Gear Talks: a chat with Milky Chance

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Gear Talks: a chat with Milky Chance

Milky Chance
Words by Mixdown Staff

Milky Chance sat down with Mixdown to chat all things creative process, inspiration and the gear that makes them tick.

2023 has been a massive year for Milky Chance, marking 10 years since the unassuming German duo, comprised of childhood friends Clemens Rehbein and Phillipp Dausch released their debut album Sadnecessary, an LP which featured the addictively ear-worming chart toppers that you’d have had to be living beneath a seriously monolithic rock not to have heard, ‘Stolen Dance’ and ‘Flashed Junk Mind‘.

Read up on all the latest interviews here.

In the years following these gargantuan hits, Milky Chance have quietly become one of the biggest bands in the world. In fact, as they approached the release of the idiosyncratic and inventive songs that populate their new album, the duo had just come off of the biggest streaming year of their career (1.2 billion streams in 2022 – 300 million from frontline music). To celebrate the release of this eclectic bunch of brand new tunes, replete with the band’s signature broodingly husky vocals and pulsating, feel good dance beats, MC sat down with Mixdown to chat all things creative process, inspiration and the gear that makes them tick.

To start things off, I’d love to ask whether you made a conscious effort to expand your sound when approaching this album cycle – what kind of sonic palette were you folks working with when you began writing and recording the new LP? 

I think we always try to expand, or let’s say grow our sound. Moving to a new city (Berlin) was also an inspiration and gave us a fresh mindset, since we were spending so much time in the studio and not jumping between recording and playing live. A lot of things came together, yet I wouldn’t say it was in a conscious way. We’ve always loved to mix genres and walk in between them. I think it’s a reflection of our music taste being really broad. 

Tell me about the Milky Chance songwriting process – Is it entirely collaborative, do individual members tinker alone and then present to the group, or is it a combination of both? 

It’s a combination and changes from song to song. When either of us has an idea, we will quickly record it before bringing it into the studio to play for one another. From there it’s kinda like a game of ping pong – how we throw ideas around and collaborate on the idea. But it can also often happen right there in the studio while we’re just playing around or jamming. 

Talk me through your recording workflow from demo to track completion. Do you begin in the bedroom or head straight to the studio? Any preference of DAW/special set up that goes the extra mile? 

That as well depends on the song, but I would say we’re always drawn to the idea, that vibe really matters most. Meaning, it sometimes starts in the bedroom/at home and you just record a guitar riff or piano idea on your iphone and it turns out that the little recording there just sounds the best. It’s a lot about momentum sometimes, but of course then in the studio we often will re-record, build and problem solve, and just unfold the whole vibe of a small idea. What I personally like about analog gear is that you kind of commit more to a sound you build versus plugins where you often tend to overthink and eventually turn a knob. 

Which pieces of equipment are integral to the band when it comes to translating MC’ essence from a recorded to a live context? Are you trying to replicate your studio sound when you perform, or do you prefer to let the songs breathe and find their own live groove? 

Again, it can be both. I mean generally I guess we try to make the studio version our kind of goal, but again, it’s all about the vibe and some things/songs don’t really translate 1:1. So we also like to sometimes switch it up/add or really change things with instrumentation/arrangement and sound. For example, “Golden” or “Better Off” from the new album (Living In A Haze) definitely have a different vibe live. Also, “Don’t Let Me Down” from our 3rd album is one that we have had to change  a lot to play live since the studio version didn’t really work. It’s also a feature track, which is always hard to translate as you don’t have the other artist most of the time.

Milky Chance’s new album Living in a Haze is available on all good streaming platforms now.