Once the kings of the indie rock festival set, Milky Chance have returned with a bang. Since the German duo, Clemens Rehbein and Philipp Dausch, rocketed into fame with the hit song Stolen Dance in 2013 they have taken a cool break to work on some new material that is finally seeing the light of day. Two albums later and a period of rest and reflection, we spoke to the band in Berlin, on gracing us with Colorado.
This interview was conducted over video call ahead of the re-opening of Berlin clubs, in a moment of tension and uncertainty about the now returned international music industry. Milky Chance have since planned a November US tour and have a slot at Deichbrand music festival for July 2022.
Your new song Colorado feels to me like a new beginning. After experiencing such an overwhelming success, is it possible to return to the starting point?
For us it’s not about that. For us is pretty exciting to release new music after one year of lock-down. Last year and this year we spent a lot of time in the studio so we are happy to release new music to the people and the world again. You can never tell how far one song is going to go but you are always hoping for the best, that the song is going to be appreciated. For now, is going quite well.
It is so special to have new music from you. Why did you choose Colorado to start this new era? Is there a particular reason that inspired you to release this track?
I’ve always loved the word Colorado, the sound of it and I always wanted to write a song with that word. It was last December when we were having this meeting, a jam session, with two other musicians who we were working with. I was mumbling and playing with the guitar, we got to this first sentence “I get high like Colorado” and started to develop the rest of the song. I could say that all happened pretty much unconsciously. Our group had such a big gap between the last release and now because after the last release in 2019 we went on tour, so indeed, this feels like a new era but at the same time, we are just focusing on making the music we want. As musicians, we are always evolving. We are not that kind of band that has a strong concept or a vision, we just go with what we feel in the moment.
The video is very cool. The story unfolds in a mysterious high mountain resort where you are both the butlers, how did the idea behind this video come about?
When we started talking about the video we brainstormed with the guy we always make all the visuals with. The song doesn’t take itself too seriously, so we were thinking of creating that kind of humorous world related to Wes Anderson and Scandinavian cinema. Funny, but not slapstick. The whole setting of the video holds no connection with the story or the meaning of the song because we thought that was kind of funny.
So what were the concrete influences that inspired you?
We looked at so many references. Wes Anderson movies [probably the Grand Budapest Hotel], the film Adam’s Apple directed by Anders Thomas Jensen. In the beginning, we even talked about Cheech and Chong, two comedians from the ’70s. We just wanted to combine all of these references but make it less slapstick funny.
Tell me a little bit about your experience during lock down, how was it?
First of all, I feel like we live in a very privileged country, Germany. In the beginning, it was very shocking for everybody but then you start thinking about all the pandemics you realise that it doesn’t affect everyone the same way. Some people are really really struggling. We have been able to go to the studio. All the concerts and shows were canceled and that’s very sad but we have been able to continue making music and being creative. We didn't have to be worried about our existence or stuff like that. I feel very grateful.
Many people in the music industry were thrown into an empty space… members of our crew had to get into another job to make a living. Financially is not easy, but it is okay for us. We had a lot of time to reflect on last year and think about the evolution of the band and who we are now. I think of it is a crazy different time, but we are trying to see it as a chance to re-think and do stuff in a different way.
Do you live in Berlin?
Berlin, Berlin… what is it about that city that every artist wants to go there?
(Laughs) That’s very funny. I think in Europe there are a lot of beautiful cities. But within Germany, it’s the capital, it is very international [un]like any other place in the country. Here you can hear so many different languages and that is what creates a feeling that you are where things are happening in the world. That’s the thing about big cities, you know. Everyone is gathering around these big cities.
In Berlin, you can find a lot of people with different backgrounds. A lot of culture, music, and art is going on right now. Berlin is such a vibrant place and no matter what kind of music genre or type of movies you like, you are going to find someone to listen to that music or watch that type of movie. Here there is a place for everyone.
For how long have you been living there?
I just moved here last year, I’m new here.
So you haven’t experience the legendary nights of Berlin.
No, because I moved here during lockdown! I’ve been here a lot of time before moving here, though. I know some of the clubs and some of the parties, but now that I live here it’s only bars and restaurants!
