It might have taken us Aussies more than 12 months to discover Milky Chance’s debut single ‘Stolen Dance’, but once we did, we took it to our hearts and sent it soaring to the upper reaches of the ARIA charts.
It peaked at No.2 here in Australia, equalling its chart placing in their homeland Germany, helping entrench them in our pop psyches.
In Australia for an appearance at Field Day, along with a couple of headline shows, we placed a call to the band’s vocalist Clemens Rehbein to find out a little bit more about how the duo came to be and their plans for global domination. However, given he and bandmate Philipp Dausch were in Sydney for new years, we kick off by enquiring whether or not they were close to the bridge for the stroke of midnight.
“Yeah, we were standing right in front of the bridge, so we had the best view of the fireworks and it was pretty amazing,” he confirms. But he stops short of saying it’s the best fireworks display he’s ever seen.
“Well it’s different in Germany. In Germany, everybody’s allowed to do fireworks, so there are a lot more if you’re in the big cities like Berlin or Hamburg. You’ve got big fireworks there because everyone’s doing them everywhere. In Sydney, you’ve only got that one, so you can focus more on what’s happening.”
The Milky Chance story began a few years ago when Clemens and Philipp met in the eleventh grade in high school. They quickly discovered a mutual love for music and became firm friends.
“From the first day, we started hanging around together with another guy and then we started a band with four people,” Clemens explains. “We played a lot of old music like Ray Charles, soul, jazz, jazz standards. We started jamming and making music together and did that for three years.
“When we finished school, one guy went abroad and the other one started studying, so we hadn’t had any plans. I had songs that I’d written and finished and Philipp and I just started recording them because we wanted to continue making music together. And that’s how the whole Milky Chance thing came about.”
But those hoping for a juicy story with regards how the name of the band came to be might be left a little disappointed.
“Well I created that when I was younger just for fun,” he reveals. “When I started songwriting, I created some artist names for each song. I just picked that one because… well there’s no meaning or anything, but for me, it sounded like the best choice. Or maybe the least worst.”
It didn’t seem to matter what the band was named, however. Uploading their songs to YouTube, Milky Chance quickly found an audience, hitting the charts in their homeland and slowly, but surely, began to impact across the planet. Clemens tells us that ‘s been amazing to watch the the band’s success unfold.
“It’s so surprising having such success. A bit overwhelming,” he says. “Sometimes it seems a little unreal, but we’re very happy, just trying to enjoy it and looking forward to do our best and go with the flow.
“When we started recording the album, we never had any expectations or plans to make a career out of being professional musicians. Everything just happened and we took the opportunities.
“When people were asking us whether we wanted to release it in different territories, of course you always respect the request. If it’s getting bigger, it’s harder to get control and you don’t really know how it can potentially change your life.
“So you have to think about it of course. Sometimes it’s a hard decision to make. But if you’ve got the opportunity to have gigs in Australia or somewhere else, it’s hard to say no.”
The band quickly gained traction in the somewhat left-of-centre musical realm that’s been described as “folktronica”; a curious blend of folk and dance. But that wasn’t always the stylistic direction they were headed for.
“I think with the songs on the album, you can hear all the different zones that we love to listen to and we experienced over the last eight years,” Clemens tells us. “You’ll discover a lot of different styles, because we just love to listen to music in general. And we experience music in all its different ways.
“Like when were in school, for example, we were in advanced music class and we were singing in a choir and we had a couple of bands. We just got to know all those different styles of music.”
Given there have been so many musical influences in the boys’ past, we’re curious to discover how their sound may evolve on future recordings.
“That’s hard to say,” he admits. “We just focus on doing what we like and I think what you like always changes a little bit over the years.
“So it will be a little bit different and we want to develop, but I don’t know what it’ll sound like. I guess it’s not totally another style. It’ll be kinda the same, but of course, we’ll try some things out and see what happens.”
Though Clemens and Philipp have been including “about seven” new songs in their live sets, the second Milky Chance album may still be a little while away.
“We will record the second album in November or December this year,” Clemens confirms. “But we’re not really planning how it should be or how it will be. We don’t know how the recording process will be. But of course, we will do a second album.”
And whether that second album garners the same level of success internationally as their first doesn’t trouble them.
“I don’t think that we focus on having the same success or having another song that will be as big as ‘Stolen Dance’ and we don’t expect it,” Clemens tells us.
“If you look back on last year, for most artists it doesn’t happen that much. So I think we’ll just focus on doing what we like and what we love and if people like it, we’re happy. And if we can just live for it and be ourselves, that’s okay.”
Milky Chance’s singles ‘Stolen Dance’ and ‘Flashed Junk Mind’ are lifted from their debut album ‘Sadnecessary’, which is available digitally and physically now.