About us:

Yatao – consisting of Malte and Alex, is a world music project hailing from Berlin. Since Malte & Alex have met for the first time by serendipity in 2014 they work together with great passion and dedication to their music, with which they tour all over Europe.

Bringing along handpans, a didgeridoo and more percussion instruments they go on an inner journey through their friendship and the landscapes of their emotions. Their fluently improvised music sets reflect the colorful sound of the present moment.

Their concerts are much more than just a performance of their music. They are a place of coming together, forgetting and remembering, letting go and understanding. A place where everyone is invited to do nothing more than just be and feel into the inside of the soul. Irrespective of the financial possibilities of the audience Yatao concerts are always donation-based.

When worlds of emotions are flying in freedom, disharmonies are merging into harmonies, melodies are floating around each other to become one – then you are with us – Yatao.

Alexander Mercks

I was born and raised in Berlin in 1991. In my childhood I was already in contact with music due to my mother who worked as a music teacher – I had piano lessons and sang in the children’s choir. In my youth I stopped making music myself but it was always like a dear friend to me. It could comfort me when I was down, lend me energy when I felt weak and help me express my joy. These days I mostly expressed my feelings through dance and used the music as a channel.

As the youngest of three siblings I grew up in a well looked after family and had a very good life. In my dreams though I was looking for something more than that. I wanted to be free, self-determined and do what I love. During my school time I hardly questioned the academic path that my family and society set out for me. After I finished school I went to Uganda, East Africa, to spend a year working in a social project working with children. Right after I came back I started to study „industrial engineering“ because I thought it would be reasonable. Four years and one semester abroad in Chile later, I had my diploma of bachelor. I traveled around Europe with nothing but my bike for two months and when I came back I seriously asked myself the question what I wanted to do next. I clearly felt that continuing my studies was not the right path for me and that I wanted to start pursuing my passion instead of following my interests and „reasonable“ decisions.

In the summer of 2014 I met Malte at a small festival in Northern Germany. Inspired and encouraged by this encounter, I took my first step into becoming a musician and got my first handpan just weeks later. Ever since a lot has happened on my musical journey and today I am living my dream. With my music I can show myself and share my inner world with my surroundings. I can do what I love and I can be free, as I always wished for.

Malte Marten

The experience to be able to share my music with people lets me grow and grow. Music has always been a place of refuge for me. A place where I could allow myself to be just as I truly am. Back when I still played piano I started making hip hop beats, dub and drum’n’bass songs and even orchestra scores. Growing up in an academic environment my path was laid down for me already. Little Malte didn’t know back then that a life outside of university and a regular nine-to-five job existed. Because school didn’t work out for me, I preferred to roam around with my friends to spray graffiti, make music and be stoned the whole day. This gave me a feeling of worthlessness, stupidity and not being able to do anything. Only a lot later I realised that music and arts were my close friends and true companions. I am grateful that I didn’t belittle myself and didn’t dully follow the path that was laid out before me by others.

When the handpan came into my life in spring 2014, it changed everything. At first I was still busking by myself on the streets but then soon afterwards Alex joined and we jointly discovered a whole different way of living. In appreciation of our actions and our being, living the delight of giving and taking and experiencing the wholehearted freedom of showing ourselves how we truly are.

Handpan, Pantam, Hang

The instrument ‘hang’ was invented by Sabina Schärer and Felix Rohner in 1999 in Bern, Switzerland.
It is inspired by the steel pan which comes from Trinidad and from the Gatham, a percussion instrument from India which is played by hand.
Between 2000 and 2013, Sabina and Felix built hanghang (plural) in the name of their company PANArt Hangbau AG. Over the years, other people tried to imitate the sound of the hang. Since the word hang is a protected expression, they called their instruments handpan or as well pantam. The expression hang drum is widely spread on the internet, but PANArt wants to state that their instruments should not be called like that, because they are not real drums. All instruments of this kind consist of two metal spheres glued on top of each other. The top and sometimes also the bottom shell are hammered in a way to produce vibrating membranes of different sizes, producing notes of a specific pitch. Usually for every note the octave and the fifth overtone are tuned as well. All the notes on the instrument are usually in one key – so the general sound of the handpan is very harmonic. ‘You cannot play wrong’. This principle and the generally quite soft, warm and soothing sound makes the handpan a perfect instrument for everybody with little musical experience. You don’t have to know anything about music theory. Just put your hands on the pantam and you will start to create and flow. On the other hand, the handpan opens up a lot of possibilities to be played. It is a percussive instrument with which you can create harmonies and melodies. When you play several pantams at the same time, you can play chromatic as well – meaning you can play every half tone step, similar to a piano.

For more and thorough information all around handpans – concerning questions like ‘How to buy a handpan’ ‘How to choose the right scale’, other artists, workshops and concerts in the German speaking countries – check out the German homepage:

Handpan Portal