Everyone knows that when travelling to new places, the best spots to visit aren’t the ones easily found on the web. It’s all about local favourites – those true hidden gems that make the place unique for its own inhabitants. In our Hometown Hotspots series, we’re catching up with musicians around the world to find those gems on a personal tour through their own cities.
Singer-songwriter Berit Dybing, or simply known as Ber, creates music that flows so effortlessly through beautiful synth chords and guitar melodies.
Her lyrics are pure and personal and mixed with joyous indie folk tunes from the UK to the US.
She spent a portion of her adulthood in the UK before she moved back home in 2021, in which her musical journey took off when she released her debut EP titled And I'm Still Thinking About That.
Ber is the supporting act for Norwegian singer and songwriter Sigrid on her current tour. Her song "Meant To Be" went viral and now has over 50 million streams globally.
She has also made quite an impression that gained attention from BBC Radio 1 to Triple A Radio, performing at SXSW, Wisconsin's Summerfest, and being on stage alongside Tom Odell, JP Saxe, Holly Humberstone and Maisie Peters.
The rising Minneapolis artiste celebrates her hometown by sharing what we are missing out on. From her favourite eatery to the secret spot we should check out, Ber gives us the low-down on each mentioned site and a tune that reminds her of the place too!
LIFE IN MINNEAPOLIS, US
From the NHL Winter Classic, Credit: Ber
I grew up in a rural small town about four hours north of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St Paul), and remember always hoping I’d one day find myself here, but truthfully didn’t think I would.
Minnesota was my whole world growing up; Minneapolis felt like NYC (New York City) to me, I dreamt of someday playing at (the legendary) First Ave, and until I was about six I had always assumed that the Lake Superior shore was the world’s end.
Most of our family vacays were camping at the many state parks or sailing with family on the Mississippi River in Southern Minnesota, and we didn’t make it to the cities often, and I loved it, but it definitely fuelled my desire to get out of Minnesota for college (so I went as far away as possible, to Norway for a gap year, and then eventually landed in England for my bachelor's degree.).
Although lots changed for my family and me while I was abroad, and when my student visa expired at the height of the pandemic, a very heartbroken and (financially) broke version of myself was forced to return home to Minnesota, where my parents had sold my childhood home and parted ways.
So I moved into my uncle’s basement in South Minneapolis and essentially started over.
I’ve now been here for almost two years, and looking back I can’t imagine where I’d be had I not come home. I picked up a few part-time jobs in the city which kept me busy while I wrote songs over zoom with my friends back in the UK.
The music scene in Minneapolis is very vibrant but very underground, and you really have to know someone to find an “in”.
Eventually, I met Brad and Cacie, who make up the band Now Now, and started making music with them in their basement, which was so refreshing.
I found it really inspiring to chat with people who had also travelled but understood what it meant to be from here.
It felt like they knew exactly where I was coming from, the people I was talking about, and the experiences that were fuelling my music at the time, which had honestly never happened in my three years of writing with people in London and LA for the first time, I just felt really understood, and things started to settle into their place a little bit.
Reconnecting with my family and inching my way into the industry here has made Minneapolis feel like home.
Cue “Superspreader” by Ber.
AN EATERY YOU’D FEEL HOMESICK FOR: HIMALAYAN RESTAURANT
Himalayan Restaurant, Credit: Ber
The first thing that comes to mind is (the traditional soft Norwegian flatbread) lefse.
Northern Minnesota definitely digs into their nordic and germanic roots when it comes to food and home-cooked meals, my family especially loved Norwegian and Swedish-inspired spreads on the Christmas table, and the two things that were never absent were my grandma’s Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes and lefse, which never fail to make me feel at home when present.
However, hands down my favourite eatery in the Twin Cities is called the Himalayan Restaurant.
I love cafe and brewery culture, and like any Midwestern city we have so many sports bars, but nothing has surpassed the kataar aloo and garlic naan at the Himalayan Restaurant.
It’s a cosy little family-run spot in south Minneapolis, it’s nothing fancy, but the food is delicious, and the people are friendly, and the decor is exactly what you would assume.
