“A moment of sheer rock’n’roll poetry…“

Interview with Paul Kelly, director of Kurt’s Lighter, and Scott King, the man who caught the lighter.

Paul, why did you want to create this documentary?

Paul Kelly: I’ve been involved with music all my life, both by being in bands (East Village, Saint Etienne etc) then later by making promos and more recently feature films, all about music. I didn’t really know Scott – but we have some mutual friends – so I knew that he owned the Kurt Lighter and I knew the story of how he acquired it; so when I was approached to make a film about this incredible story, I leapt at the chance.

Paul, what do you think about how the extraordinary event of catching »Kurt’s Lighter« shaped Scott King‘s entire adult life? And has making this film changed your life in anyway?

Paul Kelly: I think it’s amazing. A moment of sheer rock’n’roll poetry, if that’s not too much of a pretentious thing to say? I’ve attended – and played – many gigs but I’ve never seen or heard of anything like this. Of course, you meet people who might have caught, I don’t know, a drum stick that’s been tossed into the audience by the drummer from Placebo or Green Day or someone – but to actually have Kurt Cobain throw his lighter straight at you and to catch it so effortlessly – THEN – for that moment to actually have an effect on your whole personality, is really quite extraordinary. Making this film has not re-shaped my life in anyway, no.


Scott, can you tell us a bit more about your ‘semi-spiritual experience’ on November 11, 1989? What was it like?

Scott King: When it actually happened – when the lighter landed in the palm of my hand after Kurt had tossed it into the crowd – it seemed like the most natural thing in the world. I’ve thought about this a lot over the years, and I think the reason it seemed so natural was because this had happened to me once before. When I was 9 years old – Christmas 1979 – my parents took me to the Theatre Royal in York to see Dick Whittington – a pantomime. I was sitting high up on the balcony and the young woman playing Dick began to toss bags of sweets out to all the kids in the audience. All the kids were going crazy, running around, fighting over these bags of sweets that Dick was throwing towards us. Similarly to the Kurt situation, I did not move, I remained seated, but a bag of Rowntrees Tooty Frooties landed right in my lap. The other kids had no chance of grabbing them, these sweets had been thrown straight at me, almost as if Dick Whittington had picked me out of the audience and decided that I was a deserved recipient of a bag of Rowntrees Tooty Frooties. Strangely, I realised later, that the Kurt Cobain incident happened almost 10 years to the month after the Dick Whittington incident.

Scott, from your point of view: how was Berlin like in 1989 and what were the biggest changes in terms of pop culture until today?

Scott King: I only have very hazy memories of Berlin in 1989. I really can’t remember much about it. I remember the Nirvana gig as if it were yesterday, but the rest is something of a blur. Though, I do remember that the Berlin Wall came down while I was there. Pop culture has changed dramatically since 1989. It’s much more corporate now.

Mogwai prelude and Neukölln venues unveiled

Poster Mogwai play Atomic

To all Lovers, dear Community: We lied to You, in a way. But we don’t think we have to apologize for it now. Quite the contrary! So, Pop-Kultur doesn’t last for three nights this year, it’s actually four.

On August 30th, already one day ahead of our 2016 edition – taking place from August 31st to September 2nd – we organize a special event in Berlin’s Admiralspalast, outside of our regular program: On August 30th no other than the Scottish instrumental rock band Mogwai introduces their new album Atomic as a unique film concert for the first time live in Germany. The album is the soundtrack for an impressive, eponymous BBC-documentary about nuclear energy and its dangers, that brought the band and the film team to Hiroshima among other places. Advance sale (30,00 € plus advance booking fees via AD Ticket) was just opened on our website.


