He was drunk, but his eyes shone through the dimly lit room, steady and bright. Nothing got past this boy with the steel face and vibrant will. Graced with the grit of someone beyond his years, he was undoubtedly rare.
As human beings come and as human beings go, he was imperfect – uncertain and scarred, disenchanted and tough, full of convictions, conflictions and complications.
Yet here was someone whose words inspired her, whose writing made her want to be better. What he said, it intrigued her. A passionate drifter, he was someone she desperately wanted to know.
She began a silent list of fitting adjectives. At her wit’s end, fed up with half-hearted friendships and dead-end relationships, she was ready for something different. No more being comfortable with the commonplace. She wanted a new life full of unpredictability, where each day she did something that scared or challenged her. Step one would be putting herself out there, of making a new friend. She had heard scattered stories about him, but figured she would decide for herself. So far, so good.
A toast was proposed in celebration of his 29 years of life, albeit a day or two early.
They held their glasses high. A clink and then through the air, until a look of purposeful hesitation shot across his face.
“No, no,” he said, slamming his Pabst down. “You have to hit the table first.”
Again, up, then down, before drinking it in one fluid movement. It went down smooth and deep, just like the boy.
It’s not entirely a stretch for artists to move around within the space of the creative realm, crossing over from one medium to another, but it is somewhat rare when someone with a stable profession suddenly makes a horizontal move into the art world.
Yet that is exactly what political journalist Annika Henderson did some three or four years ago, and she hasn’t looked back since.
After meeting with producer Geoff Barrow of Portishead–who was on the lookout for a vocalist for Beak>, his newest project at the time–the British German made an impression strong enough for Barrow to alter the preconceived undertaking into a solo project, with Henderson at the helm.
Together, the group known simply as Anika has released one album, 2010′sAnika. This week sees the release of the six-song Anika EP on Stones Throw Records, featuring four covers and two dub versions of songs from the full-length.
One listen to the minimalistic post-punk-inspired sound and it’s easy to understand why critics have thrown around comparisons to Nico more than once.
Natalye: You once split time between Bristol and Berlin, but now you are living in Berlin full-time. What brought you here originally, and when and why did you decide to live here permanently?
Annika: I am half German and half English, so one of the reasons was to understand things about myself that were not English and to use my German again. I was brought up initially just speaking German and learnt English second.
The other reason was that i was trying to move into politics and EU policy development and happened to get a placement in Berlin, so that was how it began. I decided to go back after releasing the album because i couldn’t afford to live in England and continue being an artist. The general consensus was, “OK, stop messing around now and get a proper job.”
Natalye: Where in Germany did you grow up, and how does that place compare to Berlin?
Annika: I was born and raised in Woking in England, but spent all my summers in a village by the Dutch border in Germany, called Haldern. They have a big music festival there. It was a big influence in some ways. I also went to Berlin for family weddings and things. It has changed a lot since then but I guess nowhere stays the same.
Natalye: What do you like and dislike about Berlin, particularly from the point of view as an artist or creative? In what ways does the city foster your creativity best? Conversely, do you ever find that Berlin works “against” artists, just because there are so many people trying to do the same kinds of things with plenty of distractions along the way?
Annika: I am here not to get ideas or feed off the city but to try to work with it and live in it. My inspiration comes from everywhere and from the places I travel. There are of course distractions, perhaps more than elsewhere. The thing is, there isn’t so much of a framework holding things up, which affords you much freedom, but with freedom you need a lot of self-discipline. I think it helps that I have family in Berlin and my old editor and publication is here, so i keep up the freelance work with him. This gives it some structure.
Natalye: You have a new EP coming out on April 16, along with an accompanying video for “I Go To Sleep,” filmed in Brandenburg. Can you share a little bit about what went into the recording for these songs and the filming of the video?
Annika: The songs were recorded in Bristol with Billy (Fuller) and Matt (Williams) from BEAK> and two Bristol-based musicians, Rasha (Shaheen) and Andy (Sutor). The songs were dealt with in much the same way as before: recorded in a couple of takes.
