Goodbye West Berlin

From Gobbers to flautists, preachers to DJs and authors, we profiled 11 folks hailing from Great Britain and hoping to still call Berlin home post-Brexit. One of them is Mark Reeder of B-Movie fame.

Image for Goodbye West Berlin

Photo by Robert Rieger

From Joy Division to Malaria! and techno, Mark Reeder still remembers the 1980s.

When Manchester native Mark Reeder first arrived in West Berlin in 1978, in the midst of scouring German record shops for new Krautrock finds, he had no idea that the city would become his home for the next 40 years. At the time Berlin was a backwater, a western outpost in the middle of East Germany, a place completely different to anywhere he had ever been before. “It was a fascinating place. I just stayed here.”

What unfolds from there many know from 2015’s cult film B-movie: Lust & Sound in West Berlin, a captivating homage to the 1980s West Berlin music scene as told through the eyes of Mark Reeder, who happened to be seemingly everywhere in musically happening West Berlin. It started with promoting old buddies from back home in Manchester, buddies like post-punk legends Joy Division. But it was his devotion to flicking through records in record shops that brought him into contact with the music scene – in particular, Gudrun Gut and Malaria!, whom he managed for a short period of time. From there he went on to become a musician (making, in his words, a disastrous debut with his band Die Unbekannten – later Shark Vegas – at SO36). And that, in turn, led him to start producing other bands. But he wasn’t just behind guitars and mixing boards, in 1983 he appeared in front of the camera for a West Berlin special on The Tube for the UK’s Channel 4 – interviewing among others a young, punky Christiane F.; it was this, paired with a turn as the doomed male protagonist in Jörg Buttgereit’s Nekromantik 2 that provided the bulk of footage for B-Movie.

Always in the thick of what’s happening, Reeder turned his attention to Berlin’s burgeoning techno scene. Wanting to put out his own techno records, he founded his imprint, MfS (Masterminded for Success) in 1990. The label, which became famous for helping to establish trance music as a genre, ran until 2008 and published work by artists like Cosmic Baby and Paul van Dyk.

Of all Reeder’s talents, one can’t deny he’s got a knack for being in the right place at the right time, and when asked what he would name as a highlight of his life here, he confirms that: “Just coming to Berlin. That’s my career highlight! If I’d stayed in Manchester, I’d probably be sitting in front of the TV with a crate of beer and watching football!” At 61 he’s still busy as ever with new Berlin projects, like restarting his MfS label to help release the music of a promising young Chinese band called STOLEN, and working on new music of his own.