Meet Anna von Hausswolff, church organ cultist 

click to enlarge Anna von Hausswolff
  • Courtesy photo
  • Anna von Hausswolff uses the organ significantly in her newest recording, “Ceremony.”
For aesthetic inspiration, Swedish keyboardist Anna von Hausswolff cites her avant-garde artist dad, Carl Michael von Hausswolff, who introduced her as a kid to fellow bohemians like Michael Esposito, an EVP (electronic voice phenomena) specialist.

“Michael let me and my sister listen to a lot of the tapes he’d recorded, and it was scary stuff, where you could hear a clear voice saying, ‘I know you killed your mother!’” she recalls. “My father always had some cool, very creative, special people around him.”

But it was a mummy who proved even more influential to her sophomore album, “Ceremony,” which she’ll premiere in The City on Monday at the Rickshaw Stop.

The strange, bandage-wrapped ghoul approached her at a crowded Halloween party three years ago, right after she had released her piano-centered debut, “Singing From the Grave.”

“This mummy comes up to me and says, ‘You’re Anna von Hausswolff, right? You should be playing on a church organ. So if you ever decide to try it, call me, because I’m an expert,’” she says. “And he gave me his card, I kept it and I called him. And he taught me everything I needed to know and more.”

She laughs at her own absurd origin story. “I mean, you can’t say no to a mummy — it’s just impossible!”

Von Hausswolff might not be possessed by cathedral organs, like the haunted protagonist of the horror-film classic “Carnival of Souls.” But she’s dangerously close.

She’s absorbed so much on the subject, she started a Church Organ Cult blog, featuring blueprints, manuals, librettos and vintage pipe-organ photos. She loves relating famous historical tales about the instrument, like the story of the organ commissioned in 1599 by Queen Elizabeth I as a gift to an Ottoman Empire sultan in Istanbul.

“It chimed the hours, played several pieces by itself and delighted the Sultan,” she says. “And when the Crimean War broke out, Turkey and Britain fought side by side, thanks to that organ.”

So far, von Hausswolff has been able to play four imposing chapel keyboards, including a legendary Henry Willis model in England.

But she was most comfortable pedaling one in her native Gothenburg, in the church she rented for five days to record the spooky “Ceremony” — which, in reverent processionals such as “Deathbed,” “Goodbye” and “Funeral for My Future Children” — marks the passing of her grandfather. She’ll replicate the atmospherics live via synthesizer.

What of von Hausswolff’s own future? At 27, the ex-architecture student has big plans.

“My goal is to design my own organ, to build it, and to have it at my castle,” she says. “Uh, which I will buy. Eventually!”

IF YOU GO

Anna von Hausswolff

Where: Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Monday

Tickets: $10 to $12

Contact: (415) 861-2011, www.ticketfly.com

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Tom Lanham

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