Johanna Amelie pushed through low-hanging branches, sidled past bushes, peered through the leaves and stepped into a clearing. In the gloom below, huddling amidst the shrubbery, a crowd of curious faces stared up at her, expectant.
Before I get too fanciful I should probably explain. Johanna Amelie was actually inside the ultramodern Sony Centre at Potzdamer Platz, and she was just going on stage. She was more likely to stumble on a cable than a stray vine or root. And she was here to sing for the Herzgruen Festival, a three-day springtime event putting botany with harmony with local artistry:
You’ll forgive me for getting your hopes up; in my defence, it was all quite exciting. How often do you hear a concert at a greenhouse in bloom? It’s an exotic bubble at the heart of urban modernity. There’s fantasy to be had.
Drummer misses and hits
Johanna’s soft voice and dreamy keys drift through the air, joining the rich scent of blossom, a heady cocktail. She’s dressed for the part, too, and so is her support guitarist, in earthy colours, scuffed boots and comfortable cuts.
Without a word, they open with Dancer: swaying in sync, long & loose hair catching the red light. The drummer, in black leather and torn jeans, missed a memo somewhere. Still, he’s the one who contributes most to this ethereal atmosphere, with a panoply of percussion tricks that make light of the limitations of a rock kit.
One of his highlights – and hence the whole band’s – is Lion Babe, a soothing song about the struggles of living in Berlin, the journey from outsider to insider. Unsurprisingly, that resonates.
Music to sip coffee to
Johanna’s music isn’t as exotic as the setting, or even particularly adventurous. But that doesn’t mean it’s uninteresting or off-trend. Cloud in a Room made it onto an ‘acoustic café’-style playlist on Spotify, and that’s the vibe to expect. Uncomplicated listening, easy on the ear, old-school reverb and sustain on guitar and keys, coloured by quirkier twists as inspired by her role models Joni Mitchell and Regina Spektor.
Little wonder that she’s so well-regarded in Berlin. Little wonder, too, that she’s so collaboratively inclined: both on the album in progress (just listen to this FluxFM interview) and for her upcoming concert with Brazil-based duo Seven Eyes. And if that sparks your sense of fantasy, just stay tuned here on indieBerlin…