"I have to be bigger and more successful before I can represent Marzahn-Hellersdorf. I will have to work hard to get there." Thomas Krüger

"The audience on the street is the most honest public you can find." Thomas Krüger

To the slender, dark-haired 22-year old, music is everywhere. On his bike Thomas Krüger crosses Berlin from one side to the other, soaking up impressions and music beats on the way. Thomas plays the piano in the Hilton Hotel, accompanies singers on their quest to the top and even studies music himself. ‘Mr. Pianoman’ as he calls himself, is on a mission: “I want to land in the pop charts one day. I want to introduce people to the styles and beats from different cultures!”

As the son of a Russian mother and a German father, Thomas grew up with his younger brother in Marzahn-Hellersdorf, in the east of Berlin. His parents moved there from Dresden right after the Berlin wall came down. The Marzahn-Hellersdorf district is quite unloved and unexplored. “I think it’s mainly because of the Plattenbau – the typical East German flats. I don’t get why the imagine is so bad actually. Do ugly buildings mean that the people are automatically bad or what?”

The district is trying to improve its imagine by organizing cultural events. Since a few years Thomas is part of the annual music event where he plays his favourite songs on the piano. He sees a role for himself representing Marzahn-Hellersdorf, showing there is a lot more going on than people think. “But I have to be bigger and more successful before I can do that, I will have to work hard to get there.”

S-Bahn fan
And that means playing as much as he can. Travelling around Berlin, in Germany and even abroad to introduce people to his music. The travel gene he inherited from his Russian mother and his Jewish grandmother already led him to explore Israel, Russia and many other cities in Europe. Thomas tries to incorporate the sounds he picks up on the way in the music he is producing himself. David Guetta is his big example. “He also uses influences from other cultures in his music and he is huge internationally. To see people in a club going crazy on your songs must be so amazing!”

One way of travelling Thomas is particularly fond of is by S-Bahn, the train system of Berlin. “I just love everything about the S-Bahn, how the doors close, the sounds the trains make. Especially the old ones, but they are all gone now. I guess it reminds me of my childhood, going by S-Bahn into the city.” Thomas sometimes plays music in the S-Bahn, combining his two passions. “That’s actually illegal, but many people do it anyway.”

Street music
The best way however to test new music according to ‘Mister Pianoman’, is simply playing on the street. He often accompanies singers performing on the street and tests new music that he has written. “That is the most honest public you can find. You will see if people stop and keep listening, or simply walk on. I really like that vibe.”

Berlin is for the young ambitious ‘Pianoman’ the best European city to play in. “We have everything here. With so many cultures living in this city, there is music everywhere. We have three opera buildings, punk, rock, metal. Actually everything is represented in Berlin. Sometimes I hear people in the media say that the cultural scene lacks money, but just look around! There are so many things going on, it’s impossible to see and hear everything. I guess it’s the German mentality, we always have to criticize something.”

Thomas keeps thinking about that, while he starts tapping a beat with his fingers on the table. “Ah by the way, you know what else is really cool? Beat boxing! I really love how you can make sounds, actually whole songs, with just your mouth!” In his enthusiasm, Thomas starts beat boxing straightaway. “Cool right?!”

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