It was great working with Uli (M Schueppel) on the video. It was a strange and coincidental meeting. He came to a basement Berlin show and approached me, very out of the blue, about directing a video for “I Go To Sleep.”
He then invited me along to see his film about Brötzmann. I said perhaps. Then by chance, I was at a small cinema with my friend and we’d just bought tickets for Holy Motors when Uli came over and said he was showing his film there tonight in 5 minutes, and would I like to come.
I said no because I’d just bought tickets for this other film but really wanted to see it. I then checked out the live show of Brötzmann after the film and was intrigued, so he invited me again to the screening the next day and I luckily went. It was a very impressive film, [particularly] the way he dealt with quite a shy character and told [the] story without actually telling [it] or projecting something upon the person.
We don’t learn much about Brötzmann in the film but it is a very emotional film. So I thought [Schueppel would] be perfect!
Natalye: In the past, you have stated that a reason why you wanted to be in a band was to have a place for the lyrics you had written. Yet with the Anika project, a lot of your songs are covers. How do you find a place for your own material, or do you still see that as something necessary, this having an outlet?
Annika: It is a complete outlet for me. The way the words are sung, the songs constructed, the project performed. I’d call that an outlet.
Natalye: Where the unrehearsed and unrefined nature of your album is part of the charm of it, how can you put out an EP with this same kind of mindset? Do you still think your music is more genuine, vulnerable or pure because of this, or is it impossible to recreate that kind of feeling now?
Annika: It’s still possible. I just set up traps and fall into them.
Natalye: When it comes to performing in Berlin, what particular venues do you like to play? Is there someplace you haven’t yet played but want to?
Annika: We played in Berghain recently. That was somewhat surreal.
Natalye: When you are seeing live shows, where do you like to see bands?
Annika: Festsaal is usually good. Berghain and Bi Nuu too.
Natalye: In the two of three years since your debut album came out, how have you changed, developed, or grown the most, both as a person and as a musician? What are some examples of that?
Annika: It is natural to grow up. Lots has happened. Hopefully the next record will reflect this. Making music is growing up in public.
Natalye: What are 3-5 of your favorite places to go in Berlin to relax, think, write, unwind, etc.?
Annika: The galleries are great there, so I tend to try to see something once in a while. Also the classical music venues are really impressive. I love the big old libraries too. Brunch on Sunday with my brother or my friends is nice too. Berlin taught me how Sundays should be a day off, sitting in the sun, slowly drinking coffee all day with people you like. The big forests around Berlin are lovely too.
Anika is out now on Invada in Europe, and on Stones Throw in the USA & Japan. You can buy the new EP here.
The sound of Euros in the hand is quite unlike any sort of noise American coins can muster. There’s an unexplained kind of complication distinguishing between the two, although in theory, it shouldn’t be so difficult. Math is math and numbers are numbers, but somehow, the absence of bills below the amount of five creates roadblocks in my mind. I have lived in Europe long enough to have assimilated, yet I still never quite managed to get a handle on the coins, always stumbling over the size and amount and feel of them all. To me, a quarter feels like home, while a 1 Euro coin just feels heavy.
But the bounty of coins is sometimes more handy than not, at least when it comes to things like ice cream. There’s a certain amount of novelty surrounding the idea of coins with higher denominations. I could reach in my pocket and pay for ice cream, or a bottle of water, or half a liter of beer, while using only one or two coins.
And this matters because it feels as though – in my mind – there is an abundance of ice cream in Europe, while it isn’t everywhere in the States. But then again, maybe it’s just a difference of presentation. There, I’d be hard-pressed to find a city without a Baskin Robbins, and it seems as though frozen yogurt shops have popped up literally everywhere, most often in the form of tart.
But the difference is: ice cream in America is something you seek out and go to. Ice cream in Europe is something you just come across. Creameries are a pastime but ice cream stands are a ritual. The disparity is subtle, but it exists, and it’s difficult to explain to anyone who hasn’t experienced both.
We were standing in the square of the town marketplace in Bonn, surrounded by glorious looking buildings covered in a shell of ornate carvings and painted pastel shades, like candy-coated Easter egg homes lining the square. The streets themselves weren’t like normal streets either, but the old-fashioned cobblestone kind considered antiquated by those of us born and raised in the New World. I could picture horse-drawn carriages of days gone by making their way through the plaza, the clip-clop of hoofs on stones echoing around the mock fortress the buildings created on all sides.
