European electro-folksters Milky Chance are humble almost to a fault.Sadnecessaryhas so far proven itself export gold for minimalist trip-jammers – a pernickety niche if ever there was one – and the pair seem a little nonchalant about their breakthrough.
They’re simply not the river-dwelling enigmas commercial hype machines depict; success was unprecedented, but accepted. For singer-songsmith Clemens Rehbein, the comforts of an isolated home may make success manageable.
“I feel good right now,” Clemens says at home in Kassel, Germany. “We live in the same town, so we’re doing a lot of chilling at the moment.” ‘Chilling’ may involve more creation with mate and Milky Chance counterpart Philipp Dausch, but Clemens prefers not to confirm. “We’re kind of removed from all the attention, so it’s kind of funny.”
Sadnecessary’s D.I.Y. foundations were laid mostly in Clemens’ parents’ house, where he still resides, and he insists Mum and Dad were (and presumably still are) cool, both about the recording process and everything that happened after. “Our parents weren’t strict or anything. They were great about it,” Clemens says. He supposes there was no better place than home to create hits like ‘Stolen Dance’. “You feel more comfortable in your own space.”
Clemens and Dausch tackle Milky Chance as creative symbiotes – one the songwriter, one the beatmaker. Dausch reportedly handles tech. “He’s more the brain,” says Clemens. “He knows the hardware and software, and production too. I handle songwriting. I’ll start with an acoustic guitar or some vocals and we’ll work on a beat from that. He’s a technical genius [laughs].”
Clemens prefers not to write lyrics in his native tongue because he considers English a more succinct alternative. “I’ve always done it in English. I think it’s because I listened to mostly English music growing up,” he says. “Also, I think it’s because German is a very precise language – you can have five or six words for a single English word.”
Wordplay is more straightforward, too. “It’s easier to create pictures; lots of metaphors. And I think it just sounds better in English. I’ve never tried singing in German,” Clemens laughs.
Milky Chance are often lauded for their cool, melancholic vibe, but Clemens says newer songs have required he widen his creative scope. “We’ve written new songs, which we have played live, and fans tell us they’re great.”
The self-reliant pair, along with another friend, founded their own record label, Lichtdicht Records, in the last year, and the enterprise is already self-sustaining. “Lichtdicht basically means ‘opaque’,” Clemens explains. “We were three friends, just out of school. We could have chosen to travel or study but we decided to try something out.” The evolving ‘something’ is apparently “going really well”.
Clemens and Dausch are itching to connect intimately with their Australian listeners. Early next year, they’ll have the opportunity. “I so appreciate our Australian fans, and I still can’t believe our music has reached them,” Clemens says. “We’re playing some festivals in Australia next year, and we’re really excited about heading down.”
A European tour comes first, though. “We tour a lot. We always take breaks, but we really love playing live.”
For all their post-release chilling, Clemens insists Milky Chance are maintaining all momentum gained over the last few months. He and Dausch have a record label to run – which, in the meantime, is surely reaping the dividends of releasing Sadnecessary – and the demands of the southern hemisphere to satisfy. At the moment, only a visit will do the trick for their Australian fans. “We’re hoping they’re ready,” Clemens teases.