Manuela Benetton – “After 15 years in Berlin, I am more interested in a place that it is human, has energy, where people have interesting and intelligent things to share”

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Cool! “Storia della filosofia indiana” [“History of Indian Philosophy”] and “Der Baader Meinhof Komplex” are the first two books that I see! Sign of a twisted personality? Funny that one is in Italian and the other one in German. I know you live in Berlin since a lot of time… I suppose you like the atmosphere there, especially because you work in music. Aren’t you bored?

“History of Indian Philosophy” is a book that I read at the University – I have a degree in Oriental Studies. And “Der Baader Meinhof Komplex” is the first book I bought when I started my Berlin journey in 2002.

Bored of Berlin? Maybe like anyone living in the same city for 15 years. I am bored of nostalgia, hypsteria, all the talks about how it changed, got gentrified… Berghain. I now live a quiet and private life and try to spend as much time abroad as possible. It is a city that breakes and smashes relationships, it is all pretty unstable. People come and go. It is getting more and more expensive therefore is no longer interesting for a lot of creative people. Though there are no other places where you can enjoy such a freedom like Berlin. If you want to stay, you need to fight. Have a purpose. Give your contribution. I want something else.

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It’s funny hearing  this, also from here. When the topic comes into discussion it seems that everyone agrees with the things you mention. Where do you would like to move? What are you searching in terms of ‘atmosphere’, especially if related to music (if you’ll keep working in the field)?

After six years of nomadism I finally found a place. I am still renovating it. Finding a place to live in Berlin is now quite difficult. Even when you are here since forever you are treated like you have just arrived or haven’t given your contribution to the city at all. Well, this apartment is my home. Here I can think, be disciplined. But outside of here, I am often unhappy and don’t find much sense and inspiration in things or people. So, despite the new place, I am planning to spend more time in Italy. I am now living between Milan and Venice (I am working for the Biennale, and I am loving Venice so much). I am interested in a place that has a great cultural life (for sure I am not interested in its music scene only), that is full of human warmth, energy, and makes you feel welcomed. This I what I miss the most. Yes, I might still work in the experimental music – though now I am listening to rap, R&B, hip hop, pop…

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Really? But I see you invited artists like like Terry Riley, Keiji Haino, Charlemagne Palestine, Mark Fell, Oren Ambarchi, Wolf Eyes… Are you somehow fed up with that sort of ‘experimental scene’? Or maybe you have more a good relationship with the musicians and less with the music they play?

All the mentioned musicians are great artists and friends. But they represent my past somehow. I don’t want to live in the past. The music has changed and evolved, so am I. My taste and ears have changed. My needs as well.

Ok, I see, it makes sense. But what rap, hip hop, R&B do you listen to? I want the names! Who? I want to explore those artists…

Ah sure. My top list THIS week, in no particolar order: Tyler the Creator – he just published a new album, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Travis Scott, Frank Ocean (this week I played his records hundreds of time, in loop. I was in a sort of pink, heart-shaped bubble – hehe), Sheck Wes… Italian pop.

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Ok, let’s move back to the main topic, our Concrete Shelves conversations: two LPs are on sight. Bowie and Edward Artemiev. Is it just by chance or are these artists/records you love, even if they’re not rap?

I grew up with Bowie, he is part of my life. I love him. The “Solaris” record is a present I got from a friend, he runs the label. It is a precious work. I change the display of my records and books on the shelves quite often. For example now I built a new shelf system in the hallway. So everything is no longer as in the pics here.

Manuela Benetton organizes and produces music events.

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