Sonos have opened a new Concept Store in Mitte, Berlin. Like their other hubs around the globe, the idea is to reimagine listening and create a space for music lovers to enjoy their favourite songs on a carefully designed system and interior setup.
On Wednesday (11 April), they welcomed in a cast of impressive guests for their Song Stories: Bowie event – an opportunity for fans to unpack their relationships with individual Bowie tracks. With stunning archive photography adorning the walls of the space, each speaker selected a Bowie track that held a personal significance to them, and the reasons behind their choices spoke to the intimacy and generosity of Bowie’s music – how it painted in broad strokes the lives of so many.
Musician and academic Gudrun Gut spoke of how Repetition pins 70s Berlin to the shade she knows all too well: an endless grey. Alison Goldfrapp’s Bowie story was a eulogy to her rebellious 16-year-old self as she flung wildly around a disco with a crew of haemophiliac punks – dancing with her Heroes. Inverting the focus, Krautrock icon and founding member of NEU!, Michael Rother pointed to the influence his own music had on Bowie, who he narrowly missed out on working with for mysterious reasons which he’d never quite gotten to the bottom of. Handy then, that Bowie’s longtime producer and friend Tony Visconti was also on the settee.
Despite his best efforts, Rother wasn’t able to clear these up with Visconti, who could at least confirm they were “channeling NEU!” in the studio. It was a theme which appeared frequently throughout the discussion – speakers highlighting that Bowie’s passion for German music existed at a time when UK and US artists ruled the mainstream.
Visconti’s selection is the most anticipated, offering an insight into their friendship. Speaking on his meeting with a 20-year-old Bowie, their bonding over NYC band The Fugs and Frank Zappa, to their time in Berlin: “Berlin for Bowie was a rebirth”, his story includes details of his first kiss with German singer Antonia Maass (nestled against the Berlin wall, of course), who was recording with Bowie at the time and appears on Beauty and the Beast and Heroes. Visconti chooses the former as his Bowie selection, and gazes into the distance as the track washes over him, a smile creeping across his face.