by e-instruments 14 September 2023 Share Back to blog

Vahagn Stepanyan and Grand Y – Ready for the Coldest Session Recently we got a message from talented professional user and session musician Vahagn Stepanyan from Armenia. He told us about his intention to shoot a video, featuring the Session Keys Grand Y.

We took the chance to get some insights into the story of the video shoot.

Q: How did you come up with the idea to play our Grand Y in this environment?
A: When I had the idea to shoot a video for e-instruments, my team and I were looking for some locations in Armenia which would inspire me to improvise and simultaneously are spectacular to do a video shooting with live recording. When we discovered this location I instantly loved it, but when we tried to get closer to explore the area, we found that it is a pretty dangerous place.  It was hard to enter the spot, and honestly, it was a risky decision. I’m glad we could do it!

Q: It looks like an enormous amount of work to get all the stuff there and besides – it seems pretty chilly. How did you manage the power supply of your gear?
A: We had two Canon 5D Mark IV and two GoPro cameras with us. The audio track was recorded live with nothing else than an Antelope Audio’s Discrete 4 Interface. No compression, no audio editing. It’s the real sound of Session Keys Grand Y. We rented an electric generator and took it with us to the location which was far from the road (more than 100 meters) and it was hard to take it closer to the place because of the many rocks and big stones!

“It was time-critical because only one hour more outside in this cold and I wouldn’t have been able to play at all.”

Q: Why did you just choose this improvisation?
A: First, I had the idea to improvise more with a technical piano melody with some runs and chops, but later when we arrived there, the weather was about -10C and my hands started getting colder and colder.

I realized that I couldn’t play what I have had in mind … So we decided to shoot the video quickly otherwise my hands would freeze, and I can’t play anything. We then realized that we have some new problems with the power and our gear was not even turning on. There was this funny cat that was trying to mess all the things up. After spending two hours and freezing outside, we fixed all the problems and started the live recording and the video shoot simultaneously.

It was time-critical because only one hour more outside in this cold and I wouldn’t have been able to play at all. The Grand Y sounded so realistic to me – this was the inspiration for this rather emotional, slow piece. The Grand Y sounds so real and clean, and I truly was able to play it in one take!

Q: Which characteristics of the Grand Y or the Session Keys in general are most important to you besides the sound(s)?
A: I love the option of concert mode and studio mode. It is like having two different instruments in one. I like the dynamic response knob and the effects options with the tonality features.

More information about Session Keys Grand Y

VAHAGN STEPANYAN is a gifted Armenian-born keyboard player, songwriter, composer, arranger, and producer.

His talent has been recognized by Grammy Award-Winning artists and well-known musicians across the world and he collaborated with a host of artists through studio work, tours and writing, including Eric Marienthal (Grammy Award Winning Saxophonist), Nathan East (Grammy Nominated Bassist),

Melvin Lee Davis (Chaka Khan, Lee Ritenour, Gerald Albright), Wojtek Pilichowski, Eric Moore, Mark Lettieri (Snarky Puppy), Feodor Dosumov and other incredible musicians. In 2015  Vahagn produced his debut album “Moonlight”.

It infuses different musical styles and features artists from USA, Brazil, Armenia, Thailand, Israel, Turkey, and Germany.

With many years of experience in recording and performing in the musical styles of Jazz, R&B, Funk, Fusion, Pop, Gospel, and film score, Vahagn continues to collaborate, tour and produce music for world-class musicians and artists around the globe. He is also a Grammy Recording Academy Voting Member.