Steppenkind: Finding Love in Berlin’s Club Scene

Ketamine love stories with a classic Krautrock sound, we spoke with lo-fi electro trio Steppenkind about their distinctive sound.

At what point does Neue Welle stop becoming Neue?

An example of one Berlin-band embracing the classic Krautrock sounds, reimagining it with modern, psych-aesthetics, are the lo-fi, folk, electro trio Steppenkind. Powerful and poetic, rife with modular sounds, emboldened by singer Brendan Cleary’s deep vocals, Steppenkind dance around between enigmatic electro, and dark singer-songwriter territory. 

We caught up with the band to see where their sounds and influences come form. 

First of all, who are Steppenkind?

We are a three-piece band formed by Brendan Cleary, Can Winter and Hotte Schulz in Neukölln in 2017. We merge a variety of genres to create what can turn from soft and psychedelic, into full on techno-infused escalations. We have released two albums ‘Walk Along Your River’ self-released in 2018, and ‘Undefined Lovers’ released on Maakuda Records in 2022.

Why should people listen to your music?

We combine spoken word with synthesizers and drums to create stories and soundscapes relevant to the culture and noise of Berlin. We bring high energy to our performances, and provide some intermediary space between a conventional live gig and a trip to a club.

What’s your latest album ‘Undefined Lovers’ all about?

We create stories and soundscapes relevant to the culture and noise of Berlin

Undefined Lovers is a Berlin love story – boy meets girl, (in this case Ketamine Boy and Ketamine Girl), and they go on a hedonistic drug infused orgy through Berlin’s nightlife. There are tales from Berghain, youthful arrogance, the glorification of free love, the massive comedown, and the lingering regret that some part of us was lost along the way.

The title of the album comes from a single we released in 2021 ‘Disposition’ – And now I see the fear that comes from every decision, endless love devoured by temptation, greed is flowing through our veins and we say we’re honest, but just how honest can undefined lovers be.

Why are there so many songs about ‘Ketamine Girls’ on the record?

Boy meets girl, (in this case Ketamine Boy and Ketamine Girl), and they go on a hedonistic drug infused orgy through Berlin’s nightlife

There is actually only one Ketamine Girl, a person I met years ago in Berlin, who jokingly gave herself the name Ketamine Girl. We spent some time together and I told her I’d write a song about it – it ended up inspiring a story for the whole album. Ketamine Girl II is a hidden bonus track, which you get if you buy the album digitally or on vinyl.

How do you feel the band and sound has evolved since the first album, ‘Walk along your River’?

Our first album was recorded before we played our first concert, and is a story about an individual’s journey through dark times and making it out the other side. As a result, it is quite an introverted and introspective album. When we started playing live shows, we began to feed off the energy of the crowd, and bringing a higher tempo and charisma to our performances. We then began writing Undefined Lovers, a story inspired by the Berlin club scene, so we incorporated the sounds of the clubs into our set.

What’s been your biggest, best show in Berlin?

I think some of our favourite memories from Berlin shows are Solarium Festival in 2019, where we played alongside RAS, Balagan, russian.girls and Rudolf Abramov. Also we love playing on Ziegrastrasse – Ziegrakinder Fest in 2021, and our album release there last summer – the energy that people brought to those nights was incredible. And live sets at clubs, we played at Kater Blau and Menschmeier and hope for more of that this year.

What can people expect from your upcoming performance at Riviera Fest?

We will bring high energy to Riviera Fest, and hopefully get people dancing. We’ll be playing songs from ‘Undefined Lovers’ and breaking into some new sounds.

What else have you got planned?

We have some Berlin shows in the pipeline for Spring, festivals in Summer, as well as planning a central Europe tour in Autumn. We’re writing new material at the moment, and always looking at ways to develop and improve our sets. 

  • Steppenkind play Rivera Fest at Urban Spree, Feb 25th.