tobias tinker: a short biography...

tobias tinker - headshot

Composer and multi-instrumentalist tobias tinker has always seen music as a journey - one that has taken him from his birthplace in the countryside near Toronto, Canada, to the dynamic city of Berlin, Germany, where he now makes his home. The journey between the two has been a remarkable one, crossing innumerable stylistic boundaries and opening countless doors to new expressive spaces. Along the way he has produced a series of strikingly original albums, a number of which form the soundtrack to the underground classic, Sundance-award-winning 'motion comic epic', Broken Saints.

Born into a musical and somewhat eccentric family, tobias from childhood has preferred the 'road less travelled by'. After highschool, he worked his way across Canada and then backpacked through Asia - a journey that later became the inspiration for the breakthrough CD Passage, a core part of the Broken Saints soundtrack. Finally, feeling the need to solidify his musical education in a more formal setting, he chose McGill University in Montreal, where he studied jazz piano, musicology, electroacoustic composition and recording techniques.

After further travels, he settled for a while in Victoria, British Columbia, becomoing a key member of its vibrant and very eclectic music scene. Like a number of other local musicians, he found it possible (and interesting, challenging, and fun!) to dabble in everything from jazz, blues and rock to folk and worldbeat - often all at once. Over a period of three years, tobias played Irish traditional music on flute, Klezmer and Balkan classics on accordion, accompanied Egyptian belly-dances on keyboards, supported jazz singers on piano, laid down organ grooves in a blues-rock band, played in swing and disco ensembles, and was a member of the Juno-nominated Afro-Indian crossover band 'Djolé'. He also worked in theatre, playing the part of 'the piano player' opposite the incredible Roderick Glanville in the Canadian classic Billy Bishop Goes To War at the McPherson Playhouse.

Around the same time, tobias wrote and produced the score for Opaque, a 'dance poetry solo' by Lori Hamar of Suddenly Dance Theatre. This work, expanded and reimagined, became the solo albumA Suite Hereafter, and later, along with Passage, a key component of the Broken Saints soundtrack. Finally, he managed to realize a dream held in secret since childhood: to perform and record a completely improvised solo piano concert, which led to another CD release: Continuum:one. This was to be the beginning of a long and rewarding personal journey which is very much still underway.

In 2000, tobias moved to Germany to take a post playing piano, accordion and keyboards for Pomp Duck and Circumstance, a circus/cabaret/dinner-theatre show then affiliated with Cirque du Soleil. During the same period - initially as a kind of side-project, but one that became increasingly important and demanding as the project grew in scope and popularity - Tobias composed and produced the balance of the soundtrack for the award-winning online series, Broken Saints. This involved a rekindling of a long-dormant family relationship which grew into a close and fruitful collaboration, with tobias' cousin Brooke Burgess, creator and producer of the Broken Saints series.

After four years and almost 1000 shows with Pomp Duck , tobias decided to focus on his own music and left the show - but stayed in Berlin. Since then, alongside starting a family, he has formed a number of bands in various styles, played and recorded more solo piano concerts, rejoined the circus world and played over 1000 more shows with Palazzo, Wintergarten, and GOP Theatre, rekindled a long-standing love of electronic music with the Sound Fascination series, and produced an award-winning Cinematic Audiobook with Brooke Burgess, The Cat's Maw. He has also written extensively about the creative process on his blog Fearless Creativity.

In his own words:

"Music is strongly connected to everything else that is important in my life. Music is my spirituality, or at least it is as close as I can get to expressing what I feel about the world spiritually. I tend to put a lot of emphasis on being 'open' in my playing, and on searching for those elusive moments when time stops and I realize I am playing things I have no idea how to play - the lightning rod effect... At the same time, my compositions tend to concern form and structure - while maintaining a focus on finding the 'organic', or (put another way) what the music 'wants to become'. Very often, they bring together combinations of sounds or influences from normally unconnected musical worlds. This process of 'juxtaposing the unexpected' has led me to almost everything I've been lucky enough to learn and experience in this strange and fascinating journey of music and life."