The Berlin Diaries – My Year in Music

I’ve just had a look at the Spotify playlist ‘Your Top Songs 2017’, which is a playlist unique to each listener, listing their 100 most listened to songs. It’s funny looking at it all now; you can really see where you’ve been. I love all of these songs so much. They capture everything. It’s been a brilliant, devastating, unforgettable year; simultaneously the worst and best of my life. So much heartbreak, so much joy, so much chaos and creativity and love.

I want to run through a few choice tracks and explain why they are so important. Continue reading

You! Me! Dancing!

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Last night I staggered home pissed as a newt with tears of joy in my eyes. I was alone, getting rained on nicely, swaying around and laughing to myself. I was beaming in the street, looking up at every building and traffic light and how the multi-coloured flashing gizmos outside the spätis reflect off the surface of the road. I climbed the stairs to my flat and cackled, stealing and rearranging the doormats of all the flats on the floor below me; breathless with drunk giggles at such mild, stupid tomfoolery. My headphones were in, as they always are, and this song was playing, over and over.

You! Me! Dancing!

My friend Vic introduced me to the band/grammatical nightmare that is Los Campesinos! last year. I wasn’t so keen at first; wasn’t feeling Gareth David’s vocals – didn’t measure up to the guttural rasps of Joe Strummer, one of my heroes. But it’s grown on me. And grown, and grown.

That introduction! 90 seconds of gentle, floating chords, somehow building unchecked into a thunderous crescendo, an apocalyptic cacophony, it’s all too much, and then – and then – from nowhere – bright lights, clarity, melody! Drums and guitars and a sparkling xylophone tying it all together, jangling and smashing into one another fast and loose, so frenetic and desperate they could all burst into flame from their own energy and smash off the rails at any time into rabid white noise. That’s life, man. Right there. That’s everything.

And so last night I stumbled down the street to my flat overwhelmed with joy, because the right song always makes my heart explode. It doesn’t matter how fucked everything is, how lonely I feel, how stupid and hopeless in a foreign city with a shattered broken heart; the right song plays, and nothing – nothing­ – can get anywhere near me. It’s completely overwhelming and contagious, it’s whooshing over the towering brink on a rollercoaster – it’s beyond anything you can control, all you can do is hold on tight. I don’t know if other people feel this way or if it’s just me, but it doesn’t matter. Maybe I’m alone and weird, but it’s me, and I wouldn’t change it for everything because there’s not much I like about myself but fuck man – I cry from happiness at least a couple of times a week, and I cry from sadness about the same, and it’s exhausting but that’s just me and I love it; always has been, always will be, and I like feeling everything this much. So alive it burns inside. It’s just me. It’s Dan.

The song is steeped in 2008 mythology, crop tops and indie bands and singalongs in night clubs – the sort of antics that I miss so sorely in Berlin; fuck minimal techno and black clothes, all you lame-ass hipsters drowning in your nihilism and your cool apathy and your fear of ever having an original thought or a genuine feeling – Christ, I need the ecstasy of scream-singing into your best friend’s face, everyone covered in sweat and booze, the girls’ makeup all fucked and hair a mess and everyone skinny and skint and  wearing shit clothes because nobody has a clue how to dress.

And it’s this feeling that I just can’t let go of – the energy of it all, the mess, the clatter of being a daft little shit with an ego the size of a planet and somehow simultaneously an explosion of insecurities and mistakes. Being 24 – it just feels right. It feels good, it feels wonderful to not have to give a fuck, to have something to be angry about, a rage that you can’t put into words but just a sense of fight, all at once. And this song is as wild and stupid and fucking hectic as my own head on a Saturday night; those nights when you want everything at once and if you play your cards just right you’ll get it.

I remember those days back in Sheffield when I used to spend the days drinking with my best mate in the whole world, and we’d plan everything we were gunna do, and we’d dream too big and throw together grand plans and with the sun shining I always reckoned that we could have had the whole world if it took our fancy.

