3hd Festival

How to be human: Creamcake’s 3hd Festival launches the ‘Fluid Wor(l)ds’ program around storytelling by writing their own history

22 October 2019

We are the stories we tell ourselves. The language we use and the histories we draw from form our identities, our cultures and the ways in which we communicate. These forms can change, of course, but they’re all part of a complex process of growth and self-discovery shaping how we exist inside the world. In celebrating five years of programming, Creamcake‘s 3hd Festival explores how its own identity—as an organization and an ever-developing community—has shifted and expanded in the half-decade since its inception in 2015.

Michele Rizzo, ‘HIGHER xtn.’ (2018). Performance view. Photo by Alwin Poiana. Courtesy of the artist.

Running from October 22 to 27, this year’s ‘Fluid Wor(l)ds’ program features interdisciplinary artists, writers, musicians and performers, producers, academics, designers and programmers, who share an online network. Selected participants are informed by what the press release calls “the art of storytelling” —whether it’s in Michele Rizzo’s rave choreography, or Georgian rappers KayaKata’s emancipatory experimental hip hop. The latter trio, informed by their ‘ghetto sci-fi’ universe—crossing music, text, animation, film, comics and more—are included on this mix from 3hd, along with tracks by Yen Tech, mobilegirl, Catnapp and many more. You can listen below:

Laurel Halo’s ‘Latency’ is also featured here, as she’ll be DJ-ing a chilled set at the ‘E-Waste. Heavy Metals’ event, alongside a performance by Geo Wyeth, high above the Berlin skyline in Kreuzberg’s Postscheckamt Tower. The location here is important because—as a defunct postal bank—the space is inscribed with its own hidden histories and shifting infrastructures of communication that reveal so much about our past, and thus the present and the future. Now a venue for hire, the building is also the site for a temporary 3hd gallery space, hosting the (Un-)Real E-state group exhibition, running for the duration of the festival. It features work by Ruth Angel Edwards, Julian-Jakob Kneer, HellFun, Shaun Motsi, Tarek Lakhrissi and Viviana Abelson, as well as Margaret Haines, whose contribution extends from the pockets of her three transparent pink raincoats displayed in the street-facing windows to cross-platform anthology Embedded Narratives.

Margaret Haines I dreamt in heaven (2017) Film still. Courtesy the artist + 1646, The Hague.

Edited by AQNB’s own Steph Kretowicz, the URL and IRL text connects across online and offline spaces via events, performances, pieces and hyperlinks, while drawing together new and old texts and commissions from the past five years of 3hd programming. One of these is an excerpt from Haines’ own upcoming interpretative biography of occult personality Cameron, called On Air: Purity, Corruption and Pollution, as well as new commissions from manuel arturo abreu and Sarah M. Harrison. A piece by Jen Rosenblit also features, its accompanying QR code leading to the ‘Laboratory for Feeling Right‘ web page, announcing a workshop that will run over three days during the festival. The project introduces open call respondents to using early intuition research for exchange and improvisation, building on and overwriting each other’s original content.

The night program will be packed with live music and DJ sets, where x/o, Qualiatik and Elvin Brandhi perform Traumabarundkino for ‘Switching Codes’ on Thursday. The ‘E-Work. Transcending Realities’ club night will happen in the same relatively new hybrid venue in a recently developed part of Berlin, with umru, Hyph11E and bod [包家巷] representing the future-forward subcultures that both draw from and feed into pop. London’s Curl collective—co-founded by Mica Levi, Brother May and Coby Sey—optimise the potential of the same space with their mutating interdisciplinary collaboration with Akinola Davies Jr., whose ‘Mayonnaise, Corn on the Cob and My Car’ film has its German premiere at 3hd.

