Milky Chance is Listening to Britney, Whitney (The Diva), and Whitney (The Band)

Published November 13, 2019

Photo by Anthony Molina.

This is “Add to Queue,” our attempt to sort through the cacophony of music floating in the algorithmic atmosphere by consulting the experts themselves. Our favorite musicians tell us about their favorite music—the sad, the happy, the dinner party-y, the songs they want played at their funeral. In this edition, we chat with the two minds that make up the German electric folk-pop group Milky Chance, Clemens Rehbein and Philipp Dausch, in anticipation of their upcoming album Mind the Moon. Here, the pair talks great driving albums, good recording studios, and very, very bad karaoke. 

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JADIE STILLWELL: I just got to listen to the new album, and it was great. How would you say it’s different from your other two releases?

CLEMENS REHBEIN: There are a lot of differences. How we started recording it was different because, for the first time since we started Milky Chance, we had taken a break from touring. No shows, no nothing. And so we could really focus on being creative again and getting back into the studio, diving into the process, and having nothing else on our minds. We also recorded this album with breaks in between. We decided to record it in different studios and different places because we wanted to get inspired by different instruments and studios. We just wanted to get affected by our surroundings. We started in our home studio. Then we took a break, then we continued in a studio in Italy for two weeks and took another break and then had another two weeks in Norway. So we just took more time to really get into it, which was nice.

STILLWELL: Did you have a favorite studio that you recorded in?

PHILIPP DAUSCH: I think the last one, in Norway, was quite significant. The place was right next to the ocean. So you could see the water basically all day long, no matter what you did. That really had an effect on us. 

STILLWELL: There’s actually a lot of talking about the ocean and the moon on the album. How did you feel like those ideas or images were influencing you?

REHBEIN: The moon was a topic even before we went to Norway because you can see the moon from everywhere. But the ocean and the water…they also, in the end, lead to the moon. So that combo, and this place in Norway, by the end of recording, really led us to the title of the album.

STILLWELL: When did you guys start making music?

DAUSCH: I started making music at the age of 12. At the time, a good friend of mine took me to his guitar teacher. He asked me if I want to join. I wasn’t quite sure. And then I tried it, and from that day on I was totally stuck. We mastered the first lesson and when I got home I played for two more hours. I fell in love instantly.

REHBEIN: Yeah, kind of same. I think I got my first guitar when I got into school. My mom gave me a guitar because she was a classical guitar player, and so I started by learning classical. But then, in elementary school, I met my best friend and he was a drummer. So pretty quickly we wanted to be a band and make music and we built a studio and stuff like that. The music world was an early playground.

STILLWELL: Who were the earliest musicians to influence you?

REHBEIN: My mom was a big fan of all these kinds of political singer-songwriters. German mostly, but also English. Bob Marley was one of her favorites and Reinhard Mey. 

DAUSCH: Marley was a big influence for me as well when I was a teenager. I also listened to lots of Jack Johnson back in the days when I was learning songs on the guitar, licks and stuff like that.

STILLWELL: Who’s your dream collaborator, past or present? 

REHBEIN: I think both of us would be very keen to collaborate with a hip-hop artist. Last time when we talked about it, we talked about how we definitely wanted to work with a female hip-hop artist. It won’t probably ever happen in our lives, but we were just talking about Lizzo because we are blown away by her. 

DAUSCH: By her singing and her rapping. She’s crazy. She can do everything. I can also definitely add Stromai, thinking about it. That would be a big honor, if he would work with us. 

 STILLWELL: What’s the last song that you listened to?

DAUSCH: The last song I listened to was actually Lola Marsh’s new one. They put out a new video, which is quite funny. They were playing table tennis.

REHBEIN: If I’m honest, I was just in a public pool. There was the guy who did some Zumba exercises. You can follow in the water and there were an MC and DJ playing music. Do you know Boney M.? It was “Daddy Cool” or something and they played it and everybody was doing exercise in the water. It was pretty funny.

STILLWELL: What is your favorite movie soundtrack?

DAUSCH: I would say mine, at least for the last couple of years, is the soundtrack from Birdman. It was outstanding. It’s very special because it’s almost only drumming. It shows a different way of underlining the movie with music and how percussion can have a harmonizing effect.

REHBEIN: That’s a very good pick. Dang. I just listened recently to the soundtrack from a French movie called Les Choristes. I don’t know if it’s that popular in the U.S., but it was a huge success in Europe. It was about a boy’s choir. It’s very nice choir music with very nice composition. They all sing in French, too, which sounds very beautiful.

STILLWELL: What about a song that always puts you in a good mood?

DAUSCH: Probably something by Whitney Houston.

STILLWELL: Good choice.

REHBEIN: I think Whitney Houston is good for me too.

DAUSCH: Okay. If you take Whitney, then I’ll take Britney. I think Bob Marley is also a good one to get you in a happy mood. I take Bobby.

 STILLWELL: What artists or songs would you put on a road trip playlist?

