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Hauschka Interview

Emily Jackett


As he starts his European tour, More Than The Music catches up with Hauschka to talk about his piano, his inspiration and his new album.

MTTM: What is the history of the name ‘Hauschka’?

Hauschka: Hauschka is a Czech last name and I was looking in the beginning for a name that has a East European background as I thought that this would fit to the Eastern melancholy in my music. Also, I wanted to have a kind of project name that helps me to slip in different genres without a problem.

MTTM: Are you classically trained in the piano?

Hauschka: Yes. I had piano lessons for about 10 years in classic and jazz in a public music school in the village where I was born.

MTTM: How did you begin to play with the ‘prepared piano’? Was it scary to interfere with the instrument for the first time?

Hauschka: I would say that the first time I played it I was around 11 as I was putting in all the hammers of my first piano tacks. I was not aware that it was already a kind of treatment which I would do as profession 30 years later. But intentionally I started to work on the prepared piano idea in 2005 when I recorded my album The Prepared Piano. With this record I also discovered the history of the prepared piano by discovering Henry Cowell, John Cage and many more.

MTTM: Assuming that you don’t travel with a piano, it must be difficult to find venues which can accommodate you. Do you have issues with venues allowing you to use their instruments?

Hauschka: Mostly there are no issues as I make clear that I am doing no harm to the piano, but every now and then I get into awkward situation especially with places that have a Steinway grand.
 Has anything dreadful ever happened to a piano you’ve worked with?

MTTM: Has anything dreadful ever happened to a piano you’ve worked with?

Hauschka: No, never. Actually, one time a small piece fell into the mechanic of the piano and blocked two key but it was easy to get it out.

MTTM: The songs are very colourful and visual, and the prepared piano is also very visually exciting. Does visuality inspire your work? What else inspires the writing & compositions?

Hauschka: My inspiration is life in general: travelling, listening to music and seeing theatre pieces. I like dance and all sorts of art forms so in a way I take everything in that comes close to me as inspiration.

MTTM: Your piano, when it is modified, makes all sorts of sounds. Like it, alone, is an orchestra. Do you try to emulate certain sounds? Or do you experiment and then work with what you discover?

Hauschka: I work in both ways. Sometimes I find the material first and other times I want to have a bongo sound and I am thinking which material could create a bongo. The secret to find the right preparation lies in the sound quality. 

MTTM: You seem to be bridging a strange divide between classical and contemporary music.  You play a classical instrument, and make it make all of these strange noises, playful, nearly electronic sounds and you are playing and recording with classically trained musicians and orchestras. How do you see yourself as a musician, amongst these genres?

Hauschka: I would like to see myself not in any genre if possible. However I know the world works in genres and maybe they are necessary to draw boundaries. I think we are so much influenced by all sorts of music that I would love to simply follow my instinct and do what comes out of me. Who even makes the rules?

MTTM: For your new album, Foreign Landscapes, you are working with the 12 piece Magik*Magik Orchestra. Can you tell us about the concept for the album and how it developed?

Hauschka: I tried to write music for an ensemble to work more on the writing and composing side then on the improvisation. I wanted also to find out how much I can disappear in my music as a solo performer and I am in a period where I try to negotiate the options that I have with all my musical ability but also developing the music that is released under the name ‘Hauschka’. I think it works very well to transfer my ideas on an external sound source like a classical ensemble.