Another Curl affiliate, Alpha Maid will perform her signature rock and electronic hybrid guitar music, channelling the everyday anxieties of living in a surveillance state, at one of two cross-disciplinary events, called ‘World Play I & II’. These evenings of sound, text and audio-visual performances at HAU Hebbel am Ufer feature artists, writers and musicians—Claudia Pagés and Freeka Tet on Friday, Ms. Carrie Stacks and Erica Scourti on Saturday—exploring narrative in our technologically dominated present. When it comes to digital culture, that narrative is vast and complex, and a continuous work in progress, a process of becoming.**

3hd Festival’s ‘Fluid Wor(l)ds’ program is on across venues in Berlin, running October 22 to 27, 2019.

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“Sell-out” isn’t such a dirty word anymore: On the effects of corporate & institutional co-optation within counterculture at the ‘Assimilation Politics’ roundtable

17 December 2018

“It’s really important that we try to look to other platforms to determine where our creative culture is coming from,” says producer and selector Ari Robey-Lawrence (aka The Neighbourhood Character) at the ‘Assimilation Politics‘ roundtable. “Because otherwise you’re stuck with three or four different platforms that all have various gatekeeping practices.” Hosted by AQNB editor, Steph Kretowicz, and also featuring fellow panellists Dorine van Meel and Philipp Rhensius, the event took place at Studio 1 of Berlin’s Künstquartier Bethanien as part of Berlin’s 3hd 2018: System.Lure on October 27.

The panel was put together to discuss what it means to ‘sell out’ — to compromise ones principles for support — a practice that is now widely accepted as a means for survival in an increasingly precarious gig economy. To sell-out is to live, and artists, producers, musicians, performers, writers have higher living costs, lower pay and fewer independent spaces to work in, outside of corporate interests. Instead of resisting the inevitable total subsumption of the margins by expanding markets, one can join in, get paid, gain visibility and work from the inside. But is this realistic, and what is the real cost of such a concession?

3hd 2018: System.Lure. Image by Salim Bayri. Courtesy Creamcake, Berlin.

The conversation is available to listen in full above, and it features artist and writer van Meel who works with socially engaged art, feminist methodologies and self-organization; writer, musicologist, musician and curator Rhensius; and producer and selector Robey-Lawrence whose work with intersectional and non-binary/queer identities proposes alternative avenues for socio-cultural mobility. Together with Kretowicz, they question the value of visibility and exposure outside of an artist’s original context, and explore the consequences of collusion with the capitalist or state prerogative.**

The Assimilation Politics panel discussion took place on October 27, 2018 at Künstlerhaus Bethanien as part of Berlin’s 3hd Festival 2018: System.Lure. The festival is curated and organised by Creamcake.

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‘Staying Present’: an AQNB x Video in Common screening rundown

26 October 2016

What happens to the present when we’re stuck in the future? AQNB editor Jean Kay, and Video in Common (ViC) presented the ‘Staying Present’ screening, reading and discussion at Berlin’s Vierte Welt, as part of the Creamcake-organised 3hd Festival, on Wednesday October 12.

In referring to the title of this year’s festival topic ‘There is nothing left but the future?’ AQNB x ViC focussed on the question mark, interrogating what is actually meant by ‘the future’ and whether the past has a role in determining it. The programme presented artists, musicians and ideas drawing on convention and tradition to comment on the contemporary condition by integrating old aesthetics, formats, media, practices and logics into producing new work.

‘Act I, Scene II’ of Jaakko Pallasvuo‘s The Hunchback of South Bermondsey sound piece — originally produced for quarterly podcast Status Effect — opened the event with a glimpse into a near neofeudal future. Armed with an “iPod Shuffle, your Master’s degree, the keys to your apartment”, a character called Lancelot navigated a play and a scene full of “wizadry, alchemy, allurement, sorcery”, while London-based producer Klein talked about the influence of Gospel music and the internet on her visceral vocal ambient project in an AQNB x ViC editorial video production.


