Natalie Gravenor | Thursday March 20th, 2014
Not only has Berlin been a magnet for arty and non-conformist folk from all over the world, the city was also often almost a main character in the artistic works these famous expats created during or in response to their Berlin experience. British author Christopher Isherwood wrote Goodbye to Berlin (1939) in remembrance of days and nights spent in Weimar-era Schöneberg gay clubs and Kreuzberg tenements. David Bowie and Nick Cave captured the Cold War angst and nihilism of the divided city’s Western half and made it glamourous and (heroin) chic on Bowie’s groundbreaking album trilogy Low (1977), ‘Heroes’ (1977) and Lodger (1979) and Cave songs such as “The Carny”, “Tupelo” and “From Her to Eternity”. In the 21st century, it seems that every week some world famous musician or actor (welcome and farewell, Brangelina!) decides to move to Berlin. Many, interestingly enough, from Canada.
Long before Mitte was even a gleam in Peaches’ eye, her Canadian compatriot Yvonne Ducksworth was already gigging in Kreuzberg with her punk-metal-rap-crossover band Jingo de Lunch. Ducksworth came to Berlin from Vancouver in the late 1980s and witnessed the fall of the Wall and its aftermath. Penelope Buitenhuis, another Vancouverite who lived in Berlin for a few years, wrote and directed a fictionalized account of Ducksworth’s adventures in the newly united city – TROUBLE. It may not be the 1990s Goodbye to Berlin, but this rarely screened film is a unique snapshot from this transitional period in the city’s history. TROUBLE follows Canadian singer Jonnie (Ducksworth) as she gets a new band going, struggles to save their communal rehearsal space from gentrification and ponders whether to stay out of “trouble” or support her new boyfriend’s subversive activities against racism and rightwing extremists and for more social equality.
Jingo de Lunch were well-liked and influential, but their cult popularity strangely didn’t translate into big record sales. Ducksworth left Berlin for Arizona in 1996, but returned in 2006. She reformed Jingo who gig regularly and record occasionally.