The music: I’m a sideman and session musician first and foremost. For me, that’s a natural way to be creative. My musical expression is always tailored to the project, while hopefully reflecting my overall sensibilities and rising above genre boundaries. When context allows, and in occasional writing and solo projects, I gravitate toward the quirky and the obscure, staying away from the flashy and the athletic.
Main influences: The Beatles, Jon Brion, Björk, Claude Debussy.
Musical background: I grew up in Lithuania, behind the Iron Curtain, so I had limited access to a very odd assortment of music. I idolized the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Michael Jackson, was into Russian underground singer-songwriters, heard my parents’ tapes of European pop and old Hebrew and Yiddish songs, discovered Billie Holiday and Coleman Hawkins, and studied Bach, Scarlatti, and Hindemith in music school.
Favorite keyboard gear: I love a rich, expressive, reserved grand piano. I like my Wurlitzer so much that I sampled it, so we never have to be apart. I’m very attached to my vintage and toy instruments — Clavinet, Pianet, Indian harmonium, melodica, xylophone, etc. I like samplers, especially their older counterparts (Mellotrons, Chamberlins, Optigans). I’m constantly glued to my MacBook Pro and have been a devoted Ableton Live fan since version 1.
Latest projects: I’ve recently been touring with New York’s own Peter Cincotti (we just played the Montreux Jazz Festival), as well as the talented and delightful Teddy Thompson. Upcoming are some Summerstage performances with Martha Wainwright and the Morphoses ballet company. I’ve also completed an experimental improvisational project with cellist Dave Eggar called æ, and scored a short animated film.
Words of wisdom: In performance, I like listening at least as much as playing, maybe more. Skill and style are important, but years of touring with Marianne Faithfull taught me the joy of humbly serving the song and daringly seeking magical moments.
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