DAUSCH: I have to look up the song, one second. It is from KALEO. You know KALEO? It’s this band from Iceland, and they have a song called “Automobile.”

STILLWELL: Oh, perfect title.

DAUSCH: That’s a very good one for being on the road.

REHBEIN: One of my favorite road trip albums is by the band Whitney, Light Upon the Lake. I think if you put that album on, you can just go. You can drive for hours and listen to that music.

STILLWELL: What would you put on a dinner party playlist?

DAUSCH: Ooh, a dinner party playlist? It’s been quite a while since any of us had a dinner party, so that’s a hard one. This is an imaginary question.

REHBEIN: What kind of dinner? Is it intimate or are there a lot of people?

STILLWELL: Up to you! It’s your dinner party, you’re throwing it.

REHBEIN: Let’s say it’s friends.

DAUSCH: If there are a lot of people, some upbeat funky stuff. Maybe KC and the Sunshine Band or something like that.

STILLWELL: What about a playlist for crying in your bedroom? 

REHBEIN: Oh, man. I think the last time that I cried and I was listening to music at the same time, I was listening to a mixed playlist by Ben Howard. There are a few songs on that that are always standing beside me. I lean on them when I’m in that kind of mood.

DAUSCH: I remember I’ve cried a lot to John Frusciante. That was my crying to music big time.

STILLWELL: What about a breakup playlist?

REHBEIN: This one song from Jessie Reyez, with the lyric, [Singing] “I wish I could hurt you back.” That one. If you are the one who got left, that would be a fitting song.

DAUSCH: That’s an important point. The song depends on who you are in the breakup.

STILLWELL: How about a playlist to get you energized or pumped up, like before a show?

REHBEIN: I remember when we were on tour, we would often listen to music to get pumped. It’s usually quite funky. You know, George Harrison, older stuff. A lot of James Brown also.

STILLWELL: What about a playlist of songs that you would want to be played at your funeral?

DAUSCH: Funeral? Wow.

REHBEIN: I picked my funeral song as a 14-year-old. I don’t know why I was thinking about that. It was also a John Frusciante song. As you could tell, I was having quite an intense time with John Frusciante’s music back then. The song is calledoh shit, I forgot the name. 

STILLWELL: You’ve been planning this since you were 14, and you can’t remember the name?

REHBEIN: Yes. One second.

DAUSCH: “A Name,” I think it’s called.

REHBEIN: It is literally called “A Name.” Holy shit. 

STILLWELL: What made you decide you wanted it played at your funeral?

REHBEIN: It was so touching to me and speaking to me so intensely back then that I said, if I’m going to die, I want this to play. And I guess it also came from the fact that, at the time, my granddad had just died. And I don’t know if he chose it or if it was chosen for him, but the song they played at his funeral was horrible. So I just decided I want to pick mine now so I can be sure that it’ll be good.

STILLWELL: How about you, Philipp?

DAUSCH: I think my pick would be “There’s No Leaving Now” by The Tallest Man on Earth.

STILLWELL: If you do karaoke, what’s your go-to karaoke song?

REHBEIN: I have a really bad karaoke memory from when we were teenagers. We went to a bar and there were a lot of people there and they all did their thing. And then there was me and some friends, and we were thinking, should we do it or should we not? Everybody seemed to have a lot of fun. So we went up there and did our show, we were singing the classic “Save Tonight” by Eagle-Eye Cherry. And afterward, everybody was quite upset. It was hilarious, because everybody just stared at us, and we decided we had to leave.

STILLWELL: Do you have a song that you would do now if you did karaoke again?

REHBEIN: Oh, and did it better? I think I would take a very performance heavy one, that I would not have to think too much. So maybe like “Gangnam Style” or something.

DAUSCH: Yeah. That’s a good one.

REHBEIN: Actually, we were just talking about a song by Kylie Minogue, “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.” That’s good karaoke. And the “la, la, la.” Everybody can jump on that, you know?

STILLWELL: What song do you sing in the shower?

DAUSCH: Actually, I just moved and in my new bathroom, there’s a radio built in. But it only can play radio stations, it doesn’t have Bluetooth or anything. So it’s kind of random what I hear. 

STILLWELL: So you can’t choose your shower song?

DAUSCH: No, and it’s super random because it only has one channel. I can basically only turn it on or off. So my shower music is random rock music.

STILLWELL: If you could choose a song, what would you choose?

DAUSCH: I have to say I don’t sing in the shower at all. But if I take my Bluetooth box, if I go the extra mile, I would really go for it. I would probably do something like opera singing, dude. I think that’d be fun in the shower. Something that you wouldn’t do in public.

REHBEIN: That’s a good pick. I’d also go with that.

STILLWELL: If your life was a TV show, what would be the theme song?

DAUSCH:Video Killed the Radio Star.”

REHEBEIN: What is the show? Is it like the song that the band plays on The Tonight Show but we’re hosting it?

STILLWELL: Could be. It’s whatever plays over the opening credits when your show begins. 

REHBEIN: Then it would be, [Singing] “Welcome to the Clemens Show. Do-be-do-wa.”