Brazilian house and techno superstar Wehbba has worked tirelessly to earn his place as a permanent fixture on the global techno scene. We were lucky enough to catch Rodolpho (Wehbba) for a talk about where he is at musically plus what lies ahead.
With a background in live music and your former band, I read somewhere that you fell in love with electronic music whilst living in Australia. It was after this you caught the vinyl addiction that so many of us have caught. Can you tell us a bit about the early days?
I moved to Sidney for a few months back in 97, and a lot of the people I met over there were going to parties and underground clubs almost every night, so eventually I decided to tag along, and it just blew me away, the freedom that I was able to experience in those nights was something I never had before, I was too young before to get in touch with that sort of culture in my hometown of São Paulo. It was also a time when trance, techno, house all kind of shared the same space, it was a lot of fun to get to experience all of that together, and develop an open mind to different styles, I started to collect music like there was no tomorrow.
Throughout your musical journey, you spent a number of years based in the Czech Republic before heading back home to Brazil. Was this an important move for you? Was your time in Europe a catalyst to your explosion onto the world stage? Have you enjoyed being back in your home country?
The reason I moved to Czech Republic was already the demand for gigs in Europe, and also the convenience of having people already based over there who helped me getting an apartment and also shared the studio with me. I was getting many requests due to my releases, and was also very unhappy with the scene in Brazil back then. I think the biggest catalyst to start touring worldwide was the success of my releases. After about 4 years, I decided to move back to Brazil, as I felt the scene was finally going through it’s next major change, and I wanted to be a part of that. It took a lot of work to establish myself again in the local market, but it was definitely worth it.
There is no doubt that Brazil has had a big commercial dance music scene for a long time but alongside this it seems there seems to have always been a passionate underground that has stayed true to quality music and has held events for the right reasons. Can you share with us your thoughts on the evolution of the Brazilian scene to where it is today?
I think the scene in Brazil has always been very inconsistent, it used to be relatively small up until about 10 years ago, only people that loved the music and tried to push it forward were involved, but when money started to come in I think the growth was badly managed. There’s also a sort of behaviour pattern going on that there’s always one style that’s “relevant”, and that one style is abused to exhaustion until the next trend comes up. The problem with this sort of behaviour being the standard, is that the people miss out on the opportunity to explore the culture, and embrace the diversity and the freedom that electronic music can provide. Very few artists make an effort to be original, to have an identity, so you see very few artists breaking out internationally, although we have been improving a lot in the past few years in this aspect.
I watched an interview you did prior to your album release with Christian Smith in 2010 where you discussed Tronic’s influence on your music and the Brazilian scene from the early 2000s. Although a lot has changed in the scene since then, you continue to hold strong ties with Christian Smith and Tronic. Do you and Christian continue to inspire each other musically? You must know each others’ workflow very well; do you and Christian still have a studio space together?
I think the most important thing is that we are great friends with very similar character. Sure I’ve always been inspired by his work, and being his engineer I also know he takes a lot of inspiration from what I do, but the chemistry we have in studio is largely related to our similar workflow. We are both very objective and honest, and we enjoy ourselves while making music, it’s not just work, we take many breaks, chat a lot, etc. Unfortunately we don’t share the one same studio anymore, as Christian lives in Spain and I am living in Brazil, but we meet often as he’s always touring in South America and me in Europe, so we work either in his studio or mine when that happens.
Can you give us an insight into your studio set up? Are you a hardware guy, a software guru or a combination of the two? Do you chase after the latest pieces of kit or do you have your old favourites?
I’m a combination of the two, I love composing with my hardware synths, but I process everything in the box, and I also use some virtual instruments, I think that toying with this balance is interesting and inspiring. I am a bit of a gear freak, I love to research and try new stuff all the time, but I’m also very faithful to some of my favourites, maybe that’s what makes my sound evolve without losing its character.
You’ve remixed the biggest names in techno and house music including some of the biggest tracks of all time. Is there any track you haven’t remixed that you would like to?
Oh wow, so many…I really enjoy the challenge of remixing some of the classics that inspired me over the years, and I’m always on the lookout for opportunities like that. Recently I’ve done a remix for “Pushin Too Hard” from Saints & Sinners, which has been done before many times, but I had the opportunity of being in touch directly with the guys, and able to make sure I was doing something that they would appreciate as well, and not just another remix, so it turned out great. I think the list of tracks I would like to remix would be too big to mention in here, but me and Christian just did a version of a huge acid house tune, “Work That Motherfucker” from Steve Pointdexter, which we have been playing around a lot, and maybe it will see a release on Tronic some time this year.
