52.5200° N, 13.4050° E
‘Berlin feels like the last free city.’
Gems in this
Twin brothers Taiwo and Kehinde Hassan — AKA music production team Christian Rich — are no strangers to changing scenery. Originally from Chicago, the pair have lived in New York City, Nigeria and Los Angeles, most recently settling in Berlin.
Two of the most progressive talents in music, they have collaborated with artists like Childish Gambino, Drake, Jaden Smith, J.Cole and Earl Sweatshirt, and also design new products with brands like Tokyobike and L.G.R eyewear. We spoke to Taiwo and Kehinde on how travel inspires their work, and a fresh view on creative culture, music, design, food and all things Berlin.
On where you’re from
Originally born and raised in Chicago, and also raised in Nigeria for four years in the late ’80s, so a little bit of both as far as culture goes.
On your motivation moving to Berlin
We both had our personal reasons. We were in LA for six-plus years, and LA had been great to us but we wanted to take it to the next level of life and living. Berlin seemed like the next logical move in moving out of America, but softly moving into Europe. Berlin is a very international city and more diverse than people think it is.
On your relationship with Berlin
Berlin is very similar to the saying that exists about major cities in the States — i.e. New York, LA or Chicago — which is that it’s what you make it. Berlin is what you make it. There’s obviously the raging nightlife, the techno, even hip-hop — you can get into that lifestyle and go crazy with that. And there’s also the other side where you can choose to relax, raise a family, focus on your career. You’re an hour away from every major city in Europe — Paris, London, Barcelona is two hours away. Everywhere is close so you can live that life where you’re doing business and traveling. Berlin is a major hub. So for us it’s been a nice way to focus on work and, ironically, Berlin is perfect for relaxing.
On how Berlin inspires you
As far as the ease that the city has, people are generally relaxed. The fashion has definitely influenced us in the way we think about fashion and think about music. In some weird way, they mesh together. The way we feel and dress is presented in the music. And then we also go out to the techno parties and house parties and hear songs; we just made a song last week because we heard a song in a club, went home, shazamed it and just got the vibe of it and made a new track from that vibe. And that’s just how it is in this city: you get music that you’ve never heard before anywhere else, which pushes us to push the boundaries of what we like. It makes us reinvent and look at things in a very new way, which is great for us and keeps it fresh.
On something ‘only in Berlin’
This is truly the city that never sleeps; people do not sleep here. I don’t care what time of day it is, there would be a party going on, there would be a bunch of people in the streets. There’s no time, people are always awake. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.
‘This is truly the city that never sleeps. I don’t care what time of day it is, there would be a party going on, there would be a bunch of people in the streets. I've never seen anything like it in my life.’
On something unique to Berlin’s music culture
Techno, absolutely. There is techno all over Europe and South America, but Berlin feels like the last free city, as we’ve said amongst our friends. It’s like how New York was in the ’90s, what Chicago was in the ’90s with house and hip-hop, where it was super fresh. People were just young and having fun, not really worrying too much about genres or agendas. Berlin feels like it’s the last city of techno.
On recent projects
We’ve been working on a lot of different singles — which eventually will turn into an LP, and or an EP — but for now, singles. We just did a collaboration with Jaden Smith called ‘Ghost’; we have an updated version of that coming out soon. We have another song we put out about a month ago with Vic Mensa and Little Dragon. Right now, we’re just dropping singles and not having the boundaries of an LP.
On getting to know Berlin
Riding a bike and walking around is the best way. And shopping — going to the boutique stores like SOTO and Voo Store. You start to meet people that like the same attire you like and from there you start to have conversations with people.
On where you find inspiration
Oye Record store, we dig for records in the crates there. We also frequent Soho House because we’re members there and we DJ, but we go to The Store downstairs, which is a concept where you can get coffee, food, shop sneakers, all types of clothes, and they have a record store in there as well. Because it’s Soho House and a lot of people travel from around the world, they come into the store. So you get to see different people, different styles, different energies. When we sit down with a computer and work from there that really motivates us. I recall one time we were in there just working and this woman came in wearing sweatpants and we were like, ‘Whoa, where did you get those sweatpants from?’ She said she bought them in Japan from this company called F/CE. When we got home, we looked up F/CE and thought it is a pretty dope brand, so we hit them up about doing some things together, and it just came from seeing different types of people and different walks of life. So for us that’s creatively a great place to be.
On neighborhoods to check out
There are a lot of neighborhoods to check out with different vibes. Kreuzberg is where a lot of people want to go, a bit like Williamsburg (NYC) or Silver Lake (LA). In Kreuzberg you get a lot of Turkish food. Our favorite clothing store, Voo Store, is in Kreuzberg. And then if you wanted to be posh, you go to Friedrichstrasse, which is a street almost like 5th Ave (NYC). And then if you go to the west, you go to Kurfürstendamm and that’s where you get more higher-end brands. And if you want a Sesame Street kind of neighborhood — very nice, super fun and lots of children — then that’s Prenzlauer Berg. You get the feeling of a super neighborhood-y, cliché television show there.
On something from the states you need a fix of in Germany
In Chicago there are a lot of Nigerian restaurants, and in Berlin there’s only so many. There’s a few African but only one Nigerian restaurant, and we got lucky and we found it. It’s in the west, a place called Ebe Ano in Schöneberg. Luckily we found that spot and it’s comparable to what we would eat back at home in Chicago with the family. That’s something from the States that we’ve been craving and we finally found it. Other stuff that we can’t find, we just go to Amazon.
On window seat or aisle
Until recently we definitely liked the aisle seats, but what we realized is when you fall asleep, especially on those long flights, the flight attendants bump into you every time they come past with the carts if you’re in those tiny planes. So if you’re able to use the restroom ahead of time, then you should probably take the window seat. You can lean on the window (Taiwo and Kehinde confer). Yeah, we’d say window seat.
On Berlin in one word