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A classical version of songs by techno band Scooter

Philipp Jedicke ad
December 18, 2017

Olga Scheps is one of the world's most up-and-coming piano soloists. Her latest album covers pieces by German dance group Scooter. Scheps told DW what fascinated her about this project.

Pianistin Olga Scheps und H.P. Baxxter (Scooter)
Image: Michaela Kuhn/LICHT FORM ARTE 

German-Russian pianist Olga Scheps is renowned for her interpretations of Chopin and Satie, but the latest album of the ECHO prize-winner features pieces by techno group Scooter. The band is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

The members of the band were surprised by the results. "Who would have thought that it would sound so wonderful — and so different," Scooter frontman H. P. Baxxter told press agency dpa. "I have never heard our songs interpreted in this way, and I was immediately fascinated by it. Olga Scheps is a superb pianist. I admire the fact that she is open-minded, that she grapples with a totally different music genre like techno."

DW met the piano virtuoso to discuss the project.

DW: How did this unusual cooperation come about?

Olga Scheps: I was contacted by the agent of music producer Sven Helbig, who wrote these pieces together with Clemens Pötzsch. For centuries, writing variations and transcriptions has been a common and creative way of making music. I immediately got curious about that. 

What did you find appealing about these pieces?

I thought that Sven has a lot of great ideas, for example to create a piece that sounds like a Bach fugue. For example, Scooter's version of the piece "4 AM"  is in four-four time, but Sven has used a seven-four time.

It was all very creative. It wasn't about imitating the songs. Sven rather created totally new pieces. It was a lot of fun to witness this process. I also added some of my own ideas into that. Of course, my own sound language at the piano differs from the sound language of a band like Scooter's – vocals, electronic elements, bass, amplifiers… These means are not available on my piano, but I have other means to make up for that. I feel that one can express everything with a piano.

H.P. Baxxter and pianist Olga Scheps
H.P. Baxxter and pianist Olga Scheps presenting the album "100% Scooter - Piano Only" in HamburgImage: picture-lliance/dpa/D. Reinhardt

Do you have any personal connection to Scooter's music?

Their music exudes a lot of good vibes, and to me it feels as though I'd always known them. After all, that's my generation. When Scooter was founded, I must have been roughly five years old. Somehow, Scooter was around everywhere.

And generally speaking, I'm very interested in music. I know a lot of music, and I don't like to distinguish between different styles. Of course, there are different sound languages, but first of all, music must appeal to us emotionally. That's what interests me. And I think that the musical content – the feelings, the emotions – resemble each other a lot in all the diverse musical trends. Everything else is just a question of taste. 

Could you imagine getting involved in similar projects in the future, with excursions to other styles?

I'm not planning that. Sometimes, I get inspired by external influences, and then I'm keen on playing with them. I never do anything that, artistically speaking, I don't want to do.

And concerning the so-called style mix, one shouldn't forget that different musical styles have always inspired each other, that's always been the case, for many, many centuries. It was like that with Tchaikovsky, with Beethoven, and with Schumann.

Many diverse artists have always inspired each other. They've also copied each others' ideas, they even stole some of them to then produce variations of them. That has always been part of making music.

This album is not a venture into pop music; it remains a classical album, if anyone needs to categorize it. 

Olga Scheps Echo Klassik
Born in Moscow, Olga Scheps lives in Cologne. As a renowned pianist, she is in high demand all over the worldImage: picture-alliance/dpa/Jörg Carstensen

You are from a family of musicians. Is there a particular kind of music that you listen to during the Christmas season?

The most important thing about Christmas is that we get to all sit together at one table, because that happens only rarely. My father is always traveling a lot, giving concerts and master classes, or he serves as a jury member at piano contests. He's a piano professor at the Music Academy in Cologne/ Aachen.

I'm also away from home a lot, my sister lives in another city with her three children; we see each other only rarely. And I don't visit my grandma as often as I would like to.

But on Christmas, we all have the time to sit down together at one table. I'm looking forward to that a lot, and we will have a lot of stories to tell each other. That's our focus at Christmas.

The album "100% Scooter – Piano Only" was released by Kontor Records in December as part of the anniversary package "100% Scooter (25 Years Wild & Wicked)".