Crinkly breakbeats moving into smooth heartbeats, sweeps of lapsteel guitar and detailed licks, and reggae rhythms tied together with that distinctive murmur of a voice: the new album from German duo Milky Chance collects all the elements for which we’ve always loved them, and carefully whittles them into sparkling new pieces. We put some questions about Mind The Moon to lead vocalist/guitarist Clemens Rehbein, and bassist/percussionist Philipp Dausch.
The beautiful Daydreaming beings with some otherworldly, subaquatic synth before the breakbeat comes in. How did you create these sounds? Do you limit yourselves with how much time you spend experimenting in the studio?
This sound is coming from a Prophet 6 that was on one of the synths we used on this album. I wouldn’t say we limit us by time. We play around until we find something that fits perfectly to what we imagined, or it can also create something you didn’t expect at all. If you come to the point where you can’t find what you’re looking for, you take a break and do it again later.
It also features Australia’s Tash Sultana – one of our most innovative young musicians. What do you like about her attitude and methods?
She is a very talented young musician who has her very own style and is super passionate about it, which gives her a contagious and powerful energy as a live performer. She also works very intuitively and loves to jam and play around, which is also where we come from.
Eden’s House is amazing – it features the South African all-male choir Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Did you know of them through their work with Paul Simon (Graceland) or by another means? Did they arrange their own harmonies and backing vocal parts?
We’ve known them since highschool as we were singing a couple of arrangements in the choir we used to be in (actually, none of the most famous ones with Paul Simon). A pretty popular one we sang was the anthem Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.
We did send [the choir] the track and basically just gave them the freedom to do whatever they would come up with. The first version they sent back was already so great and so close to what we ‘imagined’ or hoped for. So, there was only a couple more rounds to get some harmonies in the bridge that [weren’t] there.
Album closer Window has many different elements to it – it could be one of the most layered on the record. How did you assemble all these beautiful parts – was it planned, or did you leave some things to chance?
It was our plan for the whole album to spend a lot of time on detail and make them sound exactly how we imagined. On Window we worked with a producer from Berlin, Kev Koko, who helped us find special synth sounds.
Google tells me that ‘Fado’ is a Portuguese musical tradition, the songs of which are characterised by “mournfulness, resignation, and melancholia.” The album’s opening track Fado isn’t mournful, but it has a strange sort of troubled beauty. How do you understand the term ‘fado’, and why did you choose to build a song around it?
‘Fado’, as it stands for melancholia and mournfulness just how you said, was the basement or plug and inspiration for the song. It just really seemed to fit our natural vibe and feeling that is the music we make.
The album utilises region-specific rhythms and instruments (Latin, Reggae); you have Australian, South African, and Belgian-Congolese guests; you recorded in Norway; and you yourselves are German.
What do you understand to be the thread that pulls your influences together, so that your music always sounds like Milky Chance?
If I get the question right, I think that there has always been a lot of very different music inside us, because we always listened to all kinds of music from all over the world. (Thanks to one of the very good things of our generation.) So it is probably that melting pot that brings out something that sounds like us.
Mind The Moon by Milky Chance is out November 15 via Neon Records/Universal.
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