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Byron Shire
October 18, 2021

It’s not how you play the piano, it’s what you put in it that counts…

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©mareikefoecking_hauschka2015_201575367Volker Bergemann aka Hauschka, is one of the more avant guarde artists coming to Mullum Music Festival this November. His first trip to Australia sees this composer and champion of the electronic scene present his unique piano stylings. Think the Necks. Man on a Wire. So this is what happens, although he started out playing classical piano, Hauschka pioneers what is called ‘prepared’ piano, where the tones and sounds are changed by putting foreign objects on the strings. This is music for people who like music that other people don’t like. Cinematic, clever, and hypnotic, a Hauschka show is unforgettable.

So how does a piano player find such unusual expression? 

Simple answer. Boredom.

There is a risk in doing this music – but at the same time it’s so direct and it’s clear you are doing what you are doing right now. When I was in bands I always found myself on stage performing something I didn’t want to do that night or I wasn’t in the mood to play the hit.’ So Hauschka started playing more interactive ‘responsive’ music.

In a way, he says, you have to have no fear – and you have to deal with what is offered and the funny thing is that everything in the room where you play is in the show – in a big way, if you are pretending what the audience is sitting in a first row, what the instrument is like, the acoustics totally influence the way you are playing, to think every concert can be the same is an illusion.

‘I went through a process where I was in a hip hop band, maybe that was when I had my first record deal with Sony music and had a major record deal and everything was focused on commercial success – I was fed up and then I started to teach kids for seven years and then that got me back to electronic music – it had a very interesting structure and the guys who were releasing in Germany were really enthusiastic and encouraging and there was hardly any thought of the commercial aspect, only to get money back that we invested. There was such excitement to release music you really like and that carried me through, in fact it carries me and everything I do.’

So how does Volker prepare for a show?

‘I am collecting along the way, and when I see things that can create sounds I put them in my bag – I did a show in Japan and my baggage was not delivered in time so I had to run through the museum where the show was and I had to find sticks, paper, cups, and the funny thing is the perception of what you think is sounding great is often so wrong. I bought these cleaning scourers – and I thought when I saw them they would sound great, but nothing happened, they lie there like a wet towel – other things you think are doing nothing suddenly they jump or create a rhythm and that triggers me to react on the keys. I love the random aspects.

I am always trying to trigger myself and inspire myself in a way because often the habits we develop make things a bit lame, and once you get over that you find methods to change your habits.’

For Volker, it’s about time. This is music you need to sit with. That you need to sit in.

‘I am not a bit fan of the ten-second culture, and I think the whole concept of hit and casting totally underestimates the human being, people need time to develop and to develop talent – that’s the nature of things.’

Experience Hauschka on his first concert tour of Australia at the Mullum Music Festival.

19–22 November. Tickets and program info on mullummusicfestival.com.

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