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Pittsburgh Artist of the Week: Cody Piper

Cody has been studying music his whole life and it shows when you listen to his tunes. Full of fun and entrancing flourishes, Cody keeps it interesting with music theory flexes grounded by classic pop hooks. His new song “Things May Change” deals with the struggles of meeting expectations.

Cody recently spoke with WYEP’s Joey Spehar.

This conversation may be lightly edited for content, clarity, or length.

Bailey Yordnoff

What’s your musical history up to this point?

I grew up in a musical family – my grandpa played bass in the Pittsburgh Symphony for over fifty years (shoutout Tony Bianco). I think that he, my mom, and grandma all saw that I had at least some aptitude and interest in music as a kid. I started taking piano lessons at Carnegie Mellon when I was around five or six, and continued studying classical piano through college. I had started getting really interested in songwriting when I was in high school though, and eventually migrated more to that side of things.

How do you describe your sound?

Lots of people tell me that I remind them of Ben Folds, which I consider a big compliment, but it’s funny because I really don’t know much of his music nor do I take any influence from him. I think it’s the piano + singer thing.

I mostly just try to write songs that have interesting harmony and form without being too whacky. I love specific harmonic devices that break up the tonality a little bit like minor fours, secondary dominants, augmented chords, etc. I try to include at least a little bit of those flavors in all of my songs because I think those are a huge part of my sound. I don’t really know how to write music without them, actually.

Tell us more about the song “Things May Change.” What inspired you to write it and what does it mean to you?  

I’ve always felt that I have very high expectations set on me, both by myself and other people. Which I think can be an overwhelming feeling at times, the pressure that stems from that. Certainly it’s not unique to me either. So I wanted to write a song about that feeling and not really knowing how to handle it, but I also wrote the lyrics in a somewhat cryptic way cause I was a little worried about sounding like an egomaniac.

Musically, I wanted to try and write something with a brief intro that was in a different key than the rest of the song. I also wanted something with a nice little Baroque-pop trumpet solo – very “Penny Lane” inspired. I think my pal Rocco Pacella did a wonderful job performing that. He’s very handsome.

Bailey Yordnoff

What was the first album that really changed your life?    

Definitely Pretty. Odd. by Panic at the Disco (no exclamation point). I listened to that album thousands of times – ask anyone that knew me in 8th grade. I really appreciated the compositional side of it a lot, specifically the arrangements. It was the first thing that made me take notice of that outside of classical music and soundtracks. I also love the artwork and the lyrics. The whole thing oozes creativity to me.

Who are some other Pittsburgh artists you think more people should listen to?  

Some of my favorites are Julia Norah, Mirabelle Skipworth, Holy Hers, Jakers, Old Neon, and Morgan Erina. There are a ton though. Also wanted to shoutout MASON. who just moved to Nashville. What a nice guy.

Any other super interesting things we should know about you?

I’m obsessed with Nintendo music. Like seriously obsessed. Pokémon music is too fire. I’ve been thinking about making 8-bit arrangements of some of my songs, or just writing original chiptune music.

Also, there’s a fun little music video that will be released for “Things May Change” – keep your eyes out!

Learn more about Cody Piper here:


Check out previous Pittsburgh Artists of the Week here.

Joey Spehar is a Pittsburgh native who started as a volunteer D.J. at WYEP, fresh out of college in 2006. He took on any job they’d let him do like editing audio, engineering remote broadcasts, and shoveling snow.