Perales listens to demo tapes of different genres and languages for her bi-monthly project M:Soundtrack.
Perales listens to demo tapes of different genres and languages for her bi-monthly project M:Soundtrack. iStockphoto.com
Melissa Perales moved to Berlin in 1995 after she finished film studies at Columbia College in Chicago. Originally, she'd planned on staying for only a year, but in the mid 1990's, Perales says Berlin was a bit like the Bermuda Triangle.
"Coming from America, it was that kind of, 'OK, you can do whatever you put your mind to and all this, but on the other hand it was a lot of naiveté,'" Perales says.
It only took her six months to start her own film festival "Circles of Confusion," which brought American underground films to Berlin.
"That was for me kind of the turning point where I started feeling like I belonged here. I met a lot of people that helped. It was an amazing time. At that time there was still this wild East feeling. There was a lot of spaces, a lot of people looking for things to do," she says.
Perales herlself found a lot of things to do; after three years of curating the film festival, she opened a restaurant, worked on documentaries, and became a band promoter and booker. She also had a baby, a son names Elvis. And while taking on all these different tasks and challenges, the American rediscovered the main theme in her life: soundtracks.
"I consider myself to be, from childhood on, a soundtrack junkie for sure."
The sounds of black and white movies from the 1930's and 1940's triggered her curiosity as a child. Later as a teenager, she produced her own soundtracks in the form of mix-tapes, which were mainly gifts for her friends.
"Sitting there for hours, doing editing without knowing what editing was, I had a tuned double tape deck, and I was sitting there literally to madness," she says.
"M:Soundtrack," Perales's live music series, featuring bands from around the world, grew out of her early love of mix-tapes. She has been organizing the live events for the past seven years.
Courtesy of Melissa Perales
Twice a month, Perales showcases M:Soundtrack at the Schokoladen in Mitte.
Her main job is to listen, says the 40 year-old. She listens to demo tapes, to different genres, different languages and then pieces it all together, creating a new M:Soundtrack every other week at the Schokoladen in Mitte.
"It's about the love of music, the love of an idea, of putting those elements together. For me, the film part is running in your own head. So it's your own film. You make the film. I make the soundtrack, and hopefully it fits with your film."
Recently, Perales came up with another job for herself; together with a filmmaker friend, she started "Supertape." "Super" because they love that word, and "tape" because you can trust tape, Perales says.
They offer music supervision and consulting for films and commercials, organize premiere events with live bands, and help out with inspirational mix-tapes, if needed.
Inspiration and the energy to take on new projects have never been a problem for Melissa Perales.
"I think I'm always trying to create the world I can belong to, and then I gather other people to belong to that world, and I keep moving."