Sergio Díaz De Rojas & Seraphina Theresa: An Interview

What lies underneath the creative tension between improvisation and calculated inspiration? It’s a question that Peruvian pianist and composer Sergio Díaz De Rojas and German artist Seraphina Theresa hover around and poke at on their new collaborative EP, The Morning is a River. Made up of 4 minimalist tracks, each song is accompanied by a paced-out, filmed reflection of slow-moving natural images and Seraphina’s photography. The piano’s nimble chords attach themselves seamlessly to the visuals, flowing together as a whole to create an 11-minute portrait of melancholy and representation.

After several years of releasing work on their own, the collaboration between Sergio and Seraphina feels like a worthy culmination of a loose flow of ideas and style with a diligent, purposeful creative statement. Leading up to the project’s April 23rd release, Hooligan chatted with both artists about their process, methodology, and working relationship.

Your new collaborative project, The Morning is a River, comes out on April 23rd. What are you particularly excited about for this release?

Sergio: It is my first time collaborating with another artist! Seraphina is brilliant and has been part of this project since the very beginning. This is completely new for me and it has been a real pleasure.

Seraphina: I am very excited in general because I have never worked with another artist before, let alone in anything related to music. It’s my first time ever and I am very glad to be accompanied by Sergio.

How did this collaboration come about? What’s it been like working together?

Seraphina: One day, Sergio offered to record some of the melodies I had improvised, but as he listened to them he felt inspired and created two beautiful pieces (“In der Sonne flimmert staubige Luft” and “Ich bin Himmel, wenn ich den Himmel liebe”). After that, we decided to make an EP and worked on the concept behind it. We kept improvising more melodies and chose the best ones. The titles were added later, as well as the artwork, the poem and the recently published video.

Being in different places wasn’t a problem at all. We have a similar way to interpret and implement ideas and atmospheres that are particular to own understanding.

To expand on that — how have your surroundings and communities influenced your music and art?

Seraphina: I think I wasn’t influenced by my environment too much since I live quite inside my own built up world, which is in my head and heart. My creativity is more a happening than a preconceived idea.

Many of your songs are accompanied by videos and photographs. Can you talk about the creative decision behind attaching a visual element to your music?

Sergio: One of the characteristics of this kind of music is that people tend to interpret it depending on their thoughts and feelings, and that’s perfectly fine. But each project has a message and there’s the need to express it. So, when they watch the videos, when they look at the photographs and drawings, and when they read the poems and titles, the message becomes clearer and there’s a larger chance of listeners understanding what I am trying to transmit.

You mentioned Beginners in your press release, and I can definitely see a link between the tonal nature of your music and the mood of the film. What are some other influences, musical or otherwise, that inflect and inform your creative process?  

Sergio: Some of Hermann Hesse’s works were essential when developing the concept behind this project, especially his essay “On Little Joys”. In general, I find myself quite inspired by the music of Sufjan Stevens and Keaton Henson, and by the work of some filmmakers, writers and photographers, like Wim Wenders, Charles Bukowski and Nobuyoshi Araki.

Seraphina: There is no specific music or art that influences me. I think it is more about the ways I understand and experience life itself which make me do the things I do. Go to nature and take a deep breath, you will feel it within yourself..

I love “Flores de Papel”, the second track on The Morning is a River. How did that song come together?

Sergio: Thank you! I am glad to hear that. “Flores de Papel” is an improvisation I recorded one day at my aunt’s house for Seraphina. I remember we were talking about a lot of heavy things that afternoon, as we usually do, so I sat at the piano and tried to relax and clear my mind. I was thinking of places and situations that help me feel at peace, and that’s how that piece was created.

What’s next for your music and creative output?

Sergio: I want to take a break after this release and disappear for a while, you know? I need some time for myself.

Check out more of Sergio and Seraphina’s work.