Afterwards, we move to Neukölln. Pop-Kultur and the seven… well, eight Venues – that’s the title of this years little fairy tale. If you followed us in the social media (If not, you should change that immediately through the links at the end of this email!), You could spot red velvet, glittering décor and mysterious dance floors in the last couple of days. Some of you might have recognized their favorite club, for everyone else we’ll lift the veil now:

The venues in dynamic Neukölln are the SchwuZ, the Heimathafen Neukölln, Huxleys Neue Welt, the Passage Kino, the Prachtwerk, and the Keller. Additionally, the Vollgutlager serves as meeting place for the professional, international music and culture scene and the Neukölln Opera will be hosting the workshop and educational program »Pop-Kultur Nachwuchs«.

Thus, »Pop-Kultur« is less tied to Grimm’s fictions, then to Berlin’s rich history. The legendary queer event center SchwuZ, now residing in the Rollbergstraße, will be this year’s festival main base. This is, where once the Kindl-Brewery was erected in 1872 when most of Neukölln was still grassland. Nowadays, the bass pumps through the former head office of the brewery. Already in 1867, a beer garden opened at the Hasenheide. After the century turned, it was updated with a large hall – today housing Huxleys Neue Welt. The building survived the moved modern times of Berlin and was later stage to concerts of Jimi Hendrix, Udo Lindenberg or Patti Smith – and now the acts of »Pop-Kultur«.

All further information on the program and the advance ticket sale will soon follow. Remain in our favor and lend us a heart (or two) on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

We will remain truthful from now on. We promise!


Pop-Kultur 2016, We Have a Date!

Pop-Kultur 2016

»Oh look who’s back!« Pop-Kultur returns and keeps on moving through our dear city that is Berlin. 2016 the festival will take place in Neukölln! Following last year’s three successful days and nights with more than 60 acts and 10,600 guests at Berghain we will be going strong again. Get out your smart phone or pocket calendar (Nice one!) and block the days from August 31 to September 2.

Between hummus diners and corner bars, opera and arthouse cinema, industrial history and coworking spaces Pop-Kultur will occupy six different venues for a programme of various live premieres of new music, readings, talks, DJ sets, film screenings, and innovative performances. Just as an reminder, 2015 saw Sophie Hunger, Neneh Cherry with RocketNumberNine, Ho99o9, Pantha Du Prince feat. The Triad, Herbert, Die Nerven, Hinds, Messer, Isolation Berlin among others presenting partly never-before heard music at our festival’s first edition. First names plus details on venues and pre-sale are to follow.

Also »Pop-Kultur Nachwuchs« will be part of the festival again. And this time even more talents in music, cultural industry, and media will be able to participate in an extended number of workshops, lectures, and case studies by prominent experts.

We are beyond excited for this! Stay tuned!


All the important info

Here we are. The first ever edition of Pop-Kultur opens its doors at Berghain, Berlin. Everything you need to know:

  1. BOX OFFICE: The ticket counter on the festival site opens everyday at noon and closes on Wednesday at 2 am, Thursday 3 am, Friday 3.30 am. You can not pay with credit card there. The box-office prices are: €7 for a talk/reading module or an 6.40 pm live module at Katine, €13 for a 10.20 pm live module at Kantine, €25 for Berghain, €30 for Halle am Berghain. Please, keep an eye on our program and Facebook and Twitter! We will announce there if a module is close to sold out or has sold out already. (For instance there are already no tickets left for Messer, Mary Ocher, the talk of Viv Albertine and a few others.) The online shop sells tickets for each module until two hours prior its begin. Please, use the print-at-home option.
  2. TIMETABLE & GUIDE: Can be downloaded as PDFT here or here (in b/w). The official Pop-Kultur 2015 guide is accessible here. All material will also be displayed physically at the festival site.
  3. OPENING: The festival site opens at 4 pm everyday and closes directly after the end of the last live module. You can hang out in the Bierhof area or the lower level of the Schlackehalle.
  4. MAP: See below or download here Download. Entrance only via Am Wriezener Bahnhof. There’s no entrance via Rüdersdorfer Straße!
    Pop-Kultur Lageplan
  5. FOOD: There are food stands of The Bowl and Hotzenplotz, also the Bierhof Rüdersdorf is open. A variety of meals will be served, including different and tasty vegan and vegetarian options. auf dem Berghain-Gelände geöffnet. Also, there is a merch stand for our acts’ merchandise and our own. Berlin-based book store ocelot presents a well selected introduction into POP literature and photography.
  6. WIFI: The network is called: Electronic Beats, password: Telekom2015.
  7. OTHER FAQ: We’ve answered them all here. Always remember!
    At Berghain, Berghain-Garderobe and Panorama Bar it’s strictly forbidden to take pictures. At Halle am Berghain, Schlackehalle and Kantine you may photograph for private purposes only. Professional cameras, recording and video devices are not allowed to be brought to the festival site at all.
    No photos at Berghain

