Soundcloud HQ - Berlin
Today is Wednesday. Today is Soundcloud. My cab driver is friendly and inquisitive about my travels as he drives toward the Amsterdam Centraal Station. I tell him that I'm headed to Soundcloud HQ today. He hasn't heard of the name and asks if it's a normal thing to do. I tell him no, it's not, not at all. No, this is something special.
It's not every day that a Soundcloud artist gets to meet the very people who made all of their musical endeavors and collaborations possible. It's hard to describe what I'm feeling. Nervous yes, but I also a sense of calm, a feeling that I'm headed home to friends. On the train I run through my set silently; mentally.
Soundcloud HQ. I arrive and am instantly greeted by several people milling around at reception. Dominik is my engineer for the day and he greets me with a smile and offers me a coffee. Thank goodness. I had seen videos of what the space looked like and imagined a start-up environment of open floor plans and clever nuances, but actually being here has a completely different feel. Essentially anything you could ever want. Crates of beers line the walls. Several fridges and a juicer, an espresso machine, cafe type feel all around on the kitchen floor. The building is directly on the site of where the Berlin Wall used to stand. Out the window you see a memorial and student groups milling about. On my way in I saw the famous image of the soldier jumping over barbed wire memorialized as a statue on the side of a house. This is Berlin.
As I earnestly guzzle down my latte, Dominik shows me to the stage. It's a super cute little wooden stage on the other side of the kitchen. He says that it's the first time it will be used. Wait. Yes that's right. I am premiering a stage at Soundcloud HQ!
Lisa takes me on a tour of the building. They had just moved into the space in June. So new, everything fresh, and you could feel it in the vibe of the office. Changes were happening very quickly at Soundcloud, changes that resonated beyond the move to a new building.
Four + floors of open spaces, comfortable seating, plants, installations, random games, nooks, and crannies. It's hard for me to imagine myself here, it all seems like such a dream. My mind reverts back to the cubicle I left behind in NYC, a different world. Lisa talks about her music, she sings and plays bass in a band. Girl bass players are so cool. It's great to know that a huge majority of people who work at Soundcloud have musical passions as well. It makes sense.
Lisa leads me to the playroom which includes a small garden, ping pong table, and photo booth. I take some funny looking pictures and she adds them to the wall of monochromatic faces. As we walk through to another room I notice my face on a screen, it's me!
David introduces me before my performance and talks about my tour and the events that led up to this moment. He knows the exact date that I signed up for Soundcloud. It's a strange feeling, performing for Soundcloud, the makers and creators of the platform that has transformed my music. I am the creation? Kinda feel like I'm inside an interface; a heightened sense of being digital.
After being awakened from our mutual audience/performer dreamworld states, we grab some beers and share smiles. It's definitely rewarding to have positive feedback from the source. I feel a little sad as I leave the building, just having a glimpse into their world wasn't enough. I wonder if I'll have more experiences with them and their team. It seems likely.
I head to the northern part of Berlin to meet up with my high school German teacher, Kristin Kuchenbecher. She was my first portal into the German language and it stuck with me, translating into a German Studies major from Lewis and Clark College. She just moved to Berlin six weeks ago and was nice enough to allow me to be her first guest from the states. One of many I'm sure. It's comforting and refreshing to speak German again, especially with my first German teacher, someone I really couldn't speak German with at the beginning. We get some Döner Kebab and I remember how much I've missed them. One of my only plans for my free day in Berlin tomorrow is to head into Kreuzberg and get the best Döner I've ever had in my life at Mustafas. Even in the middle of eating Döner, I can't wait for the next one. Guess that's how I am with a lot of things. Onto the next.