I recently had the pleasure to interview techno DJ Wehbba. Born in Brazil, Wehhba brings forth dark techno sounds and a bit of diversity to the scene. Electronic music in South America is growing exponentially, thanks to the likes of Wehbba and other DJs.
While another Australian tour has come to a close, part two of his debut U.S. tour is beginning soon and will extend through the end of March. Wehbba’s latest EP, Systematic Shades Vol. 2, was released via Systematic Recordings.
The three-track EP offers the signature pulsating bassline and hissing hi-hats that are the status quo to techno music. However, Wehbba brings forth an ethereal and complex factor to each track. “Moonrise” has a choir that melts with ambient noise before a heavy drop. The tracks works perfectly for a long set as it lets the listener calm down for a minute, right before returning to a paroxysm of cymbals clashing and an immense grove.
The success of Wehhba is growing more and more; his tracks are constantly being played by big time DJs such as Adam Beyer and Christian Smith. It seems like Wehbba may be leading the front for South American DJs.
Found below is the interview I did with Wehhba.
How is the techno scene in Brazil? South America as a whole seems underrepresented in terms of a techno scene.
Techno has gone through its ups and downs in Brazil, it’s been on a big down for quite a while, which is one of the reasons I’ve moved to Barcelona for about two years, but now it seems to be going through some sort of revival. There are plenty of immensely talented Brazilian techno artists, quite a few touring globally like myself, ANNA, Gui Boratto, Renato Cohen, etc…, and with this new wave of underground parties happening all over the country, together with the hype around the style, I expect to see plenty more exploding into the worldwide scene very soon. South America though is a different story, Argentina has probably one of the strongest techno scenes in the world, you might read DJs saying it’s their favorite country to play at in many interviews, and they have been exporting plenty of talent, like Shall Ocin, Barem, Pfirter, to name just a few. Chile also has amazing parties and, well, Villalobos, Alexi Delano, Luciano, Nicolas Jaar, Matias Aguayo, all of whom have Chilean roots. So there are plenty of exports coming from South America as a whole, there is a steadily-rising scene down there, but there is still a lot of room to grow.
How was your recent Australia tour and how are you feeling about your upcoming US tour?
Australia and New Zealand were great, I love those countries, the crowds are fantastic, the landscapes are amazing, the food is great, so it’s hard not to enjoy it. I was blown away by the Rainbow Serpent festival, a sort of aussie Burning Man, it was an amazing experience! I’m very much looking forward to my first tour in the US, it’s been long overdue and I’ve been hearing great things from a lot of my friends who’ve been playing there recently.
Who are some of your inspirations?
I’m inspired by lots of different artists from different genres as well, for different reasons. For example, artists like Dan Snaith (Caribou, Daphni) or Martin Stimming inspire me on the technical side of production, they have amazing ideas which, in turn, always give me new ideas of my own to incorporate on my work. Artists like Laurent Garnier, John Digweed or Adam Beyer inspire me on the DJing end of things, as they all have styles that relate to mine, and for the way they manage to blend different things with such simplicity and class, also how they keep themselves relevant and on top of the market through the years. But I also take a lot of inspiration from artists outside of the electronic music world, I listen to a lot of jazz and am a huge fan of Herbie Hancock, or experimental artists like Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Brian Eno. I take a lot of inspiration on experimentation from them, the list goes on, but you get the idea!
You seem to be doing a lot of work for Tronic Records. What do you like about Tronic and the founder, Christian Smith?
I’ve worked closely with Tronic Music since 2009, Christian Smith and I are very good friends. We’ve done a lot of tracks together and I also used to work as his engineer for a while before I’ve stopped it to focus on my own stuff. We have a very similar taste in music in general, and I really appreciate his attitude as an A&R and his overall character, we just get along really well.
Do you set any intentions before a set or is more so about having a good time?
Ultimately having a good time is the main goal of course. What I do is try to see how much experimentation I can get away with while trying to achieve that goal. I like to try new tracks as often as possible, either mine or promos or whatever, this is what I think keeps things interesting for me and for the audiences as well.
Describe your setup for a show.
3 CDJs and a mixer, but I like to mix and match, sometimes I bring different guitar pedals to add as an extra effects unit, or sometimes an extra drum machine, but most of the time I stick with my 3 players, that’s been my main formula since the vinyl days and it works very well for my playing technique.
Adam Beyer recently dropped your track “Swathe,” that must be quite a good feeling. What were your thoughts when you started to hear big time DJs dropping your tracks?
Adam has been supporting a lot of my more recent and unreleased material, and I’m really happy about that, as he’s always been one of my favorite artists and his label one of the best techno labels around. I think the first time I heard a big act playing one of my tracks was back in 2005 when DJ Hell played in Sao Paulo, he was working with some of my friends from Brazil at the time on some projects, and they’d shown him one of my tracks, he loved it and played it that same night, it was back when Gigolo (his label) was on a big high, and it felt very rewarding, it’s always great hearing your music through different artists and seeing the reaction they make on huge crowds through other people, it’s a very special feeling for me.
What drew you to techno music?
I think it really fits my personality, it’s a very broad and forgiving genre, with loads of attitude, and it inspires freedom, open mindedness, and on top of it all it’s great to dance to. When I started to listen to underground music in clubs back in the late 90s, techno was what really struck me and I’ve been faithful to it ever since.
What/who are you listening to these days?
I’ve been listening to a lot of stuff form the late 90s, early Plus8 records, R&S Records, Novamute, Music Man and stuff like that, it was a very inspiring time for me musically and I feel so good when I listen to stuff from that era. It’s also been playing a big part on my sound as of late.
Where do you see techno music heading in the next decade? Do you think it will continue to gain popularity, or maintain its signature underground scene?
Techno has been around for over 30 years now, it’s not going anywhere, it’s a peer genre of electronic dance music and it’s highly flexible. I think the main aspect of techno is that it’s a futuristic genre, as in, it lies in the future, so whatever you throw at it, it’s already years ahead of you, so we all just need to catch up! I never thought it would get to be as mainstream as it is right now, even though it’s still considered to be underground, so you can’t really predict what will happen in that front, only thing I know is that I’m sticking with it for as long as I’m making music and playing music.
Check out Wehbba’s most recent EP, Systematic Shades Vol. 2, and check out his upcoming tour dates below.