Music Montag: Best of Berlin 2014

by James Glazebrook

There’s nothing like a Music Montag end of year playlist to make you realise just how diverse the Berlin music scene is! Bookended by classic Zoë favourites that drive home the dominance of the city’s clubbing industry, elsewhere this year’s Best of Berlin runs the gammut of genres. There’s electro pop, indie, weirdo synth explorations, progressive metal, a healthy chunk of Bowie covers… even a hilarious advertising jingle and a track from a rock opera for kids! Hope you enjoy this pick-and-mix of the most interesting music (mostly) produced in Berlin this year. Boom.

Want to walk your ears down memory lane? Check out the Music Montag: Best of Berlin 2013 and the best of 2012.

Music Montag: Jim Hickey, “Just to Find”

by James Glazebrook

One of überlin’s favourite Berlin-based musicians has just released a new video! “Just to Find” by Jim Hickey continues the artist’s practice of piecing together short films from family home movies (check out “Burning Forest” here). We think the shaky, largely unpeopled scenes reflect the jaded sentimentality of the track’s lyrics, and the lo-fi nature of its production. But we’ll let Jim explain:

“Just to Find” was recorded live at LowSwing Studios straight to a vintage 16 track tape machine that I spent months bringing back to life. It was the first session the machine had been used for in decades! We did two takes of the track and were sure we had it but we put down one more because we knew we wouldn’t be able to edit it at all. The track didn’t even see a computer until after it was mixed. We kept the second take and that was it.

“Just to Find” comes from Jim Hickey’s as-yet-untitled forthcoming EP, which we’re really looking forward to. Rumour has it that he’s been recording with Phia too! For now… enjoy:

Music Montag: Jim Hickey – “Burning Forest”

by James Glazebrook

Second time up on the blog for Maltese-American Wunderkind Jim Hickey. For the video to his soulful quiet anthem “Burning Forest”, Hickey has stitched together childhood memories found on Hi8 tapes – shot a few years before he started playing in bands, touring in Germany and, oh y’know, opening for Elton John (seriously). Take a trip down memory lane…

Music Montag: Best of Berlin 2013

by James Glazebrook

What have EnyaFleetwood Mac, Chris Isaak, Rihanna, M.I.A, Destiny’s Child and Kendrick Lamar got in common? Nope, they haven’t formed a Gayngs-style supergroup (we wish!)… but all of them have had tracks covered or remixed by überlin’s Music Montag picks for 2013. Here’s two hours of our favourite music made in and about Berlin this year, from electro to acoustic, from heavy heavy metal to fat dirty bass. Enjoy 🙂

Feeling nostalgic? Listen to the Best of Berlin 2012 here.

Music Montag: Jim Hickey

by James Glazebrook

Jim Hickey by Meike Peters

Jim Hickey by Meike Peters

A lot of the time, my job as a blog editor involves trying to tease out the “Berlin connection” of the people pitching me, and working out what makes them different to the other artists piling up in my inbox. Thankfully, Jim Hickey took care of all this when he sent me a copy of his wonderful Railings EP and told me about his unique expat experience:

I’m Maltese/American, spent many summers in LA as a kid which was definitely a big influence on my life, as was spending the rest of the time on a small rock in the Mediterranean. I’ve always had an obsessive relationship with music, it started out with some old Pink Floyd tapes which I would listen to over and over for hours and when I started playing guitar it was a strictly day-and-night thing, played pretty much all the time. Started playing in bands at 15, live at 16 and doing live and studio session work at 17. Went on tour for the first time at 18 in Germany as a session guitarist for a local act (played all sorts of unsavoury radio festivals but also opened for Elton John at Bielefeld Stadium – a rather dubious honour), fell in love with Berlin and decided to move here ASAP. As soon as the tour ended I moved to England which didn’t last long and from there I moved to Berlin (at 19, I’m 26 now, I’ve been here nearly eight years).

The Berlin electronic underground scene was the next huge influence and at this point I started to play with synths and drum machines more and more. I was the live sound mixer at an (illegal) electro club (called Eel Pie – it got forcibly shut down) where the underground scene gathered to shuffle. The place was in an office block and when the offices closed for the weekend we let loose. Mixed some great indie/electro acts there, mostly under the radar stuff, like Robots in Disguise, ANIAETLEPROGRAMMEUR, Gebrüder Teichmann and Juri Gagarin. This experience changed a lot really, just being immersed in the scene and being around these acts that were creating this unbelievable new music had a huge influence on me and my approach to making music. At the same time I started to get involved in the gallery scene and got to know many of the amazing artists working and in refuge in Berlin. In effect this changed my approach to working creatively and helped to free up any insecurities about doing stuff people might not understand or be able to appreciate.

Some of the music I’m listening to at the moment is Chromatics (or any of Johnny Jewel’s projects for that matter), Errors (really, really good), D33J, James Blake (of course…), Factory Floor, Egyptian Hip Hop, Vondelpark and Space Dimension Controller (those last three are all R&S artists, Blake started there too).  I like Anticon records stuff, UNO NYC, alternative/ experimental electronic music and any 80s electro funk but also hazy indie stuff with reverb drenched guitars like Beach House or Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti.

My Railings EP was written, recorded and produced by me at home (except drums which I did at another studio). I’ve been writing and collecting ideas over the past few years, just creating my own sound and this is the first release from this collection of songs.

Listen to and download Railings at jim-hickey.com.