Journal

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If not Now, then When?

The members of electro punk band Egotronic have been engaging in musical hedonism for 19 years – a kind of hedonism which can increasingly be viewed as a political outcry. Their latest album Ihr seid doch auch nicht besser (You’re No Better Either) represents the zenith of this development. It’s about the erosion of the political center and the necessity of forging new alliances.

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Hamburg’s Got Groove

Hamburg’s iconic Elbphilharmonie is just as famous for its insane acoustics as it is for its programme, which weaves traditional classical music together with rock bands, festivals, and jazz — like the Scandinavian piano band Rymden, for example. On the occasion of their concert, we met the jazz trio in the so-called ‘Elphi’, where we delved into the history of the concert hall and considered, among other questions, whether jazz is the classical music of the 21st century.

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The Jack of All Trades

Dieter Meier is someone who, without exaggeration, can be described as a music legend. With the band Yello, the Swiss native became world famous in the 80s together with his colleague Boris Blank. Heard their hits like ‘Oh Yeah’ and ‘The Race’? Experimental and electronic, and a little gaga, the tunes get under your skin thanks to Dieter’s deep voice. Yello still perform today. But music is by no means Dieter’s only mode of expression: Dieter, probably the best dressed rebel of Zurich, who even earned his living as a professional gambler for a while, started working as a performance and conceptual artist in the late 60s. In 1972, he took part in Documenta 5 in Kassel, for which he installed a metal plaque at the main station with the inscription, ‘Dieter Meier will stand on this plaque on 23 March 1994 from 3pm to 4pm’ — a promise he later kept. As a creative entrepreneur and investor, Dieter has his fingers everywhere in the game. His greatest passions, however, are the worlds of culinary delights and nature, and, following from that, his farm in Argentina, where he cultivates wine, breeds cattle, and spends a lot of time. He serves up products from his second home in his restaurants — of course this jack-of-all-trades is also a restaurateur. And he has also just set up a chocolate factory. Somewhere between his many projects, Dieter took a moment to answer some questions for COMPANION.

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Creating a Cult Label

It all started off with a modest music label and a few pairs of jeans. Since Maison Kitsuné’s origins in 2002, the purveyor of cool has spiralled out into a cult fashion brand and music label with coffee shops in Paris and Tokyo. How did it all come to be? Co-founder Gildas Loaëc shared with COMPANION how he seeks out the eclectic and the classic to stay fresh in these fast-moving industries.

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Generating a Genre

Natascha Augustin, senior creative director at Warner Chappell Music, is the cool-headed industry leader who’s responsible for propelling Germany’s hottest hip-hop and rap acts to the peak of international acclaim — though her humility prevents her from taking any of the credit. Having pioneered ‘Deutschrap’ (German rap) right from the beginning, her knack for navigating the ever-shifting tides of taste in popular music has stood not only Warner Chappell but also the entire industry in ever-stronger stead. Natascha took a moment out of her nonstop schedule to share with COMPANION how she discovers new talent, what she likes about the new wave of female German rappers, and her outlook for the future of the genre.

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Ballads of a Bad Boy

It’s hard to believe that Julian Pollina — better known as Faber — is just 26 years old. Given the grit of the Swiss singer-songwriter’s voice and lyrics, you’d be forgiven for assuming he’d seen at least two decades more. Sung in German, his 2017 debut album, ‘Sei ein Faber im Wind’ (Be a Faber in the Wind) leaves no subject unscathed in its wake. Its tracks set salacious wordplay to soaring melodies, recalling the husky snarls of Jacques Brel or the warbles of Balkan folk music — it is a new brand of melancholic dance music that’s captured the world-weary hearts of Faber’s generation. Ahead of his second album’s release, in late 2019, Faber emerged from the recording studio to speak with COMPANION about the blurred lines between fact and fiction, being bored in Zurich, and why he wouldn’t get along with Kanye.