My best friend took me there on New Year’s Eve in 2020 when I had just moved home, and since then it's been the place I take people when they visit, the restaurant we go to when we have something to celebrate. I absolutely love that place.
On a sentimental note, if I had to choose a song that reminds me of this place, it would be “Firework” by Katy Perry.
They don’t typically have pop music playing in the restaurant, but that night on new years eve, my friend and I were drunk on wine, stuffing our faces with curry when “Firework” started playing, everyone in the restaurant kind of joyously sang along to the chorus, it was like something out of a movie, and for the first time since moving to Minneapolis from London, I felt very at home.
YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO PERFORM: CEDAR CLUB
Performing at the Cedar Club, Credit: Allison Garrigan
The only place I’ve performed in Minneapolis (to date) is the Cedar Club, which was a stop on my most recent tour supporting Tom Odell across North America.
It was such a fun venue, felt quite like a school hall in all honesty, but Minnesotan crowds are always so nice, and it was one of the most special nights of the tour.
I remember feeling very nervous before that show because it's one thing to get up and sing your little songs and tell your little stories in front of strangers every night but to a whole crowd of your friends and family and neighbours? Terrifying.
But it was such a special show and went down very well, and I will never forget that night.
Cue the song “Best Day Of My Life” by Tom Odell.
YOUR GO-TO FOR LIVE MUSIC: THE UNDERGROUND MUSIC CLUB
Papa Mbe @ The Underground Music Club, Credit: Ber
The Twin Cities music scene is so vivid, there are so many incredible venues spread about the metro area, but also so many of our bars and breweries have indoor/outdoor stages and host tons of live music events year-round.
A few of my favourite places to see live music here are The Fine Line in St Paul, First Ave/7th St Entry in Minneapolis (legendary!), and The Armory because you go to these venues specifically for a concert experience.
First Ave and 7th St Entry are dark and grim and kind of dingy, which I love.
The sound is great, the crowds are welcoming, and touring artists tend to stop here while on their tour circuit, so you get to see some bigger touring acts in a more intimate setting, which always feels so special.
Cue “Mars” by Alexander 23.
YOUR SECRET SPOT FOR NEW VISITORS: ST ANTHONY FALLS
Showing my friend Hayd St. Anthony Falls, Credit: Ber
Personally, I think St Anthony Falls in Northeast Minneapolis provides one of the best afternoon strolls in the twin cities.
The Mississippi River runs directly through the heart of the arts district in Minneapolis, and the two sides are connected by a beautiful pedestrian bridge that you walk across while surrounded by the historic skyline of mill buildings and high rises.
On either side, there are nice parks, cute shops, museums, farmer's markets and restaurants, and I wouldn’t at all say it’s underrated, but it’s a nice way to show someone the city on a sunny day, and it's beautiful in both the summer and winter when much of the river bed and falls freeze over, and the city is covered in snow.
Cue “SGL” by Now, Now
THE ONE PLACE YOU HOPE WILL ALWAYS STAY THE SAME: POWDERHORN PARK
Powderhorn Park, Credit: Ber
Powderhorn Park in South Minneapolis. When I first moved to the city, I used to go on runs around this park and would go there to escape from my brain a lot during my first summer here.
There’s an open baseball pitch, pond and trails in the valley of the park, and is surrounded by hills on either side, so it feels like a green escape from the city while also offering some nice views of the skyline.
After spending so much time here, I later found out that my grandpa actually grew up down the street from here and would sled down the hills of this park in the snowy winter, so there's a slice of home for me to be found in this little park, and I hope it stays there forever.
It makes for a cute date spot too…
Cue Feels So Easy by Ber.
Hometown Hotspots is created in collaboration with Secret Signals.
Cover Credit: Charlie Flatten
Writer | Kevin Yeoh
When he isn’t making sure Sound of Life stories are published in a timely manner, Kevin enjoys wandering aimlessly in Kuala Lumpur city, going down the YouTube rabbit hole and discovering new music.