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this is why berlin is still the capital of electronic music

Berlin Atonal is the pinnacle of experimental festivals. We caught up with the attendees of the 2018 edition to find out why.

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Sep 3 2018, 10:18am

All photography Roberto Brundo

Five continuous days of electronic music, sweaty dancing and experiential art are over. Last week, Berlin Atonal took place across three of Berlin’s most (in)famous clubs -- Kraftwerk, Tresor and OHM. Packed with hundreds of ravers, music nerds and anyone in pursuit of a 24-hour party, it proved that if you want a good time soundtracked by techno, Berlin’s still the capital.

The setting alone is pretty special -- a former power station turned into a huge concrete labyrinth of sound. But it’s the genre-bending approach to music that makes Atonal so unique. Big DJs like Helena Hauff and Actress appear alongside underground artists like Giant Swan and Machine Woman, creating an unpredictable and exciting musical experience like no other. We cornered some of the festival-goers and quizzed them on what makes it so great.

Tiago, 26, graphic designer. Mariana, 29, writer

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Where are you from?
Tiago: Portugal.
Mariana: Ukraine.

What do you do?
Tiago: I’m a freelance graphic designer and run BORSHCH, a magazine about electronic music on and beyond the dancefloor, with Marianna.
Mariana: I’m a writer, mostly about music-related topics and a little bit of lifestyle.

What makes Atonal special for you?
Mariana: Experiencing an electronic and noise project in this kind of place is very special as it sounds like it’s coming from the place itself. It’s almost a religious kind of vibe.
Tiago: Some of the artists at Atonal present something a bit different from what they normally do.

What’s happening in Berlin right now that we should know about?
Mariana: I would definitely recommend the Mala Junta party. There's a new wave of techno in Berlin that's inspired by the 90s and is very different from the established Berlin sound. It blends fashion, young people and DIY --- everything is becoming more eclectic and I am really happy to be part of it.

ishi vu, 25

Where are you from?
Gothenburg, Sweden.

What do you do?
I make music. It’s kind of outer space 80s/new wave but plays in the future with some trance-like journeys and alien drums.

What makes Atonal special for you?
There is a genuine feeling of lustfulness and enthusiasm for sound here.

What performances are you looking forward to the most?
Lanark Artefax. He's one of the most interesting electronic artists right now.

How would you describe Berlin’s music scene?
Berlin obviously has a quite well known sound, but with every aspect of this city, there's an openness to all kinds of differences. So regardless of what you search for, you will find something that accommodates you.

Marieke, 27, freelance journalist

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Where are you from?
I’ve lived in Berlin for four years but I’m actually from a small town near the Dutch border.

Which performances are you looking forward to most?
Helena Hauff, as I really like her presence.

What’s happening in Berlin right now that we should know about?
The image of Berlin as a paradise is changing. It’s getting more and more restrictive and conservative. There’s less affordable living space and when you look around you see a lot more police.

What’s the best about being young today?
You can get all the information you need about any niche topic in this world. Just one click and you can learn about many different perspectives outside of your own bubble.

Lucy, 20, dancer

Where are you from?
Berlin.

What do you do?
I’m a dancer and I studied fashion design.

What’s happening in Berlin right now that we should know about?
The female/non-binary DJ collective No Shade. They do parties and workshops.

What is the best thing about being young today?
It’s always good to be young. Today we have a good situation in the western world because we can develop freely, especially as LGBTQ people.

Enyonam, 27, booking assistant

Where are you from?
I moved here from Brooklyn, but was raised in New Jersey and Ghana.

What makes Atonal special for you?
It showcases artists revolutionising electronic music by blurring genre lines and bringing new perspectives to the scene through diversity in style. I love it for that. Not to mention how bonkers the Kraftwerk space itself is.

What's happening in Berlin right now that we should know about?
The present and future is female.

Which song makes you want to start a revolution?
The entire Joey Bada$$ ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ album.

Maximilian, 25, graphic designer and art director

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Where are you from?
Austria, but I moved to Berlin last year.

What makes Atonal special for you?
I like the selection of artists. It gives music a stage that couldn’t take place anywhere else. The interaction between music and visuals in this kind of location is unique.

How would you describe Berlin’s music scene?
Open, diverse, not stuck with one genre --- the borders blur.

Which song makes you want to start a revolution?
Robyn -- Indestructible.

Koske, 29, architect

Where are you from?
Tokyo, Japan.

What do you do?
I used to be an architect back in Tokyo but I moved to Berlin last year and got super interested in stage and set design.

How would you describe Berlin’s music scene?
For me, it’s interesting as the techno scene in Tokyo is really small and very mainstream. Young people here are shifting more and more into hip-hop but still with techno elements -- the different genres are melting together.

Atonal combines music and art. Which two other things should be combined more often in life?
I love avocado and shoyu sauce, but this combination is not really common here.


This article was originally published on i-D Germany.


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