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What do Bach, Beethoven, Strauss, Brahms, Schumann, and many more of the world’s greatest classical composers have in common? They are all from Germany! While we were on tour there, we wanted to drink in Germany’s musical genius. It was an amazing experience. We had a chance to tour Europe twice in the same month. Prior to our first trip, we had been brewing an original tune. We wanted to write a cello “hook” that could grab people and that could be looped throughout the tune. We then started building more cello loops and moments with unprecedented sounds from the acoustic (wood) cello, carbon fiber, steel, and electric cellos…
When the dust settled, we had four minutes of layered, edgy, sort of dubstep-with-a-U2-influenced goody bag. We were excited but a little unsettled, and we couldn’t figure out why. It was incomplete. We then left to Germany. We had some incredible adventures while we traveled and performed there. Upon return, we had a week between our two Europe trips and we were determined to finish the song. Al and Steve were a little discouraged after having put so much work into a song and feeling good about it, and yet not knowing exactly what it needed. This is a good moment to say again how grateful we are for our supportive families. They are the true “Behind the Scenes” of ThePianoGuys that make everything possible and give us the happiness we draw our inspiration from. If it weren’t for Rachel (Al’s wife) and Julie (Steve’s wife), this song would have failed. They gave us the encouragement and the ideas we needed to sprint the last mile.
We had one day to finish it up. That morning, inspiration struck Al and Steve at the same time in different places — we still have the iPhone voice memo recordings (recorded at less than an hour apart) that we used to sing the capstone melodies that came to us. When we met at the studio, we simultaneously announced we had the melody the song needed — only to find out that the song needed BOTH melodies — separately in different places and then together as a duet at the end of the song (see if you can pick out both melodies). As we listened to the final product, we couldn’t help but feel the picturesque classical vibe mixed with a pop/dubstep vibe was an abstract depiction of what we felt as traveled through and performed in Berlin. We decided just days before we were to board the plane again that the song would be called “Berlin” and that we should film it while we were in the city — a place so richly steeped in classical heritage, history, and vitality. Filming in front of its incredible landmarks was such an unforgettable experience.
The video shoot had its share of challenges and blessings. Paul was the only cameraman—he was jetlagged and didn’t get a wink of sleep the night before. (He even fell asleep while filming during one of the takes — and we still used the take!!). We didn’t have much time, so we filmed 13 hours straight in pure COLD and snow. (We’re still thawing out!) But we felt blessed by the all-day cloud cover; no problems at the locations (except getting kicked out of the subway — but that made the process more fun!); an intuitive, go-the-extra-mile cab driver; and just the right amount of time to get the shots we needed.
Thank you to all of those that helped us make this video possible! Saskia, Frankie, Garrin, Shelley, David, and all the awesome peeps at Sony Germany and Sony International!