Solaris goes Berlin

If there is a city with similar hype levels than London then it surely must be Berlin. One could even say that Berlin is actually taking over London as the most hyped city in Europe and maybe the world! If Bowie loved it then it can’t be all that bad right?

Now, my dear reader, please don’t expect a deep meditation about life in Berlin. I never lived in this great city myself and have been only visiting as a tourist. But I’d like to share some impressions from my last trip and some thoughts that go along with it…

Day 1

It’s not a secret how great Berlins music scene is. But on this trip I wasn’t keen on sampling the local DJ talent: One of my fave bands skipped Hamburg on their tour schedule so that I had to jump on the train to attend their gig at the Columbia Halle! Talking about trains: The connection between Hamburg and Berlin is ace and instead of gruelling 3-hour bus journey one can now be in Berlin within less than 90min. Awesome! 

 Not the set of Bladerunner
Not the set of Bladerunner

With nearly 3.5 Million inhabitants it’s easy for Berlin to feel futuristic and derelict at the same time. So from the spaceport interior of the Berlin Main Train station, I effortlessly stumbled into the shabby chic of Soho House Berlin. A friend invited me for a catch-up and some food and once I walked past the big copper doors I got instant flashbacks to the Shoreditch House in London. They do run a franchise here after all and it looks like each House has a similar vibe to it. Not that I am complaining tho!

Soho House Berlin and London have another thing in common: A pimp pool on the roof. PLAYA! So yeah… it’s advisable to make friends with memberships. They are just the nicer people anyway… right Sascha? 😉

 Tropical plant vs Grey Berlin sky
Tropical plant vs Grey Berlin sky

After applying some fragrant Cowshed hand moisturiser I waved the In-Crowd goodbye to meet my sister for the main event: The Berlin concert of my beloved band Justice!

There are very few musicians I really obsess over, but they all have one thing in common: Great style and a theatric demeanor! Being it Björk, Deee-Lite or Justice… the attitude levels are cranked up alongside the volume.

With their satin jackets, unkempt hair and vintage Genesis T-Shirts Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay just ooze 70ties porn style and could have been rebellious heartthrobs in 80ties movies like La Boum. As you can see… I am having a massive man crush on these dudes! Stylish French fuckers…

After we stood half an hour outside the wrong venue wondering why all these Goths wanted to attend a Justice concert we ended up in the right spot. What can I say, they fucking killed it! A perfect blend between rowdy Techno and Electro served with a massive slice of melodic French cheese. Fantastic. If you have never witnessed their stage show I can recommend their great Tour Documentary Across the Universe or the many live recordings of their shows on YouTube.

To round the amazing evening off the whole Ed Banger Squad was in town, playing at the Prince Charles Bar a thoroughly enjoyable eclectic set consisting of House, Electro and some heavy Rave classics. Especially seeing the legendary Cassius open a bottle of Vodka with their teeth whilst dropping 1999 was a joy to behold…

 Too many men too many many men
Too many men too many many men

So yeah… it’s a no brainer that Berlin really is a global party capital. And NO, I haven’t been rejected by Berghains bouncers yet. That will be an adventure for my next trip!

Day 2

Time to hit the stores! Although Hamburg has some great stores, Berlin of cause presents a wider variety for the indulging fashionista. As I purchased some pretty awesome and limited Levis x Justice patches at the concert I needed some vintage garms to put them on. So off I went on a tour of Berlins vintage shops…

After being blessed by the thrift gods in the first shop with a ferocious vintage college jacket for 45€ I still had some time left to check out further Berlin Hypebeast stores like Overkill, Firmament, WoodWood and more. So yes, Berlin is a fantastic place to upgrade you wardrobe and I would recommend the area around the tube stations Hackischer Markt, Weinmeister Strasse and Schlesisches Tor.

 Literally... shoe overkill
Literally… shoe overkill

And off I went towards Friedrichshain to check out HHV. The physical store of the virtual record store Hip Hop Vinyl has everything to kit out any aspiring Rapper: Shoes, garms, magazines and, of cause, vinyl. Loads of it!

