Interview

“A car trip without music? No way!”

Based in the Netherlands, Harm Coolen and Merijn Scholte Albers go by the name Weval. As creators of electronic music, they are currently garnering acclaim from critics and audiences all over the world. In 2016, Weval produced the soundtrack for a commercial for the new BMW 3 Series. In this interview, they discuss how they create euphoria in the clubs and why music sounds so good when you are on the road.

Interview
Hendrik Lakeberg
Photos
Nick Helderman

Music producers often say they like to try out new music while driving. Is that the same with you?
Harm Coolen: Sometimes, yes. What you hear in a car is different from the music you hear in a studio. When you’re driving, your music is mixed with other sounds. And because it’s such a confined space, you can really focus on the music. Of course, today’s in-car audio systems are pretty good – although it also depends on the car you’re in. I recently drove an electric vehicle and listened to one of our pieces. The bass was suddenly much more prominent – probably because it no longer had to compete with the low rumble of a combustion engine.

“Today’s cars depend so much on electronics, so I suppose our type of music is a natural fit. Electronic music is a particularly apt metaphor for technical progress.”

Listening to music while driving can be a very emotional experience – especially at night. Do you have memories of any particular moment like that?
Coolen: Car audio systems are now so good that you get a very different driving experience. A car trip without music? No way! We were in Iceland back in November and one time we had no music for the car – all we could do was listen to Icelandic radio. It was a real drag at first, but then we found a station with some great classical music that sounded like the soundtrack to the TV series Twin Peaks. It was the perfect complement to the dark clouds and landscape of Iceland.

You wrote the music for a commercial for the new BMW 3 Series. How different is working on a TV commercial to doing a live set?
Merijn Scholte Albers: The two have a lot in common, actually. For the commercial, we drew our inspiration from the images rather than the audience. That was a lot of fun. But both approaches are very different to writing music for an album. There, the music has no specific objective except to be good enough to make you want to listen again and again. But when the music is supposed to meet a specific purpose, such as working for the audience at a club or as the soundtrack to moving pictures, that gives us a much clearer sense of orientation.

Dutch artists Harm Coolen (left) and Merijn Scholte Albers (right) are two of the rising stars in the electronic music scene. They will be on tour in Europe in spring 2017 (Sternenhimmel: olegkalina/Getty Images/iStockphoto).

Dutch artists Harm Coolen (left) and Merijn Scholte Albers (right) are two of the rising stars in the electronic music scene. They will be on tour in Europe in spring 2017 (Sternenhimmel: olegkalina/Getty Images/iStockphoto).

Electronic music feeds off its momentum. How did you integrate this into your soundtrack for the BMW commercial?
Coolen: There are parallels to doing a live set here, too. Most of our music consists of two parts: a build-up, during which we gradually ramp up the intensity of the music, and then a drop – a kind of pause laden with dramatic effect. The BMW track is put together in the same way. During our live sets, the drop is what gets people dancing. But in the commercial, it doesn’t happen until the last five seconds. I guess it’s the emotional climax that brings everything together.

Why is electronic music so often associated with movement and vehicles?
Scholte Albers: Today’s cars depend so much on electronics, so I suppose our type of music is a natural fit. Electronic music is a particularly apt metaphor for technical progress.
Coolen: There’s also the fact that combining movement and sound makes intrinsic sense, since sound is essentially nothing other than movement.

The new album Weval is available under the Kompakt label. Further information and tour dates can be found at: www.facebook.com/wevalmusic

02/15/17