Have fun at Pop-Kultur 2015! This is going to be great!

The last program updates

Update, August 28:

The surprise guests for Sophie Hunger‘s huge headliner performance at Halle am Berghain later tonight are… 

Tobias Jundt of Bonaparte and Käptn Peng!

The two will join our festival blogger on stage. There are a very few tickets left – better hurry! For istance, the talk with New Order’s Bernard Sumner and Dave Haslam at Berghain-Garderobe is already sold out.

Alec Empire has fell ill (Get well soon, Alec!) and hence can not attend his talk at Schlackehalle with Dieter Gorny, Anne Haffmans, and – as a guest – Heiko Maas. Daniel Meteo will replace him. Please, find the whole updated info here.

The SPEX session on representation and gender in pop got a new line-up. (Talk will be held in German!) Editor-in-chief Torsten Groß will now sit down with activist, author and musician Sandra Grether, label manager Anne Haffmans, lyricist and musician Balbina and former Femen-activist Theresa Lehmann (»Hinter den Brüsten«) at Midnight at Schlackehalle. Ronja von Rönne sadly had to cancel. All details here.

Update, August 25:

»I don’t wanna die« – »Victoria«-director Sebastian Schipper transfers his own movie into a new dimension for Pop-Kultur. On Wednesday at Midnight and at Schlackehalle he will host a very special, interactive screening of »Victoria«, deconstructing the relation between image and sound. Until someone dies… or not. The event will be held in German, further details here.

A few hours earlier Berghain will see the world premiere of another movie called »Emocean«. The band Fenster, who is the creative DIY powerhouse behind this piece, will screen and perform it in an unique movie-concert-performance which will take a bit longer than originally planned. Since we don’t want to cut a movie we’ve moved the Fenster gig to 7.40 pm to 8.40 (instead of 9 pm to 9.40). Hence, Hinds will now appear on the Berghain stage from 9 pm to 9.40. The rest of the schedule including Owen Pallett & stargaze, Wooden Wisdom & DJ Fitz, Isolation Berlin, Inga Copeland, Lapalux among others stays as previously announced and can be found here.

Have fun!

Join our Nachwuchs workshop on sampling with Native Instruments!

Great news! On Wednesday next week not only the first edition of our festival begins, but »Pop-Kultur Nachwuchs«, our workshop program for young talents from the music business. Now we are happy to be able to offer a last special to aspiring beat-wizards and music producers!

We have made available a more extra tickets for our workshop »Sampling Techniques with Native Instruments’ Maschine and Converse Rubber Tracks Sample Library«, hosted by Boris Megza and Robot Koch, taking place on both, August 27 and 28, at the Workshops of the Stage Service of the Opera in Berlin (Am Wriezener Bahnhof). Please, find the detailed workshop description below. You can attend by writing an e-mail with your full name and the date you want to attend to nachwuchs@pop-kultur.berlin. First-come, first-served. The fee is €10 plus 19 % VAT and can be paid at the site. Computers, software, food and drinks will be provided.


In this intimate music production workshop, one gets all the advanced-level tips and tricks on how to select, process and manipulate samples and incorporate them into your tracks – using Maschine, Native Instruments’ fully integrated groove production system, and exploring the CRT Sample Library, a growing online source of royalty-free audio samples. Following an introduction and a demo by Boris Megza and Robot Koch, one can get hands-on with Maschine and dive into the CRT Sample Library to come up with one’s own musical sketches. The two experts will be at hand to assist with any questions and share feedback.