On route, I met my good friend Peter. As to prove my point about Berlin snatching Londons crown, cool cat Peter swapped London for Berlin this autumn and has apparently never been happier!

Check out his great design work here:

So yeah, the bottom line is: Shopping is great in Berlin. And if you don’t believe me you are either boring, badly dressed or BOTH!

 Spoiler warning: ME!
Spoiler warning: ME!

Day 3

After having had my music, party and shopping cravings satisfied it was time to tick off the last box of any respectable Solaris100 City Break: Street Art.

Basically the whole East of Berlin has been covered in tags, throw-ups, pieces, stickers, paste-ups and any other form of color based artistic expression so it’s great fun to just have a walk and go on an art hunt like an art c**t. Of cause, the odd Solaris sticker might have been applied at various places around town as well.

The big Street Art related thing in Berlin is the recently opened Urban Nation Gallery at Nollendorfplatz bang in the centre of town.

Actually, I shall dedicate a fresh new blog post about this magical place in the future. Just be assured it’s worth the journey. From Ben Eine to Faile, Ben Frost and Banksy… the show is incredibly well curated and has the who is who of the current urban art scene hanging on the walls.

And no, there is no gift shop YET! 😉

Seeing all this amazing art really inspired and motivated me to go back to my studio and start painting again! But first I had to catch up with a good friend and fellow artist for a tasty Currywurst and a chat: Rainer Bornowski has been an inspiration to me since I started to dabble in Vector illustration and we both share a love for bold colours and applying our designs to physical products like record covers, T-Shirts and Postcards.

Check out the world of Bonito here:

What I really love about Berlin is the derelict vibe of it all. There is really no other city in Germany comparable with this sense of freedom you have in the German capital. I really hope that London will realize that aggressive gentrification will extinguish any creative spirit that made the city so amazing in the first place.

A city without any space to roam and get lost will loose it’s artists, so let’s hope Berlin stays fun, funky and the right amount of dirty!

So bye-bye Berlin, you have been great! Oh, and by the way, I prefer the Currywurst at Curry 36 over the offering at Konnopke’s Imbiss. Go for the spicy one!

Solaris over and out!

The Solaris guide to London

I have been living in London for 15 years and I still love the big smoke dearly. So when friends ask me about what to do when traveling to the capital of Britain I am happy to give advice. So in order to not repeat myself all the time I thought I’d write up this little tourist guide for y’all…

A disclaimer: This is by no means an extensive list. Covering everything this amazing town has to offer would be impossible! So this travel guide is aimed at people being obsessed with the same stuff that I am: Shopping, Urban Art and Record Shops!

To start off I’d like to give the basic advice of allowing enough time. I’d say visit, at least for three days, not including travel. When I go on a city break, I try to fly in late on a Thursday to wake up fresh the next day and fly home on the Monday so I don’t have to rush on the weekend. Just saying’…

Regarding accommodation, I would go for an AirBnB in the East London area: Shoreditch / Hackney. That’s where all the fun is and you are not stuck somewhere in Zone 4 with no way to get home conveniently.

Airport wise, I prefer Gatwick and Luton as it’s relatively well connected. Stanstead and Heathrow are further away and a bit of a pain in the butt.

Regarding travel within London: I’d get an Oyster card as soon as possible to get the best travel deals and the convenience of touching in and out. This card can be acquired at any tube station and returned for a refund when you leave town again.

The two apps to download: UBER and Citymapper! Now you are ready to go…

Day 1 – Friday: Shopping Mania!

Fresh out of bed I’d start with a breakfast on the go at Pret-A-Manger. Yes it’s a chain but we don’t have a lot of time and the food is great. Soho and Carnaby Street are full of stores with international acclaim so I’d wander from Holborn via Neil Street into Soho and further on to Carnaby Street. As I am into my Streetwear my points of call would be Supreme, Maharishi, Patta, Palace, Oi Polloi and Foot Patrol. More common spots to hit would be Adidas Originals, Nike, Size? and Carhartt. For a more eclectic taste I’d recommend Lazy Oaf and Dover Street Market. Especially Maharishi is worth a visit as the shop has a fantastic interior design!

