Interview: Hauschka

The Brief

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Hauschka is the alias of Volker Bertelmann, an avant-garde composer and pianist. Hauschka works extensively with prepared pianos, in which materials and objects, from crown corks to pieces of leather, are attached to the strings of a piano to alter the sound created. He has collaborated with Hilary Hahn and members of Múm and Calexico, among others. In 2016, Hauschka collaborated with Dustin O’Halloran to compose the music for the film Lion, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score, a BAFTA Award for Best Film Music, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score. His most recent album, What If, was released on Temporary Residence Ltd. in 2017.

This is the final interview in a five-part series celebrating our favourite electronic and synth music albums of 2017. You can read the other interviews in this series here: Annie Hart, Lusine, Blanck Mass, Yumi Zouma.

Which non-fiction book would you recommend?
by Ha Jin. It shows that some wishes may take a long time to materialise, or may never do, but that the journey itself can be a pleasurable experience. It doesn’t matter if the goals we have are always reachable, as long as they make us move.

Which composition would you recommend?
Verklärte Nacht
by Arnold Schoenberg. It is the sound of music drifting into a new era, while trying to hold on to the beauty that already exists. For me, the piece is full of longing and deep reflections on human existence.

Which choreographic work would you recommend?
Amjad by La La La Human Steps. I saw the piece for the first time in Düsseldorf, and was fascinated by its switches between machine-like movement and warmth. It is precise without ever seeming unhuman.

Which fashion show would you recommend?
Alexander McQueen’s Fall 2009 Ready to Wear show, which brought together fashion, performance, and music. While many artworks are driven by practical and fear-driven reasons, McQueen’s shows took risks and stretched boundaries.


The following questions relate to our Perspectives column, in which two writers respond to an artwork that they are experiencing for the first time.

Are art galleries detached from the real world?
Not at all. Artists often seek to surprise or shock their audience, and if a visitor dislikes or doesn’t understand a particular exhibition or artwork, it sometimes creates the impression that these spaces and the people who run them are detached.

Are directors creative dictators?
No. It depends on personal character, not on the job itself. Great collaborative work can only be created if the director ensures that everyone feels involved and encouraged – I recently worked with a director who did just that.

States of the Arts

The following questions relate to our States of the Arts column, for which each article includes four artworks that share an association with a single nation or territory.

Which Brazilian artist would you recommend?
Rosilene Ludovico, a visual artist based in Düsseldorf, who makes very fragile-looking paintings. Her series of sleeping girls, in which the figures are nearly transparent, is especially beautiful.

Which Kenyan musicians would you recommend?
Ogoya Nengo, a women’s choir from Lake Victoria that sings songs about its members’ lives. I had the privilege to record with them and wanted to do a collaborative project where I added prepared piano to their vocals, but I was so moved by their original that I couldn’t touch any of it.

The art of discovery

The following questions relate to Silent Frame’s aim to celebrate the art of discovery.

What does discovery mean to you?
Discovery gives existence value. I think it is also a matter of perpetual motion, as one discovery leads to the next and knowledge gives you the satisfaction of development. I don’t know if anything from my last thirty years would have happened without discovery.

What question would you like to ask other Silent Frame interviewees?
What methods do you use to detach your ego from success?

More to discover

Hausckha: Visit the artist’s website here, his Bandcamp page here, and his Soundcloud page here. His Twitter handle is @hauschkamusic. Watch Hauschka’s Boiler Room In Stereo performance here, along with the videos for ‘Agdam’, ‘Constant Growth Fails’, and ‘Familiar Things Disappear’.

Today’s recommendations: Waiting (excerpt), Verklärte Nacht (full composition), Amjad (excerpt), Ready to Wear (an article by Sarah Mower for Vogue, as well as photographs of the show), Rosilene Ludovico (Pinterest entries), Ogoya Nengo (Bandcamp page).

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