Photo c/o aLIVE Coverage
Milky Chance among other lauds, gets the “band name most similar to our blog title” award. Which is why I asked the German reggae-electro-folk duo what the inspiration behind their name was when we sat down to chat at Shaky Knees Festival 2015. (Spoiler alert: like many other bands, their name is just two words strung together that sound good.)
In addition to talking to Milky Chance (Clemens Rehbein – lead vocals, and Philipp Dausch – audio mixing) about their conception and process, we discussed the music industry, how the masses are consuming music, and their sound - which is something noteworthy, different, and breaking through the clutter.
EARMILK: When did you first realize you had a good thing going?
MILKY CHANCE: It was more like, we were friends and had a band with other friends. High school was over and he (Clemens) had written some songs in that time; we decided together to record songs, and make it an album – but just for fun. Then we decided to make it live and make it a band.
EM: How did you land on the name?
PHILIPP: He (Clemens) came up with it before the project. Just two words.
EM: Like a lot of people, I think I was introduced to you two through “Stolen Dance” – how did that track specifically come together, and what is your typical writing process?
MC: I do songwriting on my guitar, most of the songs were melodies then the harmonies then the lyrics; then add a beat, put together the details, the mixing, small arrangements.
[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/149805326" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]
EM: Do you have a specific sound you’re going for? A lot of people like to talk about your genre melding.
MC: I think we just do what we like and that’s how it sounds. We are pretty much open minded to music; it’s our goal to find new music, to find music from every different genre, ever different place. We like when it sounds kind of natural, with samples of electronic - more earthy and experimental.
EM: “Unknown Song” is the last song I heard from you all, and it’s clearly something that is your “brand.” I’m curious to find out about Paulina Eisenberg who you worked with on this track, as there’s really nothing online.
MC: She’s a good friend of ours, we’ve known her since she was 14. I think she’s 17, 18 now – oh it’s her birthday today! She’s 18. Happy birthday Paulina!
[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/184427657" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]
EM: That’s a big birthday, shoot her a text! So after this song – is there anything else in the pipeline, albums in the works?
MC: We always work on stuff, and write new songs, but it’s not like we’re working on an “album” we just collect ideas, and get more specific – but nothing official yet.
EM: So you guys got massive notice after “Stolen Dance” blew up on YouTube – what do you think about music consumption today and where it’s going?
MC: The music industry is pretty much about media. Twitter, Instagram, posting things. YouTube made it so huge and so big. Everyone can upload songs; the only thing you have to do is push a button and your music is ready to go for everyone. The consuming of music has changed a bit. You used to have to go to a store, get some vinyl, take your time, listen to it – and today you don’t have to be that interested and into it.
EM: Do you think that’s a positive thing?
MC: [laughs] No, not positive in that way. But it’s positive that people can share music easily. A lot of advantages but a lot of disadvantages. Because there are so many people making their music public, if your song on YouTube just by accident becomes something that is well known, it has this status of “you made it” when it actually doesn’t mean anything. Like people will say “your video was clicked a million times” – but what does that mean? It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a great musician.
EM: That’s a great point, and there’s less commitment when you’re clicking a song and then walking away from it. But to that point, because the marketplace is so crowded, when you do something different, something that makes people take note – like “Stolen Dance,” people like the fact that they can’t pin it down – and that makes it able to break through the static. Do you have any influences that you think your music reflects or that you esteem?
MC: Not necessarily even artists – influences can be our friends, our teachers, that educated us in music – can be a busker on the street who’s drumming really well. Everyone who makes music with us, our band before. If you want to be inspired, you just have to concentrate on what’s around you.
EM: Tell us what’s in store for this year.
MC: Tour, tour, tour. We’re doing some festivals in Europe this summer. Trying to get a break in at the end of August, and then work on new stuff.
EM: What’s the best and worst thing about touring?
MC: [laughs] That’s funny this question was just asked in the interview before. It’s so nice to get experiences of all different kinds, seeing different people in new places. But of course it’s tiring, same thing over and over, waking up in a new place every day, being in an unknown environment – takes you away from people you miss. That balance.
EM: Do you guys ever argue or fight?
MC: No we never fight, we discuss – we came to a point in our relationship as friends that we just know each other well enough, and can step back if we know the other one is not in the mood to discuss. So it doesn’t ever become a fight or anything.
EM: When you’re not playing music what are you doing?
MC: We play basketball, hang out - and we watch basketball. It’s not as big in Germany as it is here. Soccer is like basketball here.
CLEMENS: I finished my first book this year. Or actually my first book in the last three years. [laughs] Jimi Hendrix – Starting at Zero – it’s cool because he brother Leon Hendrix comments on it, saying that he could hear his voice in his head while reading it.
EM: Anything crazy happen lately?
MC: We’ve met a lot of crazy people, but it’s hard to recap that for other people – we’re so overwhelmed by everything this tour, we can’t make it into a sentence. It’s more like “all of it” and maybe it’s good it stays a secret?
EM: Haha fair enough. Anything else we should know?
MC: We’re on tour with FMLYBND right now…check them out. We have that. And…peace and love.
[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/202909949" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]
For a full list of venues where Milky Chance will be this year, visit their website or be a digital groupie by following them around online, via their socials below.