A word of warning regarding visiting Supreme: The Hype is strong! Schedule in around 2 hours of waiting time to enter the store, especially on a Friday when they just got new stock in.

For lunch, I would try to grab a filthy meal deal at Boots or another super market along the way. You really can’t fill your belly cheaper and we need all our money for booze and trainers later on!

If that doesn’t tickle your fancy you can grab some food at the Japan Centre on Piccadilly Square: They got very affordable Sushi and Bento boxes. 

Now that we are fed and freshly dressed we can continue to start record digging: Sounds of the Universe, Reckless Records, Sister Ray and Phonica are all in the area and cater for the vinyl obsessed.

The pubs will start filling up from 4 PM onwards so it’s a great time to wrap up your shopping spree ( no pun intended ) and start getting some beers in whilst soaking up the hustle and bustle of the city. Expect to see loads of Bankers getting absolutely shitfaced! Great people watching spots are The John Snow or The Coach & Horses.

British etiquette: No half Pints and Shandies allowed! A proper visit to the pub consists of four pints average BY LAW! Bar snacks can be consumed, I would recommend Pork Scratchings. More certified British snacks would be Wotsits, Monster Munch and Scampi Fries. Bar snacks / crisps are regarded actual food in Britain so don’t feel bad if your dinner accidentally consists of 5 pints of beer and a bag of dry roasted nuts. We all been there!

The John Snow pub actually belongs to a group of pubs run by the Samuel Smith brewery: This means it doesn’t serve big mainstream beers like Heineken or Stella but brands brewed by Samuel Smith. The good thing about it: The price for booze is very affordable and well below other pubs! So seek them out, there are a couple located in Soho!

For dinner, I’d hit Bodeans to get some filthy ribs or pulled pork. Other places to check out would be Wahaca for some Mexican Street Food and great Tequilas or any of the other chain restaurants that litter the area: Busaba Eatthai, Byron Burgers, Chipotle wraps. What can I say… I am a man of simple pleasures!

If you wanna go posh I’d recommend Yauchatcha: A trendy Dim Sum place with great food and interior…

For some late night entertainment I would just spend the night in the pub and get drunk: It’s a British classic! If you feel more cultural you might want to catch a musical or check out the Prince Charles Cinema: Their prices are really cheap and they show a lot of weird cult flicks and sing-a-longs! My favorite cinema in London… 


If you want to drink late and don’t fancy a horrible overpriced and naff Soho bar I’d go to the Crow Bar which is open until 3 AM. But be careful: The patrons do enjoy their Heavy Metal!

If you feel peckish after I’d definitely go to Bar Italia for a late night snack and coffee: This place is just legendary and a must see!

Day 2: Tourist stuff and museums

On Saturday I’d start early with a walk through Bricklane. There is loads of great Street Art to check out: Either in the Normadic Gardens, on the walls around Bricklane or at Stolen Space Gallery at the Whitechapel end of the street. In any case, check out the motorcycle shop run by London Artist D*Face called Rebel Alliance and grab some nice patches or a cool T Shirt! If your art taste is more contemporary: There is Whitechapel Gallery just down the road also.

FYI: I put a lot of stickers up in that area so keep your eyes peeled and tag me on Instagram! 😉

If you get hungry grab a beigel from the legendary Beigel Bake at the top of Bricklane. Open 24/7 on 365 days in the year! I even spotted Apex Twin there one day so you are in good company. Go for the salty Beef Beigel with mustard! A Bricklane essential…

Then onwards to London Bridge. Take the 149 Bus from Liverpool Street Station and ride all the way down to the river. Have a walk via Borough Market, past the Golden Hinde towards Tate Modern. Especially the new extension is worth a visit as you can be a bit of a peeping Tom!

From there you can continue walking up alongside the river towards the Southbank Centre, the London Eye and finally Big Ben! If you still can walk I’d cross the river and go central again via Trafalgar Square and maybe holla at Buckingham Palace if you must. That should all your tourist snaps be done then!

I’d then jump on the tube and head back East to grab some Vietnamese food in Shoreditch. But a word of warning: Don’t get caught up in some naff tourist bar after for drinks! If they have an excessive amount of neon in their windows… MOVE ON!

