Todaywill mark the launch of Pop-Kultur, a Berlin based arts, culture and music festival which has become globally renowned for its curation and approach to programming. Showcasing some of the most innovative, experimental artists and blurring the lines between what is "Pop" and what is not, the event has attracted an international following and has amassed a reputation as a leading innovator in underground culture.
Starting today the festival will return in real life following an absence as a result of covid, it brings with it an array of new opportunities and exciting prospects, both in respect of the artists featured and in its ability to reconnect audiences and creatives. Running between the 25th and 28th of August the festival will feature 120 events, among them concerts, talks, commissioned works and digital works. The festival director Katja Lucker describes her excitement at the return of the festival.
“This year, in the wake of the pandemic, we have rethought and tested out, a lot of new ideas, and we can't wait to finally bring the site to life along with our artists, team and festival-goers. More than ever, we see this year's edition as a holistic experience, enabling a truly live experience with other people.”
The programme is vast and features some key performances from the likes of Erika de Casier, Konduku, Layla, Mechatok, Sophia Kennedy, Andreya Casablanca and many more. It will also see them team up with a collective of local crews such as Warning, THF Radio and several other local organisations and platforms. We are happy to present Albertine Sarges and Andreya Casablanca’s new songs here:
We spoke to the programme team behind this years event, allowing them to focus on what makes Pop-Kultur so important and why 2021 is a special edition.
1. So, describe your feelings about the return of Pop-Kultur this year, what value do you feel it will bring to the current social and political environment?
Yeşim: The Pop-Kultur festival in Berlin is entering its seventh edition after last year's programme took place online. Pop-Kultur wasn’t the only one, of course: all other independent and cultural venues were closed for almost all of last year. These experiences have shown us once again that, while physical spaces such as festivals are often seen as mere leisure activities, they are important for communities as social gathering spaces. Festivals also provide musicians and artists with a stage and access to visibility, so I think it’s necessary to work with artists in the long term, over years, especially in these difficult times.
We all know self care is important, but community care is necessary, too. With 120 events in our programme, we are sharing diverse perspectives and creating room for exchange. We have invited outside collectives to take part, and we are giving the stage to inclusive projects, and engaging in queer discourses.
2. How have you approached the curation process?
Leyla: The approach for setting up a programme is similar to baking a cake: it’s all about the mix. Generally, it's important to represent artists from different genres, places, spaces and scene. No one wants to see five indie bands in a row, or one rap show after another – that can easily get repetitive and boring. But bringing different acts together can reveal connections that aren’t that immediately visible. It can be an artistic approach or just a vibe hey have in common, rather than a set of music they represent. In some ways, a well mixed programme can be a microcosm of society where different people with different (musical) backgrounds play within the same framework and manage to coexist – which seems to be a challenge that humanity hasn’t yet been able to overcome.
3. Which artists are you most excited about bringing to the festival?
Pamela: I am looking very much forward to quite a handful of artists. If I had to pick just three, I'd say I\m excited to see Nneka, Eunique, LAYLA on stage – three very talented artists. To me, they stand for the gradually increasing representation of people from the African Diaspora in Germany. Born to African and German parents, I am happy to see how they are finding their place in the German music industry.
Moreover, the booking process hasn't been easy in some cases. I was aiming to book artists from Nigeria and Ghana, but due to travel restrictions, three artists could not come in the end. But luckily, we have digital works by artists from all over the world.
All in all, I am very grateful that we have a solid line-up of so many amazing artists – with different art and music cultures. It’s going to be a unique experience after almost two years of not having seen such a multitude of artists on stage – for me and many many others.
4. What changes have you had to make as a result of covid?
Christian: We have reduced the capacity significantly and have set up a few stages outside. Also, the bookings have much more locally oriented, to avoid cancellations due to travel restrictions. Still, the lineup feels quite international, as the community in Berlin is so diverse – artists from all over the world have moved to Berlin. It’s a great lineup!
5. What do you feel to be the most important message of Pop-Kultur in 2021?
Christian: The value of culture and discourse for a society and the human spirit needs to become part of a larger discussion. That's what we are aiming for.
Yeşim: I feel that we have the responsibility to make this festival safe and secure, heeding all necessary hygiene regulations, and then our programme will speak for itself and become the message.
Pamela: I think we have really embraced the meaning of inclusion and diversity. The lineup represents us – a diverse programme team. Beyond that, we human beings need culture, exchange and coming together. It doesn’t matter how hard times are - culture and creative production will always be there. They are forms of expression and now more important than ever.
Leyla: As mentioned earlier I would describe it as aiming to realise an optimistic idea of human coexistence, condensed into an intense, short period of time.
More details on Pop-Kultur HERE.
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