März Musik

März – in German ‘March’ is the long month of transition in this part of the world. In between the neverending winter and the long-awaited summer, the darkness and the light, the Berlinale and the Freiluftkino season, the CTM and the Atonal. I actually love the feeling when the first, more intense rays of the morning sun burn my face on my way to work… on my bike \o/ (I love my bike, but I am not one of these Berliners riding their bikes even when temperatures drop to a negative scale!).

Two years ago, high on discovering all the new places in the city, I participated for the first time in the event organized by Berliner Festspiele in my beloved music cathedral aka Kraftwerk called ‘The Long Now’. The concept of it is to bring a super ambitious line up of electronic musicians for a 29 hours long event of the Daylight Saving Time overnight switch, allowing the participants to indulge into the darkness, even allowing some sleeping spots at the venue.

A year ago, alongside with the event, there were corresponding installations in the neighbouring Radialsystem V and Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien which were pretty amazing. ‘Extended Compositions’ showed e.g. the works of weapons transformed into instruments, shooting the music, not war ❤

In Radialsystem V, the Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota together with alif created a musical installation’Split in the wall’ with music as a concept of blood running through the veins – instruments.

The dreamy Long Now event will happen again this year from 25th March 18:59 till 26th March 23:59. Emerge in the lucid dreaming while in Kraftwerk, before the spring will take over the city.

And it all makes me feel how long was my winter sleep and how great is to face spring again. Simple, but happiness is free when this feeling hits!

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29th Nov

29th Nov is a special day in Berlin, which could probably be added as an extra day off (there are very few Public Holidays in this city anyway!). What happened on that day I have no idea, apart from what I’ve googled now. Apparently Godzilla received its star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but I’m not sure this could be a trigger for creating some of the craziest, quirkiest and most creative label for techno videos.

Last year I was lucky to celebrate 9 years of 29th Nov films on the already legendary Boiler Room party and looking forward to its 10th anniversary.

Maybe it is a coincidence, but it seems there is some strange tradition of throwing 29 hour long parties in this beautiful city. Apart from celebrating 29th Nov, almost each year The Long Now is celebrating the seasons change with a 29 hour show in Kraftwerk.

Since November is the month when the days are getting unbelievably dark, cold and gloomy, having started my 3rd year in Berlin, I fall back into living out of the amazing offer that this city has for music aficionados like me: be it jazz concerts, contemporary dance classes or amazing line ups every week(end).

Or binge-watching Youtube videos, since GEMA has finally allowed most of the content that was out of reach for German IPs for years, due to its famous lawsuit. I can totally recommend randomly choosing 29th Nov videos, and you will not be disappointed. I have consciously chosen some of my favourite ones below, although I could easily start a campaign of posting one video every day for the rest of the month.

Till then, the will be enough reasons this month to celebrate. Commemorating the freedom that brought the fall of the Wall, first snow in the city (apparently next Tuesday already) or Prince Charles (the club, it is) anniversary with some amazing DJs coming up like Theo Parrish or Moodymann. Plus hopefully Donald Trump losing the elections very soon. In any case, happy 29th Nov everyone!

This is my church

Kraftwerk stands for the ‘power station’ in German. And there are quite a few of them remaining in the centre of Berlin nowadays, including the overpraised Berghain. Its worship makes it for one of the strongest religious movements these days and it’s only a matter of time when the local authorities will start charging for the techno tax, in my humble opinion. But there is also an actual Kraftwerk in Mitte, used only for specific venues, such as The Long Now / Atonal or currently: CTM.

So while awaiting the Deep Web performance and Robert Henke’s concert, I decided to share the set of photos that comes from the 2015 edition of Berlin Atonal festival. During some five hot days in August last year, I was lucky to praise and dance to some amazing artists, such as Ugangan Methods (Ancient Methods + Regis), Shackleton, Alessandro Cortini, Kanding Ray, Varg, Shed, Samuel Kerridge, Lakker (who presented the amazing Tundra works), and many others. I remember the very powerful opening with the voices of the Chor der Kulturen der Welt in this mighty space, as well as the screening of ‘Industrial Soundtrack for the Urban Decay’ by Amélie Ravalec and Travis Collins. 