Under his moniker Comfort Fit Berlin-based producer Boris Megza is well known for his formidable and versatile musical range, as expressed on his recent releases for First World Records and Freude am Tanzen. Furthermore, he lectures for Native instruments in metropolises around the globe.

Robot Koch is an award winning producer and composer from Berlin, currently living in Los Angeles. His unique sound of organic electronic music has been called »wonderful and strange – pop music from the future« by John Peel himself. Koch has released several albums and EPs on Labels such as Monkeytown, Bpitch Control, Project Mooncircle and toured internationally. He won the German Music Composers Award 2014 in the category »Best Composer Electronic Music«.

Depending on the demand this workshop will be held either in German or English.

#new: Anika & T.Raumschmiere, Kane West, Pop-Kultur Nachwuchs

T.Raumschmiere by Souenellen
T.Raumschmiere, Photo: Souenellen

A few updates on the line-up for our first ever Pop-Kultur edition: MssingNo sadly had to cancel, but Kane West and T.Raumschmiere – the latter as Anika’s partner in crime – have been added to the bill in return. Furthermore, we’ve launched a new online platform featuring the 150 selected participants of »Pop-Kultur Nachwuchs«. But one thing at a time.

We regret to inform you that MssingNo can’t play his live set at Pop-Kultur. But the Thursday module at Berghain and Panorama Bar he used to be part of got some special additions. Marco Haas alias T.Raumschmiere will perform with Anika. Haas is a legendary electro punk performer and boss of Shitkatapult records, which makes him one of the most bustling figures of Berlin’s music scene over the years. With Anika he shares a common tendency towards navel-gazing and warm hypnotic beats to lose your mind to. After collaborating for Haas’ new album – in a world premier – the two will perform together for the first time live at »Pop-Kultur«.  (Tickets, time table)

Later that night Kane West will deejay at Panorama Bar. And no, we didn’t forget the »Y«. Kane West is really called Kane West. That also clarifies who’s got the best stage name in the program – Ah, what the heck: in the whole season. The London based producer and DJ is part of the PC Music-clique, that is currently showering the pop world with digital cuteness and ecstatic keyed up plastic-hyper-trance beats. His sound? Well, let’s say, it is the audio equivalent to a rainbow stroboscope. (Tickets, time table)

The final night of the festival (which will be Friday’s) will also Dave Haslam, legendary DJ of the as legendary Factory Records-and-NewOrder-run Fac 51 The Haçienda, deejay until the bitter sweet end at the very same place. (Tickets, time table) Haslam will also read from his new book on the history of British club culture, »Life After Dark«, at Schlackehalle, where he will host a talk and reading with New Order’s Bernard Sumner prior to his own appearance. (Tickets, time table)

But let’s move on to a group of 150 young talented people from all over the world who are neither history nor part of our line-up – not yet at least. Among almost 400 applications our professional jury has the selected the participants for the first ever edition of our workshop programme »Pop-Kultur Nachwuchs«. Taking place from August 26 to 27 the programme will see the newcomers meet and learn from experts such as Matthew Herbert, Kiasmos, Matt McDonald and many others at the workshops of the Bühnenservice der Stiftung Oper in Berlin next to Berghain. Already now you can visit our updated www.pop-kultur.berlin/nachwuchs to have a look on the new online platform we created for the participants. Here they can not only get in contact with each other beforehand, but also introduce themselves and their work to the public. On the platform’s starting page our team will feature the weekly highlights from the community from now on. For the start we feature contributions by Berlin-based musician Ava Bonam, Karachi-native and producer Tollcrane and the multi-talent that is Julia Vorkefeld, who shared a live set by her band Dinger with us. Germany’s always critical opinion-leading pop-culture publication SPEX has already put Nachwuchs-participant Fatime Kosumi on their site after they discovered her here.

