Techno Tuesday: Weval on writing an underground pop record
Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.
Weval represent the rare intersection of underground dance music and pop. Over the last couple years, their savvy brand of downtempo electronica has wooed over tastemakers across the globe, due in large part to their debut, self-titled album, which arrived earlier this summer on Kompakt.
Comprised of Harm Coolen, 30, and Merijn Scholte, 27, the Dutch duo are two of the humblest personas you’ll find in the increasingly crowded underground space. They’ve been making music for roughly 6 years now, but have yet to tour stateside — that is, until now. In early October, they’ll make their US debut at Diversion: a new open-air party taking place in Downtown Los Angeles on October 9.
Ahead of their appearance, we caught up with Weval from their home in Amsterdam.
How long have you been thinking about writing this album?
From the beginning. We even used some old ideas from three years ago, like a melody for example. We always wanted to make an album from the start. If you start with an album immediately, you don’t have enough people to listen to it though. We also thought we weren’t ready for it yet. We got to experiment with two EPs. The EPs were the perfect way to explore. For us, the album came at the right moment.
How do you feel like the culture of albums in general. Are albums coming back on the rise?
I think for a lot of people, an album has a certain cultural meaning. Of course, it depends what you do with it too in this format. I kind of like the format though. You have a structure based on length. You can treat it in different ways. You can listen to it for one song. You can also listen to it after a year. It’s still there. You can enjoy it in many different ways.
How do you envision people listening to this album?
The dream situation for us: really good speakers, they’re sitting on the couch, they eat before (not well), and they just listen to the whole album and they experience it in full glory. That would be the dream, but I never do this… I think this has happened maybe two or three times. I think that’s the ideal situation but it’s mostly cycling or sitting in a train where I can really soak up an album. I like that there are so many different ways of listening now. It’s different for everyone. That’s a beautiful thing.
How do you take an album that’s designed for a living room space and make it translate to the dancefloor?
It’s a totally different story. We have 2 different kinds of sets when we play live. One is playing live with the two of us, and that’s mostly more of a club style. You make it faster, more four to the floor, and you really remix your stuff. The other one is playing with a live drummer, and then I play keys as well, and it’s more like a band. We wanted to keep a lot of improvisation — a bit of jazz sounding drums. We play with a certain kind of freedom. We can choose the length; how long we want to jam for.
You can still dance to it, but it’s a bit more concert-y, more like a band feeling. We really try to do something differently than what you hear on the album. We don’t play the tracks as you know them. They’re totally different. We don’t like to play the same thing over and over again that people already know.
We really love both worlds. Maybe for the audience it’s a bit unclear what we are going to do. For us, it’s wonderful that we can enjoy the more clubby, techno-ish sets and the more concert sets. We don’t limit ourselves.
You guys come from the club world, signed to Kompakt, but your music still has a pop accessibility. How do you tread that line?
We never had a goal to combine these two worlds. We just made music which we really liked. After a while, we noticed this can be played on a bicycle or in a club. There are a lot of in between things. A slow song can be super danceable. We had a lot of parties with friends in living rooms: less monotone 120bpm sets. They won’t happen when you play with your friends at a house party.
I think we really enjoy melodies and groove. Those elements are really important for us. Electronic music is of course a little more industrial and minimalistic, so we really look for a pop hook. It’s just what comes out of the studio however. You can think about it, but it’s just what comes out in the end.
Catch Weval playing at Diversion in Downtown LA on October 9. Tickets are available here.