Meanwhile, Gary Fembot and Easter combined and conflated contemporary issues and ideas with traditionally transgressive queer-punk aesthetics and outdated filming techniques in excerpts of their respective ‘Scream of the Mandrake’ and Sadness is an Evil Gas Inside of Me videos. Maxwell Sterling laid fielded footage of Los Angeles’ surreal landscapes over his ‘Hollywood Medieval’ music production, while Institute for New Feeling looked into the oracle of the online in a custom massage chair and screen experience in ‘seek: a self-fulfilling prophesy’. Finally, writer, artist and witch Martha Windahl of MW Tarotscopes drew up an astrological chart prediction and joined the Berlin event from her base in Los Angeles to predict the future of Europe, live and via Skype.

‘Staying Present’ follows a series of previous events organised by AQNB and video production partner ViC in Berlin, London, and Los Angeles –all key cultural centres in the collaboration’s network. Titled ‘The Future Is Here, It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed’, ‘At the Backend’ and ‘Accessing Economies: Engagement & Withdrawal’ together these programmes interrogated the systems and infrastructures embedded in networked communication, and how this affects distribution, flows of information and power, as well as language, community-building, identity formation and assimilation.

Below is the full programme of video, audio and stills of the works presented in their running order:

Jaakko Pallasvuo: The Hunchback of South Bermondsey, ‘Act I, Scene II’ (2015) [27:17 min]

Helsinki-based artist Jaakko Pallasvuo explores a dystopic future with a view of the contemporary, as well as the past, in a co-production with Roy Boswell. The sound piece, drawing from three years of three different eras — 2555AD, 1677 AD, and 2015 AD — presents a narrated play that mixes and confuses historical signifiers, only to draw parallels between systems of power and hierarchy across ages.

Klein: ‘Key Changes’ (2016) [6:54 min]

London-based producer and performer Klein talks about her influences spanning the breadth of the internet, from Kim Burrell to Pavarotti, and how it feels to be a self-taught musician and artist being embraced by the greater “electronic realm”. Klein released her first EP Lagata on September 1, where she produces a unique blend of athletic vocal exercises that clash and combine with noisy ambience.

Gary Fembot: ‘Scream of the Mandrake’ (2015) [16:00 min]

San Francisco-based musician, director and zine-maker Gary ‘Fembot’ Gregerson bids farewell to the old days of his Bay Area city’s liberal activism and queer counter-culture, now overrun by Silicon Valley tech employees and bourgeois boutique lifestyles. Using blanched Super 8mm film, Sta-Prest and Puce Moment band member Fembot draws on a specific aesthetic tradition of San Francisco’s radical punk past, while revealing the hollow corporate sprawl left at its disemboweled core.

Easter: Sadness is an Evil Gas Inside of Me, Episode 4, ‘The Age of Corn’ (2015) [17:06 min]

Berlin-based art and music duo Stine Omar and Max Boss of Easter present what their press release, written by Vika Kirchenbauer, calls a “soap opera in the guise of an essay film”. The four-episode series produced between 2014 and 2015 stages a world described as being in “absence of present”, one where multiple pasts emerge through the subconscious and internal worlds of its characters. Filmed with a camcorder and narrated by queer icon Vaginal DavisSadness is an Evil Gas Inside of Me contrasts high quality sound with the low resolution video material to construct its own “ambiguous future”.   

Maxwell Sterling: ‘Hollywood Medieval’ (2016) [7:32 min]

LA-based, Manchester-born musician and producer Maxwell Sterling takes his classical training in double-bass and experience in scoring film to produce live renditions of cult-producer James Ferraro‘s ‘Burning Prius’, as well as releasing his own music in recent album Hollywood Medieval on Los Angeles Memory No. 36 Recordings on August 6. Through cut-up and collaged images, and layered and augmented synthesiser samples and recordings, Sterling develops an audio-visual experience at the point where nature and the city collide.

Institute for New Feeling: ‘seek: a self-fulfilling prophesy’ (2016) [3:48 min]

Pittsburgh- and LA-based art collective Institute for New Feeling echo humanity’s age-old obsession with future-telling via the dystopian narrative of modern clairvoyance and its corporate co-option. A live personal session in a massage chair VR that uses personal internet search histories and online surveillance to produce a future reading, ‘seek: a self-fulfilling prophesy’ presents an oracle that offers a false sense of calm in the face of uncertainty.

