Ask the Expert: What Festival Curators Look For with Born in Flamez

Learn what it takes for independent artists to stand out in eyes of festival curators and gain insight into the CTM festival's commitment to showcasing avant-garde experimental music.

words: Brunni Corsato

photo: Lisanne Schul

This year’s edition of CTM Festival marks the 25th edition of what has become a fixture of experimental music in Berlin and beyond. Under the theme "Sustain", venues across the city will host music acts, exhibitions and installations showcasing the cutting edge of contemporary experimental music.

In anticipation for that, we talked to Born in Flamez, a musician and vocalist that merges an array of sonic influences from grime to electro, classical music to deconstructed club, reggaeton, and ambient to create what they like to call post-humanist pop music.

They have also been part of the team of curators of the festival since 2016.

In the following interview, we picked their brain on the guiding principles of putting the festival program together, what to expect from the upcoming edition and what independent artists can do to get on the radar of experimental festivals such as CTM.


Brunni Corsato: The curation of the festival is known for centering innovative programming, showcasing an extensive lineup of artists that are considered niche at times. What's the main goal of CTM?

Born in Flamez: We are a team of four curators, so we might have different goals. But what unites us all is to create some sense of a novel experience for many different groups of people, something challenging and out of the ordinary.

Something that they haven't seen before and that hopefully creates a dialogue between different groups of people, uniting them through sound.

BC: What sets CTM apart from other festivals?

BIF: We have the vantage point of people coming to us to be surprised, not expecting someone they know on the line up, but rather to experience something different.

Different from other festivals, we can afford to give a platform to uncompromising voices that wouldn’t usually attract a huge crowd, and present them in large venues like Berghain, Volskbuehne or Radialsystem.

Whenever someone asks me “who’s headlining”, I can't really answer that question. Haha.

BC: What's the guiding principle in doing research and selecting the acts for CTM? 

BIF: We are all very curious and at the same time very experienced music connoisseurs, which means we loooove music and we have also seen and heard a lot of things during our careers.  

So what we usually look for is something that surprises us, maybe feels fresh or different, something that we think is extremely radical or true or purely beautiful but in a raw sense. Something that captivates an emotion and moves us in different ways.

What we look for is something extremely radical or purely beautiful, but in a raw sense. Something that surprises us and feels fresh and different.

BC: What are the main learnings from the years of curating the festival?

BIF: The main learning is that even when we have differences in our tastes and are skeptical about a project someone else selected, we manage to come together and create a festival that it's always a truly outstanding experience. 

We complement each other so well that the festival really creates a magical moment for all of us.

BC: What's a proud moment(s) from these years?

BIF: Experiencing the festival together is one of the proudest moments for each of the curators because we do create magic.

Standing in the audience, watching a fantastic performance unfold and then seeing everybody else in the room dropping their jaws and breaking out into euphoria - being able to experience that collectively is intensely rewarding. 

BC: Do you have any advice for artists who'd like to be selected for CTM and other similar festivals?

BIF: Try to create something that is really radically true to what you feel. <3

CTM 2024 – Sustain 25th Edition happens from 26 January to 4 February.