Instead, this square was filled with heaps of people, making their way to and from starting and ending points, jutting in and out of side streets, perusing shop windows in search of necessities or gifts. In that group, also, were the four of us. We sauntered lazily across the open space, stopping only when we came to an ice cream stand.
I wondered what kind of ice cream he would order; he wasn’t the type to have favorites, although he certainly did have an opinion as to which things were his least favorites. When it came to ice cream, mint and chocolate don’t belong together, is what he told me.
I remember him shaking his head a few days earlier when, as we walked along the narrow touristy streets lining the area near Kölner Dom, I ordered a scoop of After Eight, the British name for mint chocolate chip. We were looking for postcards when he turned to me and said, “Now we get ice cream.” It wasn’t a statement, nor was it a question, but more of a suggestion, for we had just passed an Eisimbiss.
And when I told him what I wanted, he gave me one of those looks I can interpret but can’t really place into words. Recalling the conversation about flavor compatibility, I knew what he was thinking, and I shook my head as well, a response of his response to me.
He ordered in German for the both of us, and then counted out a handful of Euro coins in his hand and placed them on the counter as our cones were handed across. “How much do I owe?” I asked, and he shook his head yet again, this time to signify that it was his treat.
In Bonn, I opted for something more adventurous: blueberry. With the clink of the Euros in his hand, a transaction was made. He counted out his coins and placed them on the counter in a perfectly aligned stack, largest to smallest. We all grabbed our cones and headed out of the square, down toward the Rhine.
FLAUNT MAGAZINE Acid Pauli - It’s Hard to Say No to This Sound
It’s a rainy Thursday afternoon in late October and Martin Gretschmann is seated in a café in Kreuzberg, historically the center of alternative subculture in the ever-burgeoning creative hub of Berlin.
It’s here in Berlin where the German electronic scene is centered, and where Gretschmann has made name for himself with monthly residencies at local haunts like Salon Zur Wilden Renate and KaterHolzig, the latter of which–located less than two miles away from the café where he now sits–houses his studio.
Electronic subgenres aside, Gretschmann, the quiet, demure man behind minimal techno solo act Acid Pauli, would likely file his music under “electronic world music,” a sporadically concocted term of his that is just as explicit as it is evasive.
“Normally I don’t have an idea and I don’t really feel like I need to have an idea, because it’s not my job to think about [that],” he said between sips of his cappuccino.
The German-born Gretschmann has been defying musical stereotypes and crossing over definitive sound borders for years, beginning with his tenure during the teenager years in indie and punk rock bands, back in his hometown of Weilheim in Oberbayern.
Fast-forward to 1996, when he started a solo project-turned-live-band, Console, fusing indie and electronic music. A year later, he took up the role of programmer in the Notwist, a band from his hometown. Then, in 2003, he and members of the Notwist partnered with Oakland, Calif. hip-hop artists to form Anticon project 13 & God.
So it might come as a surprise that in the midst of all this, Gretschmann has time for a solo project. But in fact, Gretschmann has been writing and performing music under the Acid Pauli moniker since 2000.
“[My laptop] got stolen and so I had to buy a new one, and it was like, the first laptop that I owned where you can actually make, like music,” he explained.
Overwhelmed and inspired by the spontaneous and creative capabilities of his new machine, Gretschmann began the Acid Pauli project.
“I just has the impression that I needed to do something more, on my own,” he said.
But with all the projects he juggles–not to mention his co-ownership of Munich club Rote Sonne–it took some time, and it wasn’t until June of this year when the first Acid Pauli album, Mst, was released.
The album came out on Clown & Sunset, a label run by American-Chilean electronic artist Nicolas Jaar, a man whose music Gretschmann’s has often been likened to. Interestingly enough, Gretschmann’s wife is Chilean, which may explain why there is such a Latin influence in his work.
“I’m always interested in everything that touches in me a way,” Gretschmann said of his music tastes. “But I [do have] a flavor for South American music.”
