Archive for the ‘Life in Berlin’ Category

Berlin Community Radio

In Life in Berlin, Music on April 1, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Myself and the Pueblo crew have been lucky enough to be included in a new music project in town, Berlin Community Radio. The station present “everything that is coming from, passing through or influencing the creative scene in Berlin” — in podcast form. For the moment the station is fully web-based, but with the recent acquisition of the new BCR studio in Kreuzkölln, the hope is to create a living breathing station that might even make it onto the local airwaves.



We’re honored to be included among the stellar launching lineup, alongside the likes of local favorites like Finn Johannsen, Call Super,  Hunee, and BCR founders Sarah and Anastasia of Welcome To The Room.

Berlin Community Radio Home

BCR on Soundcloud
BCR on Twitter
BCR on Facebook


Pueblo III @ S.K. Robinson

In Life in Berlin, Music on September 30, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Pueblo III


In Life in Berlin on July 20, 2010 at 9:19 am

I got my visa! Finally! Legal until next July.


Can’t believe the day finally came. We did it! We moved to Berlin!!

Sea Lion Woman

In Life in Berlin on May 8, 2010 at 7:12 pm

I had no idea that the original song was actually called “Sea Lion Woman,” or that it was an an old-time American folk song. In any case, I’m pretty sure it’s one of the best songs of all time, which is must be why there are so many terrible remixes and renditions. But Nina Simone does it so right, perhaps even better in her old age. What a gal.

Pretty sure the last time I wrote in this thing I was sitting in almost the exact same window seat at Cafe Cuccuma, thinking about many of the same things, watching row upon row of fashionable Berliners walk and bike by with their amazing shoes and adorable, mangy dogs.  A lot has happened in the two months since my last update, which is precisely why it’s taken so long to get back to this thing.

[PAUSE: How the f*&^ is everyone in this city so incredibly gorgeous? Seriously, WTF??]

To be honest, I don’t even know where to begin. Thanks to my (wonderful) job and the always-eventful weekend schedules, my weeks are absolutely flying by. My weekdays are filled with techy tweeting and blogging, project management, brainstorming galore. I am so proud of the guys that I work with — next level intelligence and incredible kindness. I feel exceptionally lucky to have found myself a part of such a wonderful team. Every day is a healthy challenge, and the work is always changing so every day feels fresh. Love it.

Dude Awesome Word

In Clubs, Eats, Food, Life in Berlin on March 13, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Let’s not talk about update infrequency. A lot’s been going on.

Despite his workload, Will and I try really hard to get out and see the city, even if it’s not the traditional touristy roundup of places. Berlin is bursting at the seams with completely unique eateries and boutiques, I only wish I had more money to spend at all of them. It will be really nice when we’re a teensy bit more settled here (i.e., done dealing with the formidable beast of pending visa applications) and we can live like normal folks. Not that our life is so hard or anything, we’re really very comfortable by now. But I just hope we get the chance to make Berlin our home for a while, not just the place we’re staying for some sort of weird extended vacation (in which we happen to work full time).

In terms of special Berlin places, there’s a few I’d like to mention.

  1. Cuccuma
    From whence I write. We’ve spent quite a lot of time working and reading at this magical little cafe because it is conveniently located right down the street from us. The coffee here is probably the best we’ve found, and it even comes with lovely little latte art from a smooth-wristed and friendly staff. We usually get a delicious little custardy popover dealy, but today we tried the cheesecake and it was IN.CRED.I.BLE.

    Cuccuma panorama from upstairs on the balcony

  2. Tom’s Fritten (which I suspect used to be Becker’s Fritten, since it’s the same spot)
    If you are looking for some seriously next level pommes mit ketchup und mayo, don’t miss this spot. We’ve gotten the chance to check out quite a few french fries in just as many states of sobriety, but so far nothing has come close to this.

    Tom's Fritten as portrayed by the Pig Out Spots blog, which gives them a totally bogus rating

  3. Zur Rose
    Adorable little DDR inspired cafe across from Rotation Records with incredible gnocchi and a pour-your-own beer tap. New menu every week. Wine in carafes. Some of the chairs are a little weird/uncomfortable, though.
  4. Il Casolare
    Just can’t get enough of this pizza. We’ve been twice in the past month. I think I already rambled on about the sister restaurant, Due Forni, but let’s just say (again) that I’ve never, ever, had pizza this good. (Though, admittedly, I’ve also never been to Italy).

