Exclusive Interview With Extrawelt
It was a typical Amsterdam Friday night, cold and rainy but with a somehow burning atmosphere. As the weekend was upon us and nights turn to days, Next Monday’s Hangover had the honor to give the craziest start to it with an outstanding party at the new Marktkantine. The line up consisted of such acts as Dauwd, Petar Dundov, CW/A, a lot of local talent and the headliners of the night Extrawelt. The music and the excitement were gradually becoming stronger over the night and the crowd was built up to the point of explosion when Extrawelt came on stage. Their energy and excellent choice of tracks, resulted in a superb live performance, that brought people to another level and surely left them craving for more.
Arne Schaffhausen and Wayan Raabe have been engaged in electronic music since the beginning of the ’90s and they still continue succeeding in maxing out this music‘s latitude, shaping their very own and unique style that can hardly be assigned to one of the established subcategories of modern electronic dance music.
Their breakthrough as Extrawelt came in 2005. James Holden released the first Extrawelt single on his label Border Community, kicking off a matchless wave of success that lasts until today. The readers of the two most renowned magazines for electronic music in Germany, ‘Groove’ and ‘Raveline’ voted their album “Schöne Neue Extrawelt” Best Album 2008. Besides that, they also have been voted Best Live Act 2008 in ‘Groove’ magazine. Their second album “In Aufruhr“ came out in 2011 on Cocoon Recordings and was equally high acclaimed as their debut.
Most of your fans know you for your music, but I’m curious what were you doing before you started making music professionally? What’s your background?
Arne: I was still going to school at that time. I was skating, doing graffiti, some artworks for flyers and record sleeves and got already into DJing then too.
Wayan: I didn’t have any choice anyway, because my parents were involved with some early 90s parties and I was kind of born into it.
Arne: His parents made these parties we all went for the first time when everything started, close to Hamburg.
How great that your family created this passion for music.
Wayan: Yeah, there are two sides of the medal.
You have two albums so far, but you have taken the course of a live act some time ago. Why did you make that choice?
Arne: We both were DJs before we started to produce, as soon we had enough tracks we just started to play live. If we wouldn’t have started to make our own music we probably both wouldn’t be DJs anymore, we were the next generation DJs which always had to wait for the older and famous DJs to finish, also the promoters were not as professional as nowadays and often ripping us off as we were the last in the food chain, we were just too young and unexperienced to stand off against them. It took a while until we made ourselves a name and by then we were already pretty disappointed when we found out how things are behind the scenes. By starting to make our own music it simply lit up a new fire and excitement which kept us going, from then on as a live act.
So would you say that production is essential for an up and comer in the industry?
Arne: Don’t know, I guess not essential but probably helpful. It became a common strategy for DJs to place themselves on the market but it’s a very different thing where other talents are needed. A good DJ doesn’t make a good producer and the way around. Also because of that i think that DJs often have producers in the background to do the bigger part on „their“ production for them. Especially in the commercial dance music this is normal by now and happens on a big scale and i find it pretty staged.
In relation to the fact that you are a live act and there is a lot of improvisation involved, and a lot of unique sounds and melodies are born in your sets which mostly don’t get repeated, do you agree that temporality actually lasts longer?
Arne: Sometimes something happens unintentionally by mistake or coincidence and then people start to cheer even if it wasn’t perfect but it makes them notice that this was just done in that very moment. The jam-parts during our sets are definitely the most fun for us. Also we keep changing things in our sets although we just might have played it like that a few times, either to improve or just for the change to keep it exciting for us too. For example we keep on doing remixes, edits, live-versions over and over of our older tracks because we can’t just exchange those pillars of our sets like for example a DJ can.
True. When you establish something and you continue doing the same, it kind of loses its charm.
Arne: Exactly, also if you do something really good this weekend there is no guarantee, that next weekend is going to be the same. Mostly it’s not.
In the beginning of your project Extrawelt, you were releasing on labels like Boarder Community, Traum, and not too long after that we saw Extrawelt appear on Cocoon. Why was that change?
Arne: That wasn’t a change for us really. As Extrawelt and our projects before we worked simultaneously with many different labels and we didn’t give exclusivity to any of them. In my opinion it’s a good thing to work with many different people. Our second Extrawelt 12“ came out on Kompass Musik a small, young label from Hamburg ran by good friends and unexpectedly it was one of our most successful releases ever. Releasing on all those different labels were good and constructive experiences. When Cocoon Recordings asked us for tracks it’s was an absolute highlight. Maybe we never made the typical Cocoon sound but i hope we added our music to their spectrum.
“In Aufruhr”. In previous interviews you have shared the main idea and inspiration that drove you along the process of each track comes from current global issues. Does that still drive your creativity? Current state, status quo, the world we live in?
Wayan: Don’t know how it exactly influences our creativity but probably it does somehow. Bad things are happening and we just talk about these things too.
Arne: When we named the album it was the time when all the revolutions in the arabic world happened, when the „War On Terror“ and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were slightly fading out of focus. It just happened that the titles were influenced by all the powerful things that were happening at that time and nobody knew where it will lead to or what might come next. We mostly decide the tracknames after production. Of course the music has to relate emotionally to the name, but as it’s all instrumental music the trackname is sort of the only way how to express something more. Yet i like it when those names can be interpreted in certain ways. For example a person can be „In Aufruhr“ internally as well as a whole country.
Can you name one or two things happening right now that influence you?
Wayan: There is so much going on at the moment.. Food for example, what is happening to our food? Everything is so far away from nature.
Arne: The wars in Ukraine, Syria, the Attacks in Paris with all their impact.. it seems so often that mankind does a step in the right direction just to make two steps back and things even worse than before.
In Aufruhr is happening in Greece now.
Arne: Yes sadly it does. Luckily mostly without violence but with injustice. I have many friends there and the situation is really bad.
Would you say that you two are rebels by heart?
Wayan: Difficult to define what makes one a rebel today but there is hopefully a spark of revolution left inside of us.
Definitely noticeable. There are many DJs out there that are only focusing on the music industry itself and what is happening inside in order to get inspired or boost creativity.
Wayan: In the Mainstream Dance Music maybe but if you take art in general there are so many artists who reflect on that.
Arne: Many other music genres are based on a certain attitude, presenting a sub-culture or a political background, which then often get’s washed away by its own success. Techno never really had that but with its instrumental force i see it more or less like jazz music. Maybe not artistically but from the point that it was free of all those messages and meanings. It was always more like a coming together thing where you can dance freely, dress how u like, be who you are and maybe this freedom is what brought so many different people from different ages and backgrounds together.