Interview: Five Minutes with Wolfgang Wee
Norwegian artist, producer and DJ Wolfgang Wee recently released his EP, ‘Heart Of Stone’ via Uppwind Records, which features vocals by Holybrune. Wee is a is a prime time weekend DJ at Norway’s national public radio broadcaster, NRK and has a string of releases in his wake. His summer disco track ‘Looking For You’ went #1 on top 50 Viral Chart in Norway, and his remix of ‘Cruel World’ (for which he won a Gold plaque for over 3 million streams) is still one of Seeb’s most streamed remixes.Wee had never met Holybrune when he approached her via the web and suggested working together. The rest is history, and history resulted in a sonically jewelled collaboration.
We caught up with him for some insight into his creative processes, inspiration, and favourite upcoming artists.
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
Hmm, I’m not sure. It’s definitely not the usual “music saved my life” or “music is the universal language of love that connects people together all around the world” and all that kinda bullshit. For me, making music is just a personal satisfaction I guess, like the whole process of making and finishing a track from scratch, that sounds cool and feels right afterwards. Something as simple as that.
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
None. Just trial and error and trial and error till I either give up or have to force myself to go to bed. I prefer the latter.
Does your material feature any collaborations?
Yeah, sometimes. My favourite go-2-guys are always Markus Neby (for guitar) and Kappekoff (for live bass). Not to mention the French vocalist Holybrune.
What’s on your current playlist?
Parcels, FKJ, L’imperatrice, Poom, Feist. And Disciples. And the Swedish guys in Jarami has lots of cool stuff. And Oby Onyicha!
Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
Haha. I’m not a big fan of live music, to say the least. Or being on a stage for that matter. I get the public demand for going to concerts and DJ shows and stuff like that, but attending those things usually bore me to death after a couple of minutes. I’d much rather be at home writing or producing my own stuff, or read Nassim Taleb, or watching a game with either Liverpool or Federer. But there was one concert, though, that really shook me up, and that was Hans Zimmer in Palais Des Congres in Paris a couple of years ago. That concert really drained me emotionally.
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
I like using long, uninterrupted live recordings of different isolated drum sounds, like long takes with just hi-hats running, or shakes, or just a snare, always with lots of small errors and different hits, so it doesn’t sound so perfect. I like to copy+paste old, classic chords as well to midi, then change a couple of notes, then browse for the right soft synth and sound. That’s a cool and easy way to start off a track, I think, which suddenly can lead to new ideas, and so on.
Take us through a day in the recording studio.
Coffee. Beer. Wine. In that order. Then some more coffee. Maybe another beer. I never work with more than one or two projects each day.
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?
Luckily not. Daniel Kahneman wrote: “Success = Luck + Talent. Great Success = A little more talent + A lot of luck”. I’ve seen enough friends and artists who overestimated their own abilities and talent through the years, working relentlessly for a career going nowhere. It’s a cliché, but music has never been about fame, touring, or being on stage, or building a career for my part. I find much more happiness and satisfaction of combining my favourite things to do. But… hmm, actually, there was a moment when I was 13 years old, I visited a friend of mine who had a brand new PC with the music software, FASTRACKER II. His music was horrible, but at the same time, I was kinda impressed how easy he did it. So I thought: I can do better than this shit. Hold my beer.
What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?
My worst nightmare is becoming a Instagram-DJ, touring constantly to different cities and exotic locations, living weeks and months in a deluxe room with takeaway food and showers in bathtubs. My seconds worst nightmare is being a low paid DJ, playing for a couple of drunk students that don’t give a fuck about you. Luckily, I’ve never been much into DJ-ing or doing shows on stage. I like myself in the studio. With some coffee. And a shitty Cubase draft, that maybe has some potential if I only to this….or that…
Any emerging artists on your radar?
Jarami from Sweden. KREAM from Norway. Holybrune from France.
What gets your creative juices flowing?
Working out. Period. Next up: Motion Picture Soundtracks. Max Richter. Hans Zimmer. And finally: 70s disco and funk classics. And coffee of course.
Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.
Nothing fancy: I have an iMac from 2010. Genelec monitors. A Novation midi-keyboard. Cubase Pro. Omnisphere. Trilogy. Vocalsynth 2. Kontakt. And a fucking huge, messy sample library.
Any side projects you’re working on?
Writing. Podcasting. A couple of radio shows on the National Public Broadcaster in Norway, NRK. And the kids of course.
How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?
I started out making techno and trance music, before going into house music and funky big-beat, ala Fatboy Slim, over to straight dance music. Now it’s primarily French disco and funk.
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?
3-4 more releases I guess. Some nu disco shit, and a smash remix of a big 80s track, and a sad song with my own vocals.