It might be surprising that the Oscar and Grammy nominated gentleman behind massive inescapable hits for Miley Cyrus, The Weeknd, and Celine Dion is a classically trained impresario. However, for producer, songwriter, composer and musician STEPHAN MOCCIO, bringing a timeless aesthetic into the modern musical landscape comes naturally.
"I love to show people that great melodies and lush harmonies can exist on the radio and in film," he says. "I've lived on both sides of the medium. I've been studying classical music my whole life, and I try to inject that into pop. It comes out of my fingers when I sit at the piano."
Stephan's musical journey started while growing up in Niagara Falls, Canada. Born to a long line of pianists, he picked up the instrument at just three-years-old. Fascinated by Tchaikovsky, Mozart, and Chopin as well as the tunes he'd hear on American radio stations buzzing past the border, his diverse perspective took shape early on. During his senior year at University of Western Ontario, Stephan sent a demo to one of his idols, David Foster, on a whim.
"He called me back from L.A.," recalls Stephan. "He said, ‘Man, there's nothing I could tell you, other than from what I hear you've got the goods to go all the way!' That was one of the most definitive phone calls of my life. To hear that from a guy I admired so much on a musical level was really humbling and inspiring all at once."
Shortly after, another demo landed at Sony Music Canada who would go on to sign Stephan to his first publishing deal in 1995. As a staff producer, he began working with a myriad of the country's leading artists. In 2002, he co-wrote one of Celine Dion's biggest singles "A New Day Has Come," which served as her record-breaking comeback following a three-year sabbatical from music. In between working with everybody from Seal and Josh Groban to Ne-Yo and Sarah Brightman, he released three instrumental piano albums, 2006's Exposure, 2010's Color and 2012's Elements. 2010 saw him achieve another major milestone co-writing the Canadian theme song for the Vancouver Olympic Games, "I Believe," which would eventually reach quintupleplatinum status in Canada.
"That became such an iconic piece of music that the entire nation knew it," he smiles. "What do you do after that? You go to Hollywood!"
Los Angeles proved to be the perfect new home for him. In 2013, Stephan co-penned the quintuple-platinum "Wrecking Ball" for Miley Cyrus. Following the song's success, He quickly became one of the industry's most sought-after and in-demand producers and songwriters, being tapped for two songs on the Fifty Shades of Grey Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. In addition to penning "I Know You" for Skylar Grey, he teamed up with The Weeknd for the movie's theme song, "Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)."
With its simmering waltz, entrancing orchestral strings, and elegant piano played by Stephan, "Earned It" became a #3 Hot 100 hit song, earning a quintuple-platinum plaque, an Oscar nomination and Grammy awards. It firmly established his style too with The Weeknd personally requesting "that Stephan Moccio classical thing" for his third full-length album. In the meantime, he penned music for everyone from Jon Bellion to Jordan Smith, Skylar Grey to Gladys Knight, while further expanding his imprint in the film and television worlds.
Ultimately, the world is only beginning to embrace Stephan's sound. "I love the arc of a song-how it starts, builds, and fades out," he leaves off. "I have so much reverence for that. It's the way I complete melodies on the piano. There's something about a sound all centered around live musicians. People need that human touch and something real. When anybody hears my music, I want them to feel emotions number one. That drives everything. No matter what I do, there's a lot of love I put into it. I've learned if you do things that move you, you can move others."
Stephan returns to his roots in classical composition and back to the instrument he knows best, the piano. But if truth be known, the piano has never been too far away. In fact, they are inseparable. Throughout his career, you can hear his performances on countless recordings by the world's biggest artists. His classical upbringing and discipline combined with his pop-songwriting sensitivities gives him a unique edge in the piano music genre. It is why he has been recognised for his impeccable mastery of hand-crafted melody, arrangement, harmonic depth and a provocative pianistic touch.
Stephan's new music explores some of life's more profound themes: love, relationships and ageing. New single ‘Fracture', released today, takes the listener through the "beautiful and dark sides of life". A song that will bring beauty, subtlety and poignancy to the senses… intimate, elegant and a very emotive piece of music.