Modeselektor has reshaped the very context on which electronic music has been built over the last twenty years and quite frankly there’s little that hasn’t been said about the dancefloor revolutionaries. So when RBMA hosted an afternoon sit-down event with the duo, we decided to delve a little beneath the pristine, shiny lacquer that their reputation already serves up and skip the generic ten-question routine. Instead, we gave Gernot Bronsert, one half of the duo, some company as he satiated a desperate nicotine habit, and forced him to play tour guide.
As we snuck behind Blue Frog to cramp ourselves between round tables and ashtrays, he agreed to tell us about what the pageantry of a night (and consequently day) out with Modeselektor in Berlin (their home city) might entail. If you were intrigued enough to read this and are planning a trip any time soon, this is for you.
“I have to introduce the question before I answer because we go not often out in Berlin. For example we’ll be in India or somewhere else in the world but we don’t get often chance to play or have a normal weekend in Berlin but if we do, this is how we do it!”
And so begins the long of it…
”Everything’s so easy in Berlin. I think it is easy anyway. The transportation is good, it’s simple, not so cheap maybe but still cheap in comparison to London. Then we have all these different areas to explore depending on what we feel. We have Mitte, Friedrichstraße, that’s the point where there are a lot of clubs going on at the moment but at the same time it’s dying. All clubs are now are planned for a contemporary time, that’s how it works now in Berlin for more than 20 years. They’re not that uch in for a long time so yeah, they’re very simply constructed venues, quick in that sense. They will have just a bar (which is very important of course in Germany) good sound system.”
”The one we’d go to I think is a very famous one, the Berghain which is a heating plant or power plant. It’s super industrial and they’re very famous for it. They have a good size dance floor, not too big or small, no visuals, just these little diffused lights and things and the aim is just to feel. Feel with the ears, not diminish it with all the laser shows and whatever they do nowadays. It’s out favourite place to play of course.”
And what about to go out to?
“Yeah..I think that’s our favourite place to go too!” [laughs] “The people who own it, they’re good friends too so for long now, we organise parties there. It’s not been around so long, like last 7-8 years but we’ve been doing parties there ever since. Every year at least and other times, if we’re around we go to watch concerts of our other friends. The music is so different! Mostly electronic music of course but super varied. Lots of our artists have played their too like Mouse on Mars. If you’re there on Saturday you’re lucky because that’s a classic Berghain event, Shed has played too, he’s another one of our artists on 50 weapons. And Ben Klock. He’s not an artist on our label but we love to go hear him, he’s a very good DJ. Mostly local DJs play there.”
”It costs about 10-15 euros for a club night and then for a concert it’s a little bit more like 18-25, depends on who’s playing usually. They usually do concerts in the late evening fro 10-12 and then after 12 the club starts so it’s like a night shift. Normally, we’ll drink some beer on the streets or go to a friend’s and get there around 12 in the night, maybe a little bit later, then you stay till Monday!”
Until they get hungry that is…
”When we’re hungry we love the Berlin kebab. We have a really great Kebab culture because of the Turkish people who came to West Germany in the ‘60s. Seb (Sebastian Szary) and me both come from the East side. We grew up with the Kebab only after the wall but it’s really great! When it comes to drinking though we hate Jager surprisingly but most of the clubs have great drinks. Really good coffee, we like good vodka. Pure vodka, german beers too. But before i say too much this is for the young people..don’t mix that shit up! It’s really hard to talk about alcohol because it’s so easy to get addicted about it.”
Getting sidetracked (not that we’re complaining)
“Ok but there’s more to Berlin so don’t drink so much you can’t enjoy Berlin by day. I’d say first evening just have a nice dinner. Don’t drink too much, have a nice walk around, maybe take a cab. Say Kurzreise, it means ‘short trip.’ It’s for 2km and costs about 2 euro 50 for a full cab that’s four people, it’s really convenient. Enough to go from one point to another point. Then grab some beers, smoke 100 cigarettes on the streets. Lunchtime there are so many opportunities, plus it’s really interesting to see both parts of Berlin. You can still see the difference and i really love it. And I would suggest--I know it sounds touristy but in Berlin it’s pretty special--you can check out some awesome museums and exhibitions. There’s this museum area full of modern arts where we’ve got Guggenheim too. Also, in Mitte again there’s a street called Tiergarten and a district called kreuzberg where all the young creative spaces are. Newcomb too.”
