May 2022 Alumni Highlight Article
Kaden Larson is a BYU alum, doctoral student at Indiana University and the proud creator of his newest album, Phantasium. The path to publication was filled with resiliency, dedication and striving to be a follower of Christ and a better musician. The idea to record an album first came to him while in Indiana, but his path led him back to Dayne’s Music in Utah, where the cost to record would be lower. This is also where he connected with audio engineer Parker Robinson, who did the editing and mixing for Phantasium. It took Larson over a year to learn the music. As he learned to play the music, he found connections between the pieces and began programming. It was a long process as he continued to get feedback from those around him.
Larson said a unique challenge that musicians face when recording is working to maintain the spark of the music. Practicing the same pieces on repeat can drain the music of its spontaneity. “Recording is not like a live performance, it lives on,” Larson said. The preparation, he said, was the most difficult part, as well as learning how to interpret the music. He had to decide what aspects of the interpretation were most important to him. However, he said it was most important that the music was true to him and that it was honest. The best part of the process was the support, Larson said. He received support from parents, friends, his wife, and teachers like BYU’s Scott Holden and Indiana University’s Norman Krieger.
Larson said one of the lessons he learned from BYU that has stuck with him is that his first goal in life is to be a good person and follower of Christ, second a good musician and third a good pianist. Whatever he is doing with music, Larson said that he tries to get out of the way so it is not about him and so the music can speak for itself.
He said that a lot of the music on the album has been connected to characteristics of Christ, finding faith, joy and patience. When Larson performs he said he strives to show the audience that this music comes “from real people, who are also children of God, who also had life experiences and challenges and things that they had to overcome.” Larson said the music also represents how we all have challenges we face every day but there is always beauty to be found.
One of the biggest lessons Larson said he learned from playing the piano is the importance of being diligent, trusting the process and taking your time. To anyone searching for advice, Larson said that musicians should be prepared to invest something and be willing to make sacrifices when creating an album. “Get advice and help from people who have done it before, don’t be afraid to ask questions and find support,” Larson said. He said it’s also important to remember that the learning process never ends.