Who Made Who

In the years since their inception WhoMadeWho have established themselves as one of the definitive underground bands of their generation, renowned for their exceptional grasp of emotional depth, heartrending melody and inspired songwriting. The Danish group, comprised Tomas Høffding, Tomas Barford and Jeppe Kjellberg, inject consummate professionalism into standout performances all over the globe, from Roskilde to Sonar, Melt! to Burning Man. They have produced seven albums and a plethora of EPs, singles and remixes on labels like Kompakt, Innervisions, Life & Death. With Barford’s penchant for electronic music poetically juxtaposed with Høffding and Kjellberg’s respective backgrounds in rock and jazz, their music is an electrifying combination of sounds, merging a variety of influences to produce a unique sonic fingerprint that is emotive, irresistible and immensely satisfying.

The secret of WhoMadeWho's success lies in their constant desire to shake things up. In recent years the trio have been taking a deep dive into the world of electronic music. This was no more apparent than in their incredible Cercle appearance, which was broadcast from the stunning Abu Simbel temple in Egypt. Høffding, Barford and Kjellberg showcased their ability to perform live with panache during the stream, which has amassed millions of views across YouTube and Facebook. The three men performed at the entrance to the temple, beneath the ancient statues of Ramesses II and his family, delivering a visually and musically breathtaking show. One which is already the stuff of legend.

The three men have a long history with electronic music, signing releases to labels including Life And Death, Kompakt, or Innervisions and performing at Ushaia Ibiza, Space Miami, Papaya Playa Tulum, Brooklyn Mirage NYC and many more of the world’s most prestigious dance music clubs and festivals. Barfod has a long-standing DJ career outside of his activity with WhoMadeWho, playing iconic venues such as fabric London and Panorama Bar in Berlin and releasing his own solo productions. As a DJ and producer, he has achieved widespread notoriety and respect for his technical ability and deep knowledge. In recent years WhoMadeWho’s connection to the club world has been galvanised by their increasing work with friends such as Rampa, Frank Wiedemann, or Artbat.

In 2019 the band became the latest in an esteemed line of artists, that includes Solomun, Ellen Allien and more, to curate and mix a compilation for German powerhouse, Watergate. Watergate 26 placed several of their own productions alongside artists like Echonomist, Artbat, Chaim and many more, demonstrating their ability to apply their expertise to the DJ mix format with an intuitive understanding of groove and emotion.

Their first release of 2020, ‘Obstacles’, was signed to Blue Shadow Records, a label owned by friends Chaim and Jenia Tarsol, plus remixes from Marvin & Guy and label heads Chaim and Jenia. Shortly after, in the summer of 2020, the band has been tapping into their goldmine of connections within the scene to spearhead an array of collaborations. The result was an album, Synchronicity, and three EPs which were released with seminal techno label Kompakt. WhoMadeWho’s focus on electronic productions is not so much a departure for the band as an extension of an existing passion. Finding kindred spirits in the electronic music community, the band enlisted their talented comrades to assist them with the project; Kompakt’s Michael Mayer, Mano Le Tough, Adana Twins, Perel, Rebolledo, Axel Boman and Frank Wiedemann among their co-conspirators on the critically-acclaimed LP. The album and EPs define WhoMadeWho as they are right now, bringing their own unique, indie take on club music.

2021 started with their single ‘Abu Simbel’, named after the spectacular site of their legendary Cercle performance, which was released with Cercle’s label wing, and served as the emotionally-charged opener for the performance in March 2021. A second single called ‘Nefertari’ followed shortly after, this time a collaboration with Patrice Bäumel.

Work is already underway on a new album, due to be released in 2022. Bursting with creativity WhoMadeWho have been jamming in the studio during the last year, generating new ideas and continuing to refine their distinct take on electronic music. The first single ‘Mermaids’ features a remix from longtime friend and globally respected tastemaker DJ Tennis. Further singles will appear through 2021 as the band ushers in the next phase of its evolution with their forthcoming LP. Some of which can be heard on the band’s contribution to BBC1’s larger-than-life Essential Mix series that was broadcast in August 2021.
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This latest stylistic shift in the band’s evolution highlights their versatility and passion for creating new challenges for themselves - all three band members relishing the chance to explore different terrain in great depth. Part of WhoMadeWho’s charm lies in their divergent musical backgrounds, meaning that they approach various styles with a touch of innocence; Høffding and Kjellberg perhaps referencing Pink Floyd during a studio session, while Barford may allude to Carl Craig and vice versa, for instance. It’s what makes them such a fascinating group, capable of producing varied musical styles with a refreshing combination of vulnerability and confidence. As a group they are a unified force with three very different egos burning at their core working as the catalyst for their creative energy, with a little extra sparkle added by inviting other artists to join them in the studio.
Modifying the songwriting and production process to cater for the dance floor has been particularly enlightening for the group, as it requires a hypnotic use of rhythm, melody and vocals that can be difficult to achieve. It’s about tapping into that feeling of being on the dance floor when a simple, yet contagious hook infects your mainframe and refuses to let go. Coming from a songwriting background means the group has adopted a more reductive method for creating parts of their songs; producing trippy, narcotic melodies and vocal hooks that are alluring and enchanting. The process has stimulated their appetite for making music, stretching them artistically while they’ve added a whole new dimension to their production process by including other musicians in their studio operations.

On stage too the trio have evolved from the traditional band blueprint to fresh configurations designed for the club. Their 'Hybrid DJ Set' places Barford in the booth playing a DJ set while one of his bandmates complements the music with improvised singing, keys and effects. While their new 'Live Set' deconstructs the band format and reassembles it as their current live show: One member handles programming and mixing while the other two band members are singing and playing a range of live instruments including bass, guitar, synths, effects, theremin, glockenspiel and more. It’s daring, playful and exciting, for both the band and their audiences. The scintillating Hybrid DJ setup was showcased at Burning Man aboard the Mayan Warrior art car, where the three men played a mesmerising sunset show. The next shows and tours after the nonvoluntary hiatus of the past year and a bit are already penciled in and WhoMadeWho can’t wait to present the results of their extensive studio work on stage.

Always pushing forward, WhoMadeWho are pouring enigmatic energy and positive dance floor vibrations into their current exploration of electronic music. It transports them back to their beginnings, when playing improvised jam sessions that merged their influences was all they wanted to do. They’re a band that are willing to push themselves, to grow, to stretch themselves creatively and explore the full spectrum of their potential. With a renewed focus on dance music, a collection of new songs and their alternative stage setups, they are entering the next phase of their existence. Full of creative energy, excitement and enthusiasm, WhoMadeWho are destined to endure as one of the most influential and vital bands out there today...

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