Music Montag: Milwalkie

by James Glazebrook

Here at überlin, we love a good Scottish accent. It’s just one of the reasons that our all-time favourite rock bands include Idlewild, Biffy Clyro and now, Milwalkie. Lazy (and regionally insensitive) comparisons aside, Aberdonian brothers Matthew David Morris and Steve Morris – and token German Jan Pfennig – distinguish themselves with a taste for epic atmospherics and shimmering, slightly-shoegaze melodies.

We’re stoked that Milwalkie gave us the exclusive to new video “Land” (above), which features singer Matt walking Verve-style through the streets of Berlin, encountering the people and places who’ve made the band feel at home here. They were also good enough to record this interview, which explains how the brothers arrived in Berlin, what they think of the indie scene here, and some tips for places to explore and, more importantly, get coffee! Enjoy this video Berlin Portrait, check out Milwalkie on Facebook and buy “Land” on iTunes.

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.

Glass Berlin

by James Glazebrook

Spoiler alert! Here’s a sneak peek of Glass Berlin‘s signature “mystery” desert, the Candy Box – a confection of homemade gummy bears, chocolate caviar, sweet herbs and other treats, spread across a table-sized sheet of aluminium foil. I’m sure Gal Ben Moshe won’t mind us blowing his restaurant’s worst-kept secret, because: every time the dish is prepared at a table, it draws the attention of all the other diners anyway, and it perfectly illustrates the head chef’s playful approach to cooking.

Moshe draws on cherished memories for inspiration – the Stadtgarten of vegetables, flowers and earth(!) brings an open-air picnic from Tempelhofer Feld to the plate, and other experimental dishes infuse his Israeli upbringing with the wide-eyed wonder of a (fairly) recent arrival in Berlin. If you go to Glass (and you should) we recommend trying the vegetarian menu – the Hokkaido of filled pasta, butter rum, brussels sprouts, cranberries and chestnut was a delightful surprise – and asking your attentive host about the influences behind his adventurous cuisine… and his awesome tattoo!

Music Montag: Mara Simpson

by James Glazebrook

Phew! What a crazy weekend. Here’s some nice chilled out music to help ease you into the week. Mara Simpson is an English expat living in Berlin, inspired by fellow countrymen Zero 7 and Cinematic Orchestra, and singer-songwriter icon Janis Joplin. Check out her single “Fine Lines”, which is released on November 11th, and “The Lion and the Nomad”, recorded at the obligatory rooftop concert. If you like what you hear, catch Simpson live at Kugelbahn in Wedding on November 15th, or follow her on Facebook for more updates.

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