Next Stop, World Domination: The Go Go Berlin Story

It’s 17.30 on Friday at SPOT festival 2013. Standing in amongst the throbbing crowds you are watching new rock band Go Go Berlin open their set on the SCC That stage. It might only be early evening, but the music is building and taking the audience with it. The irresistible combination of the bass line and drum beat are pulsing through the crowd. People are bouncing along. Frontman, Christian Vium shouts, ‘I can’t hear you,’ and climbs onto the speakers. You can feel the crowd’s anticipation as you wait for the breakdown of ‘Shoot The Night.’ This is Danish music history being made.

1000GoGoBerlin_Photo_Morten_Rygaard_All_copyrightsGo Go Berlin play at SPOT 2013. Photo: Morten Rygaard

Preview by Ellie Sellwood

Gaffa gave the band a rating of 4/5 for their set last year and ended their review ended by saying, “judging by the concert at SPOT they’ll make it – in the near future.” One year on and Go Go Berlin are back in Aarhus ready to bring their Rock n’ Roll sound to the crowds again.

Go Go Berlin was formed in November 2010 by Christian Vium, Emil Rothmann, Christoffer Østergaard, Anders Søndergaard and Mikkel Dyrehave. Three years later they thrilled the crowds with their performance at SPOT festival on that Friday night. The performance was a pivotal moment for the band and its management team at Heartbeat Music. It marked the culmination of years of solid touring and started the ‘talk’ among industry professionals – something SPOT aims to do.

When I meet band manager Stefan Facius, from Heartbeat Music, he is fresh off the plane from a ‘pinch in the arm’ trip to Los Angeles. In LA he and the band met with representatives from a major US label, entertainment lawyers and other industry people who “really believe in the band”. He still has both excitement and bewilderment in his eyes.

“If you think it’s enough just to play at SPOT then you’re dead wrong. I would actually say that you need a manager, you can’t go international without a manager.”

But, when asked about the band’s performance at SPOT last year, he tells us that he is in two minds about it. “I was a bit pissed that day actually, because the band were scheduled for five in the afternoon and they had promised us a later show. It wasn’t that we played early that pissed me off, but there was a panel discussion going on at the same time about Germany, so all the important agents were at that event instead of seeing our show.”

“A lot of good came out of it though because the guys put in an amazing performance, we got a good review in Gaffa and the talk started,” he says. “All the people who hadn’t seen the show heard about it and went home having not experienced the band that everyone was talking about,” and this worked out pretty well “because it’s always hard to miss the show that everyone else was at and thought was fantastic.”

However, building a band into an international success takes more than just a great live performance. “If you think it’s enough just to play at SPOT then you’re dead wrong. I would actually say that you need a manager, you can’t go international without a manager,” Stefan says.

For Stefan and his colleague Thomas Bredahl (ex. Volbeat member), the work started months before the SPOT performance. Stefan says “we had some meetings with the SPOT guys and the MXD (Music Export Denmark) guys and they gave us some early advice on the whole European music scene,” and “about how to approach SPOT and how to brand ourselves as a management team.”

‘Everything you said was true, these guys are amazing, the Strokes can now retire.’

They then used the opportunity at SPOT last year to put on a brunch for around 100 people from the industry using SPOT as a way to open their European network. Stefan explains that “we did a lot of networking and after that Go Go Berlin got played on German and Swiss radio, just out of that brunch because we gave them the CDs.”

Actually, for Stefan and the band, the best thing to come out of SPOT was the fact that “our German agent came to the brunch, he had already agreed to be the agent but he hadn’t seen them live. He went to see them and he came back and told me during the show, ‘everything you said was true, these guys are amazing, the Strokes can now retire,’ our agent went home with that live experience and started booking shows.”

It wasn’t always like this, as Stefan tells me that in the beginning, he and Thomas didn’t have a record label for the band. They just worked on “building the band and pushing to some of the people we thought would be helpful”. Go Go Berlin went on tour with Danish rock legends, The Blue Van in the fall of 2012 and Stefan says “we had no money, I mean, we were going in the tour manager’s car, and parents’ cars. We had no money for a bus in the beginning.” But “it just evolved from there really”.

Flash forward to 2014 and the band has released its debut album ‘New Gold’ in six countries, they are lined up to do some big TV shows abroad and are signed to Sony Music in Europe. Last year alone, they played over 90 shows and supported Dutch band Kensington, in Holland. They have agents in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland and are going on their European tour the day after SPOT. Go Go Berlin are even taking their music to China this summer and have attracted interest from the US, India, South Africa and Russia.

“We have some good stories to tell and this music business is more or less about stories.”

So, how does it feel to return to SPOT this year after spending the past year taking onboard the SPOT ethos of ‘going global?’ Stefan says, ’I’m really excited, because when you have a good band on at SPOT – you have that buzz round you and the band. Especially if you have a band that everyone is talking about and you have some successful stories to tell.”

Despite all the hype and excitement surrounding the band right now, Stefan is very adamant when he says that “sales-wise and tickets-wise over Europe it’s not a success yet, we have a long way to go,” but “we have some good stories to tell and this music business is more or less about stories.” But ultimately he won’t be happy until they’ve achieved “fucking world domination.”

Don’t miss Go Go Berlin this year, make sure you see them before go and they take on the world.

Ellie Sellwood is from the UK and is an editor and journalist for Jutland Station. You can follow her on Twitter @EllieSellwood.