Berlin, Europe, Expat Living, Germany

Expat Living: Fil Bo Riva in Berlin Germany

July 4, 2016
Fil Bo Riva in Berlin Germany

Expat Living: Fil Bo Riva in Berlin Germany

Everyone who moves to Berlin has a story. You’ve read about why I moved to Berlin, right? Instead of talking about myself today, let’s hear from another Berlin expatFilippo Bonamici, and find out how and why he came to call the German capital his home. 

Expat Living: Fil Bo Riva in Berlin Germany

Fil Bo Riva in Berlin Germany

Image via Fiona Laughton

My name is Filippo Bonamici and I’m a Berlin-based musician who performs as Fil Bo Riva. I was born in Rome to a German mother and Italian father. I spent a few years studying in Dublin before relocating to Berlin in 2012. I now work in Berlin as a full time musician, playing music that is best described as something in-between folk and soul.

Where are you from?

Rome, Italy. I lived in Rome for my first 15 years before I relocated to a college two hours outside of Dublin – but I spent a lot of time in Dublin. I moved to Ireland because of the music – I always had the dream to be a musician – yet I only started playing as a musician two years ago.  The main reason for moving to Ireland was to learn proper English and to be able to write good English lyrics. I already wrote English lyrics before that but I wanted to get them more precise or better – I’m a perfectionist, so I was really looking to write everything I wanted to express, in English.

Where are you living now and how long have you been there? Do you plan on staying?

Berlin CSD 2015 Photos - We Love You
I’ve been living in Berlin for four years. Will I stay? I never try to make long term plans for a living actually. At this stage I plan to be here for a few more years – I have my music and my band here but you just never know. I love New York City and that city would be one of my next dreams. 

Did you move there alone or with family, friends, a significant other or even a pet?

I moved to Berlin alone four years ago, as I came for my university studies.

What brought you to your new home? Tell us your story.

Fil Bo Riva in Berlin Germany Musician

Image via Juliane Spaete

When I first moved to Berlin, I was studying product design full time. One day, my ex-girlfriend left me and I thought “Okay, maybe this is the point I do what I really wanted to do” – which was music. I always wanted to do it but I never really had the need to do it and I needed that change to make the new start.

What do you do work wise? Is finding work in your city easy? What are the visa requirements like?

I started off first by performing on the street and at open mike nights. Then I wrote and put the song ‘Eye Look’ on Soundcloud. I recorded all the instruments on Garageband – it was all very lo-fi – then I put it online and a few people started writing to me and that’s where it all started from. That was really my first experience really working as a musician (apart from a few bands in Rome).

Of course while I was studying here, I also worked in a few restaurants, bars and hotels here in Berlin – your typical student jobs.

How do you “blend in” and be accepted by locals?

Before putting the song online, I had a little band in Berlin with my brother and another friend and we started going to Open Mic nights but we didn’t really meet or talk to many people. Originally it was hard to get to know people this way.

The day I put the song ‘Eye Look’ online some friends of friends got in touch – so whilst it was easy to meet friends via this way it was also a bit harder to find the right people who are on board with your concept and vision. I guess it has to do with a mix of luck, work and more luck.

But overall I find Berlin’s music scene to be inspiring and very open-minded, like the city itself.  

How did you make friends? Are you friends with locals or with other expats?

Fil Bo Riva in Berlin Germany Life

Image via Juliane Spaete

A lot of my friends from Rome have also moved to Berlin both for study and work purposes. I also have a good mix of German and international friends from my studies both here and in Ireland.

What has been the most shocking thing you learned about the local culture?

Germans drink a lot more than Italians! That was a surprise.

The weather has also made big impact – I’m used to a more stable climate. That wind down those wide streets can really mess with me.

Did you have to learn a language? What learning methods do you recommend?

My mother’s German – I grew up bilingual household with my mother speaking German and father speaking Italian. I learnt English at school. I also speak Spanish – which I learned in Ireland hanging out with Spanish friends.

My advice is to live in a country, talk to the people and make friends with locals!

What do you love the most about your new home?

Berlin Sunday Hauptbahnhof
I really like how open minded people are, even if there’s a whole lot of different people and styles. It’s a mixed, multicultural city, with many different people from a variety of countries – similar to New York in some ways. I love the different neighbourhoods (kiezs) that operate as mini cities, all with their own personality.

What do you “hate” the most about your new home?

The constant changes in the weather and having no sea around. It can be a little extreme at times!

Filippo’s Favourite Things in Berlin

Coffee Shop?

Schwarzes Café because it’s open 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Bookstore?

Dussman.

Market?

Boxhagener Platz.

Store?

GuitarDoc.

Nightlife spot?

Bohnengold at Kotti.

Restaurant?

De’Noantri for Italian food. Die Dicke Wirten, a typical Berliner pub dishing up local cuisine.

Things to do?

I don’t really go out a lot! I’ve never been to many clubs – like Berghain for example. I just like to sit in quiet bars and drink a beer. And if my friends are visiting here we just like to hang out and walk around – Berlin’s really relaxed like that.

Weird and offbeat attraction?

Bars and clubs are open all night long – it’s pretty unique to Berlin. Most of them just close when people leave.

Get Social With Fil Bo Riva

  1. Website: http://www.filboriva.com/
  2. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/filboriva/
  3. Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/fil-bo-riva

Expat Living Information

Did you enjoy learning about Fil Bo Riva in Berlin Germany? Perhaps you want to read stories from other expats around the globe?  I recommend looking at some of our recent interviews including Melanie Haynes in Copenhagen Denmark and Jasilyn Albert in Ufa Russia.

If you’re looking to move to Berlin, check out my Berlin Guide for tons of helpful information.

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