More recently, on Nov. 13, Gretschmann released Get Lost V, a compilation album on Damian Lazarus’ label, Crosstown Rebels.
“I made this like half a year ago and I was very happy with the results,” Gretschmann said, referencing the initial incarnation of the mix.
However, Lazarus felt it wasn’t particularly representative of Gretschmann’s many musical tastes and facets, and urged him to lengthen the piece, which he readily did, rearranging the songs along the way and ending up a double-disc compilation spanning 41 tracks.
And Gretschmann, who often finds it difficult saying no to new projects or musical propositions, said the mix extension is one decision he certainly doesn’t regret.
“I do so many things,” he said. “And I try to do them, like, in way that I’m happy.”
Julia Stone might be best known as one half of the brother-sister duo from Australia, Angus & Julia Stone. But in 2010, after five years of playing together, the elder Stone made the decision–just as little brother did the year before– to branch out from the family tree, embarking on a solo career.
The result was The Memory Machine, and if numbers sold are any indication, the indie-folk singer-songwriter path has been treating her well.
Earlier this year, Julia released a follow-up, By The Horns, which came out two months prior to the release of Angus’ second album. The decision to pursue parallel yet solo routes was a mutual one, but the two have plans to next work on a third album together.
In the meantime, Julia continues to tour and promote her most recent set of songs with a European tour. And whether Berlin just can’t get enough of her or the other way around–this will be her third show in the city this year–matters less than the fact that if you haven’t seen her yet this year, you really have no excuse now. Natalye Childress
Postbahnhof, Straße der Pariser Kommune 8 10243 Berlin ; 030 69 81 28 20; S Ostbahnhof; admission €21.
Berlin’s Rampue has been making music for more than a decade, but in recent years it has undergone a transformation. Shedding his 8-bit skin and adopting a more sophisticated deep house sound, he recently released Turn Around, a four-track EP that clocks in at just under 30 minutes, showcasing his new-found direction. The artist, whose music is available on Berlin labels Audiolith and Dantze, will keep busy through the end of the year with both DJ and live sets around Germany. Coming up: a live performance at Ritter Butzke on the 27th.
SLOW TRAVEL BERLIN …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Lido, 9pm
On a musical scale of Richter-esque proportions, the newest album by Trail of Dead, Lost Songs, comes in at an overly intense.
The album, which is the eighth studio full-length from the Texan-based heavy alternative rockers, was instigated by geographical separation – principal members Conrad Keely and Jason Reece were halfway around the world from one another – written in their hometown of Austin over the space of a month, and recorded abroad in Germany.
These international influences and ingredients all come together in the songs, but what’s most apparent is the always introspective and occasionally caustic commentary on the world today. Lost Songs covers subject matter ranging from Pussy Riot, to American consumerism, to the Syrian civil war, suggesting that, in a world full of “first world problems,” individuals should look beyond pure creature comforts and re-evaluate what matters.
As the album isn’t out until the end of the month, fans on this tour will have the opportunity for a sneak preview of what’s to come. Natalye Childress
Lido, Cuvrystraße 7 10997 Berlin; 030 69 56 68 40; U: Schlesisches Tor; admission: €23 (in advance) / €28 (on the door).
Five years ago, Robert Rath set out to make a difference in the music scene, and Erased Tapes was born. In the time since, the London/Berlin-based record label has strived to push the conventional boundaries of genre by blurring the barrier between classical and contemporary.
This entire year has been about celebrating the music of the label and the people behind it, with events held throughout Europe. Now, Erased Tapes is in the midst of a tour, stopping off in European capital cities, as well as a handful of other places along the way, in a showcase celebration of what has happened and what is yet to come.
Berlin–one of the two cities that birthed the label–will host two nights in a row with Nils Frahm, Ólafur Arnalds, A Winged Victory For The Sullen, and Anne Müller delighting the eyes and ears of musical fans. Natalye Childress
Singer-songwriter, Thijs Kuijken, the man behind folk project I am Oak, took his name from his hometown, Bergeijk, which loosely means “oak mountain” in his native Dutch.
