Idealists, they exist. Cheerful idealists, even. Benjamin Scheuer is one of them. His urge to save what can be saved extends to new music. German musical culture “is often very ponderous”, he sighs. Scheuer prefers amusing – and a sense of black humour – to grave and profound. “I want to ensure that contemporary music can again play a central role in society,” he says, animated.
Where to begin? For Scheuer himself, it starts with the music. He blows into bottles, juggles with record players, goes for lo-fi instead of hi-fi, and never forgets that everything is relative. He likes using toys. “In the vicinity of the Hamburg Conservatory there is a posh pet shop, V.I.Pets, which sells rubber piglets. The sound is great and they look funny.” The piggies are an excellent way to break the ice when interacting with musicians. “You know,” he confides, “they often look worried when they walk into the rehearsal room, fearing they have not practiced enough. Then I tell them to squeeze a piglet. Groiink! Instant magic. Now it is one of my favourite instruments.
What inspires me most of all are colleagues of my own generation. To hear someone do a little bit better at festivals. Someone your own age. That is very important. It gives me a boost.”
Photo © Anna van Kooij