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berlin, and how i lost my spark
sparkles
amw
It's getting really real now. Under three weeks of work ahead of me, then a week of tying up loose ends, and then I am on the road. None of it felt really real until people started to pick up my furniture, but with that high-bed, my two chairs and the two hat-stands gone, I am feeling a lot more at-ease. My house still has a desk and a small wardrobe, but they came with the house. For the rest now it is just a mattress on the floor and a few lamps, computer/router, kitchen utensils and that's it. Turns out I really didn't have that much, but it still felt like too much. Every day when I woke up I felt shackled to a ball and chain in every corner. Now I wake up and I only see stuff I need. Stuff I use every single day.

Because my audio gear is going too. I was looking at the going prices on eBay Kleinanzeigen (German Craigslist) and realized I could probably net over 500€, but the thought of selling it made me feel ill. On a whim I posted them on Facebook and - lo and behold - a friend of a friend who I have gone out partying with on occasion mentioned he was getting back into music and would love the head start. He's one of those wonderful Berlin bohemians who does a bit of everything. Last I heard he was showing an underground fashion collection. These people are exactly the people who made this city great, whereas my colleagues who are pricing them out of their neighborhoods are exactly what is going to turn Berlin into the next NYC or San Francisco. It's the least I can do to contribute to what is left of the city's bohemian culture.

Anyway, rest in peace my artistic hobbies, my greatest disappointment of moving to Berlin. Living in Toronto, I finally started to get back into writing music again after a 10 year hiatus. A 10 year hiatus where I kept buying (and selling) synthesizers and audio gear but never did a thing with it. I not only started to write music again, I finally learned how to DJ, which gives you a completely different perspective on electronic music. I was bursting with inspiration, buying lots and lots of music every month, and was excited to visit Berlin, where it all was happening. Surely there I would be so surrounded by inspiration and fellowship that I'd do some amateur releases and maybe play a gig here or there and get to share the music I love and the sounds in my head with an intimate crew of nutters?

Yeah, so, no, that didn't happen. I moved here, and the city was both exactly what I expected and totally different to what I expected. The clubs here are the best in the world. Period. The music scene is unparalleled. There are countless gigs every night of the week in every genre you could imagine. They are almost universally packed during the peak hours; there is rarely a "fizzer" of a night because there are just so many people who come to this city to party. The DJs don't need to get wanky about vinyl only, or "underground" house vs "commercial" house, because they can play exactly the music they like on exactly the format they like and still scrape out a living. Though, yes, most people play on a laptop because vinyl is environmentally unfriendly and difficult to transport and sounds like garbage. (Sorry, my troll slipped out.) They're not afraid to occasionally play a "commercial" song either because, for fuck's sake, raving should be about fun, not some pretentious ideology. Point is Berlin is the best place in the world for electronic music; of that I am completely convinced.

It's also a city of 3.95 million people who don't give a shit about electronic music, so basically in that respect it's exactly the same as everywhere else. But the .05 million who do give a shit? They give a LOT of a shit. They know how to DJ. They all have friends who are promoters, or label owners, or agents, or whatever. Everyone has Ableton. Everyone has a sound system. So, when your full-time job is being a tech worker - which is exhausting enough already - what motivation is there to come home and DJ or write music? There are so many options to hear great music, so many people who dedicate their entire lives to it... What voice could I possibly add to that?

So I moved to the world capital of techno to be inspired and live the dream. But I just raved harder and created less. It makes sense, I guess. If you are a hobbyist musician, it is perhaps more fun to make music in a place where you otherwise would never get to hear the kind of music you want to make. Berlin is a city for working artists, or for bohemians with plenty of time to dabble.

Well, either that or I just got old and depressed. Because what are my actual hobbies these days, clubbing aside? Reading about American politics. Watching science fiction shows. Playing adventure games. The only creative pursuit I have left is this, dear readers, my repetitive ranting on LiveJournal.

And I am pretty okay with that.

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I feel this. I produced way more in Perth (most of it sucked, but holy hell was I prolific) that I ever have in Melbourne. The Perth electronic music scene was shit when I lived there, and me and a few friends who were heavily into Breakcore and DHR wrote the music we wanted to hear. We put on our own shows. Venues hated us because we played abrasive shit to empty rooms. It was awesome.

When I moved to Melbourne I stopped creating on a regular basis for like eight years. Then I actually got a tech job and stopped entirely. It's taken me a long time to get my groove back. I still can't DJ worth a damn though.


Where are your travels taking you?


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