Tag Archives: love parade

Insiders – Dirk Dreyer / General Manager 25hours Hotel Berlin

This month’s interviewee is hotel director and former DJ Dirk Dreyer. He’s been well-known in Germany’s house scene and was a DJ from 1995-2009, before becoming hotel director for Berlin’s Lux 11, Indigo Hotel, nHow Berlin and finally 25hours Hotel. His career has been stellar behind the decks as well as behind the desks, and we’re thrilled to have hime for our interview series!

Hey Dirk. First things first. From DJ to hotel director – you’ve made quite a career. How did it all begin?

When I was a kid I used to record tapes from the radio and play them on the school bus. Even then I would secretly observe how everyone reacted to the songs. At 18, I had my first residency in a Frankfurt club, but it wasn’t until the mid 90s that I really started digging house music. My job at BMG back then was a perfect fit. I was sending new tracks to DJs to get feedback, so I had an almost unlimited access to fresh music. At some point I had collected 15000 vinyls! When I started working for Sony, we created the dance department and signed hits like Run DMC’s “It’s like that”. The platin disc is still hanging on my wall today. In the bathroom.

You were born in Frankfurt – a city rooted deeply in electronic dance music, much like Berlin. What was the 90s Frankfurt scene like? Sex, drugs and hedonism? 

I was too young to actually understand what was going on behind the scenes. The techno scene had very distinctive marks. Short hair, bomber jacket, combat boots. Not nazis, but very martial looking. Berlin already had a flourishing gay scene in the 90s, while Frankfurt was very hetero, very straight. The gay scene was small, but it was there. In the end, going partying with my gay friends was what really shifted me towards house music. I was the only hetero in that clique. I enjoyed everything from going out with them to their hysterical fits!

So, why come to Berlin? 

Sony’s headquarters moved to Berlin. As a DJ in his late 20s I was absolutely thrilled. My own office at Sony Center and the city was waiting to be discovered. It was what everyone was dreaming of. I had only been to Berlin for the love parades until then and all of a sudden I would live here! I went to five parties a night. We turned days into nights and nights into days. Berlin’s culture and nightlife is still a major drive in my life. The experiences, the endless possibilities, the unexpected encounters and most of all – the people. It’s like the whole world is sending their best folks to Berlin.

Berlin has a firm grip on its night owls. Are you still going out?

Well, the last time I went to Berghain was 2 years ago. I wanted to see Danny Tenaglia and he was playing at 6 in the morning. I was really worried maybe I couldn’t stay up so long anymore. We arrived at 2 in the night and my worries were soon gone. We left at 2 in the afternoon. It was then I knew I still had it in me! Not without a hang over for several days, but still. These days I mostly party in the first half of the night. And I usually sit. 

From DJ to hotel director – quite a jump. Why did you make the change?

I met my wife in 2005 and she already had a kid. We became a small family. It didn’t really feel good anymore to come home from parties and sit down at the breakfast table. So one night, I had a fateful dinner with a hotelier. I was hoping he’d connect me to one of his clients like Adidas, Red Bull or T-Mobile. It seemed to make sense to find a job at a music affine lifestyle brand. Two bottles of wine and a few shots later, he convinced me to become hotel director for Lux 11, Mitte’s first boutique hotel. He said he needed someone who knows the city and who’s known by the city. Next morning I woke up with a hangover and thought: Well, that didn’t go to plan. It was a jump into the deep end, but an amazing chance at the same time.

It worked out perfectly. Since your successful start at Hotel Lux 11 in 2009, you also ran hotels like Indigo and Berlin’s music hotel nHow. What do you think are the hotel trends for the future? 

There are two major trends right now. First – huge standardized places like Motel One. They’re big, affordable and efficiently designed. The services and equipment are reduced to a minimum, guests only get what they really need. The other trend is boutique and design hotels with a distinctive atmosphere, just like 25 Hours. Style and form create individual experiences for the guests. I think in the future we will see a repositioning of older hotel brands. Today’s travellers have grown up in the world’s Motel Ones and many express themselves through their choice of hotel. These people will opt for stylish places that fit their needs for individuality. So, the new mainstream hotels will be more stylish by default and adjust to the trends we see now. 

In your eyes – how has Berlin changed in the last 15 years?

