Last time I was in Berlin I was surprised by a fabulous gang of popsters that run these fantastic dance parties and organized gigs. They were the Let’s Kiss and Make Up gang. Laura, Jule, Kat, Silke, Luise and Andi are bringing pop to their city with love and passion. I thought it was a good idea to learn from them and perhaps someone who reads this gets inspired and starts their own indiepop nights in their city! Oh! And so looking forward to the festival in September!
++ Thanks so much for being up for it! How is Berlin today? Is spring already in town?
Laura: It’s coming back to the city, it’s getting warmer and people go outside. They put their sunglasses on and sit outside in cafés, parks.. That’s what people love to do here as soon as the sun hits the sky.
++ So why start an indiepop club in Berlin? I bet it’s not because you are going to get rich out of it…
Laura: No way! To become rich in this city you need to be lucky. Most people have a low budget to spend, I guess the tourists leave the most money in this city.
So we started this club as we missed seeing bands we love. You have plenty of choices every day, and even good ones. But still there is a slot to fill for the indiepop underground. You have lots of club nights who play “indiepop”, but it’s a huge and wide open name for anything, we know all about it.
++ LKAMU starts when Pop Assistants and p!o!p Kombinat merged. Care to tell me a bit about your past projects and why did you decide to join forces?
Laura: Pop Assistants started their first night at Bang Bang Club with a total unknown band from Glasgow, absolute shoegaze sound – Galchen. After that we had Secret Shine and The Domino State and it continued. Our idea was to bring all these amazing new and even older shoegaze and dreampop bands to Berlin and elsewhere in Germany, so we contacted other promoters and venues in Hamburg, Munich, Regensburg. The night was first called Drive Blind. When we continued we gave it the name Pop Assistants. That was Andi, Markus and Laura.
Around the same time Jule, Silke and Kevin started p!o!p kombinat berlin. They had the same thoughts about missing music in this city, as they were missing their beloved bands from the indie pop scene. Their first band was Fosca and Friday Bridge at Café Royal followed by Labrador and Action Biker at NBI.
When we got asked by a friend from Hamburg, Andreas Hering, to promote the gig of Liechtenstein, Crayon Fields and The Motifs in Berlin together, we met each other and since then we continued promoting gigs like The Bats and The Lucksmiths.
And as everyone got confused about these two names and we thought there is to much pop in them we finally went for “Let’s kiss and make up”. That was just before some of us went to Indietracks together where we got even more excited about our club night and all these bands we wanted to bring over here.
++ Tell me about the LKAMU team. Who are you all? And if there’s like a particular thing each of you have to do? Also… do you call each other nicknames?
Laura: Nicknames, good idea! I guess we could do that, but no, not yet.
We started with four of us and we grew up to 6 since then. Andi, Kat and Silke are doing the booking. Jule, Laura and Luise are responsible for promo/press stuff. The rest, like chosing bands, flyer designs, handing out flyers, posters, organising the nights – from catering to DJing – we do it all together. Sometimes it feels well organised, sometimes there are problems. But that’s alright, in the end we’re always satisfied when the bands come and play a great gig and when they feel happy to be here. Also when people who come to our nights like to come again, as they know we always bring good bands and play records they wouldn’t hear elsewhere.
++ How did you end up listening to indiepop? What was that band or person, or I don’t know, indiepop blog, that introduced you to the community? How do you feel about our community?
Laura: I was first introduced to indiepop back in my childhood. It was my sister who made tapes that where played in the car on our journey to Italy. As I remember it was The Smiths, The Cure, The Clash – all that 80s Pop and then came the mid-90s with radio bringing me back into indie pop and onto the dancefloors in Berlin.
Luise: I have to admit it was Belle & Sebastian who got me into indiepop. At least I remember it like this. There was the typical Smiths obsession when I was 14/15 followed by getting into aforementioned band. Somewhere inbetween a friend introduced me to The Field Mice which led me all the way into indiepop fandom.
Kat: Indiepop blog? Do you mean fanzine or did we keep really well? Puttin’ on the Fritz, a local radio program run by Trevor and Des and Nightflights on Fritz made me passionate about music. I used to tape them and listen to them the next day as they were on from 1 to 4 in the morning. Jarvis was my first love.
Jule: In my last years of school – I loved to watch Viva 2 – a brilliant TV channel for underground and independent music (of course the channel is dead by now). At this time I also got a tape from a friend with a live-recording of “Anorak City” – a show broadcasted on a community radio in Kassel. I used to listen to this tape everyday on my way to school on my beloved walkman. Because of the name and the starting track I got introduced to The Field Mice and so the lovestory began.