In a similarly themed play on words, Kuijken released his third album,Nowhere or Tammensaari earlier this year. Tammensaari points to a Finnish town which, translated, means “oak island.” He is oak, indeed.
What’s more is that Kuijken, a regular on the German tour circuit, kicked off a tour of the country this week to do a little promotion of the new album.
From Duisberg to Leipzig, from Göttingen to Offenbach, 10 cities will be privy to his earnest and melodic vocals, his quiet acoustic guitar, and a parade of extras like samples, beats, and other unique instruments. Natalye Childress
Nick Cave, arguably one of the more prolific singer-songwriters in the rock music world, once referred to Gallon Drunk as being “cool as fuck.” Talk about a celebrity endorsement.
Now, nearly 25 years after the formation of this London-based band, the group is still going strong, though things haven’t always been easy; it was early last year when band member Simon Wring passed away, leaving the band in limbo.
The former four-piece band made a decision to continue on as a three-piece, and this year saw the release of Gallon Drunk’s seventh album, The Road Gets Darker From Here.
Now out on a European tour, the group is bringing its swamp rock sound to Berlin. Natalye Childress
Cassiopeia, Revaler Straße 99, Tor II, 10245 Berlin; 030 47 38 59 49; U+S: Warschauer Straße; admission: €14.30
It was early 2010 when Efterklang, a Danish experimental indie rock band consisting of childhood friends Mads Brauer, Casper Clausen, and Rasmus Stolberg, received an email from a Swedish film director containing photos of a town located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen.
Situated in the Svalbard archipelago, 1,300 kilometers beneath the North Pole, and in a space where the Norwegian Sea, Greenland Sea, and the Arctic Ocean converge, the island has several claims to fame.
It has the northernmost airport with public scheduled flights; it is home to a global seed vault; it uses no transportation around the island other than planes, snowmobiles and boats; there are six national parks which overlap it; and it is home to the world’s northernmost grand piano.
But the subject of the email wasn’t any of these things. Instead, it was about Piramida – a former coal mining settlement, abandoned in 1998 by its Russian owners and left to become a ghost town.
Having just released its third full-length, “Magic Chairs,” the band didn’t immediately do anything with the knowledge of Piramida. Instead, the idea lay dormant in the minds of the members until it came time to write a new album. Only then did it begin to lay the groundwork for what would be the trio’s first album since arriving in Berlin two years ago.
Vocalist Clausen sat down on the day of the album’s release party to discuss the album, which came out this week, and how it’s influenced by both Piramida and Berlin.
What was the inspiration behind using Piramida as the starting point for your album?
We saw these pictures and were just sort of, intrigued. The light up there is very special, so you had this amazing nature sight of a big glacier and two huge mountains, and then this small settlement in the middle, like a ghost town, where people left 13 years ago. So this whole idea of this place was just so intriguing: the children’s swings and, it was like, there was something really, really unique about it and those pictures kept haunting us for a while afterward.
In the beginning of 2011, we started thinking of what kind of album we’d like to do next, and usually when we do a new album, we sit around a table and say, “Any ideas?” And the first thing that usually tricks us when we want to do an album is to find something that really fascinates us, something we’re really excited about doing. Usually it’s quite practical. In this case, we figured out that we really wanted to do an album that was based around a specific location, so we would start at that location, and from there take out inspiration in sounds and so on. And then came to mind these pictures we saw, from Piramida. We didn’t write any songs before going there. We just went there with a blank sheet of paper.
What was the town like when you arrived? Was it in a condition you expected it to be in?Was it anything you had imagined?
The place looks empty, as a ghost town is, I guess. And it’s very silent. There’s a few workers from the Russian coal mine company that still owns the place, but it’s really sparse and just really…I don’t know exactly what the feeling is…it’s really empty space. And it’s really even more empty because you see it’s not just nature. It’s a town, full of empty houses.
You can’t help feeling like a child. It was like being a kid, a lot of the time, [we were] just walking into the houses, like “Oh it’s too big. Try and go in that door, and go down in the basement there.” I mean, that was a lot of fun, just having a whole town [to yourself]. There was one place that the Russians chose to close up for some reason we don’t know. But besides that, everything was kind of open.