I guess on some very tiny level I’m already taking taking the music scene here for granted, which is a shame considering how mindblowing any given night’s lineup could seem from across the pond. But the reality of living here is that not every klubnacht will be magical, and even on the magical ones you often have to pay entry fee and then the cost of drinking out all night. It can all add up pretty quickly.

That said, there have been a handful of performances over the last few weeks that top my “best of all time” charts. A few weeks ago we went with our friend Miranda to Horst Krzbrg, a simple little club down the street from our apartment that charms its guests with vases full of hard candies and branded boxes of matches scatted throughout the venue. The green and red lasers had this amazing disco-ball effect, shooting thousands of tiny, perfect little sparkles all around the room (sounds cheesy but you have to see it to love it). The night opened with some serious disco heat from the likes of The Revenge and his buddy Craig Smith — these Scots sure know how to make a lady move. Seeing just these guys would have been plenty of fun for just one night, but we had the added super-bonus of seeing a live Reagenz performance as well. HOLY COW. When David Moufang busted out the Gibson for “Dinner with Q,” Miranda and I both sort of lost our heads. (Typical girly reaction to guy-with-guitar, I know, but have you heard Dinner with Q?)

The following weekend we had the extreme pleasure of catching the end of the set by Sandwell District stalwarts Regis & Function. Now that’s what I call techno. These guys were truly remarkable — I haven’t liked any techno-techno set as much since we’ve been here, or perhaps ever, for that matter. Usually the techno in Berghain is way too hard and fast for me to actually get into when I’m dancing. Doesn’t meet I don’t like it outside of the club, but it just doesn’t quite mesh with my body.

But this was totally different. Will told me before we went that apparently both of these guys have pretty WZBC-ish rock roots — their tastes are colored as much by techno as bands like Jesus & Mary Chain and Joy Division. You can tell when you listen to their sets. The washing reverb and constant color is a welcome addition to any set, especially in a room with a sound system as good as Berghain’s. And these are the wonderful sorts of DJs who aren’t just mixing record to record — they carefully select the best moments from great records and keep you hung on every minute by merging the wax together with drum machines and other equipment I know nothing about. (Or so it seemed to me.) If you don’t have it already you should download the podcast they did for RA (info, mp3). Upstairs in Panorama Bar later that day, Dinky also kicked serious ass.

Other than that, Will’s parents and brother will be here for the week (they get here tomorrow morning), then next week I’m going to Paris for a conference. Definitely feel like we’re living the proverbial life, but we’ll see what tune I’m singing after we visit the foreigner’s office this week. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

All My Exes (Still) Live in Texas (I think)

In Food, Life in Berlin, Music on February 9, 2010 at 6:27 pm

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I can’t help but think of lovers past.

My not-so-ex Lover

My not-so-ex lover

Who needs to worry about the past when there is such a perfect present? A girl has to visit her ghosts, but wordpress is probably not the best place to do it.

Getting back to the situation at hand, a quick review of recent events.

1) The Deutsche Guggenheim is outrageously small. As in, one room. The exhibit was pretty interesting (“Utopia Matters” — indeed it does), but after ascending the spiral of the New York Guggenheim, I was a bit shocked to find that the second room of the Deutsche counterpart was the gift shop. Ah well.

2) I’ve decided that Sonntagsets (daytime Sundays) is the number one time to show up at my favorite venue. Basically an ideal “klubnacht” entails waking up around  6-7am Sunday morning (har har), eating a giant omelet with toast, then heading to Berlin’s specialest dance floor fresh-faced for hours of groovin’. The entrance and the drinks are cheaper, it’s less crowded, and the music is louder.

3) I ate the best pizza of my life before the Ninca Leece show at Golden Gate last weekend (Good night, bad club). It was at a restaurant called Due Forni in Prenzlauer Berg. I have always been a pizza lover (as many of you know, Picco is my favorite Boston restaurant), but I had no idea it could be so next level. Somehow the pizza I was due to share with Will (prosciutto and mushrooms) was rather late in arriving to our table — everyone else was already chowing down. So while we nursed yet another class of red wine from the canteen, a guy we’d just met offered us a piece of his margherita to share.

The dough, so supple! The sauce, so sweet! The cheese, so salty! The temperature… juuuuuuust right.

4) Kinda reminds me of how perfect my Valentine is. What a cutie…


Middle School Dance

In Life in Berlin, Music on January 28, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Dear Berlin,

Thank you SO much for having a legible, well-pointed sign on every single corner of every single street. Without this simple but oft-forgotten manifestation of the German obsession with ordnung, I would have been lost in sub-freezing temperatures at least twenty times by now.