Silke: I think my love for indiepop inflamed during the uprising madchester indie bands in the late 80s. I immediately fell in love with the music of The Charlatans and blur. After some of these bands became really big during the 90s I got more and more into that music and became a big fan of the English culture.
++ Do you feel the scene in Berlin is progressing? How do you see it compared to Hamburg?
Laura: It was quite a scene in the 90s when Britpop was popular, but most kids from then are not interested anymore, some are busy with their everyday lives. In the last year it seemed to come back, new club nights and some older ones are still around or reviving. But it’s still a small scene, it’s still for people who care for music, care for going to gigs and who buy records in record stores…..
Luise: I moved to Berlin only one and half a year ago so I can’t say anything about the past. Nowadays I wouldn’t call it a scene. There’s a bunch of people you always meet at certain clubs and gigs and we at LKAMU have our secret tea party meetings once every week. But it’s more like a crowd of dedicated music aficionados than an indiepop scene.
++ So you take the name from a Field Mice song that was covered by St. Etienne. Which version do you like the best? And, do you think the name Let’s Kiss and Make Up keeps a close relationship with what you are trying to do in Berlin?
Laura: I prefer the song by The Field Mice as that band always meant much more to me than St. Etienne. They made some really great songs, but not as many as The Field Mice. It’s quiet a great name for a song and it’s the band that may represent all our music tastes and what we like about this kind of music the best. But this name, well everyone can make up their own thoughts of it.
Silke: As a big St.Etienne fan I also love the cover version and we actually have chosen the title because it was played in a café during a meeting of Pop Assistants and p!o!p kombinat!
Kat: It’s a great name to tinker with. Our next party might be called “Let’s kiss and make out” and the next one after that “Let’s dance and shut up”. We have to discuss this.
++ So apart from you are there any other indiepop clubs in Berlin? If so, care to tell me a bit about them?
Laura: There is a wide range of “indiepop” nights in Berlin. Most of them play electro pop, all that music with “nu”, “new” in their name…. But there are some DJs we do like who play different tunes. These are for example Sonic Pop Allnighter, Ship Shape Club, Natalie Stardust, Posh Pop… all of them have been running their nights since the 90s in Berlin and some of us used to go there.
++ You usually host your nights at the King Kong Klub. What are the pros and cons of this venue? What other venues do you like in your town?
Laura: We started to DJ there last year in october when Camera Obscura played in Berlin, that was with you! Since then we started to DJ there once a month. It’s a nice venue, it’s rather a bar/pub than a proper club. But there is a small dance floor and lots of comfy sofas to hang out. The crowd is always a big mix of tourists, friends, people who always hang out there. It’s a place where people stop by for a drink or two after or before going somewhere else or some just stay there all night ‘till stumbling home in the morning after 6am.
Most of the gigs we put on at Bang Bang Club, a venue just in the centre of Berlin. It’s known for it’s good selection of live indie bands. But there are plenty of small clubs, bars, cafes in Kreuzberg and Neukölln these days that are nice to hang out and where you always can find nice music to be played or see a performance of a good band. Oh, and not to forget about Schokoladen . One of the oldest venues for live performances in Mitte where hardly any old independent clubs still exists. But they keep on going always hosting good bands. The audience as much as the musicians seem to love it.
++ Okay, so what are your top 5 songs to make people go crazy in the dancefloor?
Laura: Good Question! Ha, we still need to find out and it’s hard to tell as we always have a different crowd to please. For the indie kids it’s always Belle and Sebastian, The Smiths, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart and The Field Mice.
Luise: Everytime I’m djing you’re likely to hear something by Pulp, Blondie, probably Belle and Sebastian, Shop Assistants and my newest favourite band. If I had to make a top 5 of songs that make me go crazy on the dancefloor (I know this doesn’t answer your question, sorry!) it would look like this: Stornoway – Watching Birds, Blondie – Contact In Red Square, Chin Chin – Dark Days, Blind Terry – Long Ride In The Metro, Go-Betweens – Spring Rain
Kat: Crazy dancefloor action has been witnessed during Cats on fire’s Draw in the Reins a couple of times. The Field Mice – Sensitive and Another Sunny Day – You should all be murdered always do the trick when you want us to dance.
Jule: Yeah Cats on Fire and The Field Mice are steady kings in every Indie Pop Club. And besides the good feeling music of Dent May and T-Shirt Weather on the dancefloor – I also love to play some tunes of rather unknown Indiepop Bands like Bears, Kisses and The Tartans.
Silke: It’s like Laura already said, there are always different indie kids coming to our nights and we sometimes have special events like our 80s night at King Kong Klub in March. There I played a lot of Factory and Creation Bands. That was awesome! But my favourite song at the moment is definitely Johan Hedberg’s “Svedmyra“!
++ This is a question I have to ask, because you have such great beer. What are your favourite beers in Germany?
