I decided to make a mini-tour through Europe after being invited to the 2010 Approximation Festival , a five day piano festival in Dusseldorf. For over a year ago, I had been in email contact with a Hamburg-based pianist Thies Mynther about various creative projects. He found out about my work through Coraline and told me about some of his theatrical pieces using prepared piano. I couldn’t believe that there was actually someone else out there doing something so similar to Coraline. He then wrote a really quirky piece for toy piano and electronics (which I regret that I didn’t play in Dusseldorf.) Just a few months ago, we decided to finally meet in person and he invited me to Dusseldorf to perform with his duo, Phantom/Ghost at the Approximation Festival hosted by Volker Bertlemann (aka Hauschka).
The line-up was filled with interesting musicians–the first night I saw Rachel Grimes (US) and Aki Takase (Berlin/Japan), followed by Barbara Morgenstern (Berlin) and Kathy Supove (NY) the next night. Already it proved to be a unique keyboard festival allowing a large range of keyboard players with different backgrounds and styles to do what they do. I came a couple days early to work on a few songs with Phantom/Ghost. Thies (piano) and Derek (vocals) played their own set, then I joined them for three songs (including Theatre is Fun from Coraline) and played my own solo set. It was great to share a stage with Phantom/Ghost. They write great songs and have a distinctive sound to their style. The experience made me realize that most of the musical endeavors I have are either completely written music or completely unwritten music. My short period of time with Phantom/Ghost was unusual because it was a collaboration that existed in that gray area in between.
If you are unfamiliar with Hauschka’s music, I recommend listening some of his tracks for piano. I learned on this trip that his music has evolved quite a bit in the last 20 years. It is interesting to ponder the range of his musical background and to know him as a keyboard player now. His solo piano shows often come through New York City and he has recently just released a new record. He is definitely someone to listen to (or meet up close) because aside from his music, he is a gem of a person too.