In terms of your DJing, who is inspiring you and your sets at the moment? Who do you turn to when you want a big festival track? Are there any new faces that we should look out for? Alternatively, who is making music that you find yourself listening to when you are taking a break from big house and techno sounds?
As a DJ, I’ve always been inspired by Laurent Garnier and DJ Marky, watching them perform with such passion is refreshing and keeps inspiring me until today. Regarding festival tracks, I don’t really turn to a specific producer when I need this kind of stuff, it’s mostly labels that I browse, and Tronic definitely has plenty of stuff that serves this purpose flawlessly. I have been digging more introspective sounds lately, stuff like Tale Of Us, Agents Of Time, Ten Walls, DJ Koze, Tom Demac, Clockwork, Mind Against, stuff that relates more to my Rosco Sledge alias.
Your super talented wife DJ Anna is also making waves with her signature techno sound. You must be very proud of how well she is progressing? Around the dinner table, does conversation tend to end up talking about hardware and plug-ins or do you manage to keep work and pleasure separate?
I’ve watched Anna’s development from the very beginning, we’ve been together for 8 years now, I taught her the first lessons on Ableton Live many years ago, and I’m still her engineer, it’s just magical to see the growth of an amazing artist from so close. I’m not just proud, I’m stunned by everything she’s been doing, and there’s bigger and better things already lined up. As for our conversations, we spend pretty much 24/7 together, when we’re not travelling, so we barely talk about anything else but business, we discuss which new gear we should get, we exchange new music, talk about gigs and things like that….and all of this is very cool, but when you really think about it, it’s like we are always on the clock, almost no free family time.
You recently showcased a new side project at Future Sound of Brazil and the name has appeared on a number of your recent track lists. Can you tell us about your Edit Revenge project?
Edit Revenge is a multimedia project, which involves , besides the music, a scenography with a LED strip sculpture that corresponds to our logo, interacting with a LED panel and moving lights, and the basic concept is new original music made with various samples taken from big hits from the 70s, 80s and 90s, mixed with samples from current popular songs that we find to be in the same context. The result is a new way of making edits – hence, the revenge part – and we present it under a live p.a. format, which leaves us free to change and create anything we want live on stage, and the video team also has the liberty to create during the show, we’re not limited to pre-programmed material in either ends of the project. For anybody wanting to know more of our project, please just check our page facebook.com/editrevenge
Do you have any plans at any stage to resurrect 82 Recordings? Or has the time for this label passed?
I don’t have any plans for new releases on 82 Recordings, I have enough on my plate as it is, taking care of a label nowadays is a full time job , and I wouldn’t want to do it if not properly. The music I released on the label either from me or from the friends I’d invited is still pretty current, which means we were definitely in the right path, but making music and touring is taking up pretty much all the time I have right now.
On your Facebook you regularly post pictures of your French Bulldog support crew back home. What do you like to do to unwind? If you were going to retire today, where would you go and what would you do?
I just love hanging out with my dog. I’m slowly quitting every social network and spending more of my free time taking Ozzy for a walk, or playing with his brothers. If I would retire right now I’d probably move to the country side and get more dogs to take care of, but I don’t think I’d ever survive without having a fat studio around me to make my music, so I’d have to build one, afterall, working with music is pretty much making money on your hobby.
You release a number of your sets on your Soundcloud and also post a lot of lo-fi samples of upcoming tunes to keep your fans excited by what’s to come. Do you think electronic media is an important part of an artist’s profile today? Do you enjoy this contact and instant feedback you have from your followers?
I have mixed feelings about this. I do it because the people seem to like it, and I do think its important and essential these days, but I also think it kind of hurts the industry and spoils the fun, all this “track ID?” obsession and things like that. Back in the days, mixed CDs used to have value, people would buy them and remember them, they would become classics just as EPs would, this is gone now, everybody posts mixes for free, they become less memorable and valuable, but in the other hand it gives your live performances a bigger reach and life span, so it really is full of pros and cons, and we all have to kind of try out different things and define the best strategy as we go.
Finally, your schedule is jam packed and your releases seem to be constant. What is coming up for you that you’re excited about? Are there any gigs or releases you can’t wait for?
I’ve done a lot of remixes this year, and there are many still to be released, including one for Danny Tenaglia and another for Dave Angel, both all time heroes of mine. I also did 2 remix packs for classic tunes on Systematic Recordings, for “Pushin Too Hard” like I’ve mentioned before, and for “Hold On Tight”, from Lambda, so there’s plenty of stuff to keep me buzzing in the next months.