Playlist: Niko Woischnik, TOA Conference

© Julia Zierer

Niko Woischnik from TOA shares his unique playlist with us: forget about genres and just appreciate the best songs across various decades

My uncle has an incredible collection of 60s rock, and my mom had tickets to Woodstock (but since the roads were blocked, she never actually got there). So I grew up on the 60s sound, which even till now hasn’t left me. The first band I got really into was The Doors. From the age of 14 until 17, my friends and I really did not listen to anything else.

When it comes to playlists, I am somewhat of a fanatic. I have categorized my Spotify playlists by both genre and year. So, I have lists for just 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s music, for example. I am more interested in timestamps than genres when it comes to categorizing of music. My favorite band used to be The Doors, but as I grew older I came to appreciate that The Beatles are simply more diverse – by far the most diverse band to ever walk this planet. Not as diverse, but my favorite “audiobook” to listen to: Bob Dylan.

The playlist includes all major musicians who have accompanied me throughout the years, and I have sorted them not according to tempo or date of creation like I would usually do, but rather by the time I discovered or got into these artists.

I tend to listen to music like an audiobook so lyrics are of the utmost importance. Shitty lyrics can ruin great music. Boots of Spanish Leather by Dylan, for example, is the most beautiful love poem I know. Since I have been an avid traveler and lived without a home/apartment for years, many songs mark specific countries/cultures and people I became attached to: La Flaca reminds me of my time living in Spain. Paloma Negra of Mexico. Leonard Cohen of my mom! Wild Child is a band I discovered by accident at SXSW, and one I revisit every year when in Austin. Patsy Cline makes me think about my childhood in the US. Carlos Gardel about my university semester in Buenos Aires. I would go to the horse racing track on the weekends and it was always played before the start of the race. The cheesy Moby song reminds me of my first backpacking tour throughout Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand.

Slept through two Michael Jackson concerts, but was part of his Give in to Me video shoot and actually managed to walk up to him and get an autograph from him and Slash of Guns n’ Roses (who played guitar on the track – go 90s!). I was actually a crazy autograph hunter as a kid and also got a “To Niko, Ray Charles” after a beautiful small concert on a beach.

And there are a few songs to celebrate the greatest place on this planet (#NYC): Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters (Elton John) and New York’s My Home (Sammy Davis Jr.).

Free Bird is dedicated to my time living in the Caribbean (Puerto Rico and Barbados). Missa Criolla is the Opera that my family has listened to for the last 50 years at Christmas – pretty much all we listen to during those 3 days on repeat (check out the whole album). The Fugees is the only band from the last 30 years that has had a significant impact on my life and music taste. All other music that is important to me was pretty much made before I was born. Nowadays, I listen to a lot of 90s hip hop and 70s funk.

Bruch is my mom’s favorite composer and this violin concerto is a testament to the fact that classical music gets better and better the more you listen to it. The Beethoven song is dedicated to my obsession with Chef’s Table, and with food in general. Important: there is a better, slower version of Neil Young’s masterpiece Cortez the Killer (about the conquistador invading Mexico in the 16th century). They don’t have it on Spotify, so find it on YouTube. It is hypnotically beautiful!

Since I live in Berlin I felt obliged to put in two electro songs! :-) Funny also that Robbie Williams makes the list. But hey, he sings Mr. Bojangles even better than Sammy Davis Jr., Dylan, or Nina Simone. You gotta give it to him! :-)

Girl from the North Country is a rare recording of Jonny Cash and Bob Dylan singing together: ‘nuff said! Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah, Monteverdi and Max Richter’s Vivaldi put me soothed me to sleep on an airplane (you need to listen to the whole album here). Paco de Lucia is the greatest guitar player of all time, and my favorite nights out have always been at La Solea in Madrid listening to live flamenco until dusk.

And to finish off on a light note: Randy Newman’s God’s Song pretty much explains everything!  


Niko Woischnik is the Co-Founder of Tech Open Air, Ahoy! Berlin, TechBerlin, and Openers. He was born in Munich and studied business and economics. Make sure to follow – or even attend – TOA and its abundant choice of satellite events, which will take place July 14th and 15th at Funkhaus Berlin. We are giving away 5×2 tickets: Write an email to until Sunday night and we will pick the lucky winners then. Good Luck!

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Julia co-founded one of the first fashion blogs in Germany in 2007 and became a freelance consultant for digital strategies after publishing her first book in 2010. After an eventful four years with Condé Nast working mainly in the digital department of Vogue Germany, she decided to launch her own online magazine with her dream partner, Veronika Heilbrunner. She is based in Berlin and loves to read books.