Name: whoiswelanski
Members: Josef Pötzinger, Tobias Weber

Nationality: German

Occupation: Producer, DJ, composer
Current Release: whoiswelanski's Only in Arts is out via pop-up.
Recommendations: If you haven’t yet, you should definitely check out Becky Sikasa. Besides she is one of the best singers we have ever heard live, she is writing some really deep and beautiful music.
Squarepusher's record “Feed me weird things'' is a hidden classic. It still sounds so innovative although it was released in 1996.

If you enjoyed this interview with whoiswelanski and would like to know more about the duo, visit their official website. The band are also on Instagram, Facebook, and twitter.

When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

We started writing and producing music in 2019. Until then, we already were playing together to build the foundation of drum and bass of several bands. After realising that we listened to the same albums at the same time, we thought of creating our own music together.

Our passions always belonged to either melodically interesting or rhythmically complex or thriving music. Early influences were Bon Iver and Radiohead, but we also had a soft spot for modern jazz like Esbjörn Svensson. What also catched our ears at that time was the warm analog sound of synthesisers.

In general we always felt a very strong pull towards music that opens up a space to lay in. We remember being on A Jeff Beck concert at a young age and he barely spoke a word on stage but the music had this levitating energy in it, it spoke for itself. So that was definitely an experience that showed us the power of music.

When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?

It really depends on the style of music. For example, I discovered that complex music creates structures in my head that are moving weirdly through space. I experienced it lately while listening to Brad Mehldau and Mark Guiliana. It is like leaving your body, crazy somehow.

[Read our Mark Guiliana interview]

Music is also fuel for that part of our brain that contains memories. Although there might be no clear connection, a song sometimes throws you back into an old feeling. It is immediate and mysterious in a way that no other art form is capable of, at least that is how we perceive it.

How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?

Our interests are changing quite a lot, which is probably one of the reasons why our music might be a bit unforeseeable. We went from Krautpop, Psychpop in German language to a more electronic pop direction in English within the last 2 years. We listen to a lot of different genres and always try to discover new artists. Those influences are then getting incorporated in our new music.

It is difficult to say if we found our personal voice yet or if we will ever find it. There will always be constant development in our music so how can you be sure you arrived at the end of the process? At least, we can say that we always do what feels best in that moment and fits to the sound of the music.

In terms of lyrics, this means, we just sung in the language and used the words that fit to the sound we already developed. For our latest album, it felt right to sing in English and most of the lyrics just came out by muttering some first quick sentences into the microphone.

When we started with our project we had almost no idea about producing music. We watched youtube videos or read books and just took all the mics we had without a much bigger idea. In the end, we had a very Kraut sounding record which we, in fact, still love especially because of that washy basement vibe. Our interest changed from psychedelic sounding spheres to more clear, folk and electronic pop ones. Our songs had 70 audio tracks or more back then.

Nowadays, we focus more on the essential things that make up the song. The goal is to create songs that work with just one instrument and vocals which doesn’t mean that there cannot be a thousand sounds surrounding these essential elements.

Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.

Maybe as a result of living in a small town and not being part of any specific music scene we really try not to go with any trends. We aim not to think too much about spotify numbers and Instagram followers, we are simply happy to make music.

So in our creative process we let it go and try not to force anything. And that might also be an element of the music we love listening to. It is great to hear an individual style in someone else’s music and we appreciate not going for a hit or fame.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t respect and like mainstream pop music or shaking to a nice Beyoncé track. We just normally do not get hooked by it like a strange indie track in the weird corners of the internet that you stumbled into might do it.

What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?

One key is to just let it flow in the first phase of writing. Be silly, just create and then make it work as a whole. Although we are a duo, we start working together after one of us has already finished the basic or main idea of the song. For us a song is something personal and can be developed in a more direct way in that manner. That is how it works best for us.

Another key is our approach to design full Album or EP concepts and not just single pieces of music. We always rely on creative minds for that, artists from different backgrounds to create something bigger together. It is a very collaborative approach.

How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?

We see the idea of the song as the major thing. A good song is a good song, no matter if you recorded it with your mobile phone or with a 2,000 dollar microphone. Probably, if the idea is incredible in some sort of way, either because it’s catchy and easy to remember or new to our ears, the piece of music gets timeless. Is it perfect though? Maybe not, at least not from the production side of things.

Of course, we are finetuning our songs in endless hours to make the production sound as competitive as possible to other songs in that genre but we also sometimes make quick decisions if we dig the vibe of that certain recording. Our ideas though, are rethought over and over again. It happens that there exist 20 versions or more of one song: Same idea, but different structure, tempo, instruments, vibe, etc. Definitely, we have this kind of nerdy attitude that makes us perfectionists to some degree but not in every sense.