With that said, I would love, simply LOVE, to know just how you managed to get by all these years — being the uber-organized, ultra-bureaucratic, and and generally OCD culture that you are — without the use of apartment numbers??? It truly baffles me! After tromping through the icy streets until all toes and fingers are burning, the last thing I need is to arrive at someone’s door, get let in by the buzzer, then realize that I have no idea whether they live in the front house or  the back house, on the first floor or the fifth floor, whatever. This numberless chaos has left me shuffling on the ground floor too many times.



Apartment numbers aside, Berlin and I are pretty tight. Last weekend was, to say the least, the bomg. Will and I had the tremendous pleasure of helping our housemate to DJ the middle school disco at the school where he works. I guess with a middle school disco, things could really go either way, but in this case the way was Awesometown. The kids were totally adorable (picture this: 12-year-old bartenders delivering virgin mojitos and pina coladas to the DJ booth), and they were even fairly responsive to the older tunes we packed in with the much-requested Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, and Black Eyed Peas. I was especially pleased with their enthusiastic response to one of my own middle school faves, “I believe I Can Fly.” (And they went crazy for OMD’s “Enola Gay” — whodda thunk?)

World's greatest virgin cocktail bar, with world's most adorable bartenders

After the dance we went on to Weekend (club in Alexanderplatz) for a bit. The occasion was Sammy Dee’s birthday, featuring Dan Bell, Bruno Pronsato live, and of course Sammy himself. We basically just stopped in for a bit to hang out with Bruno and his adorable lady, both of whom have been exceedingly kind to us since our move to Berlin. We boogied pretty hard to Dan Bell while we waited for them; the man is a truly exceptional DJ. Even so early in the night, he was able to get so funky without getting too big to show-up the performers coming on after him. Serious subtlety, I’m so glad he lives in Berlin and plays here so often. (We later saw him in the crowd at Pbar.)

Unfortunately for us, Levon Vincent was due to go on at Panorama Bar at 2am, and we didn’t want to miss him, so we left just as Bruno was about to start his set. (Sad of course, but not too big a deal since we’ve seen him three times in the last year and are going to see him often in the coming year.) When we arrived at Berghain the line was about halfway down the gates, and it was fucking freezing so we just sort of stood there quietly and waited to get in. The beats from Panorama were shaking the whole building– the rattling was almost terrifying. They still had the blinds open up in the Panorama Bar, so you could see the party inside from the line below. Pure torture.

There was a huge turnout — it was the reopening of Panorama after a refurbishment (two thumbs up), and this Underground Quality mini-tour seems to have been quite a hot item — so the uber-intimidating doormen were turning away tons of people. My heart was obviously beating pretty fast by the time we got to the front of the freezing-cold line. The five guys in front of us were dismissed (“We make a choice, and tonight’s not your night”), but for whatever reason Will and I were let in after a stare-down that seemed to last for a day.

Inside, it was sweaty red chaos. So many people packed in (around 3am) that you could barely dance… instead you  had to just sort of stand there moving back and forth in whatever few inches you had for whatever few seconds. We ran into Will’s crew from the RA offices almost immediately, but it’s pretty hard to socialize when it’s so … loud. Levon was good, but somehow I feel his sound would be far better suited to Berghain. People were getting really into him nonetheless (myself included). Unfortunately we found ourselves catching up with friends during DJ Qu’s set, which is a shame because I was really excited to see him. Jus Ed played pretty much as expected, at least up until the end. As we all know, the guy has incredible track selection, but runs the show a bit like a radio show. In any case, he finally started to “build” — tensions, ascenscion — towards the end of his set, when he started to drop some really deep and dubby house, the Anton Zap-ish stuff I had been waiting for all night.

The whole night really “happened” when Tamo Sumo took over the decks sometime between 8 or 9am. For the record, this chick is INCREDIBLE. Jumping off of Ed’s leap-into-deep, she immediately took the crowd under her spell with some very subtle and serious grooves. And then she did what a truly amazing DJ is supposed to do: took us on a journey. And we followed her every step of the way. Will and I had originally planned on taking off before the end of Ed’s set — with the disco and everything we were both pretty pooped. Thank god we decided to stay. As the dawn began to break sheepishly through the still-closed blinds, she slowly started to build the vibe, until suddenly we found ourselves amidst a raucous dance party, blinds open, sunlight streaming in at full blast (the most sun Berlin had seen in WEEKS), and all these crazy pumping old school jams flying in one after the other bambambam. It was a whirlwind of awesome.

(Ed’s video of Tama Sumo playing the instrumental dub mix of the new Steffi track in New York in her custom UQ Label Night shirt. LOVE IT.)