Piramida is home to the northernmost grand piano in the world, a Russian Red October. What was your experience with the piano, which features on your album?
It was in a concert hall. The concert hall in this town is a little special, because the Russians considered it a prestige project. So even though the settlement had around 1,000 inhabitants, the town had quite a lot of features: a swimming pool, a hospital, and they also had their “culture palace.” And inside the culture palace was this 400-seat theater. And on the stage, was standing this grand piano.
It was very out of tune, as we knew it would be, but we managed to use it. It had like one chord that was kind of clean. So we used that one in a few sketches and songs.
So when you come to a place like this, and you have nine days, and you have no ideas of what your songs are going to be like, or no structure, how do you go about collecting these sounds?
We recorded way too much. We came back with around 1,000 sounds. We just went with our ears, I think. But all the time, when we were going somewhere and recording something, I think we knew exactly when something was especially special.
The opening song, “Hollow Mountain,” has this start, this kind of metallic spike sound, and that was this great tank we found out there, full of these spikes. There had been some insulation around it but that fell off and the spikes were sitting there, and if you hit those spikes, they individually have different notes. A very kind of kalimba-ish sound like some, I don’t know, like Arctic-African, or something like that.
So when standing in front of such things, you immediately stand hitting one note and the other one, and you start basically jamming out. We knew we had to turn it into something. And there [were] obviously a few moments where we felt that kind of thing, but not necessarily knowing exactly what the song would be. I wouldn’t know what my vocal parts would be yet and didn’t [think] about it that way. I was just like, “now let’s try and capture this moment, and then when we come back we’ll work on it again.”
How did you go about working your way through all the recorded sounds and begin to assemble songs?
When we came back, instead of going through all the sounds, because there was way too much, Mads started sort of instead going through the sounds with his memories. If he found a recording or something from up there that he remembered, then he would start making small sketches. Could be that they were just single sounds and he would put them together in beats, or maybe a small melody, or something like that. And then these small sketches, he would send out to Rasmus and I, and then we would listen to them and I would just try and sing or play something on the guitar, and try and make some kind of structure of the songs, and then send that back.
And was this a process that you immediately set out to do once you returned home, or did you need time for those ideas to germinate and take root before you could start work on the new album?
It took awhile, two months I think, when Mads was just going through the archives and making small sketches. After two months, we got this invitation from Sydney Opera House to perform with their orchestra. And it was a little bit of a dilemma because we had this idea of an open deadline, so we wanted to take our time.
What happened at that point was, suddenly we could start deadlining the whole thing to May, which, we couldn’t turn that down; it was just such a nice opportunity. And we asked them: “Could we do this album as an orchestral piece and make it a world premiere?”
And they were surprisingly happy with that idea. And so suddenly it turned into a deadline project. We had to sort of finish the songs in January so we could invite musicians to play, and record, and mix, and so on, and at the same time, do the orchestral scores.
What did the creation of these orchestral scores entail? Did you write them yourselves, work with other individuals, or just send out the music with blind faith?
We worked with one guy we worked with before, an arranger from Denmark, Karsten Fundal, so we knew what he was about. And then we worked with a New York girl, Missy Mazzoli. So they both kind of split songs between them. And then we invited them to the studio and played sketches for them before the songs were really finished, so they got into the ‘universe’ of [the record]. And then around February, we had all the songs ready. We knew the structure. We sent it to them, and then they started working while we were continuing with the album, because we wanted to make it a parallel kind of process.
We wanted the album to be quite condensed – that was the whole idea. Focus on the sounds and atmosphere of Piramida, not use too much, you know, strings and brass, and we tried to cut that down a little bit. And then, on the other hand, on the other project, we could open up that whole thing. So that was kind of a nice way of working.
I really like that the album has a lot of space. Once you start playing the songs as a band it’s really spacious music. While, with the orchestra, obviously a lot of the space is kind of filled up. But what was really intriguing about this was that usually when we work, we kind of make all the orchestral parts for the album so have already kind of thought about that aspect. But for this album, we left a lot of space for the arrangers to come up with ideas, so it was just such a nice feeling to get these arrangements back where someone had actually created something you didn’t come up with.