My recommendations for after food liquid entertainment would be Dragon Bar, Jaguar Shoes, Old Shoreditch Station and the Bricklayers Arms to name check the few cool places in the heavily gentrified area. A hidden gem is the Bar Bohemia with its entrance innocently hidden between a news agent and a Kebab shop. But don’t be fooled! Bar Bohemia is a fantastic place for cocktails in a 60ties retro setting. Highly recommended! They got loads of Absinth too… be careful!

As the night progresses I’d head up further East: Dalston is full of pubs and venues to dance the night away and get some drinks in. My recommendations: The Shakewell Arms and Dalston Superstore ( yes it’s a LGBTQ bar but Hetero friendly and a lot of fun! ) and The Alibi.

If you are a fan of the Resident Evil franchise I would definitely check out the Ridley Road Market Bar. It’s a trendy Berlin-esque bar in the middle of the notorious Ridley Road Market in Dalston where during the day many local butchers sell their wares… just so you can enjoy the sweet smell of rotting flesh whist queueing up for your Mojito at night! It’s definitely an authentic East London experience…

For a late night snack I’d recommend the awesome Lamb Shish at Umut 2000: All meaty awesomeness wrapped in home baked bread and cooked over a big fire!

If you see some elderly men walking up the street: That could be British art duo Gilbert & George who frequent the same Turkish restaurant every day for art reasons. Mangal 2 doesn’t only serve great Turkish food but has the most hilarious Twitter feed ever. Check it!  

Sunday Day 3: Chill and Sunday Roast

Sunday is fun day! As all museums and shops will be open it’s possible to wrap up any loose ends from Friday or Saturday. Just make sure you are in a good pub to eat a proper British roast around 5PM!

A great spot to hang out when the weather is good is the Columbia Flower Market. It’s very close to Bricklane so if you still want to check out Stolen Space or the markets you can easily wander over. My pub of choice in the area would be The Royal Oak for a cheeky afternoon pint and a roast!

For record lovers, the East has some great shops to discover as well: From the more obvious Rough Trade and Sister Ray to Love Vinyl, Kristina RecordsEldica and Lucky 7. And whilst you are in the area, why not say hi to NTS Radio which has its recording studio near the Dalston Overland Station.

  via NTS
via NTS

When the night falls head over to The Haggerston, a pub between Haggerston Station and Dalston. They have live Jazz on Sundays and the place is rammed with Hipsters… and I mean this in the best way possible! It’s open late so expect to get drunk and have a dance! Do it! If you are single this is a great spot to check out too #meatmarket

Now if you have been clever and listened to my advice you can sleep in a little before packing your things and heading home on Monday. I hope this guide helped you a little. Hit me up on Twitter if you have any questions, always happy to help! For further research, I would recommend TimeOut and TripAdvisor.

Essential British vocabulary:

Cheers! Thank you!

Are you taking the piss? Are you bullshitting me?

Let’s go for a cheeky half! Let’s get really drunk!

You foookin’ cunt!!! You god damn vagina!Worst insult in the British language )

Twat! Idiot!

Getting smashed / shitfaced / hammered = Getting drunk

Hair of the dog = To continue drinking when hangover

In that note… hope you enjoyed my little introduction  to the awesomeness that is London. And remember: Don’t take the piss… you cheeky twats!

Group hug, Solaris

Solaris on tour: London calling Part 2

Bright lights, big city. So if you are not really culturally inclined then London has a lot of damn good shopping options as well!

Although classic streetwear locations like The Hideout, BAPE London and the Stüssy London Chapter closed down yonks ago, the town is littered with other great options to get rid of your hard earned cash for some hip garms!

One of my favourite stores in London is the DPMHI store in Great Pulteney Street. Not only is Maharishi one of the OG’s in the Street Wear game, but the store looks absolutely fantastic: Camo tiled floors, Japanese armour and a selection of the finest Urban Vinyl really makes this location special!

I love the connection between art, fashion and music and Maharishi is championing this mix with their embroiled art pieces by Futura and Neckface up the walls, it’s great jackets and pants and collaborations with musicians like Travis Scott.

