WhoMadeWho may be one of the most influential bands of the last decade that you’ve (pointing at the DAD squad of readers) never heard before. Their early originals and remixes came out during the hey day of DFA Records and the whole ‘dance rock’ movement. Their early singles on Gomma helped set that label off to where they’re still releasing material to this day. What’s incredibly interesting about this trio from Copenhagen, consisting of jazz guitarist Jeppe Kjellberg, drummer Tomas Barfod, and singer/bassist Tomas Høffding, is that they’ve finally decided to release their music on their own, tossing the token record label model aside. This new found freedom has crescendo’d into their outstanding brand new album ‘Dreams’, out everywhere now.
I wanted to catch up with them and get a sense for their creative process and what drove them to essentially take their destiny into their own hands. As a band that’s never appeared to take themselves too seriously, something seems to be clicking for these guys as they enter their second decade of existence and their fifth album, Dreams. The answers I got prove there’s definitely a formula in place as they always try to keep things exciting and fun.
You guys have successfully stuck together for over a decade now and have basically seen every single internet music trend (so far) come and go. What do you guys attest your continued success to?
First of all, the band started as a ‘fun thing’ for us… we weren’t supposed to live off being in the band and weren’t expecting it to be our main band, so being fun and easy has always been a apart of our DNA. Pretty quickly after we started WhoMadeWho, it became our main activity money-wise, but we still fight for keeping the “fun” element in the band. We’ve had moments where we were under pressure, both from being tired of touring or because it’s just hard being a band sometimes with changing ‘hype’, but we have been very strategic about pushing our career without getting too serious, which is actually pretty hard.
With celebrating the release of your fifth artist album, Dreams, your sound has been so consistent and cohesive. How do you feel you’ve been able to maintain such a productive and inspired pace to your careers?
We try to push ourselves with making dogmas and thinking differently. Sometimes our concepts fall through and sometimes they work very well, but the most important thing about it is that we keep setting new goals and strategies. That goes for the business side, the live shows and the albums. The constant search for new possibilities keeps us creative and ‘turned on.’ I guess like a marriage, if you do the same thing everyday for 10 years, the relastionship gets boring. But if you try new things, you will keep the sparkle.
I personally got into your guys’ music through the early 12′ releases on Gomma and thought ‘Brighter’ was such a culmination for you guys musically. Tell us a bit about the creative process in writing and recording the new record, “Dreams”, and what you guys are out to achieve with it.
Dreams is yet another new project for us, because we wanted to make a “WhoMadeWho record” but we didn’t want to repeat the mistakes from earlier. On this album ,we didn’t want anything that didn’t need to be there. That goes for effects, lyrics, synth-themes and also whole songs. We spend a lot of time developing the best melodies, themes or drum patterns possible. Earlier on, we weren’t so obsessed with having effects, perfect vocal sound or clean structures And that’s fine to some extent, because perfection sometimes blocks creativity. On Dreams, however, we tried combining perfection and fun – we still played around a lot in the studio, but we only kept the necessary parts and deleted everything else. We hope that with this new approach we have been able make songs that are stronger and communicates more to the heart.
There seems to be a bit of resurgence in some of the sounds that the whole early to mid 2000′s “dance rock” boom was all about. Are there some newer artists out there that are inspiring you guys today? Can you give us a short list on who you guys are into these days?
Jamie Woon, Neon Indian, Toro Y Moi, Roosevelt, John Talabot, Jamie xx, Little Dragon, RAC, Son Lux, Kaytranada… but we try seeking back to the last 40 years for inspiration.
You guys did a cover of Mr. Oizo’s “Flat Bleat.” Any intentions to do your own renditions of some more dance music classics?
Actually not, it was just a thing for us and was totally fun. But we try not to repeat our ideas too much.
I’m very curious to know why you guys decided to self-release this new record. Is there a new found excitement having the kind of complete freedom you guys now have driving your own LP release?
First of all, it has been great working with two such strong labels as Kompakt and Gomma. But yes, there is something great about having the freedom to make your own choices 100%. It also makes very much sense since we can focus on territories where a label would loose money but we don’t because we earn good money on the live shows in that same territory, so our strategy is more holistic than before.
Dreams is out now everywhere. Tell us a bit about the rest of the plans for the year and beyond.
Life as a band is normally a loop – studio, promotion, touring…and back in the studio again. That’s also our circle, but we work more fluently. We don’t do 3-month tours in a bus. We usually only play the weekends and also while making the album, there is kind of a steady demand for our live show. So this year is gonna be a mixture of playing live, promoting and maybe late in 2014 we will start thinking about how to make our next album.