This week in the Third Degree, our regular Friday feature where we talk to Berlin’s brightest and best CEOs, we chatted with Tor Rauden Källstigen of Loopcam about Palestinian falafel and adventures in Wedding.
SILICON ALLEE: If you weren’t the CEO of a startup, what would you be doing?
TOR RAUDEN KÄLLSTIGEN: My former project was about making jeans in North Korea, like a sort of experimental art/politics/business project, so probably I would do something with East Asia. I lived in Seoul last summer, just to investigate what it is like to live in the future for a while. I was born in Stockholm where it’s tidy and pretty, a small city where everything is in order, and then I went to Shanghai when I was 20 and got this shock of how a big Asian metropolitan city can be.
SA: What do you like about Berlin?
TRK: What I like about it is that it’s like a natural extension of Stockholm in a way. It’s like if you went over the bridge and you ended up in an atmosphere that was more shabby and where people were doing more than talking about stuff. So it has some similarities but at the same time it really has its own really defined cultural life and that’s why I think it’s really inspired me.
SA: East or West Berlin?
TRK: I had a really hard time understanding this. When you are just wandering around in the city and you see a shabby place you think it’s East Berlin but then you learn and you see that it’s so much more complicated than that. I think the entire history of the city is super interesting and that can be both in the West and East. Overall, I like the abandoned places where the history really shows up, like the old fun parks and Teufelsberg, both in the West and East. Places that have a significant connection to the near past.
SA: When you leave Berlin, where do you go?
TRK: I get bored quite easily, so I always want to see something completely different. I would definitely like to see more of Africa and I’d like to explore America, in a wider sense. I’ve been to Asian cities the last six summers – I’m not finished with that but I’m forcing myself to not get stuck there. I think Seoul is the best city in the world. It has come from being a dictatorship with oppression and people being super poor to being one of the biggest, coolest and most digital cities in the world in 20 years, and you really feel that when you’re there.
SA: What do you like to do when you’re not working?
TRK: I like to do music. How I got to know Berlin in the beginning was that I was producing techno and playing here a lot. That’s how I got to know the SoundCloud guys, they started out as mentors. So I still have a very strong interest in electronic music, I feel disconnected from work, even if I’m still sitting by a computer. We played in Gothenburg this spring in a nice club, and we do some remixes once in a while. Last time we released about 13 remixes of Swedish pop acts. It’s good to just focus on something else sometimes, leave the tech scene for a while.
SA: What’s your favourite cafe, bar and restaurant here in Berlin?
TRK: There’s a place near home called Loophole, I really like that place. And I like the open air parties, because I think they’re something quite unique. Going to a party in Treptower Park on Sunday afternoon is really nice. The entire last year I was working from cafes, so I really hate working at cafes. Sometimes I use them for meetings, and then I just check Foursquare and see which ones I haven’t been to. So I would say my favourites are the ones I haven’t seen yet.
As for food, there is a Palestinian restaurant on Sonnenallee called Azzam, and they do falafel, not the Turkish falafel stuff but the Palestinian way of doing it. The environment and the tea is great. I also like this Korean place in Wedding, Arirang, that I’m always talking about to people I meet. It’s super shady, they have flurorescent lights and it’s not cosy, but they have fantastic Korean food. It’s also an adventure to go to Wedding.
SA: What do you think the Internet will look like in ten years?
TRK: I hope the Internet is not Facebook. I hope there will be ways for people to express themselves that’s not so centralized as it is today. And I hope the Internet will be more open and available to people who really need its power, like people living in dictatorships and environments that don’t have full democracy. They’re the ones who can really benefit from it. And I hope it will be more friendly to people than to companies.