I just think all the rumours aren't all true about Berlin’s night life. It’s not as crazy as everybody says. You can’t party every night of the week.
You just need to get into the scene. Once the clubs are open again you will be able to go out every night.
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No, in my experience, you can't party for example on a Tuesday!
(Laughts) Yeah, that’s right on Tuesday we don’t do that. It’s more like Thursday, Friday, Saturday…
And tell me, do you prefer to focus on the things to come or do you spend time missing the old pre-covid days?
We are really focusing on now and of course the future. We are back in the studio working on songs, we want to keep going, releasing new stuff and we are hoping to have finished a new album next year. Now we are going on tour in the USA in November. We are not crying remembering about past times, but we used to sometimes (laughs).
This song also involves the start of your own label, Muggelig Records. Why have you decided to take the reins of music production?
That decision was an outcome of all the time we spent last year thinking of our past as a band and our decisions taken over the eight years we have been in the band together. We thought that if we wanted to keep going for the next eight years we needed to know how are we going to make it.
After all these conversations it was pretty clear that it makes total sense to go independent. We have learnt a lot of things about the business, that has changed a lot the recent years. It has also become a lot more work. You have more control on how you bring music to the people, but it is also more time consuming. But in any case, it does feel nice to be independent.
Your super hit Stolen Dance, was your first single released back in 2013. It gave you international fame and recognition is always present in all your interviews. Aren’t you tired of being asked about that song?
No, it doesn’t bother me. I’m really, really grateful for having such a big song. That doesn’t really happen very often. The doors opened to us thanks to that song. We wouldn’t have been able to tour around the world or release three different albums. It’s a gift.
Really? Don’t you think that being asked about that song is like being asked about an ex boyfriend whose former relationship with you keeps chasing you?
(Laughs) Nothing at all! Is more like being asked about your best friend! That song is like that guy you always have a wonderful time with. I really see it as a very positive thing. I don’t feel like I’m not being seen as a whole artist due to that song.
Have you ever found yourself working in reaction to that song, trying to overcome it as if it were a peak?
We are pretty realistic about it. Maybe what happened with Stolen Dance will never happen again, you know, having such a successful song. But, you never know. Back then when I wrote that song I didn't write it as a way to achieve fame. I was just enjoying writing songs and making music, that is where it came from.
It would be very unhealthy for the music and the creative process to create songs for [any other reason than enjoyment]. When you are trying to serve the people or the music, and it’s not about the music itself, the process becomes not very enjoyable, it doesn’t make sense. You can never be sure if the people are going to like a song.
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Are there any bad parts of creating such a successful song?
I can’t think about any disadvantage.
 I’m curious to know - how long does a hit like that keep making you money?
Hopefully until I die! (laughs) I don’t know but probably for a long time. Tell me the year you were born.
I was born in 1992. Think about all the old hits we have been listened to… we are still listening to them and we will keep doing it! They are going to be there all the time, that's the crazy thing about music. I have no idea of how long Stolen Dance is going to live.
Your discography is made up of three albums: Sadnecessary, Blossom and Mind To The Moon. Which of them did you enjoy doing the most? Do you feel a preference for any one in particular?
I think is really odd to compare them. The first one probably felt the most special, the process was very different from the others. First times are always exciting no matter what, you are always going to remember them. We were just out of high school, it was a time that felt very free, we didn’t have any plans, focusing just on the present.
After the first one became so big. At the time of creating the second album, we had been on tour for a long time. All of a sudden we thought that we needed to create something else. We did it between tour dates and was kind of stressful because people were expecting new music, a thing that had never happened before to us.
Recording the third album was a very beautiful time, we went to different studios. There is something new about each album that you can always discover.
Now what can we expect from Milky Chance?
As I told you, we are back in the studio working in a lot of ideas. There is going to be more music. The next year a new album will come. We are aiming for that.
And my last question. Where did you buy the shirt you are wearing? (referring to a very cool vintage shirt)
(Laughs) In a second hand store here in Berlin.
I knew it! By the way I love the huge contrast between the background of where you are, a super white space, and such a colorful shirt!
(Laughs) I’m home and I’m like trying to keep it neutral.