Two to Tango: hackedepicciotto and Eric Hubel

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HackdePicciotto | photo by Sylvia Steinhäuser | courtesy of the artist

hackedepicciotto and Eric Hubel may, at first, seem as if they come from two different worlds with wide paths. The married twosome behind hackedepicciotto – Alexander Hacke and Danielle de Picciotto – come from the noise and beauty of, respectively, Einstürzende Neubauten and the Love Parade, and together have found an elegant, elegiac center point filed with auto harp and kemençe, for their divergent aesthetics within cool works such as Menetekel and Joy.

When Eric Hubel isn’t busy with his certification from Manhattan’s Dharma Yoga center where he is both teacher and student), the string-focused multi-instrumentalist, composer and performance artist, has worked with the likes of Glenn Branca, Eliot Goldenthal and Hackedepicciotto throughout their recoded catalog. Now, the three are touring as a full-evening of thunder and lightning with Hubel not only opening for Hackedepicciotto, but playing with the ensemble on December 11 at PhilaMOCA. 

TK: Do you mind if I ask what you, Alexander and Danielle, know about Eric and his music, and vice versa?

AH: It’s been for some time, I suppose, as we have collaborated with Eric since our record, Joy. He’s very intelligent. We really appreciate Eric’s various talents, playing all kinds of different musical instruments. Also he has a great collection of very strange (musical instrument) things that he has been gathering from all over the world.

DdP: We specifically asked him to work together with us because of his unusual instruments. I, for one, love unusual instruments. That’s find of my things and he certainly has the most unusual instrument collection I’ve ever experienced. Also also know him, of course, through his collaboration with Branca and his own duo, The Hallicrafters featuring Algis Kizys.

EH: Well, I’ve known about Alex since, I say, the mid-80s when I used to work at Danceteria, a big night club in New York. Einstürzende Neubauten came through there and played. I was so impressed, but I didn’t know anybody and at that time, of course. Many years later through mutual friends I got introduced to Alex and Danielle and we just kept in touch. Every time I see them, whether in town or when I happen to be in Europe, we just sort of pick up from where we left off. We always talked about trying to maybe do some things together. It’s a dream for me to be able to work with them and it’s nice that it all sort of happened very organically and naturally over a period of time as our friendship grew.

TK: How would you say that what you do here, as a unit, is so different from that of your past? I see it with less noise, or more ways into said noise.

AH: With Danielle and I, it is very different. There is a level of closeness and understanding. Now, Neubaten has done many many things, high quality, together, but, we are a group of guys that have very very different lives. What Danielle and I developed comes very much from our immediate surroundings, who we are, when we are, and what we need to get from how we discuss things, and the way we shape our view of the world. All that Informs the music that we do together. We have a much more intimate working process than what I do with Neubaten, and the result is, I find, a much deeper representation of my internal goings on.

TK: Do you feel as if the sound has developed more through the relationship or that the relationship has developed more through the sound?

DdP: We have known each other for 25 years. We’ve been together for 17, so we’ve known each other as musicians longer than we’ve been a couple, and speaking for myself, doing music together with Alexander –  from a musician’s point of view  – is the most perfect combination I could ever wish for. In many things, we’re quite the opposite, and in other things were very very much on the same page. Our relationship is that which gives the music the detail and the small things make it special.

TK: How do you think, Alexander and Danielle, that you wanted your music as hackedepicciotto to move forward from your collective past with musicians such as Eric?

DdP: We’ve been collaborating with a lot of different musicians almost since 2001 One thing that we really really like, for instance, is to work with musicians that do things that are very different to what we do, and then kind of let it happen; something that neither of the two different sides basically would have been able to do on their own. It’s like a magic third. Joy is one of those albums. We’re doing meditation albums next to our regular albums, because ever since we’ve become nomads, we are very much into meditation and yoga and de-stressing from long days on the road. Of course Eric, who has a lot of experience with yoga, was one of the people we wanted to do something with. Basically, we never tell anybody what to do. We just kind of say ‘OK let’s get together and let something happen,’ or we send them something. With Eric, we went to him and just started improvising and it happened pretty magically. Then we took it all home and work on it in the studio and kind of give it a shape, and turn it into our songs.

TK: Alexander, you down with this?

AH: Yeah, I’m down with the yoga thing, man.

EH: I can vouch for that.

AH: You know, yoga means unity and freedom. To go back to your original question, we don’t have much of a conceptual outline. As much as we plan what we’re doing, there’s no larger plan in what we do. We get an urge to do these things and then basically, really, go our own way. In that way, the music comes alive through us rather than conceptualizing and planning. Everything that we do, we create, comes from a spark of inspiration, and then just develops to what it is and was what the final outcome will be.

TK: Eric, do you see yourself in this way of working? Do you look for opportunities in which to incorporate what you do as a yoga teacher and student and activist into all that you work on – say in this project?

EH: Interesting question. I would say, yes, in addition a deeper and more sort of a personal sense, I do. In terms of the yoga community and the yoga marketing community, I have done things like play music in yoga classes. If I could just elaborate a little more, in terms of the yoga practice… bringing the music to me: that’s where it works best. I started practicing yoga right after 9/11 when all of my work disappeared. I was not doing a lot of music, but somehow, the experience of doing yoga – how it was helping me and changing me through that difficult period – mysteriously brought the music back to me. I started getting gigs and calls from people I hadn’t heard from in years and it was a bit of a mystery as to why, but the music came back. I had to let down my guard down, and become a little more open so that things would come to me.

TK: The moments of meditation that the three of you share – on album, on stage. Where does that come from?

DpD: Alexander and I have been nomads since 2010. We gave up her home in Berlin, and are now always traveling the world. That said, our music ever since then, has been like the soundtrack of our lives. And of course the world has changed, and we live in difficult  times. Life has grown increasingly dark, so our music has grown darker. But we had the urge to bring the balance back to the positive or bring light to the darkness. That is why we have reached out on these meditational albums, and collaborating with artists such as Eric helps. A song like “Let There Be Joy,” which we will play together – the three of us – brings light.

hackedepicciotto and Eric Huber play PhilaMOCA tonight, Tuesday, December 11th; tickets and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.



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