Techno Tuesday: Wehbba discusses his love for the Detroit sound
Wehbba has been at the forefront of Brazil’s underground scene since its earlier years. After becoming enamored with the Detroit techno style after holding a background in rock and jazz, the DJ and producer ended up quitting his job as a dentist to push the scene forward nearly two decades ago and has since been purveying his sound all over the globe. By 2010, Wehbba found a special home among the Tronic family, releasing his debut artist album Full Circle on the imprint and returning multiple times to sign his other music as well.
The artist also began developing a close relationship with Christian Smith, which led to their coveted Passion Over Fashion compilation series, whose second edition was released in 2016 in celebration of the label’s 200th release. The compilation, like much of Wehbba’s music, embodies the modern Detroit sound today and speaks to his and Smith’s continued dedication toward keeping music original and true to its old soul within the contemporary dance space. Now, as he prepares for an immersive tour across the United States, we’ve sat down with Wehbba to discuss his love for the Detroit sound and its influence over his music today, and his continued relationship with along with any plans to continue the Passion Over Fashion series.
Continue reading for the artist’s perspective.
I’ve been a musician since my early teenage years, and was always drawn to more complex rhythms and melodic structures especially from jazz or that kind of virtuosic heavy metal, but was also into straight up rock n’roll, punk and grunge. This mix of complexity and elaboration with objective simplicity always seemed to be messing up with my head.
I feel that Detroit techno manages to merge all of this, it’s got that intense jazzy complexity to it, but it’s also meant to be emotionally (and physically) liberating, so it manages to use the complex harmonic elements in order to compliment the rhythm, and suddenly this whole groove is born, which is in itself so easy to digest and be danced to.
‘Hi Tech Jazz’ was the first track that got me completely freaking out, I heard one of my favourite DJs of all time playing it in the late 90s, a Brazilian artist called Mau Mau. This really hit me like an uppercut and knocked me out, and I was even more in love with the whole thing once I started to listen to heavily Detroit-inspired European artists like Laurent Garner and Sterac. They managed to combine what I feel like is the best of both worlds, the immensely rich musicality with more structured, dance floor oriented types of groove, this was what I would look for the most when I started to buy records.
I’ve always felt music needs – ironically – musical content, I was never into the whole “tool” thing, sure I’ve made some over my almost 15 years as a producer, mostly to incorporate them into my DJ sets, but that’s not what rocks my boat. But then there are people like Jeff Mills or Robert Hood who manage to make mostly tools but with just the right amount of musical content to have a huge essence to them. It’s just too mind blowing for me.
When I came across Christian’s music and, of course, Tronic’s music, it was like jackpot for me. It sounded somewhat more innocent, but had the musical elements. It had this fierce techno rhythm and tight production, sounded modern and cleaner but still had all the elements I loved from the music from Detroit of the 80s and 90s, just displayed in a different way. Knowing him as well as I do now, I’ve found out he’s a music connoisseur with a strong background on disco, funk and also all things from early house and techno, so it just makes sense. Subconsciously I think this is what shaped my sound as a producer. I still look for fresh ways to incorporate my more musical influences into whatever seems to work the most at any given moment.
‘View Of Delft’, which I released on Systematic Recordings a while ago, was a good example of this. The organic drums were inspired by Carl Craig’s ‘At Les’, while the melody was also heavily Detroit inspired, but I’ve decided to use a less organic and more synthetic sound on it to make it more current, and more futuristic even.
I think techno’s history is now so rich after some 30 years on that we have a lot to draw from without sounding redundant, and this is just within techno alone! I find it really inspiring to listen to all the different generations of Detroit artists, and see how they’ve developed the sound that is perceived as Detroit techno today, and really get a grasp of that kind of rage, that was filled with content and fun too. Get a grasp of the freedom they seemed to be fighting for, even if subconsciously. And I still feel techno has a lot to offer, I love many aspects of the modern production, and I love challenging myself to try and offer something new and original, but that also shows my personality, my influences and all my baggage.
Regarding ‘Passion Over Fashion’, the concept was about displaying our influences and paying homage to them, and we covered a lot of ground from acid house to different sorts of Detroit techno, musical, minimalistic and percussive as well as techno in general. Right now I don’t see any reason for us to expand on it, and we haven’t been able to be in studio together like we used to, but you never know! As for my Detroit techno infatuation, I was finally able to act on it, and have worked solo on a remix for one of my favourite artists from motor city, under what I think is his best alias, and this will be coming out in the first part of the year on Tronic!