Martha Windahl: Live Skype psychic Reading

LA-based artist, writer and witch Martha Windahl uses alternative logics and practices to make sense of a universe in chaos. Her ongoing performance and clairvoyant work emerged in the grip of the 2008 Global Economic Crisis, not only as a practical solution to fiscal insecurity but also in response to a growing demand for a new source of reason in an increasingly complex world.**

Martha Windahl, 'Staying Present chart, Oct 12, 2016, 6:00PM CEDT'. Courtesy the artist.
Martha Windahl, ‘Staying Present chart, Oct 12, 2016, 6:00PM CEDT’. Courtesy the artist.

aqnb x Video in Common’s screening ‘Staying Present’ was on at Berlin’s Vierte Welt as part of 3hd Festival, October 12, 2016.

Header image: Maxwell Sterling, ‘Hollywood Medieval’ (2016). Video still. Courtesy the artist.

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An interview with coucou chloé

6 October 2016

French producer coucou chloé drops her first official release, entitled Halo EP on October 5. She’s already developed a strong following through a series of internet uploads, such as ‘tears for fears’ — an emotional and delicately barren track composed of guitar and affected voice — as well as more hi-tech, futuristic sounding songs such as ‘Pearl’, a collaboration with Egyptian producer 1127. The EP, with its lead single ‘skin like sin’, comes via Berlin-based platform for digital culture Creamcake.

Aside from her solo music, chloé is also one half of Y1640 — a collaborative project with producer Sega Bodega, who presents a monthly soundtrack series on London’s NTS Radio. Tracks like ‘SPIT INTENT offer something arguably more dance-oriented. Indeed, she’s currently more focused on making music for the club as opposed to her more contemplative, ambient side, and while her solo music is generally slower, more vocal-laden, chloé regards her two projects as being in dialogue with one another.

coucou chloé is due to perform at Berlin’s 3hd Festival on Wednesday October 12 at OHM for a night of ‘Speculative Futurism’, alongside other acts like Music For Your Plants, ssaliva, and Ink Agop. “Playing live is the occasion to make my music inhabit a brand new space”, she says. “I’m going to play a lot of unreleased things… I’m going to sing a lot”. According to the festival program, “her crooked ballads offer romance without sentimentality on wavy vocal pitch-shifting and contemplative simulated environments that posit a passion for the future”.

From making initial contact via Soundcloud, the relationship with Creamcake came about online-organically. “I followed them… and they followed me back”, she explains on Skype, highlighting the ease of building internet connections. “They proposed to me to be a part of 3hd Festival and then asked if I wanted to release some tracks on [the Creamcake label]. I had in mind to make an EP really soon so it was good timing”. The facility of the internet extends to access and autonomy, as well as being a catalogue of chloé’s own musical preferences. She singles out niche act Kid Kishore (who also plays at 3hd as HVAD) and English Baroque composer Henry Purcell as two favourites.

Originally from Nice, she studied contemporary art at the Villa Arson and is now based in London after deciding to focus solely on production. “I started to take [music] more seriously in the last couple of months”, she says. Listening to it, you’d think she’d been honing it longer, which might be down to its weight in narrative; music for her is “a space to create and recreate stories”. In conversation, chloé talks about her upcoming release, her musical friends and Soundcloud likes, performing at 3hd, and her own thoughts on futurism.

coucou chloé (2016). Photograph. Courtesy the artist.
coucou chloé (2016). Photograph. Courtesy the artist.

You have a new release coming — what can we expect?

coucou chloé: This is the first time I’m really thinking about a project as a whole. I made the first track and it built quite naturally. I wanted to have a really aggressive kick, something quite clubby. I have one track that is more chilled, really soft, which I kept for the end of the EP.  

Are you pleased with how it’s turned out?

cc: I can see that my music has taken another direction and I’m really happy with that. I’m practicing a lot and learning how to make beats. I see it growing as I learn more. To put it into an EP is really cool for me.

