A little bit of research into Berlin’s music history, and Mark Reeder’s name will probably appear. Since moving to Berlin from Manchester in 1978, he has worked as Germany’s rep for Factory Records, toured with New Order, managed Malaria!, organized the first secret punk rock show in East Berlin, was certified ‘subversive’ by the Stasi, and produced the last record ever produced in East Germany (which was also the only record ever made by an Englishman in the DDR). And that was just before the wall came down.
Chinawoman is Michelle, a Toronto-born musician with Russian roots who moved to Berlin nearly a year ago. Her music evokes images of Soviet Ballrooms of the 80s and Douglas Sirk melodramas, and she’s been compared to Leonard Cohen, Nico, and Angelo Badalamenti. But for all the grandiosity, you wouldn’t expect that both her albums were produced and recorded in her bedroom. I met with her on a gloomy Friday afternoon in Kreuzberg to talk about her music.