The typical din of a popular tourist spot hung in the air, but suddenly and unexpectedly there was live music, proper live music. I turned around and to my surprise saw a young band playing on the side of the road with guitars, drums, amps and all.
Now as an Englishman this came as sort of a surprise. When was the last time you walked down a street and saw a band playing live on the pavement? Have you ever seen this outside St. Paul’s Cathedral? Pete Doherty and Carl Barat might have done it a bit in London but that was all, really, for show.
It didn’t take long before I was completely intrigued by the band, and their mix of Interpol, the Strokes and Foals soon had me and my girlfriend wandering over for a closer look. Yes they were young and yes they were playing music very obviously influenced by some of the biggest names in indie music, but there was more to this band than that. They should have seemed like a typical teenage band, nicking riffs, themes and sounds off established act, coming across like a ‘battle of the bands’ group of lad wannabes.
But they didn’t. They had took this blend of British and American indie and turned it into something that hadn’t already been done a million times, because if they had then quite frankly I wouldn’t have left my glorious drinking spot. They had something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, a freshness that they seemed to have achieved by looking at the genre from a new angle.
Wanting to know more, we spoke to them about what it’s like playing gigs in such a public space, being a band in Berlin and their future plans.
Hello! Please introduce yourselves.
Hey, we’re ARTWHY from Berlin. We are three young musicians playing a mix of Alternative, Indie and Synth-Rock. Recently, we are looking for some attention in the overgrown nightlife of Berlin by playing concerts on the streets, in the clubs and on festivals. Our aim is to share our music with as much people as possible everywhere.
Luckily, we found a label last year supporting us and our ambitions. Since then we were able to tour around in several cities of Germany, paying concerts, meeting new faces and getting stuck in long nightlife sessions.
Where did you all meet?
The project first started in 2009 when Leonard and Pablo met in the well-known Mauerpark where the border from east to west used to be at. We were talking about different types of music and a band which inspired Leonard at that time called Coldplay. In order to find a member to complete our band we organized a tiny drummer-casting. There we found Nils and immediately it fit perfectly. Since then we prepared our second album called Stripes which was released last September.
How would you describe your sound?
Due to the personal approach of every one of us we got a wide range of musical influences. With the help of the synthesizers and electronic samples we try to overcome the limits of the basic indie music. These synthesizers combined with the classic setup of drums, guitar and bass allow us to build atmospheres which still leave enough space for everyone’s feelings and interpretations. When you listen to STRIPES you’ll discover a mysterious message in the background which swings with every song whether it is rather melancholic or optimistic. To give it a name we’d call our sound: Alternative Indietronic.
How would you say your sound has developed since you first started playing?
In the beginning we just wanted to play. This philosophy guided us to a very simple sound reminding of the early Brit Pop movement. This is what represents the character of our first album WALL PAINT. Looking for a new sound after releasing our first album we tried to overcome the physical borders of only being a trio. Therefore we started experimenting with electronic sounds. This led us to a new depth of sound which found its way on STRIPES. When we wanted that one special deep synth sound in the chorus we somehow managed to get it.
We met when we saw you playing a gig on the side of a road in Berlin, what’s it like playing out in the middle of the public?
It’s totally different from playing in a club. You only have a really short moment to make the people listen to you. Even though you can’t predict the sort of audience, you won’t get a better possibility to perform in front of so many different people. It’s a good way to promote our concerts in cities where we have never been to before. Nevertheless it’s a challenge to get attention on the street we want. (especially in Berlin)
You’ve recently been on a street gig tour of Hamburg and Stuttgart, how did it go?
We have been to ten cities in western Germany. It was a great feeling to wake up in another city every morning. We could have never imagined that our first tour would be such a success. There were so many people who were interested in our music and with the help of our label Hippoppo Records and the cd sales we were able to keep it going. Spontaneously, we were invited to play on a home party which was a blast.
There was no stage and the people were so close to us that we could feel their vibes.
Thanks to the great street sessions we even managed to filled the clubs we played in in Stuttgart, Hamburg and Hannover. Finally, we were completely surprised how positive the resonance was so that we can’t wait to do it once again.
What’s been your favourite place you’ve played live so far?
This was our release show in the famous White Trash in Berlin. We planned the concert several months in advance to celebrate our last album STRIPES in a proper way. We were entirely overwhelmed by the spirit coming from the massive audience.
If you had the choice of one city to play live, which one would it be?
We would love to play in every country of Europe at least once in our life time.
As Great Britain is the source of modern indie-rock, its musical heart London would be our first choice. Because of the same reason we recorded our first album in London. The city gives something other cities don’t have. It seems that London has its own musical heartbeat.
Berlin has got such a deep musical heritage, what’s it like being a band in the city? Do you feel inspired by the history?
Since 1900 Berlin is THE cultural melting pot in Germany. Many traditions and life styles come together in a dense place. This is where we also take our inspiration from. The best example for Berlin’s liberal character is that the police won’t stop you making music on the street. Berlin leaves us the space to be creative.
Tell us about the albums you’ve released so far.
Our first is called Wall Paint. It was recorded at the Matthouse Studios in London in 2011 and released 2012 in Berlin. It strikes with its unconventional adolescent sound we made at that time.
Just one year later we released our second album STRIPES which was recorded in Berlin Kreuzberg. The PLS studio with its large recording space enabled us to experimentalise more than ever.
We hear you’ve got another one coming out soon, what can you tell us about that?
Our third album is going to be a perfection of what we did so far. We get more and more into our sound and find out what we actually want to achieve with our music. Album number three may be the top of this search for a complete sound. At the same time it could a new mark on our way discovering new sound elements or even music philosophies.
Who would you say your main influences are?
Every band member imports something personal in the project. This means that our music consists of three different approaches to music itself. For sure we orientate our musical ambitions along some great artists such as Interpol, Editors and Bloc Party. But what makes our music authentic is that by playing and composing songs we create our own perception of music.
Are you going to try and tour around Europe?
That’s what we would love to do. And since we got signed by Hippoppo Records we think we came one step closer to this goal. At the first sight it seems to be a big thing but as we learnt from Germany tour you just have to do it.
And finally, what’s the ultimate direction for the band? Where do you see yourselves being in five years time?
This is something we would leave up to the world’s fortune tellers. If the planets line up correctly our dreams will come true. Primarily, we want to make a living with our music. And fortunately that comes with what we like most: playing for lots of people around the globe.
For more information on Artwhy then head to their Facebook page and to listen to more of their music check out their YouTube and SoundCloud pages. We’re definitely excited for this band, so keep an eye out on The Raccoon for future updates.