Federico Aubele: Beautifully Bohemian

With Berlin 13, Federico Aubele sings with a cross-cultural fusion usually reserved for the culinary world.

The music of international vagabond Federico Aubele is as complex and hard to pin down as the man who makes it. I reached Aubele in his latest adopted hometown, Washington, D.C., on the eve of his national tour supporting the release of Berlin 13, a musical memoir of his time in Berlin, where he relocated in 2001 amid the riotous economic turmoil in his birthplace, Buenos Aires. "That moment of crisis and the move is the inspiration for the record," he said. "It was a very strong moment in my life."

A dual German/Argentine citizen who attended a German-speaking school in Argentina, Aubele had visited Germany as an exchange student with a brief but memorable visit to Berlin. When the political crisis in Argentina dictated he live abroad, the historical city seemed the natural choice. He'd been exposed to electronic music before, and understood Berlin to be an electronic-music hotbed, but didn't fully understand the way the music defined the city until he moved there.

"It's more than the music, it's a place where people are willing to experiment with different things and no one's worried about if it will sell or not," he says. "They allow themselves to do creative things. And that is always the first step to creating something new. In order to create something new you need to push yourself creatively. In Berlin, that's musically the main element." 

This sentiment is aptly captured on Berlin 13. Simmering with thoughtful reflection, each of the 10 compositions are rooted in a romantically intricate classical-guitar style. Aubele's vocals are richly poetic and echo phrasings reminiscent of a Spanish Leonard Cohen. The experimental tracks are synthesized and given the full electronic treatment, resulting in a sensually warm and ambient feel, as at-home in the living room as the bedroom. 

While in Berlin, Aubele submitted his demo to the D.C.-based music co-op Thievery Corporation, who signed him to their label and invited him to tour as their bass player. After a post-Berlin stint in Barcelona, he found himself relocating yet again, this time to D.C. "It's so interesting to me that it's such a huge country and New York is completely different from Los Angeles, then you go to the midwest and it's a completely different story, and Texas is its own thing," Aubele mused. "It's almost astonishing that it is one country."

It was at a late supper in L.A. that Aubele encountered some international culinary fusion as creative as his music. "It was a little place that fused Mexican and Indian food with these curried burritos—which makes sense when you think about it, as Latin and Indian cooking have so many similarities," he raved.

Of his own personal culinary creations, he abandons the controlled approach he takes with his music. His go-to is stew—"things that can cook in one pot. I'm very into organic, healthful food." When pressed for a recipe, he chuckled, "I just take what's available, throw it in a pot, and let it simmer together."

Recipe inspired by Berlin 13: Ma'Chell's Potatoes Aubele

1.5 pounds of baby red potatoes washed and boiled 15–20 minutes until easily pierced with a fork


1 cup (packed) fresh Italian parsley

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup red-wine vinegar

1/4 cup (packed) fresh cilantro

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced

1/4 teaspoon dried, crushed red pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Two hours ahead of boiling the potatoes, purée all dressing ingredients in food processor. Transfer to a bowl. Cover and let stand at room temperature. Combine with gently pierced warm potatoes, cover with foil for 15-30 minutes, toss, and serve—or refrigerate overnight for a more traditional potato salad.



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