I think that was very inspiring for us, something that we really learned a lot from, this idea of leaving space. We’re kind of control freaks in many ways, so this is something that is hard for us sometimes to do, but I think we just grow a little older and it comes naturally.
Although this album started in Piramida, ultimately it is an album about Berlin. This journey of the music mirrors Efterklang’s own journey in a sense, as you are from Copenhagen but now call Berlin home. What is the band’s relationship with Berlin as a city and a music scene?
There [are] a lot of things to say about Berlin. I kind of feel everyday I’m seeing a lot of awful stuff, you know? There’s a lot of really bad stuff to say about Berlin. But at the same time, you see or experience as many great moments, and surprising kinds of people just kind of come your way. There [are] just a lot of people here that are creating and doing things; there’s a nice flow within people. It’s like ideas flow a little easier.
I’m really turned onto the idea of inviting more people and also letting them sculpt the sounds and sculpt our ideas. We always found that we get lifted much higher when we invite people in and when we collaborate with people. Things start happening, and that’s quite crucial for Efterklang. We’ve been together for 10 years, and I think it’s a lot of what keeps us going.
SLOW TRAVEL BERLIN Stereo Total, Festsaal Kreuzberg, 9pm
Twenty years ago, a French woman and a German man met at a bakery on Adalbertstraße in Berlin. Fast-forward to today, and the two–who have basically been in a band ever since–will play a show just around the corner from that initial meeting place.
The band, Stereo Total, is made up of the aforementioned, Françoise Cactus and Brezel Göring, who play alongside a host of other, alternating musicians.
But even more varied than the lineup is the music itself; Stereo Total is an eclectic mix of kitschy, catchy electropop and a sampling of just about everything else.
With lyrics in German, French, and English, alongside snippets of Japanese, Turkish, and Spanish, the band is relentless and prolific, churning out song after surrealistic song.
The duo’s latest effort, Cactus versus Brezel, was released in Europe this summer, and it slated for a 2013 release in the U.S. What does it sound like? A listen to the track, “Diese Musik hört sich an” will provide both a literal and figurative answer to that question. But perhaps Stereo Total is one of those things better experienced first hand.
Catch them at Festsaal Kreuzberg for what may be one of the most bizarrely fun live experiences to hit Berlin. Natalye Childress
Although the music of Beirut was born in a New Mexico bedroom, the songs have always had a feeling far bigger than their origins.
This is likely because Zach Condon, mastermind behind the indie chamber pop band, found his inspiration from sources wide and far; he cites jazz music as a primary influence, but he also picked up musical traditions of ethnic groups during worldwide travels with his brother.
Now, six years, five EPs, and three albums after emerging on the scene, the boy with the Balkan roots has displayed such an extensive and global-infused repertoire that he can no longer be relegated to any one kind of genre.
And although his last album, 2011′s “The Rip Tide,” is a much more introspective release than those prior–both lyrically and in terms of musical composition–Condon is still exploring. Only this time, instead of going beyond himself, he’s focusing on what all that worldly exploring overlooked: his own roots. Natalye Childress
C-Halle, Columbiadamm 13-21, 10965 Berlin; 030 69 81 28 14; U: Platz der Luftbrücke; admission: sold out – returns only.
It’s been done many times: actresses or models will find success within their niches–and perhaps it’s at the urging of their agents, or maybe just the potency of being famous gets to their heads, but many then attempt to crossover into other artistic fields.
One only needs to think of the past decade, when the lowest-common denominator of celebrities like Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton attempted to leave their contained Hollywood worlds and enter the musical realm. The result? Disastrous, proving that (subjective) beauty doesn’t always translate into creative prowess.
But if there is any exception to the rule, perhaps Hannah Cohen is it. Born into a community that nurtured artistic expression, she first found her way in the world as a model, posing for renowned New York photographers, something which eventually inspired her enough to pursue a career on the other side of the camera.
And it didn’t end there. After introducing her music – songs written in private, spare moments – to others, she was encouraged to put it out. And so in April of this year, “Child Bride” was released: a delicately melancholic debut by a Californian with the voice – as well as the face – of an angel. Natalye Childress