People And Music: Q&A With The Open Stage Berlin
Berlin, once a small industrial town renowned for it’s large scale production of electricity (hence the old nickname The Electric City) has now become the most rapidly evolving start-up capital in Europe. With so many new businesses and large corporations seeking to establish headquarters on Berlin’s fertile soil, much of the city’s unused land is now being transformed into high priced living accommodation and towering office blocks that are redefining the city’s landscape and culture.
At the same time, Berlin has gradually become its own kind of melting pot as it is home to thousands of creative personalities from all walks of life that add to its charm and beauty.
In the midst of all the dynamic change, a unique music project still in its first year of existence has been striving to rediscover the spirit of the city. By connecting the people of Berlin to the thriving music scene and by inviting us all to explore it’s forgotten places, The Open Stage Berlin has begun to redefine the soundtrack of the city.
“We try to make the users feel like they can discover the city through the music and the music through the city.”
The volunteer-based project offers musical acts of every description the opportunity to have a completely free video recording of a live music session at a carefully chosen location in the greater area of Berlin. From abandoned factories to old derelict swimming pools, mysterious hidden forests and secret rooftops, The Open Stage Berlin has managed to build up an impressive catalogue of alternative music videos that showcase some of the most remarkable musical talent to be found in the city. Having filmed over 80 different musical acts across a variety of genres and nationalities, The Open Stage Berlin provides a platform for undiscovered musicians to have their music heard as they perform at some of the city’s most hidden locations.
I recently caught up with some of the staff at The Open Stage Berlin and spoke about the ideas behind the project and how their plans for the future are very much dependent upon the support of the community.
When was it that you guys first came up with the idea of The Open Stage Berlin?
We came up with the idea of The Open Stage Berlin in 2010. We started to shoot videos with some of the street musicians we’d meet and it was a lot of fun. We came up with the idea of building a platform for the videos, a website in which every musician can present themselves and their music to the public. However it wasn’t until February 2014 that The Open Stage Berlin started as the first interactive Chronicle of Berlin’s music scene.
Do you feel as though the tremendous pace at which Berlin has been changing over the last few years has in some way contributed to your desire to rediscover the city’s lost locations?
Yes, I guess in some way we’re trying to rediscover Berlin so that we can document some of the lost places and share that beauty with the public, but it’s not only about the lost places. It’s more about trying and document the current status of the city as well the many different locations within it. Sometimes when we go inside an abandoned factory to shoot a video we try to capture the present status of the building. Because of the way the city is changing we don’t know if maybe next year the building could be demolished or if it will be transformed into an expensive loft. It’s the same when we shoot at everyday locations. You never know when that 100-year-old bar might disappear, or when the plaza will be rebuilt or when that gap in the street will be filled up with a new building in the next years. We are trying to document these kinds of changes and conserve some of the moods, the feelings and the music that defines this city right now so that we can use it our videos for the future.
Tell us a little bit about the relationship between the musicians and the locations. Do you guys choose each specific location depending on the style and the mood of the band or do the bands decide on the locations themselves?
The relationship between the musicians and the locations is very important for us. We always use a different location for each video and we work closely with all of the musicians so that we can choose the right place together. Sometimes they have a spot in mind to which they feel like they have a personal connection so we work with those, other times we get the freedom to try and find the location that we feel fits with the mood and the feeling of the music. It also works well that we use a new location for each video because in this way we are showcasing bit by bit this wonderful city. We try to make the users feel like they can discover the city through the music and the music through the city.
Tell us a little bit about your crowd funding campaign.
A: We started the crowd funding campaign to give the project a decisive push. We are working without sponsors, without external funding and purely through volunteers – we are independent and unrestricted. The momentum is unbelievable – every week we receive over 10 new enquiries from bands and artists who want to get involved with the project. In order to respond to all these requests we need more manpower, technical equipment, and funding. We want to make our chronicle of Berlin’s music scene accessible to everybody and we don’t want to require that our users go through registration and payment procedures. This is why we need the support. We believe that every musician and artist should have the opportunity to be seen and heard.
In the hope that the crowd funding campaign goes well, what does the future look like for The Open Stage Berlin? Are there plans to maybe open up a stage in any of the other capital cities around the world?
Yes, we already have plans in place for other cities like Dublin, Bergen or Valencia. We’re hoping to give artists from everywhere the opportunity to build a network and share their music with us all.
The Crowd Funding campaign for the The Open Stage Berlin begun in December 2014 and runs until the 31st of January. Here you can find their StartNext Campaign.
All the best of luck to The Open Stage for the Future.
By Nick Fraser