In our new series, The Sound of: Europe, we explore the continent’s best and most underrated music scenes by interviewing local experts and featuring playlists sure to tickle the wanderlust of anyone with two ears and a passion for travelling. 

Frankfurt might be one of Germany’s most underrated music scenes. Give this playlist a listen to find out why.

Frankfurt might have gained a reputation as one of Europe’s top economic hubs, but there’s much more to this illustrious city than skyscrapers and business lunches. In fact, this German metropolis constitutes a virtual cornucopia of fine arts, gothic architecture and historical sights, all of which have inspired one of the country’s most underrated music scenes.

From synth-laced dance anthems and melancholic electronica to folksy punk and smooth pop ballads, Frankfurt’s given birth to both international hits and local gems over the years. While Berlin and Munich might boast larger, more globally acknowledged scenes, Frankfurt’s smaller roster of bands constitute an equally exciting slice of German music history.

Frankfurt basically set the stage for the beginning of techno and club music

But don’t take our word for it. Instead ask Wolfgang Weyand, president of the organisation for the region’s music managers, CLUK: Frankfurt basically set the stage for the beginning of techno and club music back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. We had big clubs, huge labels and all that sort,” says Weyand and adds, That’s the legacy of Frankfurt – one we still benefit from today.”

The Secluded   Bridge
Frankfurt band, The Secluded, are heavily inspired by the likes of Muse, Radiohead and Coldplay. Photo by Hazeface.

However, the heydays of Frankfurt techno are now long gone. According to Weyand, local musicians have been struggling for the last decade: These days, the situation has changed completely. Ten years ago, the last big label, Sony Music, left for Berlin, and even today, the few, small labels left generally go to Berlin, Munich or Hamburg, when they’re looking to invest in a new artist.”

This development seems puzzling when you consider Frankfurt’s thriving videogame and film industries – both of which employ talented music producers. Add to that the city’s general prosperity and central location in Germany, and it seems Frankfurt has all the prerequisites for becoming a hub of music production. Frankfurt should be an amazing place to make music – there are just so many possibilities here,” Weyand says.

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Strassenjungs might be from the 80’s, but these punk-rockers are still going strong. Photo by Stefan Brending.

Yet despite being overshadowed by Munich and Berlin, Frankfurt has still managed to carve out its own interesting niche in music history. This is thanks to music by disco group Arabesque, rock band Strassenjungs and many more. Today, only a handful of local artist carry on the city’s legacy. Take local hitmaker Namika, lauded songstress Sabrina Setlur or Moses Pelham, rapper turned one of Frankfurt’s most influential producers and founder of label 3P. All in all, the developments in Frankfurt’s music scene has certainly forced a focus on quality over quantity, which might prove a blessing in disguise down the road should the scene eventually flourish.

There certainly seems to be fertile grounds for the city’s music scene to reclaim the glory of days past, but whether Frankfurt will realise its musical potential any time soon remains to be seen.

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Cover photo: Namika, one of Frankfurt’s biggest names these days. Photo by Stefan Brending.

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