The night you’re playing at 3hd is called ‘Speculative Futurism’ — how do you think this theme relates to your music?

cc: The futurism thing I can elaborate on, in how easy it is today to have all these things in your hands. You can just sit on the bed and make an orchestral piece without knowing any theoretical things about music. The possibility to share it. I think it’s a generational thing, everybody is becoming very autonomous.

What does your live show involve?

cc: I’m going to play a lot of unreleased things and tracks from my side project Y1640. I’m going to sing a lot. When I’m recording or producing, I’m building things in an intimate space, in my room or studio. Playing live is the occasion to make my music inhabit a brand new space.

Can you tell us more about Y1640? How did you get to working together with Sega Bodega?

cc: I went to London to meet him and we began to make a track. We decided we wanted something more clubby, more rhythm, so we tried to do that. We were happy with it so [we] were like, let’s continue to make music together. We have some tracks that we’re going to release, really clubby tracks.  

How does your music as Y1640 differ from that as coucou chloé?

cc: Sega Bodega showed me a lot of things to make beats. Of course it fits the way I make music too but I think it’s different. I think Y1640 is more club. I try to make things like this too but it’s more in a classical song structure for me. I think in my own music there’s more voice and it’s more slow. It’s hard for me to say but, in a way, Y1640 and coucou chloé are talking to each other, like they are in link.

Where does inspiration for your music come from?

cc: It’s hard for me to answer because I don’t have a specific process of inspiration. I think I can be inspired by a tune I heard, the ambience of a room, a bunch of words that someone said in the street, the way I want to move in a club. I don’t really know where all my tracks come from.

What are you listening to lately?

cc: Can I check on my Soundcloud likes? I have different periods when I’ll listen to only one thing. There’s one track that I’m really crazy about. Do you know Henry Purcell? I’m going to link you… [sends link] One person I really admire is Arca, for the complexity and richness. Also Kid Kishore.  

You’ve also done radio shows on Hotel Radio Paris — can you tell us about this?

cc: It’s a common misunderstanding that I had a monthly show. I played on Hotel Radio Paris twice and I probably will in the future. It supports me and I support it. I think it’s amazing to have this kind of radio in France. It really needed it and it’s great to watch it grow.

coucou chloé (2016). Press image. Courtesy the artist.
coucou chloé (2016). Press image. Courtesy the artist.

What can you say of the ‘scene’ in France?

cc: I don’t think in terms of a French scene or London scene because, for me, I can be in my bed and have access to, talk to, or be a part of lots of different scenes because of the internet and community with Soundcloud and all these things. What I can say, a French thing that is different for me than all the others is the Jorrdee crew, the 667. This is the scene I follow a bit in France.

Is there anyone you’d like to invite for potential future radio shows?

cc: I didn’t really think about it. I’d like to make one with Y1640. For my first show I was supposed to do it alone and I saw Jorrdee the night before and was like, ‘what do you do tomorrow because I have a radio show, if you want come with me and we make something together on it’. This is how it happened, so I don’t really plan every artist.

Having studied contemporary art at Villa Arson, do you think your art education has informed the way you make music?

cc: I think so. It’s a bit weird. I stopped piano when I was younger and I wanted to find a way to make music but not have to learn everything again. I think I used art maybe to be like, ‘okay, you have to experiment a lot because you have the freedom to’. I think I tried a lot of different things with that, thinking about process. It was a way for me to make sounds without learning a lot of technique, though of course there’s a lot of technical things to know. I understand that that was not what I wanted to do. I just wanted to sit on a laptop and try to make music so I said, ‘okay, now I want to stop art school and just focus on music’, because all I wanted to do is music.**

coucou chloé’s debut EP HALO is out via Berlin’s Creamcake/3hd on October 5. She performs ‘Speculative Futurism’ at 3hd Festival on October 142, 2016.

Header image: Courtesy coucou chloé.

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