That’s what the best songs are to me – not songs at all, but bottled up feelings; captive rattling meteors. I have my world goggles that scream fire and my romance and it boils over sometimes and I get so wound up that my eyes fill up and I laugh out loud and I know in my heart I can change the world – and you’ve got to hang onto that, through everything.

Look, just play the fucking song alright, and tell me it doesn’t sound like all the youth and rebellion and uproar and violence and triumph and euphoria you’ve ever felt. If you don’t get it, you don’t get it; I don’t care, we don’t have to agree. It’s just me, doing me, being happy.

And I always get confused

Because in supermarkets, they turn the lights off when they want you to leave

But in discos, they turn them on

And it’s always sad to go, but it’s never that sad

Because there’s only so many places you’re guaranteed of getting a hug when you leave

And then on the way home, it always seems like a good idea to go paddling in the fountain

And that’s because it is a good idea

And we’re just like how Rousseau depicts man in the state of nature

We’re undeveloped, we’re ignorant

We’re stupid, but we’re happy

The Berlin Diaries – Blinding My Boss

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I always start these diary entries in the same way and I’m gosh darned bored of it. So here’s my newest introductory paragraph:

 

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

WHAOAOAKAKAKAKAKKAASDHOFUOEZZZZPPO

-KWIP!

 

See that^^^^? 100% Original. OG literature. Mark Twain said there is no such thing as a new idea. Well, I just proved him wrong. You’re full of shit, Twain.

What’s that? Joyce already did it?

Kerouac too?

Fuck’s sake. Fine. Whatever.

ANYWAY Continue reading

Primal Screaming

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it was tramlines festival in sheffield. we had been out all day, a big group of us, new friends and old friends running around together being half wits.

i was on a high, no drugs yet, just pure energy borne all from freedom and a can-do sunnyside upbeat demeanour, the sort that just pours out of you

when ya with ya mates. Continue reading

The Berlin Diaries – Heideglühen

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This article was illustrated by my incredibly talented lil bro, Charlie. If you like his stuff you can jump on over to his Instagram, here, to see more.

Vic and I were complaining to each other a couple of weeks ago that although we’ve been in Berlin for a quarter of a year now, we’ve only gone to a few night clubs. I’ve been to Chalet, Monarch, Sisyphos twice, Kater Blau four times, and yet there are dozens of clubs I’ve never gone anywhere near. So, when Michelle text me last week saying she was off to the near-mythical Heideglühen for a day party on Saturday, I was well ready for mayhem. Mayhem I tell you! Continue reading

O, Sheffield is Wonderful

You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Isn’t that just the truest and saddest thing you ever heard?

I’m in Berlin, and it’s so wonderful. But I miss Sheffield. I always took it for granted, just like everyone always takes everything for granted because that’s what humans do. Looking back on the 14 months I spent there now, I’m feel privileged and proud to have lived there. It’s such a special place. Continue reading

The Berlin Diaries – A Jolly Good Battering

The sun rose on Monday morning, and gentle rays of sunlight drifted in through the curtains. The old schoolteacher who lives upstairs was practising the piano again, and the notes floated down to me like snowflakes. I lay sprawled in bed fully clothed, hanging, desperately dehydrated and unable to move, but I was happy. The weekend had been a heavy one. Mike Skinner, Kater Blau, Slaves, all brilliant. There was but one last gig to attend. Continue reading

The Berlin Diaries – The Sweat of Slaves

 

After the Mike Skinner gig came the weekend. It was Friday night, and although many friends of mine were heading out and my phone was buzzing like a rampant rabbit on meth, I tore myself away and stayed home, applying for jobs and writing. I know, right?! It’s almost as if I’m becoming a proper adult – although not really, because the real reason I couldn’t go out was that I had a friend from home visiting early the next day and I didn’t want to be deathly hungover. Continue reading