Category Archives: Music & Films

Berlin Songs: Parlez-vous anglais ? – Last Paradise On Earth

Parlez Vous Anglais ? - Last Paradise On Earth Promo Photo

Photo: Damien Stein

The eagle-eyed Urban Explorers amongst you may recognise the location of this promotional shot for the new song from Paris / Berlin based outfit Parlez-vous anglais ? as it’s the basketball court at Kaserne Krampnitz.

The video for Last Paradise On Earth, a catchy bit of Disco-Synth-Pop was filmed at a number of Berlin locations, including Spreepark, Eisfabrik and the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park.

Parlez-vous anglais ? – Last Paradise On Earth

The new Parlez-vous anglais ? EP, Dancing On The Other Side will be released in March 2014 and they will be in Berlin for a DJ set at Intersoup on 31 January 2014 with a live show to follow at Kaffee Burger on 28 March 2014.

Parlez-vous anglais ? - Dancing On the Other Side Artwork

Artwork: Paul Roche

If like me you’re new to the band you might also like to check out their previous EP.

Parlez-vous anglais? – Sunglasses and Shirts

You can see more from Parlez-vous anglais ? on their Facebook and Soundcloud pages.

Klassiker 2014 – Elderly Germans in film poses

Cabaret - Contilia Gruppe / Werntges Studios (pensioner Martha Bajohr poses as Sally Bowles)

Photo courtesy: Contilia Gruppe / Werntges Studios

Proving that the old like to have just as much fun as the young, a group of pensioners in Germany have recreated scenes from classic films for a 2014 calendar.

Klassiker 2014 was conceived by the Contilia Gruppe, a healthcare company whose interests include a number of residential care homes in Essen, as a gift for residents and employees.

Shot in a professional photo studio (Werntges Studios) the models aged 75 to 98 struck poses from films including Blues Brothers, Saturday Night Fever and Titanic.

My personal favourite, with a Berlin connection of course, is Martha Bajohr as Sally Bowles from Cabaret.

You can read more about the project (auf Deutsch) on the Contilia website and download a pdf version of the entire calendar.

How Animals Eat Their Food (and What Does The Fox Say?)

How Animals Eat Their Food (T-Rex screen print from video)

Photo: Still from How Animals Eat Their Food by MisterEpicMann

I have reached an important turning point – my nephew is telling me about YouTube videos I should watch.

At the end of the summer, two weeks after I introduced him to Ylvis – The Fox (What Does The Say?), my nephew, Owen (who was 8 at the time), told me during our fortnightly Skype call that I had to watch How Animals Eat Their Food.

He then fell off the sofa because he was laughing so much listening to me laugh at the video.

I realise that as this was the most popular YouTube video in the UK in 2013 and has almost 94 million hits at the time of writing that it is likely that you have seen this already but just in case…I hope you find it as funny as Owen did.

How Animals Eat Their Food

Now, with over 334 million hits, it is even more likely that you have seen the video that inspired his suggestion - Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow!

Ylvis – The Fox (What Does The Say?)

Berlin Songs: Sam Smith – Berlin

Sam Smith - Berlin (Radio 1 Live Lounge) - image courtesy of BBC

Photo: Courtesy of BBC

BBC Sound of 2014 winner Sam Smith chose to cover RY X’s Berlin on a recent visit to the Radio 1 Live Lounge.

BBC Sound of 2014 was compiled from the three choices of 170 DJs, critics and bloggers of the acts to watch out for in 2014.  Past winners include Adele, Ellie Goulding and 50 Cent and last year’s winner Michael Kiwanuka featured in my A Year in the Life of Berlin post as the video for his song Tell Me A Tale was filmed in Berlin.

The Longlist, the 15 most hotly-tipped acts, can be found on the BBC website and I’d recommend checking it out.  You’ll certainly be seeing a lot more of some of the names on it over the next year.

Sam Smith – Berlin (Cover Version)

For anyone not familiar with the song, here is the original version.

RY X – Berlin

Sunday Documentary: UNLIKE U – Trainwriting in Berlin

UNLIKE U - Trainwriting in Berlin (screenshot from the film)

The documentary UNLIKE U – Trainwriting in Berlin follows a group of graffiti artists spraying trains in Berlin and explores their motivations and experiences through interviews.

The film was originally banned from cinemas after complaints from Deutsche Bahn but the makers recently won an appeal against this decision.

Unfortunately, though the film is available in full on Vimeo it can’t be embedded but you can find it by following this link: UNLIKE U – Trainwriting in Berlin.

Berlin Summer Rave 2013

Neon at Berlin Summer Rave 2013 at Tempelhof Airport

Last night I went to my first Berlin Summer Rave at the disused Tempelhof Airport – a great location despite the distinctly un-summer-y weather.

I went with Summer Rave veterans Steffi, Bine and Olli and after a few short queues in the Berlin rain we could feel the bass even before we entered the building.

After a quick look around we made our way to the Planet Bass Hangar to see Lady Waks followed by Westbam.

Lights at Berlin Summer Rave 2013 at Tempelhof Airport

Dancer at Berlin Summer Rave 2013 at Tempelhof Airport

Taking Photos at Berlin Summer Rave 2013 at Tempelhof Airport

Westbam as GIF (with a hard G)

http://picasion.com/i/1TFBQ/

And if you’re wondering what it all sounded like here’s a little taster of the Lady Waks set.

