‘Hybrid’ is a word that’s always been vital to CEEYS’ vocabulary, but its application isn’t limited to the manner in which cellist Sebastian Selke and his brother, pianist Daniel Selke, combine their two instruments. Instead, like the duo’s very name – which merges the words ‘cello’ and ‘keys’ – it’s reflective of their overall aesthetic, one in which they integrate the many ingredients that have helped shape them as both musicians and people.
Encouraged to play from the age of five by their parents, actress Gabriele Selke and radio presenter Harald Selke, the brothers went on to study music formally, with Sebastian graduating from Berlin’s Hanns Eisler Music Academy and Daniel from Leipzig’s Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Music Academy. These days, Sebastian is the assistant principal cellist at the German Film Orchestra Babelsberg, while Daniel is a lecturer for piano and chamber music at the State Music School in Potsdam. Both have been featured on numerous album releases and soundtracks, and Sebastian has also collaborated with BAFTA-winning Ólafur Arnalds on a virtual instrument for Spitfire Audio. They’ve also reworked the likes of Peter Broderick, Carlos Cipa and Lambert, and released two albums of their own, 2016’s The Grunewald Church Session and 2017’s Concrete Fields, released by 1631 Recordings, the acclaimed modern classical imprint of Swedish label Kning Disk.
Consequently, the early influence of Bach, Beethoven and Debussy can be heard alongside the almost-forgotten compositions of East German based acts like Reinhard Lakomy, Wolfgang Paulke and Frank Fehse. There are echoes, too, of the likes of Arvo Pärt, Arthur Russell, Philip Glass, as well as contemporary musicians, including Greg Haines, Nils Frahm and Sarah Neufeld. In fact, it was musicians like these latter ones, and the brothers’ collaborations with similarly minded others – including Ólafur Arnalds, Carlos Cipa and Martyn Heyne (who also mixed and mastered Concrete Fields) – that inspired them to found the annual Q3Ambientfest, whose inaugural event took place in 2017.
Currently, the Selke brothers are working on the third CEEYS album, while also developing music for their first solo EPs, in their Klingenthal Studio, named after the small East German town where Vermona invented and built its instruments.
What will emerge from their work is hard to say, but there’s little question that it will continue to find them weaving together the threads of their musical interests to create yet more intriguing, innovative and inspiring hybrids…