It’s hard to describe the magical atmosphere of Dutch electronic music duo Weval. With the combination of Merijn and Harm’s different musical backgrounds, they produce timeless and outstanding tracks. Before Kompakt Night, we talked to them about how they have suddenly become one of the most mentioned duos in the electronic music scene.
How did Weval get together?
Merijn Scholte Albers: At our mutual friend’s birthday party, Harm asked me if I wanted to make a music video or not.
So, everything started with a music video?
Merijn Scholte Albers: Yeah, we were both in the film school and interested in making films. I let him hear some tunes and after he enjoyed it, we started making music I guess.
You are coming from different musical backgrounds. Albers is coming from a trip-hop background and Coolen from the house! How does it affect the entire production? How do you inspire each other?
Harm Coolen: I think, generally, I like a bit more linear and calm, mellow things. And Merijn… When we started, he especially liked the heavier stuff.
Merijn Scholte Albers: I like the rock bands and stuff. That’s quite rough.
Harm Coolen: In the beginning, we both thought that we maybe couldn’t work together because we had different tastes. But, we saw each other a lot. Tastes can go a little similar when you go together. And I guess we’re having more and more the same tastes now. But still, I’m more of the mellow guy.
Merijn Scholte Albers: Yeah, I like the big moments I guess. Like the drops.
Harm Coolen: I hate them. That works well if I come with a boring piece of music which is like one or two pieces of music which has some kind of beats and then I don’t know what to do anymore. And Merijn knows what to do.
Does this contrast keep the production alive?
Merijn Scholte Albers: Yeah, it works out because if I was on my own, I would make really cheesy bangers and he would make like really experimental stuff.
Harm Coolen: Really boring stuff.
Do you think that electronic music is hyped as a genre nowadays?
Harm Coolen: Nowadays it’s very diffused. It’s very jingle of tastes and styles. If you live in a certain bubble, you can still think rock is the biggest music form and maybe it is. I don’t know. It goes every way for me. It’s an interesting time because I don’t have a clear picture anymore.
Merijn Scholte Albers: At this point, I can’t see a certain style that is really big. 2010 is like the dubstep era. And every time has its genre I guess. But maybe it costs time to see what happened. Maybe while you’re in it, you don’t see it. It looks like now, because of the streaming, everything is possible. I listen to a lot of weird stuff, too. So, it’s not like I spend months listening to trip-hop or stuff from the ‘50s and ‘80s.
What are you listening to nowadays?
Merijn Scholte Albers: We have a nice Weval playlist on Spotify where we put all our stuff in that playlist and we play it from time to time. But the whole playlist isn’t in one style. It’s really a mess. For example, one of our other band members said, “It’s a nice playlist but I can’t just press play and do the dishes.” Because then, all of a sudden, it becomes really crazy and intense. Well, it started with a really downtempo, chill song which suddenly goes to everywhere.
If we come back to the electronic music scene, it is also gaining a presence in Istanbul. For example, tonight, Kompakt is making this organization. And with this event, it is your second time in Istanbul this year. What kind of a connection you have with the audience in Turkey?
Harm Coolen: One day we found out, “Hey! Istanbul is listening a lot to our music.” You can see it on Spotify and it’s often in the top five cities in the world. We said, “Apparently people are listening to us here.” So, in the last few years, we had a few gigs and every time we came here, there is always more reaction to the music that we make. We were actually super surprised.
Merijn Scholte Albers: I still don’t know how…
Harm Coolen: It’s a big mystery.
Merijn Scholte Albers: What’s the first… I don’t know. Probably this one person posted our song and that’s how it got started. It had to start somewhere. But you know it’s good, maybe we don’t have to question it.
We heard that you’re recording a new album! Is it on the way? How is the process going?
Harm Coolen: The process is going very well writing-wise. We never wrote so many songs in so little time because sometimes it can be a big of a struggle which is nice. But in the last six months, we have been writing a lot of songs. So, we are totally in the middle of it and we’re super excited. It will take a bit before it comes out because our deadline to finish it is August, but then it will come out around February.
Merijn Scholte Albers: I’m not sure if we can say that. But it will take a lot of time. It’s always weird that you finish something and you have to wait half a year before people can hear it.
Harm Coolen: Yeah, you’re already on another level.
Merijn Scholte Albers: Yeah, we were done with it! If it’s good, then we still like it.
Is this why you add more layers when you play live?
Harm Coolen: Yeah, I guess so. I think it’s really important that we also feed on our shows. We also have to get some energy out of it. If you play the same song for hundreds of shows in the same way, the audience also feels like they know the trick. After two years of playing more or less the same kind of live, I thought we had the perfect combination. As it comes to the combination of tracks and how we wanted to play them. But after a while, we got sick of it and we thought, “
While you are in the middle of the recording process and look back to your older tracks, are there any differences with the new ones? What kind of Weval sound should we expect?
Harm Coolen: I think, one of our ways for being in music is to develop ourselves and trying to get to somewhere else. Because that’s new. So, in this case, it means we’re recording more so what we’ve had in the past we sampled a lot. And now we are recording the drums for example. So it sounds a bit more acoustically. I guess we can say this now. But still, it’s a blend of everything. It’s hard to describe. It really feels like something different than what we did before. Also, we’re feeling different and writing differently. So, we’re super glad. More than half a year ago, we recorded drums for the first time and then we worked on this and it didn’t sound good and we thought maybe more processing really fighting. I guess we spent more than a few hundreds of hours only on drums and processing and then we found we needed to record in a different room, for example, with a different mic. So those kinds of things really are challenging us. How it will end, I guess it’s so hard to describe, it’s just a matter of pressing play and seeing for yourself.
How do you keep your motivation?
Harm Coolen: We really get motivated and inspired by being in the studio. So, too much touring it’s not good for us. We like playing but three gigs a week is difficult. Sometimes it’s nice to be in this rush but generally, we like to create new stuff. Doing this every day could mean that some days that you don’t feel inspired. So, you have to try and find a balance between, “Okay, let’s not go to the studio today” because the sun shines or “I just don’t feel good” and just go to the studio sometimes without the best mood and see how it goes and not try to set the bar too high. We always start in around 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon and the first layers we always doubt and this is really nothing. OK. Let’s add another layer.
Merijn Scholte Albers: You can’t stop. If you are doing something and you think, I don’t know, maybe it’s quite cheesy. You have to continue. Sometimes, it’s way over the top and just sh*t. But if there’s something, if there’s a melody it sounds a little bit cheesy, but you like it. I don’t know, just you can change the sound or add weird stuff and become something different… There’s something in it that makes you feel happy.
Harm Coolen: You have to be a bit naive or a bit stupid to start a song. Because everything is being written, every most beautiful sound being made, you’re not going to make a more beautiful song that is already made. If you also look at a lot of classics… I started to appreciate them because you know from the radio this is a cliché song and you know some Fleetwood Mac… This is a beautiful song. I need to write this. All these lyrics, it’s so simple so good. So, we’re not going to make any better song than that. So, you have to be a bit naive.