You don’t need to walk long to hit up the next spot: Just around the corner from Maharishi is the latest brand to kick up a stir in the Hypebeast scene… Palace Skateboards.

Ripping a massive page out of Supremes playbook, Palace is like the rowdy British cousin of the US streetwear giant who,  instead of listening to Capone-N-Noreaga, raved through the early 90s to 2Step and UK Garage.

The shop turns up the swagger with it’s Versace style floor tiling and a Rolls Royce grill mounted to the wall. And if you still don’t believe the place is fresh, cool and dope you better believe my homie Jonah Hill!

The rest of the shop is following Supremes approach of less is more with a clean shop space with a TV screen mounted on it’s white walls showing skate vids. Don’t forget to grab some overpriced silly merch on the way out: I recommend the  £1 Palace matches…

Talking about Supreme… let’s just say we have history together! 

Of cause I had to drop by the Supreme store also. When the London store opened 2011 I expected for the hype to die down a little, but what do I know: It went straight through the roof!

Queues every Thursday morning ( aka Drop Day ) were a regular sight on my way to work. No shopping luck for me this time tho, but at least I got a good birthday present for a close mate!

To cover all awesome shops in the centre of town is futile, so let’s just say I had a good ol’ snoop around my favourite haunts for sneakers, records and magazines like Reckless Records, Foot Patrol, Size?, Oi Polloi and others!

When I was heading back east I had to have a quick check around Bricklane as well. Rough Trade East is great for record collectors and stores like Son of a Stag are perfect for finding some great denim and menswear.

Rare Japanese denim threads for the urban cowboy… 

The shopping gods finally revealed some treasure for me when I checked out the Good Hood Store further up in Shoreditch. As late January is traditionally Sale season I was able to pick up some wicked WTAPS Vans for such a nice  price that I was able to afford an additional Eric Elms Kilroy coffee mug as well. Result!

What can I say: London always delivers! There is so much cool stuff to do, buy and see that things can be overwhelming. I might do a little shopping guide for London soon, but in the meantime you can read Part 1 of my London travelogue here or buy yourself a ticket to fly to this great city. It will be well worth it!

Solaris on tour: London calling! Part 1

It’s always great to visit London. I just love this city! But let’s be honest here: It’s not a place where you can catch a breath and chillax. The hustle and bustle of this multicultural metropolis sucks you right in and it’s great fun to over-indulge in it’s cultural offerings of which there are many!

So join me on my trip whizzing through the shows London had in store for me on my recent trip to the big smoke…

Gavin Turk at the Newport Street Gallery

However one feels about Damian Hirst, he really puts his wealth to good use by creating a stunning museum to showcase pieces from his personal collection. I love the fact that the entrance is free and that the gift shop is not part of the viewing experience.

The current exhibition centres around Gavin Turk, another YBA and Hirst contemporary. Graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1996, he rose to instant fame when the RCA refused Turk his postgraduate degree based on his graduate show piece called Titled Cave. 

It consisted of a whitewashed studio space with a blue heritage plaque on the wall commemorating his own presence as an artist, stating “Gavin Turk worked here, 1989-1991”. 

Ballsy move I say! But then again it’s always better to rock the boat and stand out than just fall in line.

Still, the show left me feeling ambivalent. His pieces might play with questions like value and originality but seeing bin bags cast in bronze felt like a tired metaphor I have seen over and over again, starting all the way back with Duchamps urinal from 1917.

Whilst I loved his legendary MA piece the waxworks and sculptures of himself fell a little flat for me also as I feel Cindy Sherman already explored this play on celebrity and identity, and with more success.

I might do his work injustice, but I felt Turks pieces came across like a lovechild of David Shrigleys crude surreal humour, Banksys social commentary and Koons self loving egomania. Not a bad mix but lacking in impact for me.

Still, the execution of the work was great and fitted the space well. More about the exhibition and the artist Turk here…

The next thing I was curious to check out was the museum restaurant Pharmacy 2. When I visited the Koons show last year the space was already closed so today was my chance to see it in all it’s pill popping glory!