Both tradition and future are of interest to us. We love old records and there’s definitely a lot of influence coming from that. But new technologies and media are giving us new opportunities and we love to see that. We were already discussing generating new music from code or AI technology and how we could incorporate that. Also, as we are involved in the NFT space, we see new music and art coming from there.

For example, the artist Mario Klingemann founded a project called Botto, where he creates art with AI and lets the community, through blockchain technology, decide which artwork will be sold as an NFT. The community then gets their share of the revenue from that sale. The AI remembers their choice and draws a new artwork and the process starts over again.

So the question is: Will this lead to the most beautiful art, objectively? The same could apply to music and it would be very fascinating to see the outcome. In short, seeing new technology as a medium for getting creative is very interesting to us.

Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?

We started with what we had, some guitars, bass and drums as well as an old Korg M1 which we still use and love. Over the years, we bought some synthesizers and more gear but the tool we probably use the most, is the OP-1. It gives us everything to quickly record first rough ideas in the box that can be further developed later on. Some sounds make it to the final record because they just sound too good, or we were lucky to find a cool sample by recording our voice or sounds from the in-built radio.

The most promising strategy is probably to just feed this amazing toy with some rhythmic or harmonic information that suits the song and just let it go crazy on it. There are some programs on the OP-1 that are doing random stuff on the information you put in and many times this leads to something that you might want to continue working with. Either it works or it makes you laugh.

So the OP-1 is the perfect tool if you need some sound inspiration or get some easiness in your process

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.

We are trying to get as much continuity into our process as possible because we think there comes a great reward with working on things with patience and endurance.

So I usually get up and do some practising on my instruments which normally has nothing to do with the stuff I should practise for gigs or recordings. It is more like really basic stuff that helps create a solid foundation for all kinds of situations that might come across.

So after that you can jump into some concrete projects with the good feeling like the duty is done.

Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?

90 percent of the time, we both start with creating new music on our own with Werner being the one that constantly comes up with a ton of songs. We then come together, show each other our ideas and try to make them work together and find a common denominator

The writing process is for the most part strictly separated from the live process. After our songs are finished, we think of ways on how to realise them in a life performance. We love to change our compositions for our live performances in a way that the audience still recognizes the song but gets some new exciting stuff to hear. Just like making creative cover versions of your songs.

Furthermore, our live set comes with a lot of improvisation, parts can differ in their length and we try to stay flexible.

Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?

As said before, we like to start in a solitary way. To make it really great though, we think it is always a good thing to make it collaborative. It can be exhausting as well because you have to combine interests from different parties. On the other hand, it is interesting to see the different approaches and views on songs. It makes us think about things we would have probably never thought of before and gets us out of our comfort zone which is always a positive thing.

When it comes to listening to music, we both love to sit down and enjoy the music in a silent moment with headphones on. It is a very intimate, deep and attentive approach to listening. There’s other music though that is communal. It serves a different purpose and is mostly about having a good time together, dancing or singing together. This is why when creating this kind of music, you should think differently.

Communal music is mostly listened through speakers at a house or barbeque party. It makes sense to keep that in mind if you want your music to work in those situations and we certainly do that.

How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?

Becoming an artist is probably our way of dealing with the world. Our music sometimes relates directly to an emotion from the real world and sometimes it seems to come from a dream world. Trying to create a space that is actually nicer to be in than in reality. And we guess that is the power of music: it may take you to a higher place. it might bring solace to you, not power.

Also great music somehow brings out the good side of everyone who is experiencing it. Usually you feel more like hugging the person next to you at a concert than punching him or her.

Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?

Music is kind of carrying all these things within it and it’s got an immediate connection to your inner self. So there’s no wall of thoughts you might use to protect yourself in other situations. So maybe music has enabled us to feel and understand things more directly.

And the music that comes out of you might tell you a lot about yourself, what is going on in your unconscious mind.

How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?

Without the progress in science a lot of today’s music would not exist and at the same time it kind of increases the danger of losing the human element which is actually the core of it all.

In a more abstract way a scientific approach might be good to explore new sounds. By seeing theory as a tool that shows us what is possible you definitely go ways that you instinctively would not even think about.

Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?

That great cup of coffee might give you an insight on the craft of its creator but it’s probably hard to get more out of it than that. If it is a person you love, its value might change for you. So we think it is about personal connection that matters.

We think music offers you in addition an opportunity to put in something from yourself or the way you experience the world and that makes an instant connection to the listener hopefully.

Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it is able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?

If we had a perfect answer to that one we would be billionaires but that might stay a beautiful secret forever we hope.

Maybe it is more about the resonation that happens inside the listener. So there is no such thing as an absolute relation between what is played and what is heard. But on a good day there might be something within every complex individual that can relate to what the musician is telling.