The Austrian duo behind HVOB experiment with music in a way that’s not what most clubs or festivals may be used to. But the result is so good, both recorded and live, that the only thing they can do is bet on them. After performing at Sónar Istanbul and having a sold out tour in India, they’ll present their audio-visual live show during Sónar by Day in Barcelona. After getting trapped in their latest dreamy textural videos, we spoke to Ana Müller – a half of the band – to have a personal sneak peek of what can we expect from them.
How did you fall in love with electronic music? Do you remember your first night out? Coolest memory from a music festival?
I don’t have my early roots in electronic music. I grew up with the records from my brother like Oasis, Radiohead, Sonic Youth or PJ Harvey, just to name a few and the biggest ones. I remember one of my first nights out in an electronic club – it was in Vienna – called Pratersauna, and one of the tracks I fell in love with immediately was Nicolas Jaar’s Time for Us. It was like a magic moment, I felt what music can do to you in a club, and I wanted to create something similar, like music that takes you somewhere.
Your formula on stage is quite atypical for the field: a DJ, a drummer, and a singer/pianist. How would you define your music when played live?
I think you just should explore it – it is always hard to talk about music, or define music. Playing live with this set up in a club was something pretty unusual and new. There were a lot of clubs in the beginning who said “We can not do it, there is no space for a drummer”, but in the end, it always worked out somehow. People were surprised when suddenly a band was playing in the middle of the night after a DJ, but it always worked out great and people were into it from the very beginning. It is very important for us to bring our music on stage as pure and live as possible. That hasn’t always been the easiest way, but it’s the most honest one.
I like the idea of music being an international language. Is it how you think about it? I've read you don't want people to focus on who's behind the desk but on what's behind it.
It is important that people know what HVOB is about: it is about the music, not about Paul and me. We don’t want to be anonymous and we take pictures from time to time, but we don’t want to define HVOB because of our look, our clothes or any other superficial element. There is so much narcissism everywhere these days that artists are loved because of their style, behaviour and Instagram pictures. Personally I am bored of it, but also annoyed about all the self-staging. It’s simply not our idea of music.
HVOB works with the artistic and the visual aspects of music. What comes first when creating, the visual or the musical side of the performance? What is the creative process you follow when composing?
It depends from album to album: with Trialog we really created an artistic world together with the contemporary artist Clemens Wolf and the VJs from lichterloh; their art influenced our music and vice versa. It was a very intense and challenging process, but we couldn’t be happier with the output. On Silk the music was first, and we adapted the visual aspect during the process of preparing our concert show. But art and visuals are a very essential aspect of our project, as you can see in our music videos or concert shows.
The visual side is very conceptual: melting metal, dripping pigments, exploding minerals, etc. Beautiful, dark and even surreal textures are what predominates in your aesthetic. How do you relate these images to your sound?
You are talking about our album Trialog, which I just mentioned. Yeah, the idea was to document ten naturally occurring processes like melting, exploding, bending, and oxidising. You can watch it on Youtube – it was a ten tracks art project, combining music and lyrics with those processes.
You've been playing in China, Japan, South Africa, the United States, and you've just come back from a tour in India. Now, it’s time for Sónar Barcelona! What’s the secret to keep up with so many concerts? And how does the audience react to your performance depending on where you play?
We are so grateful for travelling around the world, seeing so many places and meeting so many wonderful people. Reactions are quiet the same, there is no much difference – as you said, music is like an international language. We just arrived back home from a sold out India tour including Delhi and Mumbai. We would have never thought of that much response, but people were singing every line of our songs. It was crazy!
How does it feel to play at Sónar, one of the most forward thinking festivals? Do you have any ritual before going onstage? And why shouldn’t we miss your performance?
First of all it is a huge honour. I think every electronic artist dreams of playing at Sónar one day; it is just one of the best electronic music festivals out there. When we started with HVOB, I would have never dreamed of playing there, so it means a lot to us. We will bring our visual and light show, and yeah, we just try to give our very best. We played Sónar Istanbul a couple of months ago, which was amazing.
Last but no least: any HVOB's mantra?
Don’t listen to people who tell you how you should do things right. Do the things you love, no compromises. Make nobody else than yourself responsible for what you achieve or when you fail. 
I think I have said it before somewhere: even cheesy sounding sentences are true sometimes.
HVOB will perform on Thursday 15th June from 21h to 22h at SónarVillage,