The city has become a lot more organized. When we were throwing parties in the early 2000s, you’d call some phone number, arrange a location with some random guy and you would be lucky if things went halfway according to plan. It’s on a really professional level now. It lost some of its charming spontaneity, but that has more reasons. 15 years ago there were many free spaces for up for the taking. That was all part of the zeitgeist, you can’t keep the same state forever. I really like the new internationality. I feel that just the right people are coming to Berlin, from all over the world.

What’s you favourite place for food and drinks?

My favourite restaurant is the Pantry. Only few restaurants manage to create great all-round experiences, there it’s just right. Cozy armchairs, an harmonious concept, great design, music and a very friendly staff. My insider tip would be Korean restaurant Maru in Friedrichshain. The owner has dyed peroxide blonde hair and looks a little bit like a villain from a Hollywood movie. It’s an uncomplicated venue with great food. I often go there with my family.

If there was one thing in Berlin you could change, what would it be?

Berliners just love complaining. Not everything new is a threat. Cheer up people!

Insiders – Eric Wahlforss

Eric Wahlforss

This month’s interviewee is Eric Wahlforss. Eric is co-founder and CTO of the Berlin-based company SoundCloud, known for their online music streaming service with 175 million monthly visitors. Just yesterday (10.05.2016) SoundCloud has launched their new subscription service SoundCloud Go in the US, UK and France which allows you to stream millions of songs from all the major labels ad-free! 

Q: Hey Eric. Pleasure to have you here. So, you and SoundCloud, huh? How did that all start?

A: Me and Alex Ljung met in Stockholm in the early 2000s. We both played music and Alex had this studio where we started hanging out. We did some projects together and at some point decided to solve a really obvious problem. There was no dedicated online platform for musicians to share their music with people who wanted to listen to it. We realised how huge the demand was when we made SoundCloud public after 2 years of testing. The user numbers went through the roof. Today we have 12 million creators, 175 million listeners per month and more than 125 million tracks online. In comparison – Spotify and Apple music have about 30 million songs.

Q: Almost 10 years into leading a company – you must be stressed out!

A: You learn to cope with the stress. These days I try to disconnect as often as possible. My girlfriend Sophie is a big help for me. She’s also running a company and we’re amazing at being lazy together.

Q: You’re a musician. Do you still find time to play?

A: Well, I released an album in 2012. It’s made from the sounds of strings, organs and choirs. For the percussion I used only wood, stone and metal. The album took 3 years to produce and with SoundCloud going stronger than ever, I don’t really find time to play often these days. But we’ve had this concert at Berghain a few years back and me and Alex played at Burning Man last year. That was intense!  

Q: Ever feel tempted to feature your own songs on SoundCloud’s homepage? 

A (laughs): The most important thing is that the right music finds the right people. So… no.

Q: Just a trick question. What drew you to Berlin?

A: I first came to Berlin for the love parade in 1997. It was a total game changer. I had the most amazing time and went to clubs like Tresor even though I was only 17. For SoundCloud we also considered London, Vienna and Barcelona but were drawn back to Berlin in 2007 because we found an investor here. Berlin has grown up since. But it’s still rougher and crazier than other places. Compared to London or New York, Berlin is very chilled out. The energy is on a whole different level. 

Q: What do you not like about the city?

A: The service is terrible. TERRIBLE. Maybe it’s worse in Russia or Poland, but Berlin isn’t far behind. Especially when you want to bring new people to Berlin. They either have a great time and instantly love it, or they’re unlucky and have a terrible experience with human interactions here. Shouting cab drivers, unfriendly staff in restaurant, the whole service sector.

Q: Cool things you’ve experienced in Berlin?

A: Last summer Sophie and me drove around on our bikes. We heard electronic music in the distance and spontaneously decided to check it out. It was this amazing open air festival at Rummelsburg, located right at the Spree. After a little dancing we saw people swimming and thought what the hell, let’s go swimming! A few minutes later we were sitting in a small boat, drinking beers with strangers while listening to techno music. That’s the vibe that makes Berlin special and that it has always kept over the years.

Q: Your favourite place in Berlin?

A: I live between the office, my flat and Soho House, where I work out. I also really love the Piano Salon Christophori. It’s this super rough piano factory, like an old warehouse, and they also give concerts with great pianists. 

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

A: Probably still in Berlin. Maybe with a family… :-) 

Thanks for your time and all the best for you!