The light and sound installations set up in the basements and various labyrynths of Kraftwerk were also ery hypnotizing, almost sleepwalking ambience. So after all, I wonder why isn’t it a spot for regular events? I guess the overwhelming size of it, and the magical atmosphere of it just doesn’t match a regular Klubnacht. I think though that if Berghain is a parochial church, Kraftwerk is the cathedral, following the sacred metaphore.

So, see you at the black (laser?) mass on Sunday!

Special thanks goes to: Aldona Weicher, the author of the featuring photo and lately my favourite profile cover. You captured me, the place and the closing moment perfectly!

Berlin Radio

When I was a kid, I remember being haunted by a recurring nightmare that I am being exposed to a radio that can’t be turned off and forced to listen to very bad music and news 24/7. After years of autoanalysis, I obviously put the blame on my parents who made sure that I receive a proper music education from the early years: exposing me to piano and singing classes few times per week. So at the age of 8 or so, I composed my first VERY abstract ‘track’ on my synthesiser. Later I discovered it had something to do with Theo Parrish early experiments. And thus, I developed very low tolerance to bullshit and mainstream sounds.

Music has determined many of my life choices, including the places of residence and travel destinations. And as for my childhood nightmare, last year I discovered someone flipping it into a dream. Aybee, US-origin DJ, filmmaker and producer, currently based in Berlin, created a very interesting story of a journey of a radio throughout different neighbourhoods of the city. I was very happy to see that the radio was broadcasting very deep sounds that were simply ticking the right knobs of my brain. As well as that the people paid attention to it, contrary to the stereotype that Berlin is a cold city full of very indifferent people. But well, to be fair, this radio met people like Ari, Fred P or Levon Vincent on its way. It also passed my house a few times, no wonder why.

All of these DJs are regularly playing in various venues and combine that unique Detroit-Chicago-Berlin flavour. Be it techno, be it soul, be it house or whatever you call it (as I hate labels, I prefer – following my dear friend Enclave – using colours or temperatures to describe music), if I found this radio on the Michaelbruecke, I’d adopt it for life. Just check it out (Aybee is playing regularly in Panorama Bar or Tresor, too) and fall in love with Berlin once again.

Detroit B2B Berlin

Cold days = getting sick. Getting sick = managing to read all the pending stuff I wanted to. A Pulitzer-winning author, Charlie LeDuff was one of those on the waiting list on my shelf. Detroit-born writer and journalist stole my sick days with his reportage ‘Detroit: An American Autopsy’. Although I have never been to Detroit, it’s on my travel list since ages. I have also watched tones of the documentaries about this fascinating city, such as:

Also, my fascination with the remote and abandoned places, urban apocalipse and related started a while ago. Only in Berlin though I realised how many stories of the ‘wounded cities’ that once used to be flourishing with industrial jobs are hidden in the abandoned factories and warehouses. Berlin is a perfect place of offering such places a second life, often linked to great cultural venues, such as Stattbad (no longer existing though), Kraftwerk and Tresor anyway, Berghain, Urban Spree and many more which I still did not manage to describe here. There is still a full list of horrifying, dreadful and yet absolutely fascinating decay buildings for me to discover.

So not only postindustrial images, but also the emerging creativity links Detroit with Berlin. Obviously, both cities offer strikingly different vision on the social welfare, and supporting the cultural scene, but the fact is that techno music was born in parallel both in Detroit, and in Berlin. It emerged from the painful history, and events. And from extraordinary creative energy. Some interesting facts are gathered in the following documentary:

Nowadays there are many DJs from Detroit based in Berlin as permanent residents, and enriching the techno culture. Berlin wouldn’t offer the sounds we hear nowadays, if it wasn’t for Detroit. So, being relatively in a better shape, thanks to the economy based on the tech and creative industry, Berlin owes a lot to Detroit.

10 thoughts for 1 year in Berlin

So, I can tick the box entitled “one year ago I started a new chapter in Berlin”. Here are some thoughts and learnings acquired during the last year:

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Location: Berlin is the centre of the world. Oh well, Europe at least. Although the real airport might never be opened (?), it is relatively easy and cheap to fly anywhere in Europe, or connect with the transcontinental flights. I guess this year each month I did at least one weekend getaway abroad (little getaways to Poland and other German cities/sites included). I even went to one tip of the world: to Arctic, which was one of my dreams. It took me only 6 hours to get there though! But Berlin can be a little universe itself and it takes years to discover it fully.

