When an artist comes along with such strikingly electric energy, humility and openness, they shine bright within the techno galaxy. Wehbba’s made his mark with no frills, just passion, hard work and positivity. In anticipation of a riveting Newspeak gig, Husa Sounds caught up with the self-taught Brazilian powerhouse signed onto expert techno labels Drumcode and Tronic; we chatted about his impressive musical output, creative process, gear preferences and views on the Latin American techno scene.
He strings together a solid set of qualities that make interacting with him and his work a pleasure: technical meticulousness, sincerity, a down to earth attitude and an intelligent relationship with the developing musical landscape – not to mention his interactive sharing of production techniques and the processes giving birth to his carefully honed sound.
We couldn’t be more excited to welcome him in full FrontRite fashion, in what promises to be an authentic exchange between artist and audience. Stellar support can be expected from cinematic techno producer Urubu and Power to the People founders Mejas, completing the night’s tableau of delicious dark grooves.
No better way to enjoy this reading and warm up for Friday than to check out Catarse, Wehbba’s new powerful EP, out this week on Drumcode.
Husa Sounds: You’re credited on an impressive number of remixes (about 100). What’s your approach to choosing a track to remix and process working on it?
Wehbba: Both have changed over the years a great deal, but the past is in the past so nowadays I’ve been extremely selective with what I take on for remix duties, it needs to be a track that speaks directly to me but feels like it could use a different approach, so it already needs to have plenty of inspiring sounds and ideas. Once that criteria is met I tend to build the kind of groove I’d envisioned when listening to the original, sketch something quickly and then start loading in the original parts and playing around with them until it feels like it’s a proper remix, not a new track, but has a lot of my own mojo to it. Most of the time I’ll try out 2 or 3 versions of any remix I make, play it out a few times, until I settle with one.
HS: What releases can we look forward to, any stories/anecdotes about their making?
W: Incidentally I have a new remix coming up for a very good friend of mine, who just released an amazing album on a fantastic label, but we’ll have to talk about this later. Right now I have another release on Drumcode, my second this year and third on the label, which is out on the 9th of July, titled ‘Catarse’, with 4 tracks thoroughly road tested by both Adam and myself, and really well received so far by DJs across the board.
HS: Brazilian techno artists are making a name for themselves, and you’ve been an instrumental part of that wave. What are your views on the scene and audiences in Brazil, and the future of techno there? What about Latin America as a whole?
W: I’m incredibly proud to be a part of a scene that has grown so much and has so much to offer, it’s unfortunate that most of us had to really focus on delivering the message outside of Brazil before we could be heard in our own country, but at least we’re getting the job done, and it looks like things have been changing. The scene is growing exponentially and I believe the audiences are getting deeper into it and more involved, so the music can be more diverse and less focused on commercial genres. The future of techno is of course always promising, especially since most of the Brazilian “exports” are techno artists, I feel it’s a gap that’s been filled quite quickly and I’m really curious where it’s heading, as well as happy to be a part of it, even if from a distance. Latin America is so different overall from country to country it’s not so simple to put everything into one big bucket. Places like Argentina, Chile and Colombia, for example, have very active and incredible scenes, incredible artists, and have kept the Latin America on the electronic music map for years. You’ll find lots of the main festivals and bigger artists and brands over there regularly.
HS: You’ve put out over 50 records, how do you keep stimulating inspiration? We’d love to hear about your creative process.
W: I think it’s quite a larger number than that, but I’ve been producing and releasing music for the past 14 years, under a few different aliases as well as a co-producer and engineer, but it’s only been 2 years since I’ve been completely focused on my own music. I draw inspiration from everything, I like to think that any artist should be like a sponge, absorbing everything in every aspect of life, and the real talent resides in being able to transcribe that information into the appropriate form of art relatable to them. So if everything inspires me, it’s very difficult to run out of stimuli, right?
HS: What are your non-musical artistic inspirations?
W: Literature and many different forms of visual arts, from paintings to video or graphic design.
HS: It’s been 5 years since you put out your last album, how do you feel about releasing longer records, in a genre where most people put out EPs? Are you thinking of working on another album anytime soon?
