Thursday, 22 March 2018

Frank Zappa Strasse

It has been nine months since I got the keys to my very own creative space here in Berlin. It was a bare room with just a drum kit and a smell of neglect when I got it. The moment I got the keys I went in there and sung praises at the very top of my voice promising to make it into a cosy beautiful place and sowing such good vibes of positivity and appreciation. I would kiss each wall and say “soon you will be filled with colour and inspiration”. That first night I slept there I just used my guitar case as a pillow and lay there feeling so thankful that after 5 years of travelling and living out a bag and suitcase I finally had a little space of my own.
Bit by bit I would get things for the place. A little coffee table and some lamps and some rugs and then came one of the funniest experiences in getting a couch for the place. On the Free Your Stuff group this lovely lady was giving away all her furniture and I seen that the sofa bed she had posted could be the perfect addition for the studio. I asked my buddy Greg if he could help me move it and we showed up at the place to pick it up. It looked quite light on the photos and then when I tried to lift it I realised it was going to be a bit trickier than first expected.
It must have weighed over 120 kilos, it had a solid wood and steel frame and was a huge task for even two people to lift it. By the time we had made it out the apartment and onto the street we were already dripping with sweat and tired. Greg lived not so far away, so the bag of lamps and rugs we had also picked up I told him to drop at his and pick up the trolley of mine I had left there. As we were struggling lifting and rolling it across the cobbled pavements and kerbs two Turkish guys from a removal shop nearby came and gave us a God-send of a gift which was two flat pieces of wood with strong wheels to float it on.
Whilst Greg went to get the trolley I headed for the Ubahn with the thing on the two wood carriers. It wasn’t an easy job as they kept coming loose from the soft underbelly of the couch and manoeuvring the kerbs was a complete nightmare. I managed to make it about two hundred metres before Greg got back with the trolley. The U-bahn station was close and the trolley was not so much better as we had to lift it vertical and balance it slightly tilted. We took the train and it was two stations to the S-bahn, where, sadly, the elevator was out of use. We carried the thing up and made it to the platform going about 6 stations to Landsberger Allee.
This is where we would need to take a tram about 6 kilometres but by this time it was 5pm and peak time on public transport. I waited as inconspicuously as I could with this huge couch on a trolley and every tram that went past the driver pointed at me and waved his hand and head to say “You are not getting on with that” We couldn’t even if we tried as it was already full to the brim with people. There was only one option – to walk the 6 km to the studio. Greg had a smartphone so could navigate the way and I pushed and pulled and lifted and struggled and there were times when I thought it would end up in a ditch somewhere and I would give up, but I persisted proudly and kept believing. I had only eaten an egg the whole day and was shaking through fatigue and hunger.

Somehow we had made it 4.8km and we reached a tram stop that was far less busy and was worth the risk of getting on with the couch. We succeeded and caught a nice ride to the final furlong. Just as we got about 2 hundred metres away from the studio the wheels of the trolley buckled and bent and then fell off. We had to use the wood wheels for the last part and as we got to the Getranke Hoffman I beseeched Greg to go and buy 2 Kindls, which he did and then we carried it to the studio where, as expected, the lift was out of service. Up the four flights of stairs I nearly collapsed and gave in, those final few steps took everything out of me, but I did it!
Exhausted and empty I screamed in victorious joy and set the couch down, which was by now coming apart at its hinges, we drunk a beer and rested. It had taken us 6 hours and I still had a desk and a chair to pick up from two different sides of town. I managed to pick up the chair and then the desk I got the next day, but by now the studio was starting to come to life. I put a lot of my pictures up on the wall and then procured a kettle and some other bits.
I had found these old PC speakers at a flea market and rigged them up and they sounded quite nice, but I was dreaming of a stereo amplifier with some nice speakers. Then, one night when I got to the studio what did I see lying in the hall but a Stereo Amplifier! I hooked it up and it sounded great. The next thing I needed was like a unit with drawers and shelves and stuff. One night I was leaving I went down the stairs and found one in the hall! It fitted like a glove and so I started to build my book collection to fill the shelves and also picking up more bits and pieces from flea markets and the free your stuff group.

I share the room with a very lovely guy called Daniel who is a great drummer and he has been so kind and understanding with me filling the whole place and just leaving me be. I couldn’t ask for anyone better to share it with and I am so thankful to have my little place where I can go and record and practise and listen to music and to my own thoughts and to write and draw and do whatever I feel. It has excelled my development as an artist in so many ways and is another reason why I love Berlin so much. It has brought out the best in me, I have given it my best and I am so happy and thankful to be here. I was going to write more about the life at Zappa Strasse but I think this constitutes a nice chapter in itself.

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