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The International Heartbeat of Frankfurt

Dasitu Kajela-Röttger and her husband, Michael Röttger, are a real dream team, both privately and professionally. They met and fell in love in 1985, at an African festival in their chosen home of Frankfurt am Main. At the time, Dasitu was organising an evening of Ethiopian Oromo culture, and Michael had just returned from a long trip to Africa and was enthusiastic about the music. Later, he also managed to convince Dasitu to become his accomplice in professional matters as well. Dasitu was already working in the intercultural field anyway, and she thought combining that with musical culture would be the perfect match. ‘I was only able to really spark her interest in West African music culture as time went on, though,’ says Michael, laughing.

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The Present is Female

The music scene is a domain in which women have traditionally been on the passive side of things: as muses, as fans in front of the stage, or as groupies. Does that sound a little antiquated? Indeed it is! There have long been amazing women involved in front of, behind, or next to the stage. It’s time for gender balance to be introduced to festival lineups, for the gender pay gap to close in creative industries, and for women to take executive positions at major labels and established music magazines. Does this sound like a somewhat utopian fantasy? Hardly! If we take a look around the scene, we see significant female players who are making noise, creating new spaces, and, in doing so, changing the game. That’s why this edition of COMPANION is focused on the music world in Berlin, profiling women who make the industry so captivating: DJs, singers, event organisers, writers, and activists

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When in Doubt, Anarchy

Tim Renner is a legend in the music and culture business. As a manager at Universal, he discovered bands such as Rammstein, and from 2014 to 2016, he was Berlin’s state secretary for cultural affairs, initiating a digitalisation offensive. Aside from having worked as a music journalist and radio host, and founding his own media startup, Motor Entertainment, he also lectures at the Popakademie Baden-Württemberg and writes books on the industry. In short, it’s hard to think of anyone with a better grasp on the present and future of pop culture. A conversation about youthful anarchism, the vastness of the unregulated internet, and what’s next for the music industry.

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Mona’s Cake Repertoire

Mona Asuka combines two passions: playing the piano and baking. The Munich-born professional musician tells COMPANION why the two disciplines are in fact quite similar — and she also shares her recipe for the perfect summer cake.

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Find Your Own Woodstock

Be it for a musical weekend trip with the family, melodious evenings at a winery, or experiencing the jazz stars of tomorrow performing live — COMPANION presents the best festivals close to our cities.

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The Science of Scent

Subtle and seductive, the aroma molecule Iso E Super was created in a laboratory in 1973. In 2006, the master perfumer Geza Schön bottled it pure to create Molecule 01 - a fragrance that fast gained a cult following the world over. Many more scents later, COMPANION visited Schön at his Berlin apartment and lab to get a whiff of the chemistry behind his 'anti-fragrances', and glean his take on the wellness industry's obsession with nature (hint: it's overrated).

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Diving into The Forest

Nature, awareness, deceleration, meditation: 'shinrin-yoku', meaning 'bathing in the forest', is a recognised treatment in Japan. It's also spreading to Germany as a by-product of the general mindfulness trend. Why is it so popular? What does the bathing part involve? Accompanied by two guides, partners Carlos Ponte and Emma Wisser, COMPANION headed off to the Mangfall Valley, close to Munich, to test the waters and discover what this activity is all about. Between the trees and wet earth, we learned something about the healing qualities of the forest - and about ourselves as well.

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Happy Go Vienna

Once again, Vienna has been named the most liveable city in the world. Horse-drawn carriages, Sachertorte chocolate gateau, 'Küss die Hand' - really now? Oh yes, says Zara Pfeifer. Thirteen years ago, she came here from Cologne to study and, bar a few short hiatuses, has stayed ever since.

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Petit Paris

In all its sophistication, Paris often feels very grown up. But the pleasures it holds for pint-sized bon vivants are manifold, if you know where to look. Xavi Vega, general manager of the new 25hours Hotel Terminus Nord and father of two-year-old Sofia, helped us plot out the city's treasures for les petits. The Catalan-born Francophile first moved to Paris in 2009, and returned in 2016, after a short intermezzo in Madrid. Together with his wife, he delights in raising his daughter amidst the culture, cuisine, intellectual rigour, and simple pleasures the city so elegantly embraces. Here are his secrets to sharing the Parisian art de vivre with your little ones on a weekend in and around Paris.


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