Lady Waks at Berlin Summer Rave 2013 at Tempelhof Airport

Ohrwurm: Niki & The Dove – DJ, Ease My Mind

Niki & The Dove – DJ, Ease My Mind (screenshot from YouTube video)

Niki & The Dove – DJ, Ease My Mind has been playing on repeat in my head since I heard it when I walked into a Berlin clothes shop last week.  I first heard the song when it featured in the BBC Sound of 2012 list but hadn’t thought of it since.

This unofficial video (the official video won’t play in Germany because of GEMA) features the acrobatics of Mouvance – trapeze artists Helen Turcotte and Luc Martin – which really matches the mood of the track for me.

Niki & The Dove – DJ, Ease My Mind

Twentieth Century Berlin on Film – The 1960s

Berlin in the 1960s - an escape attempt (screenshot from The Wall)

The 1960s was a decade of great social and technological advances and Berlin, as the main flashpoint between the ideologies of capitalism and socialism, saw more changes than most cities.

The loss of skilled workers to the West, as referred to in my Twentieth Century Berlin on Film – The 1950s post led the government of East Germany to take the extraordinary step of sealing its borders.  Officially referred to as the Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart the Berlin Wall was built to halt an exodus that threatened to de-stabilise the fledgling state.

In 1963 the eyes of the world were on Berlin when the President of the United States of America, John F Kennedy, stood in front of the Rathaus Schöneberg and, in a show of solidarity with the people of West Berlin declared “Ich bin ein Berliner”.

“Niemand hat die Absicht eine Mauer zu errichten” – Walter Ubricht (1961)

At a press conference on 15 June 1961 in response to a question from a West German journalist, Walter Ulbricht, the leader of East Germany, uttered the now immortal words, “Niemand hat die Absicht eine Mauer zu errichten” – in English, ‘No one has any intention to erect a wall’.

The Wall – US Propaganda Film – Berlin Wall 1962

Less than two months later, in the night of 13 August 1961, East German soldiers began the process of marking out the border and rolling out barbed wire to prevent unauthorised movement between East and West Berlin.

The US propaganda film, The Wall, from 1962 includes some of the most iconic footage of the recently divided city – the scene at 6:23 where a woman runs into the barbed wire at the border makes me wince every time I watch it but is a clear indication of the desperation to leave.

A Royal Day in Berlin (1965)

Queen Elizabeth II travels to West Berlin in 1965, the first visit of a British monarch to Germany for more than half a century.

Berlin in Bildern – Hauptstadt der DDR (1968)

This clip from Das war die DDR shows Berlin in 1968 and includes footage of the Rotes Rathaus, the Soviet Memorial in Treptower Park and most notably the Fernsehturm still under construction.

Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin “Counter-Intelligence Special Operations” (1969)

Taken from a US Army training film this footage from 1969 shows Checkpoint Charlie and other notable Berlin sights and outlines procedures for observing East Germans and other potential threats in Berlin.

Twentieth Century Berlin on Film – The 1950s

Berlin in the 1950s - East Berlin Parade 1950

Throughout the 1950s the government of the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik) continued a process of Socialisation in East Germany.  Tensions were running high between the East and West and also amongst the people of the DDR.  The ‘brain drain’ had started, as workers sought out the higher pay and better working conditions in the West.

East Berlin Parade 1950

The Freie Deutsche Jugend (FDJ) (Free German Youth) marching through East Berlin in 1950.

East Germany Propaganda – East Berlin 1950

There is more footage of the FDJ gathering in Berlin in 1950 with commentary (auf Deutsch) in this longer film.

DDR im Film XVII – Stalinallee (1951)

Set to the song Jugend erwach (Bau auf, bau auf), Part 17 of the series DDR – Das Original shows the construction of buildings on the Stalinallee, now Karl-Marx-Allee.

GDR Uprising (1953)

What started as a strike by construction workers in East Berlin the previous day turned into a full-scale uprising against the government of the DDR on 17 June 1953.  Workers were protesting against plans to increase working hours or cut pay and the policy of prioritising heavy industry that meant a shortage of consumer goods and power.

Legendary Sin Cities – Berlin: Metropolis of Vice

Berlin - Metropolis of Vice (screenshot from the Legendary Sin Cities documentary)

Metropolis of Vice, an episode from the Legendary Sin Cities documentary series focuses on the potent mix of sex and entertainment in the Weimar era Berlin of the 1920s.

“Its very name became synonymous with perversion, debauchery and creativity. Berlin in the 1920s was the sex capital of Europe.”

In response to the hyperinflation of the 1920s, driven by poverty, the sex trade in Berlin exploded as a means to put food on the table.

“Berlin was what sexual daydreams wanted to be.  You could find almost anything there and maybe everything.”

In this environment, performers such as Claire Waldoff, Anita Berber and Marlene Dietrich thrived and became stars.  Word of Berlin’s raucous nightlife and attitude of sexual freedom spread and drew more artists and creative people to the city.

I first posted this documentary on Facebook and Twitter 6 months ago before I began my Sunday Documentary series.

Legendary Sin Cities – Berlin: Metropolis of Vice