Showing all aspects of modern day pop- and subculture in a cool and urban environment – there’s certainly a few cities that are as predesignated for a goal like this as Germany’s capital Berlin. Whether you like the hype around this city or you don’t – but you can’t deny the fact that it had become a melting pot of European arts and culture – with all the positive and negative aspects such development holds. Berlin is the place to be and the BERLIN FESTIVAL is probably the festival to be when you want to experience this diversity and wide range of cultural aspects.
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And within this pulsating city there might be no better place than the old airport Tempelhof to bring us this colorful mixture. A place deeply integrated in the heart of the German capital and the history of the whole nation. After years out of order it became not only an important reminder of the city past but still manages to stay important and contemporary. For the fourth time it gives the Berlin Festival a place to stay and once again this place will be filled with a unbelievable huge selection of different musical acts. First there are all the bands that will play the impressive hangars of the airport. The Icelandic giants of post-rock – SIGUR RÓS – will make a comeback with their recent album Valtari. The same goes for indie rock heavyweights THE KILLERS who will give a glimpse on their upcoming new longplayer Battle Born. But there’s even more: WE HAVE BAND, GRIMES, FRIENDS, FRANZ FERDINAND, OF MONSTERS AND MEN, LITTLE DRAGON or exclusive shows by SBTRKT or IAMAMIWHOAMI.
And this is just the daytime. Once the sun has settled all visitors are invited to join the infamous Berlin nightlife with the festivals very own Club Xberg featuring stunning performances by METRONOMY, SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO, WHEN SAINTS GO MACHINE, MODESELEKTOR or HERCULES AND LOVE AFFAIR. And this is still just one side of the festival. Once again there’ll be a special art village in which over 60 national and international artists will present paintings, performances and everything the wide field of urban arts has to present. There’s also the worlds largest Silent Disco where all the people are invited to dance via headphones – and there’s a real Mobile Disco with DJs driving around the festival area. There’s definitely a lot to discover in around the normal line up.
Nothing But Hope And Passion will be there on the beginning of September, trying to capture the special feeling of this urban event. We’ll have a look at a couple of bands, fans and present you – as always – some hand selected interviews. There’s surely a lot to experience, a lot of party but also a lot of art and real high quality music. A lot of arguments to visit the German capital, don’t you think. And in case you want to know more about it – we spoke with Stephan Velten, the events publicist who was so kind to answer us a few questions about this years line-up and the concept of the whole festival.
It’s no secret that Berlin seems to be one of Europe’s melting pots in terms of pop culture, arts and trend setting. How would you define your festival within this mixture?
It’s not our primary goal to display the scene of Berlin than to give the city a festival that is as international as the metropolis itself. A festival within such a city is clearly a challenge we’d like to face.
What are the highlights in this years line-up for you?
It’s difficult to name single acts – we’re obviously really happy to get some exclusive artists like SIGUR RÓS or THE KILLERS who premier the new records here for the first time. There are groups like TOCOTRONIC or FRANZ FERDINAND who are playing after a longer break. We got a lot of hot acts and artists like SIZARR or MOSTLY ROBOT that will get even more interesting within the next months. It’s more the combination that makes the difference instead of single names.
The normal festival visitor only gets to see the result in form of the event itself. But there’s obviously a lot of work behind the scenes throughout the whole year, is it?
Yes, we’re really working the whole year for this event. Booking starts generally in November or December when the big acts plan their upcoming summer. The plan for the area starts in January and February, also the whole marketing concept. These are all things that take some handling time.
You already mentioned the importance of a good mixture of acts. How difficult or important is the balance between some of the bigger names in the line-up and all the smaller ones – especially in terms of profit?
Diversity comes first. But in order to guarantee this you just need some big and probably commercial names. They are also important to give all those newcomers and insider tips a good environment. At the end we’re aiming for a certain level of quality like we already got it on the MELT! FESTIVAL. A level which is reliable for the visitors. I think we did pretty well this year.
So, the big range of genres and acts is not a problem.
No it isn’t. Diversity in terms of genres is nothing that happens only on the festival, it’s already established in the peoples homes. I mean, what’s wrong with watching a beautiful concert by SIGUR RÓS and dance a bit to the beats of PAUL KALKBRENNER afterwards? I think it’s even better this way since you might discover new music and see bands you wouldn’t have seen in a different environment.
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You got a lot of ideas next to the musical program. There’s a Art Village for example or the attempt to create the worlds biggest Silent Disco Area. Do you think this is a proper concept for the future? Being more than ‘just’ a festival?
Yeah, we think so especially since the visitors are not only interested in music. We’d like to establish urban culture and topics with such a way. The art village already did pretty good last year. Especially If you are a festival like us – where you can’t hide for a few hours on a camping area – it is important to present more. We will have a label market this year and a ‘Berlin Debate’ that presents panels where you can discuss about topics that are important in Berlin.
In the past years there has always been some troubles with the BERLIN FESTIVAL. The early breakup in 2010 is the most famous one. What did you learn from these mistakes and are there way to prevent them this year?
Of course you always learn a lot from such faults. Especially with what happened 2010. But we think we already showed last year that it is impossible to create such a festival in the middle of a huge city with all its difficulties. There are again a few updates this year – we’re moving the main stage to a different place, the entrance will – once again – work through the main hall and there are tiny details here and there we’re working on.
There’s a certain boom with open airs and music festivals in the past years that you can’t deny. There are new concepts, a big ‘battle’ around top acts and events are selling out quicker and quicker. How to you see this tendency? Is their even space left for growth?
You’re right, there’s a lot of these things happening – also internationally. Spending your weekend on a festival is as popular as never before – it’s even some sort of replacement for a classical vacation, it seems. There are rising numbers of international guests that like to combine their trip to Berlin with a festival visit which also might help to get to know the country and its people better. But still it’s very hard to establish such a festival, it might take a couple of years. The battle of acts and fees is not only based on the number of festivals but also on the change of circumstances for artists and their labels. A lot of acts only make money via live shows which makes the festival summer essential for most groups – which might be a reson for the rising fees.
What do the words ‘hope’ and ‘passion’ mean to you in terms of the festival?
Well, we hope to have present a nice and beautiful BERLIN FESTIVAL this year and we will work on it also in the next year with a maximum amount of passion.