It can be tough to lay down roots in Berlin. The city is so transient that to invest time in people and projects can end in heartbreak or a bad taste in one's mouth. On the other hand, that's one of Berlin's charms; you can move here, get a job under the table and live out your creative dreams because rent is still relatively cheap and it's easy enough to fare dodge on U-Bahn. But when we tracked down Laura Lee and Andreya Casablanca, the two dream weavers of Berlin-based band Gurr, in a glamorously pink (but very dingy) venue bathroom, they seemed to have other things to say about Berlin, what they've built here, and where they're taking Gurr.
Watch our premiere episode for season 3 featuring this dynamic duo and find out more in their interview below.
WHAT’S THE CURRENT SCENE IN BERLIN LIKE FOR FEMALE BANDS?
Laura: We created this instagram site called We Formed A Band basically to kind of debunk the argument that there aren’t many female, non-male bands. In many festival line ups, there’s this invisibility of musicians that aren’t white and male, so usually the argument that we got from that is “oh, there are no bands.” We’re like, okay so there’s already so many initiatives right now that try to give more visibility to those artists. There’s this thing called Sirens on Stage that is basically a booking agency that puts female artists on a website and people can write us these handwritten notes that say “Hi, I’m looking for a drummer for my indie rock band, my influences are this and this” in their language. German is already a bit of a sexist language where you can say (schlatsoyga).
Andreya: There’s always a female version of the noun.
Laura: Yeah, so we try to encourage people if they send us stuff by saying “oh, maybe you can write it a little bit more inclusive so that other people feel addressed.” People so far have been super nice about it and said things like “yeah sure, we’ll do that” and they’re super open to criticism, which, we don’t want to call anyone out - it’s just that sometimes you don’t think about it.
TECHNO AND ELECTRONIC MUSIC HAS SUCH A BIG HOLD ON THE BERLIN MUSIC SCENE — IS THERE SPACE FOR ROCK ‘N’ ROLL?
Andreya: I think it’s hard in general right now for the genre of guitar music It’s weird because I think, yeah techno and electronic music is everywhere right now but it’s also in every other city I feel like. But I think what is cool about Berlin is that it’s so creative that a lot of the times, I think artists from that genre also collaborate with other artists or experiment, and it goes beyond the genre borders and more into art forms, or something. We’re not trying to say “oh, it sucks, there’s no place for guitar music, fuck that.”
HAS Berlin influenced your music in any way?
Andreya: I think a really big influence is that we recorded it in Berlin and we wrote most of the songs in Berlin. We recorded at UFO Sound studios which is in Prenzlauerberg and then one song we recorded in Kreuzberg and I feel like, it all happened during the summer months. I think to me, it kind of has this feel or taste, but maybe it’s just like my nostalgic memory of it. It also draws up a little bit on the start-up culture of Berlin or about this like, being in a bubble and like, following a thing, but you’re not really sure if that’s what you wanna follow at all - you just like doing it.
IT DOES HAVE THAT STRONG DIY SPIRIT! DOES THE CITY HOLD ANY SPECIAL MEANING TO YOU?
Andreya: It’s a good home base. The thing is, we travel so much that it’s always really nice to come back. If we were there full time, I think we would still go to other places to record or write or something. Everyone in Berlin wants to move to New York or LA or London, and then everyone in London wants to move to Berlin, and everyone in New York wants to move to Berlin, and everyone is just hopping and super restless and looking for things, I don’t know. But I think it’s good because Berlin is cheap and it has really good food. All the other places don’t have that. Berlin is the best!
WHAT’s next on the cards for gurr?
Laura: Right now, we’re working with this festival called Heimspiel Knyphausen and they wanted to give one bill spot to a man that was found on We Formed A Band. Most of the stuff we do with Gurr, we don’t think about it too much, we just do it, and then it just goes its own way a little bit. If we had more time, we would’ve loved to have an extra opener for this tour for example, and just get these kinds of bands.