Berlin-born singer-songwriter Paula Tebbens on why she ditched Kreuzberg for Copenhagen and fell in with the Melodica Festival crowd. She and her fellow international indie-folkers converge on Birgit & Bier Sep 3-4.
I started performing my own songs when I was around 17. I tried busking two or three times in Kreuzberg, but I was never very courageous about it. I already had a bit of stage fright, and it wasn’t any better in the streets. Maybe I just couldn’t take people passing by uninterested. I also never went through the official channels, so I just played anywhere, and I was always afraid I wasn’t allowed to perform there. I tried to get regular gigs instead, which was no less difficult, playing for drink tickets in dubious bars.
What I never found in Berlin was a singer-songwriter scene. After connecting with Danish musicians at the Singer-Songwriter Summit in Prenzlauer Berg, I moved to Copenhagen in 2010. There I was exposed to this wonderful network, a big international family of musicians. In that sense, Melodica is also one of the best things that ever happened to me. I’ve performed at Melodica festivals in Groningen, Aarhus, Hamburg and Cologne. There’s a lot of potential, not only musically but also in terms of friendships. It’s like coming home. You just feel more welcome – maybe also because women are usually underrepresented at festivals, while at Melodica it’s roughly 50-50. More often than not, it’s under that. It’s the same with people of colour and the LGBTQ community – there should be more efforts to include minorities. I’m working on a new EP right now which deals more with political awareness; a call for action. With what’s going on in the world, I’d feel hypocritical not to address it. I’m not a politician, I only have music as an outlet – so why not use it?
Melodica Festival Berlin Sep 3-4, 15:30 Birgit & Bier, Kreuzberg
As told to Michael Hoh