Wir Sind Berliner

The German capital has become a hub for creative energy like no other place. Four of its inhabitants who are making it happen tell The Forumist about the chemistry they have with their urban landscape.



Kira Stachowitsch

Do you dream of editing the freshest fashion magazine, influencing with your own style, and DJ-ing in the greatest party city in Europe? Well, the Austrian Kira Stachowitsch has done it all. The brains behind the magazines Material Girl and Indie provides a cocktail of colourful, multicultural fashion straight from Berlin ’hoods.

What has been your best experience DJ-ing in Berlin?

“I used to DJ with my friend — the artist Daliah Spiegel — before she moved to Shanghai last January. We played at quite a few of the infamous Berlin Fashion Week opening parties by the bloggers from Dandy Diary. We particularly loved playing at their punk/squat house-themed party, which was pretty wild, and I also vividly recall another of those gigs, where Daliah and I were wearing dozens of fake glue-on tattoos on our faces and bodies that did not come off for days. I went to all my appointments at the fashion trade shows wearing those tattoos the next day, naturally.”

I know that your favourite areas are around Kreuzberg and Neukölln, areas where immigrant communities blend with bohemians. What crossovers from international communities can you see in fashion?

“I think the last show of the Serbian-born and Berlin-based designer Sadak, which incorporated flowing, unisex designs with silk burkas, is a perfect example of the blend of greatness that surrounds us here. We are an international team from very diverse backgrounds here at Indie and Material Girl ourselves — taking in all those influences is key to talking about popular culture today.”

Name the most Indie-like persona you’ve ever seen on the streets of Berlin and who would make a perfect Material Girl?

“If I may dream away into previous eras, I see a young David Bowie or Nick Cave wandering the streets of Neukölln — our Indie spirit animals. And for Material Girl, maybe Jane Birkin.”



Dandy Diary

David Kurt Karl Roth and Carl Jakob Haupt are the sharp fashion critics behind Dandy Diary — in their own words, “the most massive men’s fashion blog in the world”. Their adamant approach and astute sense of humour make them stand out on the fashion-blog scene. Haupt explained their stance further…

What is the most embarrassing fashion trend in Berlin right now?

“Most embarrassing is that many, many people still dress in this whole gothy, layered, Rick Owens style and see themselves as the fashion forefront. This look has had its time but we have definitely moved on. Berliners to me seem very slow in adapting new tendencies in style and stick to trends for too long. It’s the same with all these generic techno clubs. Most of them still look like Bar 25, which of course was legendary but closed, like, five years ago. No one really seems to want to add something new to their scene.”

I just saw your Berlin City Tour editorial and found it very witty and amusing. Could you tell me more about your thoughts behind it and what you wanted to pinpoint about the city?

“The tourist look is one of those looks everyone would agree is ‘unfashionable’, but with fashion trends such as normcore and a general functionality trend in high fashion, it became really cool. Though it’s much harder to decode than, let’s say, high heels, a Birkin bag and a fur coat. During the shoot people on the street didn’t recognise us as fashion guys, but rather just as two of the city’s thousands of tourists. Total camouflage in a very trendy way.”

Has living in this city sharpened your sense of fashion in any way?

“Maybe not in fashion. We seek fashion inspiration in other cities such as London, which is much more forward. But Berlin is a great city to learn about liberalism in. It’s definitely one of the most liberal cities in the world. I don’t know why this doesn’t really affect the fashion scene. So much more should be possible here, but most of the scene really sticks to old ideals, old looks and the trends they know from the US and London. So all this liberalism doesn’t really lead to new creative levels. It’s a pity.”



Magic Island

When the Canadian musician Magic Island moved to Berlin, she found a keyboard on the street where she lives. With childish energy and heartfelt lo-fi dream-pop, she continues her music adventures as Magic Island.

How were your personality and your music influenced by moving from Canada to Berlin?

“Before Berlin I actually lived in Poland, where my father is from, and prior to this, Canada. As an artist I definitely became naked in Berlin, embracing my inner identities and demons without fear — the ability to openly exist and express yourself is something invaluable that the ethos of this city offers.”

What is the first sound that comes into your mind when you think of Berlin?

“The emotional journey of a techno set. Where the introduction of every new element — snare, high hat, etc — cannot go unnoticed, and progresses this story that your body and mind are understanding symbiotically.”

I know that you found the keyboard you are performing with on Sonnenallee in Neukölln. What other surprises has the city given you?

“I’ve furnished my flat mostly with found objects. Furniture. Quite an assortment of cassette tapes. Berlin has an amazing ecosystem of sharing, trading, donating, borrowing… Contemporary communism.”

Your songs are very heartfelt and talk about feelings. Is Berlin a city of love for you?

“Any city could be full of love, it just needs to come out of you first. Many loves have been loved and lost here, and I hope to continue that way. I am addicted to love but I am also addicted to the suffering that comes from losing it. A high is nothing without an equally severe low.”




Kianí del Valle

The contemporary dancer Kianí del Valle creates her conceptual worlds in motion between Berlin and London. Born in Puerto Rico and educated in Canada and New York, she constantly explores the blending territories of movement, music, choreography and film in her multifaceted creation.

How have the different places you have lived inspired and changed your creative expression in dance?

“Living in different places has definitely shaped my work incredibly. There is a little bit of every city in my dances, from the way I move to the selection of music. Everyone should be an immigrant at some point in life. Not only because it exposes you to different cultures, food and people, but also because of the struggle. It’s good to reach a point in life where you feel proud of your own struggles.”

The relationship between one’s surroundings and body is extremely important in the performing arts. Which spaces in Berlin influence your work directly or indirectly?
“Directly, living in Neukölln. I like to be exposed to the hectic mix of cultures in each city. Neukölln gives me that; other parts of the city feel like suburbia to me. Maybe I like the craziness.

“Indirectly — the canal. It’s not the Caribbean, but I have realised that having water close to me makes me feel good. I love water.”

You are not only a dancer but also a creative director for dance movies. What projects are you working on at the moment?

“At the moment I am working with a group of dancers in Berlin, for what has become the beginning of my dance company. I am also working on a series of nine dance films in collaboration with many music producers I really admire and am writing a feature film with my creative partner Paola Baldion. And working on Alien, a project that joins all this forms together — music, dance and film.”




Words by Weronika Pérez Borjas

Photography by Harling & Darsell

Styling by Andrea Horn

Hair & Make-Up by Velta Berzina using Mac

Fashion credits:

Kira 1: Dress by Stine Goya, boots by Premiata. 2: Dress by Stine Goya, scarf by Monki

Jakob 1: Shirt & jacket by Henrik Vibskov, pants by Adidas, shoes by Premiata, watch and socks: private 2: T-shirt by G-Star, jacket by Tata Christiane

Magic Island: Dress by Gianni

Kiani 1: Dress by American Apparel 2: Highwaist panty by American Apparel, top by American Apparel, ring by Cease & Desist