a Mission has been a big part of my life here in Berlin since last summer, but strangely enough it’s taken me nearly a year to get around to writing about it on this blog. Maybe I wanted to wait until the first round of multimedia craziness emerged from this performance art collective / music label / magazine, before I started crowing about it. Maybe I was too shy about discussing my own creative work. No, wait…I remember why: I was on the academic job market last fall, which meant that I got nothing else done.
La Mission is a lot of things, including a satirical doomsday cult, a music label, a magazine, an art collective, and a group of dance-music-lovers with a very dirty sense of humor. La Mission’s identity is perhaps best summed up by cult-leader El Jefe’s manifesto/sermon, “The Sermon for the Steps of the Ziggurat in our Hearts,” published in our first La Mission magazine: (more…)
Screenshot from the front page of SACEM, the French equivalent of GEMA
eyond Germany’s borders, the debates over GEMA and its new tarif system rarely get much coverage, only spawning the occasional under-researched, “Will Berlin’s Nightclubs Perish?” sort of articles in the foreign press. But Berlin is an increasingly international city full of expatriates—many of them “creative” workers that have personal and professional links into the local music scenes here—and some of them have been blogging about this issue in their own language, explaining the issue to readers in their countries of origin while also informing their fellow expatriates in Berlin. I’ve been up to a bit of that myself in English, writing on recent anti-GEMA protests and translating pieces of German–languagenewsitems. But I can also translate from French and Spanish (among others).
So today, I thought I’d move laterally and (more…)
The crowd at the “open door” day for the launch of the Holzmarkt/Mörchenpark project.
ecently, there’s been some more news on the Holzmarkt/Mörchenpark project. The city has changed its plans for the property that’s up for sale, and this might benefit the bid and development proposal put forward by the Holzmart/Mörchenpark team. In a recent article in the Berliner Zeitung (from which I’m getting most of my information for this update), the author Karin Schmidl summarizes the changes thusly: “No high-rises, no office-building monolith, no hotel blocks.” Whose development proposal was already free of all these things? That’s right: Holzmarkt.
Some tile-work inside the Abgeordnetenhaus, where the city’s senate meets and does business.
usicboard is a cultural policy and funding initiative created by Berlin’s municipal government, with the stated goals of supporting the city’s music industry, presumably in a way similar to Berlin’s Medienboard for film and media industries. According to its official website, the project is supposed to “make Berlin more attractive as a site for popular music.” Starting in 2013, the city of Berlin will make 1 Million Euros available towards supporting these goals, but the debates have already started about how this money will be distributed, what the role of Musicboard should be,who should be running it, and even whether the project will improve or worsen the conditions of music-making in Berlin. (more…)
Entrance to the Larco Museum of Pre-Columbian History in Lima, Peru. Why should all these pictures be party pictures, anyway?
eep reading, folks! This is the last installment of the series on fieldwork methodology for ethnographic research in nightlife scenes—in other words, how to study a dance music scene without getting in the way. Last Thursday, I posted a brief list of problems that nightlife scenes pose to conventional modes of ethnographic research. Unsurprisingly, most of those issues had to do with the circumstances of EDM (electronic dance music) events themselves; and so, on the next day I wrote another article on “going out” for fieldwork, mostly detailing my own methods and giving a few bits of general advice. Todays post (and the final one in this series) covers a more conventional but no less important aspect of music ethnography: interviews! While the process of actually interviewing someone off-site (i.e., away from an EDM event) is pretty similar to other interviewing situations, there are some important things to keep in mind when (more…)
uckily, I managed to find a bit of time today to write this second part to this series, so I won’t be saddled with guilt about making promises to write more on my blog and then not fulfilling them. Yay productivity! So, to review: yesterday I wrote “Doing Nightlife Fieldwork,” which claimed that there wasn’t enough helpful writing out there on how to conduct ethnographic fieldwork in nightlife scenes. It’s a problem, I think, that we don’t at least have a shared idea of what “best practices” would look like; this is an important ethical and institutional issue for EDM studies, for sure. I listed a few ways that nightlife settings throw a wrench in conventional ethnographic methods and invited other folks to write in the comments and/or write response-posts on their own blogs. The comments have already been great, and there’s talk of a few of my EDM-scholars-with-blogs buddies preparing their own posts. Today, I’m going to focus on one of the main elements of music ethnography: attending music events and engaging in participant-observation. I’ll describe how (more…)
ouldn’t it be great if there were a book entitled, “How To Do Fieldwork in Nightclubs and Bars?” Certainly, when I was working on my own dissertation, I wished that other nightlife-researchers would be more open about their methods and more generous about giving advice to new ethnographers of nocturnal scenes. To be honest, a fair number of nightlife-researchers have published some details about their methods; it’s usually tucked away discreetly in an appendix or in a section of the introductory chapter. But these brief methodological reflections often lack too much detail to be instructive and—frankly—I’m not always satisfied with their solutions to the problems of nightlife fieldwork. Despite all my griping, I have been guided by the methods of some nightlife researchers, such as Fiona Buckland in her book Impossible Dance: Club Culture and Queer World-Making (2002).
In any case, very few nightlife ethnographers actually describe their research methods in detail, even though the circumstances of nocturnal scenes often pose difficult challenges to conventional fieldwork methods. Just a few of these are: (more…)
Just a quick note to point my faithful readers to a rich and perceptive account of a night out at Berghain written by Tavia Nyong’o at Hear is Queer. His comments about the frequently-misunderstood aesthetics of techno and the difficult-to-represent experience of losing oneself in dancing are both welcome contributions to the online discourse about EDM.
The last time I was in Berlin, I actually did not spend as much time out listening to music as I should have. I think I was turned off by the amount of US music on the German radio, and the prominence of international touring acts on the rosters of the most heavily advertised venues in the city, and hastily concluded that the mus … Read More