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Team sports can be a way of bonding and international tournaments can establish connections, solidarity and break down barriers. But of course, any nation-based sports event needs to be regarded critically as well, as it can be the ground for nationalist rhetoric and reproduce racism, transmisogyny, and other colonial power structures. Professional sports like this year’s women’s football world cup also highlighted once again the gender pay gap. Pop-Kultur 2023 explores these dynamics in this year’s thematic focus on the intersection of sports, activism, and pop culture.

The “Can I Kick It? Yes, You Can!” project was conceived by Yeşim Duman and curated together with Pamela Owusu-Brenyah. There will be screenings, foosball tables, and talks focusing on the topic like the conversation with former professional soccer player and Yazidi human rights activist Tuğba Tekkal and the exhibition curated by CSV Afrisko, the first African football club in Germany. The football focus will take place at Çaystube as an interactive program that is accessible free of charge.

“Football is a pop culture phenomenon and a reflection of our society. At the Pop-Kultur festival, we are focusing on the socio-political component of this multi-layered topic. We will take a critical look at football from a queer-feminist and post-migrant perspective in different ways – because sports, like music, are part of cultural identity.” – Yeşim Duman

Aside from the football focus of this year, the Pop-Kultur international line-up of musicians and performers does not chase headlining names and instead highlights rising talent. Supporting transnational exchange with Musicboard Berlin funding, the team organized international residencies like the Berlin-Accra Residency with Aka Kelzz and Ria Ross. The other partner cities include Detroit, Kampala, and Tel Aviv. Selected artists get to play and perform together over the course of a few weeks and will present their set at Pop-Kultur. Encouraging creative collaboration, the festival committee also commissions works and performances each year, giving artists and collectives space to explore a creative concept. Among this year’s artists receiving commissions are Portrait XO, A Song For You, and Anika who NBHAP got to know in individual interviews already.

Many more of NBHAP’s favorites are taking to the stage this year, like Rasha Nahas, Rosa Anschütz, Indigo Sparkle, Mulay, Sophia Blenda, and MADANII. You can read up on the conversation with each of these acts by clicking on their names.

Four Acts We Are Excited to Meet

While we are looking forward to seeing these familiar acts live, part of what makes Pop-Kultur such an exciting experience is the fact that you can explore music across several venues in close proximity and leave each time with at least one new favorite artist. Here are four acts that we have not yet featured and are excited to see at the festival. Below, you will also find our personalized guide for each day of the festival including a number of selected events to see from concerts to panel talks.


BRKN (pronounced Berkan) is the moniker of Berlin-Kreuzberg-born and raised rapper Andaç Berkan Akbiyik with Turkish, Kurdish, and Armenian roots. He just released his new EP Rahat. The title translates from Turkish to “comfortable” or “restful” and explores the artist’s journey to healing through lyrics and sound driven by Hip Hop, Rap, and Funk influences. BRKN is one of the rising names in the Berlin, and German rap scene.

BRKN will perform at 10.40 pm at Palais Stage on Wednesday the 30th of August. 

Meagre Martin

The US-American trio Meagre Martin are Berliners by choice and signed to the local Label Mansions and Millions whose head we talked to last year. Between synthy indie rock and a post-punk attitude, the three musicians have so far only released one single All My Thoughts, which was enough to strike waves in the local scene. Their show at the Pop-Kultur festival might be a bit of a blind date but it is one that we are quite excited to go on.

Meagre Martin will play at 8 pm on Friday the 1st of September at Maschinehaus.

Zainab Lax

Zainab Lax is a multi-instrumentalist and music therapist. Her main instrument is the harp, an instrument with a multicultural background widely played from Greece to Ireland and Egypt. Zainab gives the instrument a unique twist by exploring electronic elements in collaboration with its 47 strings. In her therapeutic practice, Zainab Lax works with people with refugee experiences and uses music as a source of strength, healing, and experiencing community. Zainab released her EP Home in 2022 and followed it with this year’s single Seyir.

Zainab Lax will play live at PANDA Platform on Friday at 9 pm.

mui zyu

mui zyu has been on our radar for quite a while already and made appearances in several playlists from Introducing to Daily Tune but we have yet to get to know the artist better. She just released her debut record rotten bun for an eggless century. Between electro-pop, field recordings, and traditional Chinese instruments, mui zyu makes dense music that grapples with personal agency, family relationships, and ancestry.

mui zyu will play live on Wednesday at PANDA Platform from 11 pm.

The NBHAP Pop-Kultur Guide

After attending last year’s Pop-Kultur, we realized how tricky it can be to navigate a festival that curates such a broad range of concerts and events. To not get lost or overwhelmed this year, we put together a selection of gigs, talks, and performances for you to check out each day. Check out the full line-up right here.

Wednesday, 30th of August:

19.20 – 20.00 EVÎN
20.20 – 21.20 Commissioned Work: “Unravel” by A Song For You
21.30 – 22.00 Exhibition by CSV Afrisko
22.00 – 22.40 Commissioned Work: “Tension” by Portrait XO
22.40 – 23.30 BRKN
23.00 – 00.00 mui zyu
23.20 – 00.20 Rosa Anschütz

Thursday, 31st of August:

18.00 – 19.00 Talk: Pride and Performance
19.00 – 19.40 Accra-Berlin Residency: Aka Kelzz and Ria Boss
20.00 – 20.40 FEM*ERGY Collective
20.40 – 21.30 Talk: A Record Label
21.00 – 21.40 Kampala-Berlin Residency: Chrisman and Sara Persico
22.00 – 23.00 Rasha Nahas
22.50 – 00.00 Sho Madjozi

Friday, 1st of September:

19.40 – 20.20 Selin Davasse
20.00 – 20.40 Meagre Martin
21.00 – 21.40 Zainab Lax
22.00 – 22.50 Commissioned Work: “Transistor” by Mariana Sadovska/Vesna
23.00 – 23.40 Albi K
00.00 – 01.00 Fishbach

Enter our GIVE AWAY of 1×2 tickets for Thursday the 31st of August by signing up for our free newsletter. You will receive a confirmation email once you signed up. The GIVE AWAY is open until Tuesday, August 15th, 12 am CET.

You can buy tickets for the entire festival taking place from August 30th to September 1st or day passes right here