What can I say, an exercise in subtleness it’s not: Stuffed to the brim with Hirst-isms like his famous butterflies and pill cabinets, it’s visually stunning for people who don’t mind to indulge. After being shown to a table by a very friendly waitress, the reasonable prices of the menu allowed for having a seat and a quick cocktail to take it all in. Definitely recommended!

Onwards to the…

Banksy Print Gallery

Although Banksy stopped working with Steve Lazarides in 2009, the gallery still owns a massive stash of Banksy prints and artwork. As I already checked out the Lazarides curated exhibition at the MOCO gallery in Amsterdam last year I couldn’t pass on the chance to have a look at this permanent exhibition next to the Mondrian Hotel on the Southbank.

No surprises here, just walls full of Banksy’s Greates Hits! Again, this exhibition was free also and it’s always great to see a Banksy in the flesh. The prints really show why Banksy is so popular: Clever visual puns and a crisp execution.

Next stop…

Tate Modern Switch House

When gallery crawling on the Southbank, the Tate Modern is a must! Especially as I haven’t had the time to see the spectacular extension yet! Dubbed the Switch House, this twisted pyramid structure stands 64.5m tall and has an amazing 360 degree viewing platform on it’s top level.

Nobody does massive as impressive as the Tate Modern, and this new building fit’s right in next to the legendary Turbine Hall!

Whilst taking in the great views I wondered how happy the owners of the luxury loft buildings next to the Switch House must have been having thousands of tourists peeking into their flats every day. 

The sign urging visitors to respect their neighbours privacy feels too little too late as the glass walled living rooms across the platform feel like natural extensions of the viewing experience. Let’s just say I am happy the Tate is not planning any viewing platforms next to my flat anytime soon!

No Southbank visit is complete without checking out the Southbank Skatepark! After a long legal battle about it’s relocation in 2016 the park is here to stay  and breaks up the row of chain store restaurants that clutter the area rather nicely!

As the sun set it was time to slowly walk over the Millennium Bridge to head towards Soho for the private view of the UNKLE retrospective at the main Lazarides Gallery. I will give this exhibition it’s own in depth review at a later date so let’s just say it was a lot of fun and very, very geeky!

My exhibition crawl ended the next day with a very special show curated by my good friends from Gammaproforma. Run by it’s curator Rob Swain, Gammaproforma is bridging the gap between art, music and print. 

Launching their new gallery Gamma/Sector 25 in SE25 with a bang, their first show “Humilitism” examines Social Media and it’s fallout featuring new artwork by SheONE, Will Barras, Swifty and many more. Of cause I had to check it out!

Loved all the pieces on display and it was great to catch up with old friends. As a very special treat I finally got my hands on the Gamma published book by legendary London Designer and Artists Swifty! “Funky Typo-Grafix” is full of his art and design work he did for record labels like Talking Loud, MoWax and more. Check it out here, essential reading!

So there you have it! The first part of my London travelogue… stay tuned for part 2!

Let me sign off with a massive THUMBS UP to all of you via the fourth plinth on Trafalgar Square and the genius of David Shrigley… #goodvibes!

Solaris on tour: Amsterdam calling! Part 2

Another day, another Amsterdam adventure! 

After checking out the local art scene it was time to investigate the local record shop infrastructure. Thanks to some hot tips from the staff at Mary Go Wild I realized that weed wasn’t the only dope shit that can be purchased in the Dutch capital! There are many many record shops all over the place and during the short period of time available to me I was at least able to hit two: Concerto and Record Friend.

How can you not check out a store that claims to be your record buddy? And sure as hell this shop had some great treasures for me to unearth!

It’s no secret I am a big fan of bargain digging so the 5€ section was where I focussed my attention on. As the store had a massive second hand section I focussed on the Funk/Soul/Disco side of things to stay sane and keep it moving.

The artworks alone had me drooling: I just love a good cheesy cover. Especially the vintage disco 12″ sleeves were absolute killer and I had to make a couple of purchases…

One big find for me was the soundtrack of “The Last Dragon”… a Motown produced Kung Fu Fantasy movie from 1985 that tried to jump on the Bruce Lee bandwagon by telling the story of Bruce Leroy (!) who protects a damsel in distress against the evil shogun of Harlem: Sho’Nuff!

