AJ Hickling, who hails from Marahau, New Zealand, considers himself to be a travelling musician. So far, he has journeyed from Queenstown all the way to Gisborne. Along with him, during the entire course of his journey, is a character-filled piano that he had “rescued” from a Motueka dump. After he did the necessary refurbishing on the Seeger piano’s keys, hammers and strings, AJ then fitted it with pneumatic tyres. While he was doing that, Talitha Walterfang, his artist partner, help to paint a whimsical image on the side.

“I saw it sitting in the rain and I couldn’t just leave it there. So I took it home and gave it a bit of a makeover. It’s only about 40 years old but it’s got a real story to tell,” stated AJ. On Wednesday, when AJ unloaded it out of his Bedford van in Gladstone Road to play a couple of tunes, the piano managed to capture quite a significant amount of attention.

For AJ, he has been playing the piano since he was two years old. When he reached his early teens, he was already winning musical competitions as well as scholarships. In recent years though, he has concentrated other musical instruments. In fact, most of his focus recently tend to be on percussion instruments. However, once he chanced upon the battered Seegar, in helped to reignited his interest. This led him to start playing “hypnotic, progressive chord progressions” that he had composed on his own.

Although AJ is pretty known for the world-style multi-instrument music he releases under the Evolving Rhythms name, he mentioned that busking is still a means to an end. His main profession is actually film-making and he is hoping that his winter tour will aid in funding his upcoming project, which is a development of his 2008 film Island Styles. In the film, he spent a total of eight months just sailing around the South Pacific, while shooting music and dance with cameras that were powered by both the wind and sun. “It’s amazing playing out in this beautiful Gisborne day but there is beauty to be found everywhere. Even on a wet day in Queenstown in sub-8 degree temperatures. There was something really lovely about playing this sad-sounding music in the shadow of the mountains as the rain was coming down,” he said. For the full story, do check it out here.

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