Luise: I have to disappoint you: I prefer Cider and Polish beer!
Kat: Jever and Duckstein (or Ducki as I lovingly call it). Mmm.
Silke: I do love “Radler” -a mix of Sprite and beer, especially in summer the best thing.
++ Let’s keep on the favourite subject… what about your favourite German bands ever?
Laura: Lali Puna, Ulrich Schnauss, Malory… mhmmmm and the old heroes from the youth Tocotronic, Blumfeld … Kraftwerk, a band you don’t need to mention, cos everyone knows them.
Luise: If I had to make a top 5 again: Superpunk, Tocotronic, Honeyheads, Tripping The Light Fantastic and The Marble Man
Kat: Aeronauten. Swiss does count, doesn’t it? Ok…Germans…hm, Marsh-Marigold probably had the best releases of German bands. But I only like certain songs. My newest mini obsession is My Laundry Life. He is great, as you well know having released a split single with him and Kevin McGrother.
Jule: Oh that’s easy to answer, for me it’s BUSCH, Miniskirt (there are also Japanese band members, but the singer has a sweet German accent), Brideshead, Elegant and of course the beloved Lassie Singers.
Silke: I think Stereo Total are fun and still do a great job! When I moved to Berlin I loved the sound of Mina because they sounded so much like Stereolab. Since we had Der Elegante Rest on our night in February (with the Burning Hearts) they are my favourite German band.
++ In the early nineties there were so many great German indiepop bands, now there is maybe just five or less. What do you think had happen?
Laura: I don’t know if we really had that many indiepop bands at all. There were some, but to be honest I think there are hardly any, cos we don’t have a tradition of indiepop as in the UK and Sweden.
++ At the same time most German indiepop labels have called it a day. I feel GEMA has a lot to do with it, but maybe I’m wrong. But I would love to know how do you feel about GEMA and it’s absurd way of taxing culture?
Laura: One big absurd thing about GEMA is that they act as if they were a state institution. They are not and they were just about to raise the prices up to 200%. Venues and club nights couldn’t afford to put on bands and DJs legally anymore. For GEMA you have to name the bands and songs they play in a set. Depending on how many songs they play, how big the venue is and how much people have to pay on the door you as an organiser have to pay GEMA lots of money. They act like the mafia. All the bands who don’t appear in the top 100 won’t get any of the money, but the intention of GEMA is to “protect” the musicians. It’s a farce!
++ In this long run, what have you learned doing the indiepop thing in Germany? What are the dos and don’ts?
Laura: Do what you like, do what you think is right, even when people tell you it won’t work. We only feel good when we continue putting on bands we love. What’s the point of putting so much effort and passion in it when you are not interested in the band?
Luise: I learned that you can’t do everything you want to do. It’s important to have priorities. You should always be honest and fair to everyone if you want others to treat you the same. Think big, don’t lose your ambitions and have fun with whatever you’re doing!
++ So far what has been the biggest highlight of the club? Which have been your favourite nights?
Laura: All nights had something special for sure. For me the highlights for Pop Assistants have been Secret Shine, Ulrich Schnauss and Television Personalities. The highlight bands we’ve done together with p!o!p kombinat berlin are The Lucksmiths and Eux Autres.
Silke: When we organised our first concert with Fosca it was a highlight in several respects. On the one hand it was our first concert ever, on the other hand it was the last concert of the band Fosca. Besides it was the first time Fosca played in Berlin! And it all took place in a very small but cosy cafe where we could not really turn up the volume and it all ended up very quiet. Of course our biggest thing has been The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. But to be honest I regard all of our concerts as highlights as they had a unique character. Especially the Allo, Darlin’ night at NBI I loved very much. So it is hard to make a decision…
Let’s kiss and make up’s highlight so far could have been Epic45.
Kat: I personally thought the evening of the Christmas party with Je Suis Animal playing my favourite set of the year was pretty good. Even if the tree was a bit lopsided.
Jule: I have to agree, our X-mas Special with Je Suis Animal in a cosy atmosphere with hot punch, cakes, cookies and lots of decoration was one of the highlights for me as well.
++ And tell me what is in store for the future? Are there any projects the Berlin people should look forward to?
Laura: All the bands we have playing soon are something to look forward to, yes! After last weeks Blind Terry from Sweden – we are presenting A Sunny Day In Glasgow from Philadelphia 10th of May – And after the opening game for the World Cup we’ll have the German indiepop band Brideshead on the 11th of June.
And we have our first festival planned for the 3-5thof September in a backyard of a beautiful water tower in Kreuzberg. We already have a list with lovely bands and maybe it will be a three days festival.
++ Thanks again so much! Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for your patience waiting so long for the interview to be answered!