Streaming Cafe

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

German duo Sea+Air

by Malcolm Petch
Whitney Houston.
There, I said it (or wrote it, actually). Did her name catch your eye? A few months ago probably no-one would have given her name more than a once-over, but nowadays we see it everywhere.

Sea+Air is a husband and wife act that hails from Germany. They’ll be at Streaming Café April 7. And the duo owes a lot of their recent traction to their one-night performance as a warm-up act for Whitney Houston when the iconic singer was on tour in Europe back in 2010.

In contrast to the mega-production stage show of a singer like Houston, all that Daniel Benjamin and his wife Eleni brought to the table for the large crowd were their voices, their acoustic instruments, and their intriguing melodies. Needless to say, they wondered how they’d be received in that environment.

"We got the audience quiet with our voices and melodies, which is a lot better than huge applause," says Benjamin in an e-mail to Event Magazine’s Chris Stanford. "It was a key moment for us because we didn't expect anything.”

"But we realized there's a mainstream music crowd that is interested in good, handmade music."

The experience impacted the pair with a fresh realization of how far-reaching their style of music could actually be, and their confidence level grew enough that they started looking at touring outside of their home-base of Europe.

I first wrote an article on Germany’s Daniel Benjamin when he and his wife Eleni, originally from Greece, were due to come through Streaming Café in April of 2011. Owing to some unfortunate international logistics, their tour did not make it out of Europe that season, and we didn’t get to see them.

But I found the duo really engaging, and I was disappointed they wouldn’t be here. It’s been great to see their names back on the roster.

Sometime after the pair’s eventful evening with Whitney, they decided to go big rather than going home: they planned for and embarked on a two-year world tour. That tour is what brings them to Kelowna on April 7.

One of the things that so intrigued me the first time Sea+Air were going to come through was that Daniel Benjamin had contacted us looking for a place where they could rent a harpsichord for their time in Canada. I mean, how many artists of the indie-music touring variety lug authentic acoustic harpsichords around with them? Especially when they could just use something electronic.

When you figure in the fact that Benjamin started his musical journey at 14 years of age in a punk band, you’ll see that Sea+Air’s use of a harpsichord is even more of a stretch than it first appears. From punk music to rediscovering the ancient virtues of German tradition and baroque melodies, Daniel and Eleni have traversed the gamut of musical movement. As Benjamin’s tour bio from last year said: “Are you ready for harpsichords instead of keyboards, timpani instead of drums, classical guitar instead of rock axes and an organ pedal instead of a bass guitar?”

Daniel and Eleni used to tour under the name “Daniel Benjamin”, but changed the name to Sea+Air a couple of years ago. The name is laden with hidden meaning, including everything from the fact that – in a cross-language play on words – “Sea” sounds like the German for “She”, and “Air” sounds like the word for “He” (making She+He, in other words), plus the fact that Benjamin says he and Eleni (who is also a dancer) met in the sea and air between Greece and Germany.

The Canadian portion of their world tour encompasses only three weeks. That’s not a lot of time for a vast nation like we are. It’s a treat for us to host Sea+Air at Streaming Café on April 7 at7:00 p.m. – and as always, you can catch the music live either in person at 596 Leon Ave in Kelowna or online at streamingcafe.net
But come early: classical guitars will fit easily in the café, and organ pedals probably won’t take up that much space – but them there timpani and harpsichord thingies are definitely going to fill space quickly!

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