Musicians in Berlin have a particular talent for turning old disused industrial buildings into incredibly unique rehearsal spaces. The acoustic folk-rock band 17 Hippies is a prime example: the group's airy studio is located in the KulturBrauerei, a huge converted 19th-century brewery located in the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood. Deep in this collection of wings, courtyards, and former barn buildings, the 13-member band rehearses and records, runs a production company, a design firm, and other enterprises.
As for their music, 17 Hippies have a high-energy, danceable sound that fuses elements of Balkan gypsy music, Klezmer, Turkish pop and acoustic rock styles. The group played four songs for us, and afterwards front-man Chris Blankinsop and accordion player Kiki Sauer sat down to talk about their place in the Berlin music scene. As Blankinsop told us, the 17 Hippies are not the kind of band that's interested in trying to sound self-consciously cool or edgy, nor are they trying to imitate American or British artists. Instead their 'musical goulash' (to quote host John Schaefer) is very multicultural and very Berlin.
17 Hippies will be touring in the U.S. next summer. In the meantime, we'll be posting video and audio of their performance here shortly.
-- Brian Wise