A wise man once said that it’s good to build rituals and reflect often. This is my attempt at that. Whilst sharing moments as they happen does form some kind of record of events, it tends to result in a flat stream of happenings, and doesn’t allow for the great moments to float up to the surface and be remembered. Hopefully future me will find this helpful, and a little more digestible than infinite-scrolling back in time on all of those internet places.
All in all, 2014 was a great year.
Life in Berlin
In late 2103 Dan and I were evicted from our flat in Neukölln. Not because of anything we’d done, but due to the person we were subletting from getting sued for not paying rent and illegally subletting. We both moved in with our partners, and joined Maytal in her flat in Kreuzberg. My music stuff went in to storage, and focus shifted to spending time by the canal, and eating 5 Elephant cheesecake as much as possible (it really is the best).
With nowhere to make music, Cory and I teamed up to find a studio space. We found an incredible location in Kreuzberg; an old post office building, full of other artist studios and co-working spaces. However, after weeks of moving heavy things up and down stairs, and configuring our bleep bloop boxes, the surprise that an elderly couple with low noise tolerance were living in the (assumed to be) non-residential building sent us packing.
In May I finally became a legitimate Berlin resident after years of subletting rooms in sublets of sublets. It only took me thirty months or so. As a friend moved to New York, Maytal and I moved in to his old flat in Prenzlauer Berg, and took over the lease. Officially. Contractually. Our names are even on the door. Come visit!
I got back into cooking. Having a spacious kitchen, and someone to cook with makes the world of difference. We made curries, soups, extravagant breakfasts, and cookies. Next year we’re going to step it up even further.
Of course I can’t talk about Berlin life without talking about SoundCloud. This year I started to get a much better feel for Product Management. I made it though a couple of fiery baptisms early in the year, the team I work with grew, and I learnt lots from them. A lot of our focus was on preparing better for scale, and helping creators to make money on the platform. Both are exciting things to work on, but their results aren’t the most immediate.
I’m excited for what we’ll ship next year. We’re almost done house-cleaning and are going to bring it back to the people in a big way.
If we’re being strict about timelines, the year actually started in New York, with Andrew W.K. partying us in to 2014. After spending the holidays with Maytal’s family in Connecticut and Boston, we spent ten days packing in as many galleries, sandwich shops, sports games, and movies as possible; whilst avoiding the ever-present Polar Vortex as best as we could.
It was damn cold, but I fell in love with the city. At least twice a week I get pangs to go back. It feels like it could easily become home one day.
A few short trips in the spring: Geneva to play a show in a swimming pool, England to see my parents and go to Harry Potter Studios, Paris to surprise my Mum for her Birthday, and Dresden to actually explore some of Germany. The views from the top of the Frauenkirche are brilliant.
We ticked off two of Maytal’s long-time dream destinations this summer. In Athens I finally embraced hot weather, shorts, and beaches. We saw a bunch of really, really old stuff, drank the best cold brew coffee, and I even swam in the sea. We also visited Prague to look at a different flavour of old things, Castles. There was also a large amount of cheap pilsner consumed.
Finally in the Autumn we returned to America, this time exploring Chicago and New Orleans. Chicago’s weather drove us mostly to indoor locations, but didn’t stop us taking a fantastic architecture boat tour through the city. We went to an improv show at Second City, and I was pulled on stage, freezing immediately. We ate some deep dish pizza, and as a result didn’t eat for two days.
The thick heat of New Orleans came as a welcome change. We took another boat tour, but this time of a local swamp. A monkey was our guide, and we met some alligators. We saw Kermit from HBO’s Treme play in a location from the show, and ate almost nothing but fried food and Gumbo.
One night on Frenchman Street, we saw a busker walk down the street, poke his head into a bar where a jazz band was playing, drop an incredible trumpet solo, and then sashay back on the street, without saying a word. Music really is in the air there.
Po-Boys and beignets formed most of the menu. Why eat anything else?
Other than the fantastic record from St. Vincent, I feel like I stopped listening to albums this year. Most musical moments were soundtracked by things I found on SoundCloud. Here’s a playlist of my favourite tracks (they’re not in any order, so just hit the shiny new Shuffle button).
As for my own music, it was a quiet year. I played a few shows (mostly one-offs at festivals), but took six months to find a place to make music. I’ve found it hard to work out what comes next for Seams, not wanting to repeat myself. Stepping away from the laptop and dusting off my old 4-track cassette recorder seems to be helping, but perhaps things are winding down.
These aren’t really resolutions, but some of the things I hope for in 2015:
- I document and reflect on life more often. When trying to put this together I realised how few photos I take, and how bad my memory is.
- I get better at keeping in touch with friends and family, especially those I don’t see often. Living in different countries makes it easy to fall into your own local bubbles, relying on social network osmosis to feel connected. I imagine I’ll travel a bit more just to hang out.
- I finally get my head around German. I’ve lived in Berlin for 3 years now and really need to get past the basics of getting pizza in my mouth.
- I learn to drive. I’ve always avoided lessons, citing the environment and cost as reasons why. In honesty it’s because I’m scared. Gotta get over it.
- I read more. It’s always been a bit of an uphill struggle, but it feels like I’m getting more used to reading. I hope to read at least five books next year (including my grandfather’s memoirs).
- I get back to New York.