Swapping the glamour of LA for the shabbier charm of Berlin, Oliver Bristow and Jeff Steiger relocated themselves, their business and two dogs Aujus and Winston.

Oliver runs record labels Absurd / Acid Test, and Avenue 66, and has released music from Tin Man, Donato Dozzy, John Frusciante, Joey Anderson and more.

No photo description available.

After moving to Berlin, Jeff landed a German speaking job in the fashion industry after just 6 months of lessons.  With a bit of hard work it can be done! So proud.

We catch up with them a year after their move to see how they are settling in.

You guys had stable jobs in the USA, a house, and various music projects rooted in the local scene. Why move to Berlin?

Oliver: I had been working at Amoeba (the world’s largest independent record store) for almost 20 years, and while I loved my job and the people I worked with, it became very comfortable.  

We were both searching for something new. Between the political climate in the US and the ridiculous amount of time we spent in traffic in LA everyday, we decided to sell our house and make the move.  Sometimes it’s good to make yourself vulnerable and this move has certainly done that.

We just wanted a change, and we’ve always loved Berlin.

How did you find the relocation process? What was the toughest part for you? Finding a flat, getting a visa, finding work?

Thankfully due to Expats In Wonderland we had our flat within 2 weeks of landing in Berlin and visa sorted within a month.  We took 6 months off to take an intensive Deutsch course, before looking for work. I suppose that was the hardest part. I found work quickly after finishing up the course and Oliver is now working in Music Copyright aside from his label work.

Which neighbourhood have you chosen to live in and why? Did you consider other areas?

We were open to a few different areas, but landed in Kreuzberg.  We love it here, the Kiez is much more mellow than in years past and we’re central to everything.

Why did you choose your particular apartment?  What features/factors were most important to you when choosing a place to live?

We chose our place because we fell in love with the exposed brick, the proximity to the parks and the canal, and how close we are to friends, our gym and more.

Oliver & Jeff’s living room with furniture from LA.

What approach have you taken to making your living space your own?

When we first arrived we got some basics for our flat, but not much.

Their ever expanding record collection.

We shipped our furniture along with 2000+ records in a shipping container over from LA, so it was around 6 weeks before everything arrived.

Their shipping container from LA arrives in Berlin!

How did you find the process of relocating your labels over here?

(O) My record labels were already manufactured and distributed here in Germany through Wordandsound in Hamburg, so we already had a network here.  We’d been coming here for many years and doing label nights at places like Berghain/Panorama Bar. Most of the artists on the label are based either in Berlin or Europe, so from that perspective it’s been a real advantage to be closer to everyone.

Do you ever get homesick for your home country?  What things do you miss the most? Are there things you do or places you go when you need a taste of your roots?

I wouldn’t say homesick so much as missing family and friends. That’s the hardest part. That and tacos.  Definitely miss tacos.

What do you think Berlin has to offer that is different to your previous home town?  What are the best things about living in Berlin?

Berlin has such a strong artist community and such freedom.  There’s just something magical about it. I love that fact that I don’t have to own a car anymore and that I can get anywhere I need to via bike within 10 – 20 mins. Summers at the lakes are amazing and our dogs absolutely love all the parks.

How have you integrated into the city? Have you learnt German? Did you make local friends or mostly expats?

We’ve made a lot of new friends.  Some though the music community and others through our German courses. 

Do you have any specific plans for what you would like to accomplish while living here, or just enjoy the lifestyle and spoils of the city?

We’ve just finalized our GmbH for a future project, can’t really say much about that yet, but other than that just soaking up the culture and enjoying everyday life in a new city.

What are you favourite places in and around Berlin to…

…eat

We mostly cook at home, but there’s an Israeli spot ‘Cafe Mugrabi‘ here in Kreuzberg that’s fantastic.  Lon Men’s Noodle House in Charlottenburg (best Tawainese)  And Ammazza Pizza in Kreuzberg is a go to spot for us as well.

…drink

Amazing coffee at Bonanza in Kreuzberg / we love to take out of town friends to Tier Bar for cocktails

…shop

Always fun to check out the flea markets.  Hard Wax, OYE, and Sound Metaphors are close to our place so those we frequent regularly.

View this post on Instagram

Hard Wax is a record shop located in the Kreuzberg borough of Berlin, Germany. It was founded in December 1989 by Mark Ernestus at the ground floor of a Reichenberger Straße’s building. It is specialized in techno music, reggae, dub and dubstep. Hard Wax also serves as a distributor for several Berlin-based record labels linked to the Basic Channel aesthetic. Some members (or former members) of its staff are prominent DJs like DJ Hell, Gernot Bronsert of Modeselektor, Marcel Dettmann, DJ Rok, Gabriele „Mo“ Loschelder or Electric Indigo (Susanne Kirchmayr) who was in charge of sales from 1993 to 1996. The shop sets place a mail order system through its website (which represented 50% of the sales in 2009). In 1996 Hard Wax moved to the third floor of an old factory in Paul-Lincke-Ufer 44a sharing its premises with the Basic Channel record label and the Dubplates and Mastering studio. It’s one of the oldest record stores in electronic music in Berlin. Playing the role of an important hub for the techno community in the world, the shop helped extensively the development of this burgeoning scene in the 90s. Furthermore, as with Tresor club in Berlin, it shares a privileged relationship with the musicians of Detroit techno in the so-called "Berlin-Detroit axis". #techno #electro#technomusic #hardwax #berlin #berlintechno#berghain #germany #music #house #party #detroit#detroittechno #acidmusic #vinyl #afterparty#records #electronic #timewarp #tresor #disco #technoparty #ibiza #acid #dj #djing

A post shared by Hard Wax (@hardwax) on

…explore

Biking in Grunewald, and discovering all the parks and lakes!

What advice would you give to other expats thinking to move to the city?

Biggest advice would be to take some German lessons, not only will you learn the language, but loads of history & culture and meet new people from around the world.