Berlin from the 1920’s and 30’s, has been a cultural capital and a music city. It has been the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia, the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich and, after the wall came down in 1989, the capital of reunified Germany! The city has resurged as a beacon of light beckoning innovative artists and industries.
Take Richie Hawtin for example … he’s a Canadian DJ and electronic musician who recently used two iPads in a live set in a Berlin nightclub to create the sound that would have been normally created using two sets of decks. Richie Hawtin is probably the the most famous DJ in Techno who turned a whole generation of nightclubbers on to his unique “emptied out, no frills” dance music. Hawtin is an innovator who has continuously pushed the boundaries of what electronic music can do and should do, changing the way DJ’s play music and creating digital systems. He chose to work in Berlin because it is “so liberal in so many different ways”.
Or take Klaus Wowereit, the openly gay and left-wing mayor of Berlin who nicknamed his city “poor and sexy” for its affordable housing and living costs… He is the first gay mayor of a large city in Europe, and the second gay mayor in the world after Winnipeg’s Glenn Murray!
Or consider the nascent music industry in Berlin. Instead of viewing the internet and digital technology as a threat, innovative businesses in Berlin are creating a blueprint for a future when music would be distributed seamlessly through iPhone apps and Facebook.
One such innovative company is SoundCloud whose website tells you “whether it’s a quick sketch or a polished symphony, upload or record your originally-created sounds effortlessly to SoundCloud in a few clicks.” Started by Ljung and Eric Wahlforss in 2007, one week after a visit to Berlin the Swedes decided they had to start their company in the city.
Or take a look at Native Instruments and Ableton, two Berlin-based companies to watch that are changing the way music is made. Abelton’s Live software allows DJ’s to “layer music in real time and see how their audience reacts to the composition”.
Or take note of the city’s architecture – from the famous Brandenburg Gate to the new Reichstag, the German Parliament. Berlin is not shy to mix its old architecture with steel and glass structures of today.
And finally take note of the East Side Gallery in Berlin, the largest and longest-lasting open air gallery in the world. It is the 1.3 km remaining section of the Berlin Wall on the east side. It displays about a 100 paintings from all around the world as a memorial to Freedom. One slogan on the wall reads, “Many small people, who in many small places, do many small things, can alter the face of the world.”