that passes along a message but in an entertaining way. We released our first album, Fabric of Love, last year, and already two of the songs have received local and internet radio airplay.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Interestingly enough, I do not go out much when I am not performing! Still, when we are over the coronavirus pandemic and daily life shifts into the next normal, there are spots not to be missed, and one is the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix. The collections and exhibits are simply amazing, but on certain nights they feature some wonderful national and local artists in an extraordinary concert hall. A pizza at my favorite pizza place, Pizzeria Bianco (both locations are tops), would be on the itinerary–one, maybe even two nights! This next one is a few miles outside the city limits, but well worth a trip: a cruise on the Desert Belle around Saguaro Lake. Very scenic views that are just stunning under the Arizona sun. If the team is at home, catching a Diamondbacks game at Chase Field is on the list. There are some pretty good seats around the ballpark to view the action. For an inexpensive Sunday breakfast, the Deer Valley Airport Restaurant in north Phoenix is the place if you like airplanes. You can see the real ones landing and taking off through the large windows, and there’s an amazing model airplane collection hanging from the ceiling. Then there is Flo’s Chinese Kitchen in north Scottsdale. Great food, and there’s something about the buzz in the air when the place is busy (which is most of the time). Lastly, of course, I would take that friend to wherever I was playing…couldn’t miss that!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My Mom and Dad, who early on gave me the support and encouragement to pursue my music. They did it in a nurturing way, never strict or controlling. They knew that this is what I wanted to do, and they guided me in a manner that was always forward-moving. The only “strong” advice my Dad ever gave me was to learn as much as I could; there were other aspects of music besides playing the piano that I should become familiar with, make me more well-rounded, thus increasing my ability to make a living doing music. He encouraged me to attend school and pick up those skills before jumping into playing gigs and other musical activities.
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Kathryn Lemancik, Mark Vieth