And for the record, some numbers on »Pop-Kultur Nachwuchs«: 84 young women and 66 men from 23 countries will participate in the 31 workshops during two days. Among them are 27 cultural journalists, 80 musicians, DJs, and producers, and 43 club or festival promoters. Enough reasons to get excited for the programme’s outcome, don’t you agree?

How to Pop-Kultur with… Sibylle Berg

Sibylle Berg by Katherina Lütscher
Photo: Katherina Lütscher

More than 60 different acts will appear over the course of three days at six venues during our festivals. Now, friends of Pop-Kultur are recommending their personal favourites out of one day’s line-up.

»Fragen Sie Frau Sibylle« (Ask Miss Sibylle) is the title of a very popular German column. And so we did. Hence author, theatre director and our most favourite twitter person, Sibylle Berg, guides you through the programme: »On Thursday I will –either mentally or for real– attend the talk with Dr. Tom Fritz at Berghain Garderobe. I have a soft spot for neuo science as for pretty much everything I don’t know anything about. Afterwards I stop by at Kantine for Mary Ocher. After all I’m the producer of one of her songs, which you can listen to below, there you go! And then all these DJs and… what’s the political correct female term again? I have no idea, but they are all to slow for me anyway. When it comes to my musical taste I’m still deeply stuck in the loops of gabber – but what’s most likely to sound like some noise seems to be Girl Band, again at Kantine. So I’ll take them along and then I’ll probably get pretty hungry and will have to leave urgently.«


The complete programme of Thursday and the rest of the festival can be found here. If you want to turn Sibylle Berg’s recommendations into a ticket for yourself you can safe 10% with our combo-ticket option called »Wahl-Abo« for Thursday. There’s currently a crowdfunding campaign to bring the English version of her feminist play »Und jetzt: Die Welt!« on a tour through the UK.

How to Pop-Kultur mit … Dirk von Lowtzow

Dirk von Lowtzow

Über 60 verschiedene Acts treten bei unserem Festival in sechs Venues auf. Pop-Kultur-Freunde stellen von nun an ihre Favoriten vor.

Den Auftakt macht Tocotronics Dirk von Lowtzow: »Am Freitag gehe ich zunächst zur Lesung von Bernard Sumner in der Garderobe. Ich bin großer New-Order-Fan, wie man vielleicht auf dem neuen, roten Tocotronic-Album hören kann. Dann besuche ich meine Freundin Sophie Hunger in der Halle am Berghain. Wir verstehen uns prima, leider verpasste ich ihre Konzerte in der Vergangenheit regelmässig. Später schlendere ich ins Berghain, ich will das Duo 18+ sehen. Ich glaube die sind sehr modern und sollen toll sein. Danach bin ich voraussichtlich betrunken und gehe nach Hause.«


Das gesamte Programm für das Festival und den Freitag sowie den Timetable findet Ihr hier. Wer sich Dirk von Lowtzows Empfehlungen in einem Ticket zusammenstellen will, bekommt mit dem »Wahl-Abo« für den Freitag einen Rabatt von 10%. »Tocotronic«, das neue Album der Band, ist bei Vertigo / Universal erschienen.

No Michanika, but Anika solo

We regret to inform you that the premiere of Michanika, the collaboration between Michael Rother and Anika during our festival, sadly has to be cancelled.

Anika in her own words:

Due to time constraints and pressing individual artistic commitments, our collaborative project ‘Michanika’ must be put on hold for the foreseeable future and all performances of ‘Michanika’ are cancelled. Furthermore, there will be no Anika cameo performances on the forthcoming Michael Rother tour to Spain and Portugal.
Many thanks for understanding!

Anika will perform a solo show instead. Pop-Kultur is currently working with her on turning this concert into a special and exclusive performance. Date and time will be the same: August 27, Berghain – joining a bill with MssingNo, Kiasmos and The Juan McLean among others. Our complete festival programme can be found here. Please, stay tuned!