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Events: Cutting-edge culture is here. Film festivals, concerts, music festivals and regular nights in some of the emblematic clubs. It’s also great for sports: cycling, surfing, climbing – even though sea and mountains are far away, all is accessible here. But it’s also the best place to be lazy and relax/unwind.

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Cultural life: Apart from clubs, Berlin offers great museums and has more classical offer, like going to a concert in Berliner Philharmoniker or numberless operas or theatres. I particularly enjoy the evenings out in the modern dance companies spaces, like Sophiensaale or Radialsystem V.

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Visitors: Friends still come and visit you, even if you don’t live at the beach (comparing to my previous life in Barcelona). It’s also pretty centric and easily connected, not to mention it takes me literally 2,5 hours to go to my home city in Poland.

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(Job) Opportunities: The start up scene scent is still there in your nostrils, and it is very common to support the local innitiatives and emerging products. Even though the job market is very dynamic, comparing to other German (European) cities, salaries are not amazing. For now the cheap life has been paying off enough, but seems that each year the frequency of using the G-word (‘gentrification’) in different contexts is rising.

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Language: German is not as vicious as they say it is. It took me one year to land somewhere near the B2 level, which means I can easily read the newspapers, understand most of the TV shows, sometimes even go to the cinema and most importantly have a conversation. I still don’t feel too comfortable talking to newly met people, especially if the music is loud, you know. In 2016 this should be OK-ish!

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Climate and nature: Winters are not as long as they say, and summers are amazing and hotter than anywhere else in the central Europe.

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Architecture: So once upon a time, it was all about the Post-War, post-industrial abandoned buildings both on the “East” and “West” side. Berlin is much more than that. There are few cities offering the rainbow on a block of flats’ facade, aren’t they?

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Cuisine: Monday – Vietnamese, Tuesday – Israeli, Wednesday – Spanish tapas, Thursday – Russian, Friday – Indian. Next week you can replace this selection with any other cuisine, and you will find the place to eat out within 1 km radius, I am pretty sure. Berlin is heaven for foodies, and it is still very cheap!

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Lifestyle – described as “whatever works”. Questioning the normality, creative mindset and open-mindedness is probably what I like most about living in Berlin. History of Berlin had it all: pain, tears and joy. When nothing is taken for granted, many things can happen… Like these urban gardens in the centre of the city, or the club opened on the commercial centre’s rooftop.

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Yes, Berlin is probably overrated, but it is still the best place in above-mentioned terms I’ve lived in so far (sorry, Barcelona, you are also awesome and I miss you badly!!!).

Krake – it’s all about music, not names

I don’t go to festivals nowadays. Normally. I’ve been to ADE, Sonar, among other big ones and I enjoyed it a lot. Truth is that now I don’t have as much energy nor time to stay a couple of days partying 24/7. Also, within time they all got way more commercial, and as a consequence – super expensive. There are 3 local Berliner festivals though I can’t think of skipping: CTM, Krake and Atonal. Next week, the second one will take over the city (Friedrichshein, to be precise, or Urban Spree area):

I am looking forward to the amalgamate of art, sound and good ambience. One of my very promising dark techno sound evangelist & artist friends, Enclave, showed me last year’s edition from Suicide Circus and I was amazed. I really liked the anti-festival vybe, meaning that instead of pricey tickets and hype about first two or three big names listed, there will be a mix of more or less unknown, but ambitious rising hopes of the electronic music scene. Here’s a documentary showing bits and pieces of 2014 Krake edition together with the ideology behind the venue:

So: where, when, what? Next week, starting from Monday 3rd August till Sunday 9th, Urban Spree area (together with Kantine am Berghain and Suicide Circus) will be taken over by the art of techno. You can check the detailed programme here. I am so much looking forward to the Friday and Saturday nights, alongside with the art exhibition and 29th Nov films. There’s an ongoing discussion in Berlin about how the electronic scene could reinvent itself, and move away from the overtly mainstream trend, while coming back to its very own alternative roots. Not sure why, anytime I think about the dying scene, and techno being a superficial platform, I always feel like this humanoid from this brilliant videoclip.