CEEYS, cello-piano duo

CEEYS are Sebastian and Daniel Selke

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?

There has always been a creative ambience at our house, perhaps a clever move by our dear parents (an actress and a radio presenter), who were always looking for a little freedom during east Germany’s communist-era. After Sebastian tried ice-skating (a combination of music, theatre and sports) and the cello, Daniel became curious about the piano. Later we realised that playing together is especially important for us and we began learning beautiful classical chamber music repertoire. Through the thin walls of our panel house and against the wishes of many patient neighbours, we studied our instruments.

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

In the GDR we had a very creative influence, with storytelling songs for children made by universal musicians such as Reinhard Lakomy, who also experimented with electronic music in the 1980s. Growing up during the 90s and after the fall of the Brlin wall, alongside our classical profession, we suddenly found that a door had opened up to all genres from avant-garde to pop. From then on our interests expanded into movies and collected soundtracks, for example ‘Once Upon A Time In America’ by Morricone, ‘Bladerunner’ by Vangelis and all the music by Jerry Goldsmith. This gave us the opportunity to learn something different, develop ourselves and finally listen even closer to each other.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

After 1989 and the sudden endless possibilities which opened up through the western hemisphere, it felt a little bit like Pandora’s Box. We had to refresh our creativity but also had to learn how to break the rules without denying our classical roots to start a new chapter of composing our own duo works.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

We waited for a long time to release an album project because we were searching for the right feeling in terms of the recording process. For example, what would best capture our ambitions to not only play classical phrases correctly, but also showing our dialogue when playing together. Now we feel we have found a way to record our life- and live-performances like some kind of field recording, with the right to be authentic and honest to ourselves. Our recordings are based on situations, places and state of mind. From now on we just want to start recording when we are close to ourselves and mistakes can’t be made, because they are allowed. Everything is possible again, it’s like a blank sheet to start with a new quality, without any fear. The listener has to beas  curious and active as we are when playing the music. We try to capture these intimate moments in all of our releases and I don’t mean just the albums but also our reworks. So pride is not the right feeling but love, passion and hope that the listener can be part of that go for a walk. The albums ‘The Grunewald Church Session’ (1631Recordings, 2017), ‘Concrete Fields’ (1631Recordings, 2017) and now ‚Wænde’ (Neue Meister, 2018) all use this same open-minded method. One day we hope to look back and remember the exact feeling we had when recording those albums.

It’s kind of a time machine.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

When we were teenagers we both loved to play etudes, little studies. Mostly right out of the book – prima vista. We loved the way to quickly find out the principles and pattern of a piece and to exhaust our human playing skills.

How do you make your repertoire choices?

Sometimes we choose the next piece as we are on stage. Therefore, I can be really surprised by Sebastian announcing a new track to the audience I never heard before, that I didn’t expected. But we love to improvise and this process definitely keeps you awake. (laughs)

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

We like a variety of venues, and also alternating between them. There are some beautiful churches with about 7-seconds of reverb, but we also still love to play a personal set in a nice living room or gallery.

At least that’s why we were very happy to have the opportunity to play our record release at the Living room in Funkhaus Berlin. Wall to wall to our personal life-story growing up in those prefab estates BUT also wall to wall to Nils Frahms studio Saal 3. The Funkhaus was also the place where our father worked as a radio presenter.

Well at the end it‘s not so much a matter of the country or hall we play in, but it’s about the interaction between the audience and us. So wherever music unites us with the audience, we feel at home.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

We prefer those little sketchy pieces to improve our finger or bowing skills, rhythmical pattern or moving textures.

We are also interested in new directions in electronic subgenres and listen to Kuedo, Com Truise, Rone, Yung Lean or Suicideyear.

Who are your favourite musicians?

Open-minded music lovers who are searching for their roots, finding their way through the intense jungle of life.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Probably our latest record release show at Funkhaus Berlin‘s Living Room was a very inspiring memory to where we once sat on santa claus’ knee at the same Funkhaus, waiting for our father to finishing a Christmas Special.

As musicians, what is your definition of success?

We like people to understand our story, which gives a helping hand through all the ‘wave files’ of life to help to find their own concept through it.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Know your roots, be yourself and tell us your story – we are curious because it will be unique. It’s all about sharing experiences and love.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Limitation is freedom! Freedom is time! Time is limitation! Time is golden and we are all living in a golden age for modern composition!

What is your most treasured possession?

Family, friends and like-minded artists.

And we actually have quite a nice vinyl collection that keeps growing.

What is your present state of mind?

We just released our album Wænde and we are very thankful to everybody who made this happen. Now we can’t wait to play a few more shows to give something back to the people who trusted in our work.

In the summer we will start planning next year’s edition of Q3Ambientfest which is our carefully curated boutique music festival that we are trying to install in the city of Potsdam – our new home but still close to Berlin. Inviting people from around the globe to discover today’s musicians and to introduce Potsdam as the place to live that dreams of freedom and love!

Berlin-born brothers Sebastian and Daniel Selke, award-winning cello-piano duo CEEYS, have just released their album WÆNDE on Neue Meister label. 

CEEYS are the Berlin-born, Potsdam-based brothers Sebastian and Daniel Selke, an award-winning cello-piano duo performing an impressive experimental but accessible minimalism between avant-garde and pop that incorporates elements of jazz, ambient and classical chamber music.

“Hybrid” is a word that has always been vital to CEEYS’ vocabulary, but its application is not limited to the manner in which
cellist Sebastian Selke and his brother, pianist Daniel Selke, combine their two instruments so harmoniously. Instead, like the duo’s very name – which merges the words “VIOLONCELLE” (fr.: cello) and “KEYS” – it is reflective of their overall aesthetic, one in which they integrate the many ingredients that have helped shape them as both musicians and people.

“Brought up in the last decade of the former GDR, we use our releases to come to terms with our memories, impressions and feelings about these rather hybrid times.” – CEEYS

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