Eighteen Years Later, WhoMadeWho's Love Is Still Strong

WhoMadeWho Photo by Petra Kleis
Chalk it up to their Scandinavian sensibilities, or maybe the Northern Lights, but the warming hues of Danish trio WhoMadeWho's music are hard to miss. It's a simmering stockpot of electronic, indie, jazz, and everything in between, reflecting nearly 20 years of the band's limitless supply of good vibes and contrasting even the darkest winters.

"I think what we found in each was in a very uplifting setting," vocalist, bassist, and keyboardist Tomas Høffding tells New Times.

Høffding, Tomas Barford (drums and mixer), and Jeppe Kjellberg (vocalist and guitar) have an affinity for music produced with warm pads, drums banging with gusto, and bittersweet melodies candied with falsetto.

Fresh from last month's performance at III Points, the trio is back with another live set at Rakastella on Saturday, December 4.

Between Rakastella taking place at Virginia Key Beach Park, where tranquil waves contrast bass-heavy beats, and Rakastella meaning "to make love" in Finnish, the booking's rationale becomes obvious.

"Even though our albums have always been electronic — the live stuff we've been doing is usually based around drums and two singers just rocking out with a four-to-the-floor beat," Høffding says.

WhoMadeWho is likely to be the last band to be pigeonholed, and the three endeavor to fortify their live sets with every opportunity. The trio's current hybrid DJ set transforms Barford into a drummer-meets-DJ while Høffding and Barford sing and run the effects.

"We've been doing more electronic sets and playing DJ gigs — our drummer, who's also an amazing DJ, with myself and Jeppe singing and seeing how it goes," Høffding explains.

One could expect a degree of hesitancy between a hybrid band with history in rock, jazz, and songwriting versus the standalone DJ who finds solace in hardware and isolation in the studio. Yet, the electronic community has gravitated toward WhoMadeWho precisely for its elastic soundscapes. The band has had excellent company, with endless remixes and edits from DJ Tennis and Seth Troxler and releases on electronic labels such as Innervisions and Kompakt.

"I love entering the electronic world that is very much fed by international collaboration," Høffding says. "I think a lot of people think we are fun to work with because you get a producer, drum, guitar, and synth players, and a singer — two singers. So if I was a producer, I would want to play with us."
The trio's upcoming performance comes on the heels of their latest release, "Silence & Secrets," a single from WhoMadeWho's forthcoming seventh studio album set for release in 2022.

"Silence & Secrets" was produced with Frank Wiedemann, half of the electronic duo Âme and cofounder of Rakastella and record label Innervisions.

"It started off with us being fans of Frank, so we contacted [Wiedemann and Kristian Rädle, Âme's second-half], and they invited us to the studio," Høffding says.

Although the track resulted from numerous edits, the production came from within, a challenging formula that requires just letting go and having fun.

"It's a lot of meeting with people, jamming out, and seeing what happens," he adds.

In less than five minutes, the trio made stick-to-your-ribs melodies with melancholic rhythm via delicate piano chords and heady drum patterns — bringing the listener toward introspection. "Oceans between us/Fires beneath us/All love's a weakness, flows/It flows." The track finds comfort in fluidity.

"Some tracks go out fast, and others you go back a thousand times, and a lot of people have a lot of different inputs," Høffding explains. "This track is the latter."

The ability to always keep bonds between bandmates and colleagues strong is something the WhoMadeWho hopes to bring at Rakastella.

"This is my life, my thing in the world," Høffding says. "I think when you listen to our music or see us live, you see we are just three idiots who really want to make art but also have a lot of fun doing it."

Høffding's candor and appreciation are transparent to the band's amorphous goals.

"We're not perfect people, and we don't sing perfectly, but we have good energy," he says. "And I think when our shows are good, I feel like I can go totally nuts with the music and the crowd. That's the energy I want to bring. Hopefully, there is some kind of inner-travel and being poked artistically."

It's been almost 15 years since the WhoMadeWho's self-titled debut album. The realization of time speeding by would usually be some kind of sadness, but Høffding's happiness is unfailing — a difficult mindset to achieve in today's melancholia.

"It's flown by in the most wonderful way, and I've enjoyed almost every minute of it. I don't think we were teenagers when we formed the band. Maybe we haven't been ageless, but we've felt ageless."

WhoMadeWho at Rakastella. With Âme b2b Dixon, Carlita, DJ Holographic, Jayda G, and others. Saturday, December 4, in Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, 4020 Virginia Beach Dr., Miami; Tickets cost $82.50 to $267.50 via
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Grant Albert is a writer born and raised in Miami. He likes basset hounds, techno, and rock climbing — in that order.
Contact: Grant Albert