Hitting the Road for Street Music

Hitting the Road for Street Music

Marten Berger is about to embark upon an epic road trip to find Europe’s best street musicians.

Travelling in an old ice cream truck he has converted into a mobile recording studio, the 24-year-old producer plans to visit some 30 countries over the next 12 months. He wants to record a double album unlike any other by seeking out talented buskers along the way.

Marten hopes his grand musical journey will give people a greater appreciation of Europe’s unsung troubadours – those musicians normally just playing to passersby on their local street corner.

“Street music is normally seen as just another part of the city. You walk by, you have appointments and you can’t stay long. Maybe you think it’s cool and pay a euro or something,” Marten says, speaking to Shure from inside the confines of his cosy converted VW bus.

“I want to change the perspective and set those musicians (playing under) sunlight into the spotlight. I’m going to travel to every corner of Europe searching for the best our continent has to offer to record their music and share it with people.”

The initial spark for such a big trip came suddenly two years ago, after Marten met and recorded a gifted street musician in The Netherlands.

“It was just so authentic when I heard him, I got goose bumps,” he explains. “Then I thought how awesome it would be if someone would travel around Europe and record all those hidden, secret talents we have on the streets, so we can enjoy their music at home. And then I decided that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

A European Project

A European Project

Originally from Germany, Marten has studied music production and composition in the Dutch city of Enschede for the past five years. So it isn’t surprising he sees both himself and his border-crossing project in a broader European context.

“I feel like a European citizen,” he says. “I want to bring all these cultures and countries into this tiny van.”

Speaking of which, Marten came up with the catchy moniker for his project one evening while joking around with a buddy. They started replacing one word in popular song titles with “van” just for fun. Eventually Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” came up and the name was found.

Starting in May, his ambitious route will take him northward from the Netherlands to Scandinavia before heading south towards the end of the summer. Just how long he can stay on the road depended on the crowdfunding campaign.

Marten Berger

The more donations I receive, the more countries I can visit and the more musicians I can record

He likens his undertaking to that of a wandering tradesman, a traditional journey made in Europe for centuries.

“My big dream is to travel to each and every country in the European Union. I can manage two countries a month. Maybe smaller countries like Luxembourg will go quicker. But bigger ones like France and Germany will take longer.”

Marten Berger

People can send me suggestions like: ‘Hey when you’re in Barcelona you have to check this guy out, he’s great!’, I don’t only want record guitar music. I want to capture the whole subculture playing on the streets. I try to find songs that tell a story.

Supporting Marten’s project with studio gear and financial backing, Shure will be checking in with him throughout his journey.

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