Each month, Paradise gives me a different place around the world to soundtrack for the Sounds of Paradise DJ mix series. July’s destination comes alive in Sounds of Paradise 007: Berlin Edition, which you can listen to right now!
Berlin, Germany was an exciting selection to give me personally since I find it to be one of the world’s great cities for music and nightlife. Though it’s been many years since I’ve been back to Berlin, I had three special trips there that were all related to covering music events, clubs or record labels. Each time, I did my best to channel my German grandmother’s excitement when she went to live there as a young adult apprenticing as a pre-World War II seamstress; she would later escape the country in 1939 and start a family in the United States.
If your travel plans allow for time in Berlin, please do yourself a favor and explore the music as passionately as you might the visual art or the food. This mix will help take you there, whether you can actually go or not! Press play on the embedded mix player to hear this exclusive set of songs from Berlin, and keep reading to learn more about each selection.
David Bowie “Sound + Vision”
We begin with a classic cut from David Bowie’s Low, one of three albums he recorded in Berlin. This period of his long career in music is considered one of his most special.
Modeselektor and Thom Yorke “The White Flash”
For “The White Flash,” Berlin electronic duo Modeselektor teamed up with Thom Yorke, the lead singer of England’s mighty Radiohead. It’s a must-listen for fans of Yorke’s band.
Ellen Allien and Apparat “Leave Me Alone”
Two bright stars from the Berlin techno world, Ellen Allien and Apparat (whose given name is Sascha Ring) offer a cheeky cut that’s definitely not as repellent as the title sounds.
Barbara Morganstern “Polar”
The multi-talented Barbara Morganstern sings, plays piano, keyboard and guitar and produces beats. Her gorgeous song “Polar” was released in 2006 and sounds timeless more than a decade later.
Monika Kruse and Robert Owens “One Love”
Berlin artist Monika Kruse has had a prolific career in electronic music that includes her own record label called Terminal M, which she founded in 2000. On “One Love,” she collaborates on a romantic dance tune with Robert Owens, a revered, Billboard dance chart-topping vocalist who came to prominence in the Chicago house music scene in the Eighties. She was the first person to pick me up from the airport in Berlin on my first visit, a smart ambassador of all the incredible music made in the city.
Basic Channel “Q1.1/I”
Rhythm & Sound “Free for All”
Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald are the founders of Berlin’s acclaimed record label Basic Channel, which is known worldwide for its impressive techno and dub recordings. They also record as Basic Channel and Rhythm & Sound. Both projects are included here to show off their beautiful range as producers.
Iggy Pop “The Passenger”
The Michigan-born rocker wrote and recorded “The Passenger” in Berlin after riding the S-Bahn, the city’s rapid transit railway system. The song appears on his seminal Lust for Life album from 1977.
Paul van Dyk featuring Vega4 “Time of Our Lives”
My second trip to Berlin was in 2000 to dance on a Love Parade float with DJ/producer Paul van Dyk at the helm. The Love Parade is now defunct, but it drew more than a million revelers to Berlin every year for decades. 2004’s “Time of Our Lives,” which was recorded with a London rock band called Vega4, encapsulates the energetic highs of that time in Germany’s mainstream club culture.
Boys Noize featuring Hudson Mohawke and Spank Rock “Birthday”
Forget “Happy Birthday” — this saucy EDM track that Berlin’s Boys Noize made with Scottish producer Hudson Mohawke and Baltimore rapper and songwriter Spank Rock is what you should be playing for your loved ones on their special day!
The Berlin-reared producer has also won competitions for his DJing. “Famous” is a sound example of his sample-savvy, cut-and-paste pastiche.
Monty Luke “Move”
A California native living in Berlin, Monty Luke makes thoughtful music that propels dancefloors worldwide, as you’ll hear on the focused “Move.”
John Vaughan “I Still Have a Suitcase in Berlin”
We conclude this installment of Sounds of Paradise with an English-language tribute to the city, a cover of Marlene Dietrich’s 1963 song “Einen Koffer in Berlin.” Auf wiedersehen!