W: I’m still trying to understand and figure out the way that people, who relate the most with the kind of music I make, tend to consume music, and by consume I mean not only purchase, but enjoy or experience it. It’s fairly obvious how that works on a dancefloor environment, but with the radical and fast changes in media formats and media vehicles in the past 10 years, it’s hard to say how relevant or how viable writing an album currently is. I’ve already felt this same way 5 years ago when I wrote my second album. I think it’s still important for an artist to have the first album out, it’s an experience every artist should have and should provide as well, but from then on I suppose it’s all about personal momentum, I’m not a firm believer in the format but not going to dismiss it either.
HS: How long have you had your studio for? Do you mainly come up with your tracks there or do you also compose on the road?
W: I’ve moved studios 4 times in the past 10 years. All of them have been totally different from each other, setup and characteristic-wise, and I’m going for the 5th change in the next few months. I like to work in my studio, and generally that’s where I come up with most of my best ideas and where the work flows the easiest, as I am very comfortable with my current setup, but I do work a lot on the road as it’s inevitable, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to get as much work done as I currently do. It’s a great thing being able to get ideas done anywhere you are, and I take advantage of the whole “cloud” thing to record sketches with my hardware when I’m in the studio, and work on them while on the road, or vice-versa.
HS: You work hard to communicate production techniques, in general and behind the making of your tracks. We love that you cultivate this deeper, more technical communication with your following. Is this something you’ve always wanted to do or did it naturally come about as you started putting out music? Does being self-taught yourself drive you to help others in their music-making process?
W: Totally, I’ve always felt so grateful for all the information I was able to get from other more experienced producers when I was starting out, internet wasn’t what it is today and especially information on electronic music production was really, indeed, underground. I had to rely on asking people personally or in conferences, which wasn’t very usual back in the early 2000s in Brazil, and then develop my own technique from what I was able to find. Even though anybody can make music with as little as a tablet device nowadays, and get all the tools and information they need to do it online for free, I still feel that sharing my knowledge and workflow might contribute to better content being generated, but can also initiate a conversation where I can also learn and evolve.
HS: What are your favorite pieces of gear in your studio? Which gear would you take with you to a deserted island?
W: My modular system, my Elektron Analog Rytm, My Virus TI and Roland MKS-80, followed closely by the Dave Smith Prophet-6. If I had to take just one to a desert island it would be the modular system, I’m pretty sure I can make it generate some fresh water with the right amount of patching.
HS: How long does it usually take you to write a track?
W: It really depends, I don’t have a fixed workflow or formula. Sometimes I start to experiment with my gear in the studio and a whole track emerges, sometimes I just keep experimenting and recording some of the findings for later use, sometimes I am on a train and make a whole track in 3 hours, it really is completely random and I love that. I don’t put any deadlines on myself to finish anything too quickly, something I’ve had to learn the hard way, but I do try to work on new material everyday, however it may be.
HS: Do you have an all-analog approach or do you use a mixture of outboard gear and plug ins?
W: I’m not a purist in any sense of the word, and I like to take advantage of everything I have available to get my message across. What they are changes from time to time. I don’t think it’s the gear that does anything, they’re all just tools. I do like to create some limitations here and there on each project, so that the sheer amount of choice doesn’t become overwhelming, it helps to keep the inspiration flowing.
HS: What do you hope to bring to the Resistance Ibiza residency this summer? What are you excited for within this lineup?
W: I’ve been to Resistance opening last year, and was really impressed with their production, it’s mind blowing. I’m really happy to be able to make my debut there this year and what could be better than on a Drumcode event? It’s been a great start of my relationship with the label and I’m very happy to be involved in their events, Drumcode Barcelona last month was surreal, and the whole line up is quite similar, so it’s safe to expect mayhem.
HS: What underground artists, records or labels have caught your eye recently?
W: Speaking exclusively about new people (for me at least), Billy Turner, Flug, Vinicius Honorio, Wisna, M.I.T.A., and Jay Clarke. There’s just too many labels that I go for regularly to list just a few here would be a little unfair.
HS: What do you wish artists paid more attention to? What about audiences?
W: Each to their own, I pay attention to the stuff I can relate to, and try not to be negative (or spread negativity) about the stuff that I can’t. Truth, love and respect, that’s what everybody should pay attention to.
Order your copy of Catarse now on Beatport.
Interview by Lola Baraldi & Amedeo Magaraggia [Sound Crate]