Bio & Statement
artists' statement and short bio
a native from Göttigen (*1971), Germany, moved from Cologne ('91 - '93)
and Berlin ('93 - '00) to Staten Island in 2000 in the process of his
studies in Music Theory at the Humboldt University in Berlin. He
eventually assumed the position of Management Assistant for the
not-for-profit arts and technology
organization ASCI (asci.org) where he stayed invloved until 2005.
Christoph studied classical guitar since the age of 10 and wrote and
recorded music for film (shown on international festivals and on TV),
fashion, art and drama. His latest version of a 2007 Blue Xmas
(involving Staten Island accent) received notable mention on
the famous NJ radio station WFMU.
Trish Strombeck, a native from Kingston, NY, moved to Staten
Island from Brooklyn 2002. She learned the flute early and occasionally plays it on recordings. On stage
and in the studio she sings lead and harmony and plays percussive
instruments such as buckets, saw blades, drums and glockenspiel.
In early 2004 the couple started composing songs about their
living environment. Soon their efforts turned into a larger project
which is now called the "North Show", a regular performance piece with
varying episodes involving music, film, photo, dance and comedy. In
their show Trish and Christoph reflect stories and anecdotes about live
on Staten Island's North Shore. They sing about nail salons and thrift
stores, cats and raccoons, the ferry and the harbor.
In 2007 they received a grant from the Staten Island Arts Council
to produce a sequel for their North Show episode "The Return of the Great
Blue Heron", a contemporary Western drama with environmental aspects.
"[...] the couple began performing as Trish and Christoph, singing
irreverent but tender anti-folk songs inspired by the island and
especially their neighborhood, with its ugly duckling charm. [...]" NY
Times, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2007
"S.I. folk should get hip to T&C -- they're a local treasure for
sure." Staten Island Advance Entertainment (AWE) December 6, 2007
It seems that a new-islander sees the borough from a different perspective than a native resident. Especially coming from a different country, one often hears the question: “What in the world are you doing HERE???” The answer that one simply thinks, that this is a nice and beautiful borough, is often met with incomprehensibility. But as a matter of fact, we think that some of the rather unpolished parts of the north shore are beautiful in particular. Not yet fully gentrified, the neighborhood has views of abandoned Victorian mansions, with breathtaking sights of the harbor, steep hills, lots of trees and green and a nice mixture of people of various ethnic groups, living together and making this a vibrant and colorful community. Certainly lots of song material right there on the streets.
Coming from Germany, Christoph as musician could only bring a limited amount of equipment, like some more expensive technical appliances that allow us to record our material at home. But thanks to the various local thrift stores we could purchase instruments and stay loyal to the neighborhood, even in that sense. This combination, the fresh impressions of a new neighborhood, leaving behind your hometown, the urge to make music, the limited availability of instruments, all that helped forming our songs and sound. (On song #4 we’re actually using driftwood from the Hudson river and a saucepan as percussion instruments.)
Our song subjects are scarcely about the classic themes love and lost. They reflect stories and anecdotes about our immediate environment, about neighbors and stores, streets, the ferry, tourists, cats, raccoons, garbage and gardens. We stay very close to the real world and even include real characters and locations in our songs. At the same time, the country-style atmosphere of our music gives the songs a certain distance to the present, while on the other hand, refers to, and plays with Staten Island’s status as the forgotten and remote small-town-borough.
Some hints in our lyrics can only be understood and seen as funny or sad by the very locals. That doesn’t mean that the songs are exclusively for those locals. The music is entertaining in itself. But those that do understand the underlying meaning might feel a connectedness, to the music, and in the best case to their neighbor or neighborhood. We’re not on a mission though and we never aim to point the finger or insult. What we hope for is to encourage and inspire people to use their imagination and look at their very own environment from more than just one accustomed perspective. That can be revealing and it’s certainly entertaining.
Last Update 2008-01-06 | Copyrightę Christoph Mayer 2009