Aurora Baldessin on 31/10/12
Olivier Massey had an 'epic chat' back in February with the Danish trio WhoMadeWho on occasion of the first gig of their European Tour, in London. With the album 'Brighter' released in March on Kompakt, they haven't literally stopped since then. Many dates in Europe, tonnes of Summer festivals and even gigs further afield in Tel Aviv and Mexico. I had the chance to meet Tomas Høffding a few days after WMW came back to European soil for their gig on the 18th of this month. Chasing them down proved to be no easy feat though...
I could genuinely say that we had a whimsical and surrealistic chat, an intermezzo between the band's arrival in the city and the soundcheck before the concert at Music Hall. Cosy in nature - intimate even - we began to talk before Tomas ran away for the soundcheck. Jeppe was at the hotel dealing with red tapes, and no signs of Tomas B, either. Time was tight. Trotting behind Tomas and the Spanish promoter through the many alleys of the labyrinth venue, we ended up speaking in the changing room. "Maximum 15 minutes, would it work for you!?" Tomas proposed gently. Of course it would.
First of all, thank you very much for taking the time to talk again to us. Welcome to Barcelona! Hope you had a nice trip here. Do you know the city? Tomas: Yes, it is our two hundreads times in Barcelona. We have played in Razzmatazz a lot of times, 2 or 3 times a year for the last years (10 times at least, I think). But it is only because the club has a huge line-up that many people are there. We usually play at 3.00 in the morning, more like DJs but tonight we are gonna play more like a real band in front of the audience.
It's your first time at the famous Music Hall? Yes, it is. In some territories this could be a very big venue, but sometimes also a very small venue could be fine for concerts. Sometimes we play in very big venues, sometimes not. This gig will be lots of fun!
I have to confess that I always had the curiosity to know if it's true that your name comes from an AC/DC song, 'Who Made Who'. We know that everything started back in 2003... We started the band as a project just for fun, we met one Monday night and we did three songs and we send them to 4 different labels. Gomma was one of them. They said, 'Hey this is cool!' and they decided to release it...so, 'What's the name of the band?'
We just looked at the shelves: there were many records and...oh, Who Made Who looks cool! That's it!
Let's talk about Brighter, anything particular you would like to add or say, since the last chat with Pulse? Well, of course, remark that it's a good album. It is part of the project of Knee Deep album...couple of years ago we went to the studio to make it and we made lots of songs and we couldn't kind of fit all the songs in one album and we decided to release them into two albums. Knee Deep, was thought as misterious and underground, with experimental stuff and Brighter was going to be just pop. But then it didn't work out quite that way because a lot of the weirdness from Knee Deep kind of continued in Brighter. I think is one of the most pop album we made. But I am ok with it, and somehow I even like more Knee Deep but a lot of people know Brighter. It seems to be more pop-ular.(Laughs)
Is it a darker album (despite the title), compared to previous works? Yes, it is. I think you can do your career in a lot of ways and we started out with the first album, WhoMadeWHo, seven years ago. It had a very specific style that was very hip at the moment. We just by chance hit that sound and everybody said: 'Yo, this is amazing!' and...everybody was so excited and everything went really well and I think that the smart move was continuing that. But then you find yourself tired because you want to develop and you don't want to be associated to some kind of wave that once was, that was happening, and now there's not anymore and you wanna kind of change, take distances from what was going on, just being a band. Therefore I think we needed to explore other territories and I think that since we are from Scandinavia, and a lot of Scandinavians have this start, we had the same somehow.
How is the musical mandscape in Denmark at the moment? I think there are a lot of interesting and good stuff coming from Denmark. There is one group called Choir of Young Believers, I've just got the new album and it's really really good. And the singer has a wonderful voice.
Tell me something about the visual aspect of WhoMadeWho, about the focus your videos... is image an important part of your band? For once it is very important to say that either you are a very specific band that has a video director, and he/she is in charge of the video or...(pause). It is so funny because all the time people ask about that...about our videos, as if we actually did them. We just want our videos to be good, since there's so much crap out there and we want some strenght! (Laughs). Everybody says...'Oh, guys you are so cool, you make such good videos!' but we don't! We collaborate with some very cool people and we try to give them free space to work. We don't pay some directors lots of money and say 'This is what we want to do with the video, please do this!'.
That's not how we work, and how we do our own albums. We try to give each other free artistic space to do what we feel we'd like to do. We have been working with the Goodboy! Creative guys and they did three of our videos, they are really good and it is like a trilogy that finished and then we worked with Lasse Martinussen.
We send the track and actually we said, this time it could be cool to do something a little more 'colourful'. And he did this really dark and fucked up video (Inside World)
Ok, maybe the song was not a huge hit but I think it's a really strong one and the choice we have done, it could be a little bit contradictory.
The lyrics of your songs...how do you usually conceive the work? I usually write some of the lyrics, and some others are Jeppe's and Thomas doesn't write the lyrics but is more like a producer role. We always try to inspire each other, exchanging opinions and suggestions. We also have external writers from Denmark who write poems for us.
Tell us about your project/video with the group Generation Wave?? Generation Wave it is more like a protest group, they did a lot of activities, and music is only one of the many things they are doing, as installations works, paintings... For us it was really interesting and fun the experience in Burma. We saw the recording studios there, clearly very different from Europe. We spent 4/5 nice days there where we met really nice people. Anyway, for us was somehow to feel that you could also do something good.
He started to stand up and sit, we continued talking and times passed by. So, I went to the last question, he had to go for the soundcheck. It was late.
What about tonight? Any expectations? As I said before, we played ten times at Razzmatazz, a club where you play in front of thousands people going there and we are just one of the Djs, somehow. The cooler thing for us as a band, because it is a different way of playing, is when you make more like a normal concert. But here in Barcelona, we have done the club thing so many times that Barcelona equals to play in Razzmatazz at three in the morning. I think it's very nice to try to play a normal rocky gig, where you just get in, people buy the ticket and go to see the show at 22! So I am actually really curios about how many people would be there, who is going to come, what vibe is gonna be... We have big expectations. We just travelled from Mexico, the crowd was huge there. It was amazing! In Paris too.
After the chat with Tomas, I found myself entrenched in the show of that night. WhoMadeWho seriously believe in what they do, and they rock doing it. In an interview, they said that at concerts they want people to free themselves, superfashion or crazy, freaky or whatever types would attend the event. With WMW one of the few certain things, apart from the abnormal fun and excitement, is the sweat. You simply can't stop moving, dancing, jumping. Yes. You will sweat a lot, but it's all good. That night, below the Spanish cherry moon, my heart stopped.
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