Berlin Portrait: OOi

by James and Zoe

We think that the best way to discover Berlin is through the eyes of the people who live here. For our Berlin Portrait series, we’re asking artists, musicians and other interesting expats to introduce us their corner of the city. Get to know another side of Kreuzberg with OOi, a classically trained viola player and visual artist originally from Australia.


Introduce yourself!

I am OOi. I am a classical violist and visual artist.

How long have you been here?

I have lived in Berlin for nearly three years.

What brought you here?

Love brought me here – I met my husband in Berlin while I was traveling through Europe alone. But music is something that has kept me here – OOi would have never come into fruition had I not lived in Berlin… various encounters (accidental and intentional) have lead me to create my audio/visual concept and develop my on going apartment concert series. There is also a fantastic creative energy here which has really fuelled my projects.


Tell us about your neighbourhood, and what you like about it.

I live in Kreuzberg – Wikipedia describes the neighbourhood as “one of Berlin’s cultural centers in the middle of the now reunified city.” I think it’s an accurate statement – there is a large Turkish population in Kreuzberg, and a lot of young German families, as well as expats from all over the world. I really like hearing many different languages on the streets, understanding some conversations and sometimes understanding nothing at all.

I love Kreuzberg because it is close to all my favourite places – Neukölln, Treptow, and the Berlin Philharmonic are all a 10-15 minute bike ride away. I feel so lucky to be living in a central place – I held my first solo performance with Phia in my living room and I think the concert turnout was so great because it was in a convenient location (as well as the great publicity…thank you again überlin!)

That is also another thing I love about Berlin – that there are always performances and parties in the most unexpected places and they always turn out to be the most unforgettable ones!


What are your five favourite things in your neighbourhood?

Zentral und Landesbibliothek Berlin. I am obsessed with libraries in general, but this one is particularly fantastic. They have a wonderful classical music section, and I am constantly raiding their shelves for CDs, books for research and music scores. I’m really into their manga collection – they’re all in German, which is great for learning the language! The library also loans out books in many other languages, including English.

The U1 line. I love riding the U1 line from Görlitzer Bahnhof (my station) to Warschauer Strasse (the end of the line) and being able to see the bridge, and the old and new buildings along the Spree. It is especially fun in winter, when you can see people walking along the frozen water of the Spree – very surreal.


Two cafes: Katie’s Blue Cat, a peaceful place I frequent to do my homework and research over a coffee and a delicious Earl Grey shortbread… their other baked goods are equally delicious! Concierge Coffee on Paul Lincke Ufer is a tiny but extremely beautiful space that serves consistently good coffee. There is nothing there like newspapers, magazines or the Internet to distract you and it is located away from the street, so it is a great place to catch up with people sincerely or refocus your thoughts if you are alone. I was also so privileged to be allowed to host my fifth apartment concert event in their space on the middle of October this year.


Motto Distribution. It sells international, local, mainstream and independent publications covering all subjects and interests. It has an incredible range of fashion magazines (very important), great zines, beautiful books. The location and the staff are really discreet, it’s a wonderful quiet place. It’s like my second library, except I cave in and buy the books once in a while.

Experimontag @ Madame Claude. Every Monday night there is an experimental night in the basement of Madame Claude. I’ve seen so many different styles of music there and I like that the audience is generally very open because they never know what they’re going to get. The rule is to go with no expectations, so you are pleasantly surprised.

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To see OOi perform, as a musician or VJ, or to attend one of her wonderful house concerts, visit her website

Photos by Zoë Noble Photography

Katie’s Blue Cat

by James Glazebrook

When we moved to “Kreuzkölln” (ew) seven months ago I would bemoan the lack of decent coffee this side of the Landwehrkanal; now it seems like every other street has an excellent café. Competition is fierce for the title Best Coffee in Berlin, so let me word this carefully: Katie’s Blue Cat produces the smoothest flat white south of Mitte… if you get lucky with the barista. It doesn’t kick like Passenger Espresso‘s double-shot caffeine bomb, and neither is produced as consistently as the velvety creations from The Barn

Anyway, the real draw at Katie’s is their baked goods, all made in-store. We’re steadily working our way through the range of cookies, flapjacks, cheesecakes, and one-offs like chocolate and peanut butter pie and, on Thanksgiving, pumpkin pie. While our waistlines suffer, our tastebuds rejoice – and we’ll frequent the Blue Cat until we can’t fit through the door. And then we’ll switch to their delivery service(!), until our fingers are too fat to dial. But don’t let the image of our impending morbid obesity put you off – get down to Katie’s Blue Cat for sweet coffee and even sweeter treats.