”It’s super easy to find because everything is located in front of the street or just below. Just follow your gut..should we go in or not? That’s what the feeling’s all about.”
Their favourite way to bide the time..
”I mean there are lots of things but man, if you like records..we love to do this, it’s our favourite, we like to go to this record shop Hardwax in Kreuzberg which I would really, really recommend! We can spend the whole day there, get inspiration, meet people, drink some coffee, chat about music. Everyone you meet there will tell you exacty where all the good, local parties are at too so it’s a good idea to go there.”
“If the weather is good, there are lots of nice rivers in Berlin, we get some nice food or some nice wine and sit by the river or take a boat when we have time. It’s also nice to escape from the city once in a while because there’s some really nice landscape around. We don’t go camping much but there are a few places you can do that too.”
And back to insatiable appetites…
”As far as food goes it’s so hard to tell you favourite places because my aim is to discover every time new places. There are a few great beer gardens of course like Piranha in Prenzlauer Berg so summer time is very nice to just eat some German sausage; If you like meat it’s super tasty. There are also some amazing Japanese restaurants, one called Sasaya, again in Prenzlauer Berg and I love this one famous Korean one called Angry Chicken. It’s South Korean [laughs] but now they’ve opened I heard a North Korean restaurant as well. I’ve never been there but i’ve heard stories. It looks a little bit sad yeah but definitely want to check it out because the food is great.
And finally, the one stop shop for any music lover…
“I say this because early on you ask where we go to hear fresh, local music so I could say clubs like Tresor but the biggest and best thing I can tell you is to go to Hardwax. I know I said it before but it’s really a melting point for all that kind of information!”
Just to sum it all up, here’s how Modeselektor suggest you spend 24 hours in Berlin through their Point of View:
11:00 a.m. - Breakfast at Piranha Beer Garden in Prenzlauer Berg. Have a German sausage, a tall glass of Beer maybe. After all, it’s the equivalent of a juice in Germany. Be leisurely about it, grab a book or your music and soak up a little sun.
12:30 p.m. - Take a cab out for a short trip (Kurzreise) as it gets hotter, make your way over to the Mitte district in Berlin and set out for some Museum exploration. The area’s a cultural hot spot so you can spend a good few hours there and go for a late lunch because you don’t really want to have a massive dinner if you’re going to do a big night out.
2:30 p.m. - If you’re up for it and the weather permits, find a nearby river bank and settle down with a beer for a while.
3:30 p.m. - Head over to any of their favourite restaurants like the Japanese Sasaya or Korean Angry Chicken for a nice, leisurely lunch. Both are situated back in Prenzlauer Berg.
5:oo p.m. - Find your way over to some stellar street art. The streets of the city are awash with it so they suggest going with your gut and just following your instincts as far as this is concerned. Some of the best districts for this stuff are Mitte and Kreuzberg though in case you’re beginning to get attached to either.
8:30 p.m. - Get to Kreuzberg and find your way to Hardwax, their favourite record shop. Grab a coffee and get social. This is the place you’ll find out everything you want to know about the local scene for the night. Which bars to go to, where to pre-game, where the best gigs are and more. Once you’re done, be sure to find out where the nearest alcohol store is and load up on jager, vodka, beers, whatever gets your goat. Get tanked.
10:00 p.m. - Berghain, Berghain, Berghain. Spend the next 12 hours in and out of here.
There you have it. 24 hours of Modeselektor-designed debauchery in Berlin are yours for the taking.
Words: Mandovi Menon