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amiel1Musicians don’t come much busier than Ammiel Warner. You may not have heard of him but Ammiel is one of the most sought-after keyboard and Hammond players in Australia. He has recorded and toured with James Blundell, The McClymonts, Dirty York, Dai Pritchard, Angry Anderson and Simon Meli’s Widowbirds to name a handful. He also teaches piano, organ, banjo, mandolin, guitar and bass to approximately 50 music students per week at his Cardiff-based business Xpression Music. If that’s not enough, he’s a luthier too. Throw a new-born baby and an impending wedding into the mix and you can understand why he’s seems a little out of breath speaking with Australian Musician.

However, it’s a band called Soda which is currently the music project getting most of Warner’s attention. Soda is a multi-instrumental electronic dance act comprising of Ammiel Warner and Sean Crossan, who together, seamlessly combine live instruments with DJ samples, beats and bass lines. An association with keyboard brand Casio, which began with Ammiel’s first ever keyboard (a CTK700), and has continued throughout his career, is helping to make Warner and Crossan’s Soda dream a reality.
“Soda is something I have wanted to do for a long time, getting to the clubs and using the keyboard as a feature,” explains Warner. “That’s basically what Soda is all about, the tracks get customised live. I’m basically on bass and using the Casio synths too. I’m using the new Casio XWG1 synth and their P1 as my keyboards. We are about to start incorporating the new Casio DJ controller as well. When I was touring in Europe two years ago, Casio was able to hook me up with the new XW Series, so I was able to use them and tour with them and that’s when I fell in love with those and the controllers. With Soda we are generally using the Casio gear for the live element. As far as the sampling goes, we’ll be using them to trigger stuff as soon as it is set up. We’ve only had the new gear for a couple of weeks. Well be using it for the looping aspects as well but we’re at very early stages at the moment. ”

Ammiel had been touring Europe with Melbourne band Dirty York when the opportunity arose to try out a new XW synth and more than anything, he was impressed at how easy it was to navigate the unit. “We were launching a new album in Europe. I played Rockpalast in Germany and I was lucky to get the first one from the NAMM trade show,” he recalls. “Someone bought it straight to Rockpalast. I plugged it straight into the B4 and set everything up and went straight out to 8 million viewers, all within half an hour. I could find my way quickly through the patches and through the controls, it’s all very hands on.”

Not only is Ammiel impressed by the new Casio synthesisers but also the authentic piano sounds of the PX5S stage piano. He finds much joy in sharing his enthusiasm with the musicians and crew he works with. “A lot of the front of house sound guys will see me set the piano up amongst other gear,” he says. “You start playing and they are blown away by it. The other great thing is the weight of it, having an 88 weighted keyboard that’s only 8 kilos or something ridiculous, it’s a pleasure to pull out of the case. I’ve had some other great keys players have a go on it as well because they are curious. They find that the feel of it is amazing. It has one of the nicest actions for the weight that I have ever had the pleasure of playing. It’s not a plasticy, synthetic feeling, it’s more like an ivory feel.”

ammielkidWarner grew up listening to the classic keyboard sounds of players like Greg Rolie (Santana), Jimmy Smith, and Jim McGriff, all influences which can be detected in his playing. However, it was Deep Purple’s Jon Lord who really lit his keyboard flame. “Jon Lord was the big one,” says Ammiel. “I got to meet him when I was younger. I just happened to get back stage at a Deep Purple gig.”

Warner’s classic keyboard sounds are in much demand too and he has no shortage of work for the remainder of the year between his live gigs and teaching commitments. Apart from the ongoing Soda project, there will be gigs with Dai Pritchard, Angry Anderson, Adam Eckersley and if he can find the time, Ammiel will join Dirty York for that band’s 3rd European tour. He’ll also be promoting Casio gear at this year’s Australian Music Association Convention on the Gold Coast in August. While speaking with the multi-tasking Ammiel, he was soldering guitar parts, signing off on courier deliveries and preparing to teach another music lesson.  I asked Ammiel for a parting tip for anyone learning keyboards. “Live experience,” he clearly states. “Once they are up to speed, I try to get my students out playing live so they are confident playing with volume and playing shows.” He certainly teaches by example.

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