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- Posted on Nov 17th 2009 6:30PM by Tabassum Siddiqui
"Crazy enough as it is, a lot of those songs were recorded before I even moved there," Gibb tells Spinner. "It's hard to say how a place influences you. I like the city -- I like how big it is, how free it is. I like the whole city design and the way of life there, people's attitudes. I like how it's really a haven for artists. You don't even need to hang out with Germans when you're there -- there are so many Canadians, so many expats from all over. It's just not provincial at all."
"When you come back to Toronto, it's a great feeling because it's home, but on the world scale, Toronto is kind of a small town," he adds. "The greater Toronto area is really big, but downtown Toronto, and [its music] scene, is quite small. So I like the diversity of scenes in Berlin. I also like being exposed to new things. That, to me, is the most inspiring thing. That has an influence -- just stimulus, you know?"
The Hidden Cameras' lengthy tour has barely begun but Gibb is already thinking about returning to Berlin. After all, he's still got a ways to go in perfecting his German.
"I need to go back and take some actual classes," he laughs, sheepishly. "Some days you feel like you really know a lot because you know more than your friends and you get some really positive feedback from Germans. Other moments you're just ..." Gibb says, throwing his arms in the air and making a mock-disgusted noise.
"But I've been told I can pronounce things well -- that's my one strength. In music, too, I'm very good at hearing things and playing it. I'm not good at reading music, though," he admits. "Same thing with language -- I'm very good at imitating things because it's fun. I can pronounce things okay but the grammar is seriously really difficult. You're basically shooting at a duck every time you try to conjugate a verb."
While many of the tracks on the new album may have originated prior to his overseas adventure, Berlin's heady culture still influenced Gibb in other ways.
"I must say, I don't know any singer-songwriter types in Berlin. Everybody I know is electronic-based. I can't think of a single artist that's not. I mean, there must be, but I don't know any of them," he muses. "There are so many different club nights -- just more people doing things."
"There's a really interesting gay scene -- it's the gayest city in the world, I've heard," continues Gibb. "It's also got the most births per capita of anywhere in Europe. It's intense -- a lot of babies. It's basically babies and gay guys," he quips. "And there's the most Turks of any city second only to Istanbul. So the second biggest city in Turkey has fewer Turks than in Berlin. It's crazy."
While he swears the electro vibe of some of the new Hidden Cameras tracks were more influenced by the instruments he had at hand rather than the pulsing beats emanating from Berlin's famous discotheques, Gibb has been known to parlay his wide-ranging musical taste into playing DJ from time to time. So what track does a mild-mannered Canadian throw down to get too-cool Berliners burning up the dancefloor?
"The first DAF [pioneering German electropunk band Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft] single that was on Mute called 'Kebab-Träume', which Germans don't even know -- I think it's just a really rare song. Anybody would love it. Basically, that's one of my top records ever," Gibb says. "He's the guy who produced Kraftwerk and the first Eurythmics album. He's the godfather of German music, basically. I would definitely always play that. They're an electro group, really weird songs. Their biggest song is called 'Der Mussolini', like, 'Dance the Mussolini,'" Gibb explains, grinning. "It's really hilarious -- and sounds sort of fascist."