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Turning it Up: Meeting Michael Kaeshammer

By Ilana van der Merwe, October 24 2023—

The role of an artist requires as much versatility as creativity; and who better to embody this skill set than Canadian pianist, composer, and television host Michael Kaeshammer?

With his roots in classical music, Kaeshammer laid the foundations of his career with aid from Beethoven and Mozart. However, with influence from his father, Kaeshammer found himself embracing the bluesy and brassy colours of boogie-woogie as he explained in an interview with the Gauntlet.

“I heard [my father] play boogie-woogie and ragtime,” he said. “After I came home from my classical lessons I just sat down at the piano and imitated him.”

When asked about his approach to either segregating or amalgamating the classical and boogie-woogie genres, Kaeshammer insists that a balance between the two is crucial.

“You find similarities in harmonics and chord structure. It inspires me to play Beethoven just as much as the Beatles,” he explained.

Throughout Kaeshammer’s musical journey, the style, tone and energy of his music have evolved. Initially, Kaeshammer’s record label prevented him from adding vocals or lyrics to his music, a limitation that could not stunt the pianist.

“I love playing instrumental music. Melody alone can say something and carry the message,” he said. “I think Mozart and Beethoven would be long forgotten if instrumental music did not carry any message. If the melody can carry the message and it is interesting enough to touch someone’s emotions, then what’s the need for words?”

In contrast, one of Kaeshammer’s newest songs, “Turn It Up” makes an effort to share the details of one of his favourite pastimes with the lyric “[Dancing] in the kitchen till the end of the night.”

“The line comes from my partner’s sister who always does that at home,” he said. “That’s where the line comes from. The cooking show is really just because I love to cook and had the idea to turn it into a TV show.”

The song “Turn It Up” undoubtedly carries a message of upbeat and undeniable optimism which Kaeshammer said was dreadfully needed after the pandemic. Kaeshammer seems to be entering a new creative era: a national tour, a new cooking show and an announced and up-and-coming album all at once. His hits venture into Canadian mainstream music and his menus populate Canadian television.

In the spirit of combining tunes and taste within this interview, Kaeshammer was asked to pair a variety of his songs with meals. 

Kaeshammer said that his song, “Who are You” from his album Something New would pair well with a “plastic-cup” pina colada.

“It has such an easy groove, it’s lazy and sloppy and New Orleans,” he said. 

This song is hot, featuring blaring horns and alluring male backup vocals. Perhaps a pina colada is best in order to cool things down.

Down By The Riverside” from The Warehouse Sessions is a peppy swing with a punchy off-beat piano melody. Kaeshammer said this song should feature scallops and fennel purée, regardless if the scallops were from the river or not. 

The entirety of the album Lovelight is light and playful, but still comforting, so Kaeshammer picked a classic like pasta. 

“Something fresh with pesto so everyone can let their love light shine without it being too heavy,” he said. 

Kaeshammer also offered some advice for any students interested in pursuing a career in the arts.

“Doesn’t matter what style you are doing or whatever it is in the arts you are doing, but you have to stay true to yourself,” he said. “The things that make you different from someone else is what is interesting. That’s the only thing that is interesting.”

Kaeshammer performed at Bella Concert Hall on Oct. 13. In his interview, he noted that he would be performing unreleased music for the Calgary audience. Additionally, he said that the song best suited for Calgary audiences would definitely be “Turn it Up” because its positivity and high energy suit our city.

Kaeshammer’s music is available on streaming services and his cooking show Kaeshammer’s Kitchen airs weekly on Chek News

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