Recommendations: Juba shows us the beauty of Berlin
In conjunction with new podcast IOM Recommends, each week we'll be getting insight into the places artists call home
In partnership with Identification of Music's (IOM) new podcast IOM Recommends, each week we'll be giving you a travel guide that you can't pick up at your local bookshop — as your favourite artists give us the lowdown on their hometowns.
To show us what's good in Berlin, we've got Nigerian-British DJ Juba. A true master of high-energy drums and silky blends, Juba has gained a reputation for pairing Afrobeats, South African gqom and amapiano with acid and darker electronic sounds. Juba began DJing in 2016, before picking up sticks and moving from the UK to Germany — since then she's landed slots at some of the finest venues in both London and Berlin, from Panorama Bar to The Cause. Alongside hosting her show Afroelectronik on Cashmere Radio, Juba is also a member of London-trio Boko! Boko! (alongside Tash LC and Mina) and has collaborated with Gafacci, providing vocals on his 2020 EP, 'Face The Wall'. Her documentary, and later podcast, Assurance follows her travelling to Nigeria, Japan, Lebanon, Egypt, Brazil, Lebanon, Chile and Uganda to speak to female DJs about the unique obstacles they face in their scene and their perspective on electronic music.
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We caught up with Juba to find out how to explore the German capital as a true Berliner — from bringing tupperware with you to Neukölln to a feminist bar run by women.
Where's great to listen to some music?
The Cashmere Radio studios are always a nice place to listen to music, it's a community radio station in its truest sense and I love chilling at the HQ in Wedding, chatting with hosts and members of the community, having a drink and listening to the shows live. It’s a really welcoming space even if you aren’t affiliated with the station.
Where's the best place to head on a Friday night?
I feel like from Thursday-Monday there are great options for going out. I don’t feel like Friday is a specific going out day in Berlin. I would say that Oxi Club, which is a relatively new venue in the Lichtenberg/Friedrichshain area has some pretty solid line-ups. For me, I focus more on who's playing than particular venues, so I can’t say that I have a particular space that I go to on a Friday night. Arkaoda is a really cute bar in Neukölln that has a great ambience, a nice place to start off the evening.
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Where should we go to buy some records?
Hard Wax on Paul-Lincke Ufer has a really extensive range of records. It’s also a very cool record store with a nice hidden away feel and it’s right by the canal which is a great hang spot, especially in the summer.
Where should we catch a bite to eat?
I recently decided that I need to take more advantage of the range of Arab/Middle Eastern food in Berlin because there is naturally so much of it and I haven’t really indulged in it since I moved here. The Jementisches Restaurant in Neukölln was recently suggested to me and I have to say I was not disappointed at all. The food was amazing, succulent and very fragrant. The portions are great too, so definitely bring a Tupperware, Neukölln has a very lowkey unpretentious feel.
What about a place to grab a drink?
Cafe Cralle or "Cralle Kollectiv" is a feminist bar run by and for women really close to where I live. I really enjoy its presence in my area, it’s a bit punkish and has an old-school-feminism-meets-current-day-progressive Berlin feel to it. The energy is really open and kinda badass and it’s situated just opposite a pretty macho Shisha bar, which is part of the "Absolut Bar" chain, with their Ibiza San Antonio strip-style neon lights. I find the contrast that it creates really ironic.
A place that tourists don't know about?
Savvy Contemporary is an intimate gallery in Wedding that I’m sure gets missed off a lot of cultural lists aimed at tourists. It’s a gallery, art space, chill spot, event space all in one and very much de-centralises Western epistemology and creates spaces for arts, theory, philosophy and research that comes from Asia, Africa and Latin America. I find it really refreshing and love that you can just stroll in there on an evening or weekend and stumble across an intriguing exhibition. It can definitely be hit and miss in terms of the content, but I think Savvy is a much more accessible place for curators and creatives, which is important. It always has a diverse range of projects and exhibitions happening and I think it’s a great place for tourists to stumble across as it isn’t glossy and grandiose like a lot of galleries and museums that are aimed at tourists and/or state-funded.
Somewhere to get lost?
Tegeler Forst. It’s right in the north of Berlin and I enjoy that Berlin has a range of forests that are close enough to the main city to be accessible, but also offer the feeling of being disconnected and within nature. Unfortunately, you can still hear the hum of traffic in most spots, but you can either tune (or earphone plug it out) and then it really feels secluded. It’s also a great spot for mushroom foraging in the autumn.
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What musicians should we check out?
Groups like Dumama Kechou and Asphalt Dijelis are really talented. I came across them in 2020 when they played on my radio show, Afroelectronik on Cashmere, and I’ve been following and working alongside them since. I like how they consist of a mixture of people who have varying relationships with Berlin in terms of heritage and their time spent here and they really give as much to the city as they take. I think artists like this add a lot of value to the city. During the past few summers, they’ve also been throwing Sonic In(ter)ventions jams at Oyoun (Neukölln) and Tempelhofer Feld and these are always really unifying, positive moments in which people let loose, show their talents and connect with fellow music and good vibes lovers in Berlin. They represent Berlin at its creative best for me.
What's the best way to see Berlin?
By bike for sure but you have to be careful. Berlin is more cycle friendly than London, in the sense that there are cycle routes throughout or at least a decent amount of space on the roadsides for bikes to comfortably ride. However, drivers can be reckless and have a tendency of opening their roadside doors without checking out for cyclists. I’ve had a few crashes into the side of doors and it ain’t cute.
What's a Berlin party we should check out?
I tend to enjoy anything that happens at OHM, a great venue that caters to a range of sounds and vibes on the electronic music spectrum. I think it’s a perfect size to create a sense of intimacy and intensity. Emergent Bass which is held at Mensch Meier is just a totally unpretentious, open, free space that celebrates bass music prioritising POC artists. It always has great lineups and the parties are always dynamic and energising.
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What time of year should we visit?
Summer! Berlin is great in the summer. People are just happier and grateful that the winter is behind them. There are loads of cool lakes in and around Berlin that people flock to, especially on the weekends. This is probably my favourite aspect of Berlin’s summers, that and karaoke by the amphitheatre on Sundays in Mauerpark too! Also ice-cream is surprisingly good in Berlin. Most of the ice cream parlours shut from late Autumn until early spring, so the summer months are just full of pure ice cream indulgence.
Can you give us a piece of advice for anyone new to your city?
Try not to take the aggression to heart
Sum up your city in five words?
Grimy, timewarp, aggressive, eccentric, freedom.
You can listen to the newest episode of IOM Recommends featuring Katerína below.
Megan Townsend is Mixmag's Deputy Digital Editor, follow her on Twitter