[[If haven’t already, please do yourself a favor and download her mix for LWE before it gets archived .]]

By now all of the norms had long since gone, and only the serious party crowd was left, and they were here to boogie. This is the kind of stuff you really live for in Berlin, these tiny magic mornings that seem so special through and through. It still blows my mind how you can have an incredibly magical and dare-I-say spiritual time a club when all the stars align.  I know some people have the impression that this scene is all about partying, raving, whatever…  but it’s so much bigger than that, so much more sincere.  This whole genre of music is so much more sincere, so much more touching than any other artform I’ve ever interacted with. And that’s why I love it. That’s why I’m here.

Sap aside, the practical side of life isn’t so bad, either. Yesterday I had what seemed to me to be a great interview at truly inspirational start-up company. I’ll keep the details under wraps until I find out about the job, but it’s safe to say that I am totally pumped about even the slightest glimmer of hope that I could work with these guys. I really hope it happens.

The bad news so far: I lost my favorite (and only) hat at Weekend in our rush to get to Berghain. I get very sentimental about my possessions and still feel like the hat might be sad I didn’t come looking for it. 😦

On the horizon: we are waking up early on Sunday morning to see Prosumer, Omar S, Soundstream, and Steffi in Pbar, and Boris in Berghain. Margaret Dygas is playing, too, that night, but it’s from midnight to 5am Sunday morning, so I don’t think we’ll make it. Out of this bunch I think I’m most excited to see Soundstream. I’ve enver heard a DJ set by him before, but his productions are out of this world.

Moving forward.

Something more

In Life in Berlin, Music on January 13, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Two weeks time now spent in Berlin.

The first two weeks are always the most confusing, but the most telling as well. I am anxious to find and start a job so that I can begin to feel like I am living a normal life here, instead of just some strange version of vacation in which I write and read all day instead of visiting national monuments.

Still, we are already starting to feel at home, in some ways. Will seems to have found work, or something like it, at the Resident Advisor office. Which means I really need to find something for myself, and fast. I have found a few promising leads, but applying for work in a city with such an interesting employment rate can be a bit intimidating. I know can make a good impression, so if I can just manage to meet with a few prospects, I think I can nail something.

What I love about Berlin:

Our room in Kreuzberg, although we've rearranged

What I hate about Berlin:

Do you see that shelf? I'll let you draw your own conclusions...

One of my favorite things about being here is actually having the time and energy to devote to music again. The past few months of work in Boston often left me with few spare hours to peruse new tunes, which often meant that I resigned to old ones. Since this new influx, these are getting heavy rotation:

Akufen — My way

In reading up on Brandt Brauer Frick for a review I did for Little White Earbuds, I learned about Frick’s affection for this album as his first love in truly inspired electronic dance music. If you like house and you don’t already have this album, well… get it!

Atlas Sound — Let the Blind Lead Those Who can See but Cannot Feel

I totally missed the boat on this album somehow. My loss– it’s ultra-dreamy, a slow and twinkling album to roll out of bed to, much like Deerhunter’s Microcastle, but with a little more feedback and a lot more a Wonderland. All this to say: Bradford Cox is the fucking man.

Anton Zap — Take It As It Comes EP

No youtube available, but check out the clips on the Juno site. Mr. Zap is my boy for dub house, and on this release more than ever before he has really managed to chisel out a signature sound. It may be too subtle for some, but I dig it. Especially “I’m fine.” Mmm, mmm, good.

Also on the proverbial plates are the new Steffi single, Kill Me (skip the original and head straight for the Crushed Soul mix); DJ Qu — Party People Clap (for Christ sake get this if you haven’t already); and the expectedly eccentric (but still so suave) new nsi. release, Eitherway.

Now reading Günter Grass’ Tin Drum (after I finished The Road in about two days of being here), and it is every bit as charming as the movie, which is one of my favorites. If you’re looking for some sincerely bizarre and yet strikingly moving German film, do yourself and favor and netflix Tin Drum. This is one of a VERY few circumstances in which I would actually recommend seeing the movie before you read the book.

I am getting better at my Bamboo sketch tablet. That is, not totally retarded at it. Still not great in Illustrator, though.

And my German still sucks.

Getting there…

Hallo, meine Freunde

In Life in Berlin on January 5, 2010 at 11:09 pm

We have been in Berlin for one week.

“We” = Me (Sarah Joy Murray of Fort Worth, Texas) + my boyfriend Will Lynch, from Boston, Massachusetts.

So far? So good.