Now in its ninth year, Torstraßen Festival stays true to its roots by showcasing emerging music from Berlin alongside “special” international guests.
How did you get into music? Did you ever play in bands or perform yourself?
I learned to play the guitar as a teenager, but in school, only boys had bands and I was too shy to play with them. I got into music later because I had several musician friends and found them lovely and interesting people to hang out with. I love how music creates social spaces, bringing together people who share certain aesthetics and perspectives on life.
What interests me in music is that you spend lots of time engaging in an activity that is primarily made for pleasure, which you get involved in out of enthusiasm for it. But at the same time, music allows you to create an expression of your own perspective towards the world, which holds so many facets from sound aesthetics to the way you perform. I found my role by facilitating musicians and creating spaces to reflect and talk about music, rather than making it myself.
Why was it decided to, initially, do the whole festival in venues along Torstraße?
When we started the festival in 2011, Torstraße provided the connecting point for our homes and workplace. The idea was to collaborate with existing venues and create a neighborhood festival. Mitte is not the main destination to go out for music in Berlin, however there are several spaces there that contribute to the city’s music culture. They’ve changed over the years and we also wanted to highlight that. Linking the festival to the Torstraße area has also been a way to engage with the neighbourhood in the past years. In a way, we have struggled with the name because people confuse it with a street festival or think it’s about expensive shops and restaurants, which is what Torstraße is generally known for these days. Underground music culture and Torstraße generally don’t share the same associations. After eight festival editions, though, I think many people see the festival as a place to go to discover new music and so we have hopefully created a new association for the street.
“Underground music culture and Torstraße generally don’t share the same associations.”
How, in your opinion, has the festival changed over the years?
The concept of bringing together music from different Berlin music scenes, mixed with some special out of town acts, and creating a space for musical discovery and community in one day and one festival, has stayed at the core of Torstraßen Festival. We have experimented with various additional formats for each festival over the years to keep it interesting for the audience as well as ourselves. This year, the experiment is to have it all tied together in one day and one venue, which will be the Volksbühne theater. We’ve used their spaces Roter and Grüner Salon right from the beginning.
Can you tell us a bit about the playlist?
My colleague Melissa Perales has put together the playlist. She’s created a musical journey that starts out slow and sweet and then builds up to more of a party atmosphere. She had a Sunday afternoon on your sofa or balcony in mind as a setting for the playlist. It’s also a chance to get to know some of the artists performing at this year’s edition of Torstaßen Festival.
What are you especially looking forward to at this year’s festival?
I’m particularly excited about the performance of the Moscow-based artist Kate NV, who released her last album on Rvng Intl, which I like a lot. I saw her recently with her band Glintshake and was so inspired by her stage presence. She hasn’t played in Berlin much so far and will fly in especially for the festival. I’m also very curious to see rkss from London. Their recent album, DJ Tools, was specifically created to be worked with live on the dance floor, with the aim of thinking about what they would like to engage with in the social space of the club, reacting to audience, highlighting the social aspect of a show and connecting through difference. Generally though, I anticipate the festival will be a great way to spend a weekend day and night, hanging out in the beautiful Volksbühne building, meeting people, browsing through the label market, checking out new music and dancing.
Andrea Goetzke is based in Berlin and works as a curator and cultural producer for Goethe Institut and Haus der Kulturen der Welt. She also co-founded the not-for-profit organization Music Pool Berlin.
The core team of Torstraßen Festival consists of Andrea Goetzke, Melissa Perales, Norman Palm of fertig design, and Kevin Halpin who promotes shows under the moniker Shameless Limitless. Ryan Rosell of The Chop helps with the production, Arian Graser does press work, Kelly Diepenbrock has created the visuals for this year’s festival edition, and Joey Hansom works as a translator for TSF.
Head over to our Mixtape section for more balcony friendly tunes.
Text: Fabian Ebeling
Photography: Dieter H Engler and Markus Werner