By simply setting foot in Damien’s world in Berlin, I was astounded by his openness and almost carnivorous need for constant melody. Young and passionate, Damien has cut himself a world that seems almost apart from the rest of Berlin, creating a fierce and driving energy of his own. His contagious laughter and high spirits make a fleshly, wild concoction, while in his studio or behind his turntables he strikes a dapper figure in combining sounds from the four corners of the world. Far from colorless, bland productions, Damien’s musical universe brings you in an intricate jungle of tribalism, deepness and honeyed vocals. Through soothing, relaxed arrangements, Kamil’s music is able to carry us to a lolling atmosphere, trailing back to the chill-out, primitive roots that lie within each one of us.
And you can listen to so for yourself through this exclusive set made especially for this blog: “Berlin My Heart”.
Graziella Buontempo: Who is Damien Kamil Sahri?
Damien Kamil Sahri: It’s just me.
GB: What is your earliest childhood memory when it comes to music? At what point in time did you decide that you wanted to be a musician?
DKS: I don’t know if there was a precise point in time at which I realized that I wanted to be a musician, but my desire for creativity has always been really strong and not only for music. My earliest important childhood memory related to sound was probably when scratching my first hip-hop records at house parties in the late 90′s.
GB: If you had to choose 5 words to define your music, what would they be?
DKS: Five Words Is Not Enough
GB: You lived for a long time in NYC and you currently live in Berlin. Both cities are extremely vibrant and energetic both from a social and artistic point of view. What are some of the differences you have noticed among the cities? How have these cities empowered you as an artist?
DKS: NYC and Berlin are the most influential cities of the planet for me and they both teach me equally a lot, but in their own ways.NY is tough. It grabs you by the guts and pushes you to swim faster than one another in a big ocean of competitive challenges. Berlin is not so rough, it’s completely the opposite but it’s also dangerous…I would say that in NYC you have to be careful not to spend too much time working and in Berlin not to spend too much time chillin’.
GB: What makes Berlin so special to you?
DKS: Salvador Dali once said that freedom is like intelligence: it is a nuisance to people.After spending some time in jail, Dali found himself completely redirected through his own freedom because it was taken away from him. The same happened to me. After having a lot of freedom in NYC, I was restrained and had a lot of time to think for myself, so when I was free again, I knew exactly where to go in my inspiration, and Berlin was here for me.
GB: Berlin is a relatively young city. It is full of young people and great vibes. In the last 5 to 10 years, tourism has boomed, mainly attracted by the freedom and music scene that Berlin invites to. Do you have the feeling that certain types of music that were once labeled as “underground” have become highly commercialized (even in a city like Berlin that lives of art and music)? Do you think that now is the perfect opportunity for music to evolve into something entirely new and different?
DKS: By definition, underground doesn’t have the same incentive as commercial. A song can be famous and still be underground, but a song can also be commercial and completely unknown because it doesn’t “sell” enough so I suppose underground means: music that is created by a precise array of artists for a chosen elite of listeners and their evolution within that genre. Commercial means: music made for a maximum amount of people, success in meeting standard for social and entertainment expectations, and acquisition of financial compensation.Of course, it isn’t black and white. I don’t believe in radical changes and I think that music, like any other artistic activity, involves a lot of research and cannot only include the desire to make something new. Since our primate ancestors were hitting rocks on hollow trees, people have been creating new ways to make music and assemble harmonies and rhythms. I therefore believe that Music will continue its evolution according to the ongoing technological development over time, but only through acknowledgment of its history and its purpose to life in general.
GB: How can artists differentiate themselves when so many productions sound almost the same?
DKS: By pushing their style to next level! You can be influenced, but you have to be able to influence as well. I think it’s amazing when you can touch someone’s soul as much you have been touched by someone else’s music before, but listening to your own stuff all day doesn’t make sense. So by going out, meeting people, exploring and collaborating you can open up yourself to other varieties of sounds and find what you really want. Forge your own appreciation of music and define that one message you want to spread to your audience so that they know what you stand for, always.
GB: You have a residence in Berlin at Stattbad, a unique place inhabited by artists of all kinds. How is it working with so much diversity surrounding you? How does it influence you?
DKS: It’s amazing. After living across the street from Stattbad for one year now, I can say that my friends are having a hard time getting me out of the neighborhood. I’m not only resident there, I’m also the proud member of a beautiful team. Whether it’s a simple breakfast with the skateboarding crew before a competition, a street art exhibition in the disaffected olympic swimming pool, or a heavy underground party in the basement, it’s always pure Berlin energy and it feels just like home. Continue reading