When Torstraßenfestival started out in 2011 I only knew a few a bands on the line-up, but I was always very impressed by the amount of genres represented. The line-up is selected by event curator Andrea Goetzke, concert organizers/promoters Kevin Halpin and Melissa Perales as well as the designer and musician Norman Palm. This year I am part of the team for the first time, of course I am in complete heaven but also convinced this year's line-up is the best ever! Come on: White Lung, Julianna Barwick, Darkstar, but also the Berlin-based DJ Paypal (Teklife!) or the mysterious Ziúr – what more is there to say? A lot, actually. The other day, when I talked to Andrea she summed up the spirit of the festival pretty well: “We don't look for trends, but rather go with our guts on what we think is interesting and relevant. The relevance comes with the mixtures of genres and people and the risks we take to invite mostly new, unknown artists to the audience.” More than half of the line-up lives in Berlin but that doesn't mean those artists are German, a large proportion of the artists come from all over the world, including Canada. To discover all these genre and artists would take weeks of Berlin nightlife; at Torstraßenfestival you can do it all in one day.
Torstraßenfestival didn't take long to become an established part of the Berlin music festival landscape. That mainly has to do with the fact that the festival has its roots in the Berlin independent music scene and so has never had to justify its credentials. The selection of current left-field and cross-genre music stands on its own. Since its beginning the curation team focussed on a line-up that features at least 50% Berlin bands, not only giving unknown musicians a platform but also to be a community festival where musicians meet musicians, and journalists, bookers and label people are part of the audience instead of sequestered to VIP area. Our audience is an open minded crowd, made up of a wide spectrum of people, including the ubiquitous Berlin-based creative set of musicians, DJs, writers, artists as well as neighbors and people interested in music. From and for that variety of creative people, Torstraßenfestival presents a small but broad selection of around 40 cross-genre music projects.
As we understand Torstraßenfestival as a community event, we are trying to grow slowly as a sustainable music community and we are very approachable to our audience. We regularly host DJ nights at bars around the city where we feature upcoming and past TSF artists all the while engaging directly with our audience. We also have warm-up nights where we feature new, unknown or alumni bands by supporting their record releases. TSF manages to strike a balance between discovering new music and at the same time sticking with the artists we already know and trying to support them throughout the entire year. 4 of 5 of the team members are living and working in Berlin Mitte, some of us for almost 10 years. So we are not new to the neighborhood: That's what we mean by saying it is a “community event”. It is important to us to be inclusive not only concerning the representation of our artists, but also by working with local companies such as Ableton (who are our office neighbors) and the Weleda-Shop next door, not to mention all of our venues which are within walking distance to our office.
The TSF festival strategy isn't a real strategy, but a thing which grew naturally. That's also the reason why I wanted to become part of the team: it’s a very real festival, built by passion right from the ground up.