Being endowed with this powerful Kung Fu artefact I tried to challenge the local Shaolin monks to a duel but they all refused the challenge politely. I would have totally kicked their butts and they knew it! WHO IS THE MASTER?!

Next up was Concerto which I ran into by chance. Totally expecting that it was for classic music only I was surprised by the massive vinyl shop that spanned across three big rooms and a nice cafe next to it. If this is how Amsterdam rolls vinyl wise it’s a diggers paradise!

A sweet selection of record players and vinyl related accessories… LIKE!

As a proud 45/7 Vinyl Club artist of cause I had to rush straight to the 7″ section. More great covers but as time was ticking I had no chance to really get digging which was a shame! But there is always next time… 

Great items all over the place! I definitely have to return to this record oasis.

After this vinyl excursion I had to refuel my batteries with some traditional Dutch treats: Cheese, Beer and raw pork mince aka Mett! I am very font of this manly dish but normally would consume it for breakfast on a bread roll when back in Germany, not as an afternoon snack straight from a cheeseboard! Ah well, tasty nevertheless… 

After refuelling I had to hit three more stores I spotted on the way to the pub: Henk Comics, CIA Comics Import Amsterdam and Outland Designer Toys

I love comic books and comic book movies ( Bats in my favorite naturally ) but I rarely pick up new issues these days. There is just so much out there and space in my small flat is of an issue! I still love going to comic stores though to suck in all the geekiness and fanboyism of the comic world!

Henk Comics welcomed me with a Star Wars themed floormat and kinda set the theme for my visit. Loved the sexy Stormtrooper cosplay… and the SpiderGwen cover art wasn’t too shabby either!

More comics and more collectibles at CIA! When it comes to digging it seems the comic world has much in common with the vinyl world: It’s all about going on the hunt and getting surprised…

There was so much great artwork on display it was hard to concentrate. Really need to draw more! Oh and much props to the person who dares to purchase that JarJar backpack. #walkofshame 

Now sufficiently warmed up I was ready to hit the main event: Amsterdams No.1 Designer Toy store Outland! The 4ft KAWS companion in the shopping window already hinted at the fact that this might be my kinda shopping experience…

Stuffed to the brim with Dunnies, Munnies, Coarse, Funko, Bearbrick, Lego and other great toys I really had to keep my wallet in check! Having had a couple of pints of beer before wasn’t really helping the situation either. 

After a nice chat with the owner Jerome I had to get something so I went surprisingly for a toy that was based off a character from Disney’s Big Hero 6: I always loved the oldskool Kaiju design of Fred’s super suit! The big bulky eyes, octopus mouth and weird spikes really reminded me of the Masters of the Universe figure Mantenna as well which I have fond and scared memories of!

As my flight left later the same day I had to rush home and pack my purchases into my already full trolley. God bless, it all managed to get on it’s flight safely back home to London!

What can I say, I really enjoyed Amsterdam! Shoutout to Petros and Andres for inviting me over 🙂 ! The city has loads to offer to the geeky traveller and vinyl record obsessive and it’s relaxed vibe, beautiful canals and architecture are worth a visit too. I definitely will be back, next time with a bigger, emptier record bag!

Solaris on tour: Amsterdam calling! Part 1

Its always fun to go on a city break, especially when the weather has been this horrible in London like this year! So when I got asked to DJ at a wedding in Amsterdam I jumped at the opportunity to escape the grey and rainy same old same old. So I grabbed a suit, an USB stick full of beats and off I went!

I associate Amsterdam mostly with two things: Very strong weed and the horror flick “Amsterdamned”. While the first might kill your ambition to do anything apart from eating waffles with Nutella, the second one literally might kill you if you stand too close at a canal during the 80ties!

As the days of herbal self medication are well behind me I had plenty of time to find new ways to entertain me in the Dutch capital. So I grabbed my camera and hit the road. 

There are three things I look out for when I am in a new city: Geeky stores, record shops and the local streetwear retailer of choice! The last one on that list was the most obvious: Patta rules Amsterdam when it comes to sneakers and clothes so my first point of call was to check out what’s happening at the Dutch version of Supreme or Palace.

The store was close to Centraal Station and featured a very minimal white interior and rows and rows of kicks! As the T-Shirts didn’t flatter my shapely body and 5 panel caps are a young man’s game I ended up purchasing only with a Patta coffee mug like the Streetwear tourist that I am!

Put the kettle on… now all I need is Supreme teabags!

While there are a lot of chic stores in Amsterdam I didn’t really run past anything that caught my attention fashion retail wise. Honorable example: The Comme Des Garçons Black store next to Patta… creepy big babies anyone?

Another thing I expected to see more was surprisingly Street Art! I guess it must have something to do with the narrow streets and squeezed buildings which don’t really provide a lot of paintable surface! Then again, I haven’t really done any research and just ran up and down through the city centre so maybe the outskirts of Amsterdam are full or crazy murals, who knows…

Stickers, on the other hand, were EVERYWHERE. Just good that I packed a big duffle bag of Solaris ones so I could go All City!

Whilst on the topic of Street Art: Somehow it was Banksy season in the Dutch capital: Pink posters advertising the Banksy show at the Moco Museum were everywhere so it would have been rude not to go!

As much as I liked Dismaland, I really prefer my Banksy on the streets and not in a museum. It’s still mind boggling to me what crazy prices Banksy pieces command and how much he became the blueprint of what Joe Public perceives as Street Art: Some funny riff on a celeb stencilled with some paint drips around it and an ‘edgy’ slogan below. I don’t blame Banksy for this development, but the level of celebrity he achieved makes visiting exhibitions like this slightly surreal… and may I say… naff.

Curated by Steve Lazarides, the show had a lot of pieces on display that Banksy is known for. It just feels weird seeing a piece of Graffiti displayed in a gallery environment that you still remember seeing on a grubby wall in East London. There was an attempt to juxtapose the Banksy artwork with Warhol pieces which fell a bit flat as the Warhol artwork was put into the basement gallery, next to the toilets and the gift shop… poor Andy!

Seeing the Warhol show being put into the lower floor gallery shows how much Banksy draws the crowds these days. As much as I am happy for his success I do wonder how he feels about having tourists buying bootleg merchandise at shows that display work that could have gotten him arrested just a few years back. I guess he might actually really appreciate the irony of it all! 

Oh and did I take a picture at that Banksy tourist wall? OF CAUSE I DID, because I am just a sheep like everybody else! XD

Well, after I exited the Moco Museum I head back into the town centre, running into quite a couple of galleries and stores which were, literally, up my street.  Turns out I ended up in the part of Amsterdam known for it’s antique stores, art galleries and boutiques: Nieuwe spiegelstraat.

First up was the cool stuff store ‘Famous‘: Toys, Books, Screenprints oh yes please! On the shelves the usual suspects: Warhol, Murakami, Medicom… basically how my flat would look like if I had serious money… or would be Jayawesum!

Onwards I ran into more great galleries. The big discovery for me was the show of Ayako Rokkaku at Gallery Delaive at Spiegelgracht 23: Her psychedelic comic art is just great, especially as she painted everything WITH HER FINGERS! Whut?! Cray cray!

I was especially in awe of her layered 3D perspex paintings that were so polished that you couldn’t really make out the seams of the glued together slabs of plastic. Amazing…

Further up the road, even more Banksy at the Lionel Gallery! This show had mostly prints and some pieces by other contemporary artists like KAWS, Hirst and of cause, Warhol. Here my big discovery was Spanish painter Yago Hortal: Loved his bold colours and abstract shapes… check him out!

I had a lot of fun just walking around and looking at what’s happening around me. And although there wasn’t a lot of Street Art out there, I at least spotted an Invader and a really psychedelic bike… I wonder how long it’s owner sampled the local mushroom offerings to come up with such a bold design! 

Let me sign off for now with this famous monkey: Who would have thought one day it would be in charge of the art world! Still, there is lots of other great things to see and do in Amsterdam, so keep your eyes peeled for Part 2 of my Dutch travelogue where I hit the local toy and record shops!