posted by Lu
January 2024

The name WhoMadeWho echoes far and wide in not only the indie world, but also within the contemporary electronic realm. This Danish group, comprised of Tomas Høffding, Tomas Barfod, and Jeppe Kjellber went from a band making waves globally in the underground to playing at iconic venues and major festival slots such as Coachella, Burning Man, Panorama Bar, Space Miami, Papaya Playa Tulum, and more. I was initially introduced to their music through their affiliation with superstar producers such as Black Coffee, Rampa, Rufus du Sol, and Adriatique as they have either remixed or have had their work remixed by them.

Apart from their genre-bending and emotionally gripping music, for many, what makes WhoMadeWho such a memorable act is their live performances. Their forward-thinking sonic aesthetic is enhanced by enthralling visuals and a stage setup that immerses listeners into their world. WhoMadeWho is currently on a world tour and we had the opportunity to catch up with them to talk about the newest developments in their live shows, working with artists like Rampa, their shift into electronic music, and so much more.

The first time I came across WhoMadeWho, it was certainly the name that initially left a mark. I've always interpreted that name as a question asking, "Did I make the music, or did the music make me - who made who?". How does your moniker reflect your sound and the space you're trying to put listeners into with your music?

The name WhoMadeWho came to us by accident. Forced by a deadline for our first release… in the beginning, we didn’t like WhoMadeWho, but all the alternatives were worse, so we kept it.  Yet, like good wine, it has developed over the years, and now it feels like there was a deeper meaning for us Danes to be "WhoMadeWho."

At which point did you realize that you had 'made it' in music?

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When people started sending pictures of personal tattoos with our lyrics on I felt we had made an impact.

You guys are about to reach 20 years of WhoMadeWho, congrats on that! What is that one common thing that you guys share that makes the band function so well after all this time?

The music: It is the most natural and uncomplicated way of communicating. Our safe space in a world of misunderstanding and unrest.

We always had a very strong bond musically. This is our key element. We have worked hard to preserve the lighthearted nature and openness connecting us all to it. It has kept us inspired individually and as a band over time.

At one point in your trajectory, WhoMadeWho was predominantly a jewel in the Indie Dance scene. Between the mid-2010s and early 2020, WhoMadeWho gradually became a staple in the contemporary electronic dance music scene. I'm curious as to how that shift happened, and whether or not it was a deliberate move to become a dominant figure in contemporary electronic dance music?

After Burning Man in 2018 especially, we took a big step in the electronic direction. Taking our music on a new journey, stretching out the songs in a more repetitive direction. Bringing our listeners on board on this trip was a little epiphany. I feel we somehow still have that mindset. We are at a very loving place that is connecting us and the listeners with something bigger than ourselves.

WhoMadeWho · WhoMadeWho - UUUU (Album)

After the lengthy production, rollout, and release of your 2022 album UUUU, what did you learn about your dynamics as friends and as artists? And how did this impact the music made thereafter?

On UUUU we had great experiences joining forces with Rampa mainly, and Frank Wiedeman on “Silence and Secrets”. It was very inspirational to have someone from the outside join us in the process of making the art. We had some great trips to Berlin in the composition phase where we got deeply inspired. Again we got pushed (pushed ourselves) to think in new ways. An inspiring situation for us.

Can you elaborate on the challenges you faced when you were in the process of creating the live versions and touring UUUU?

It is always a fun challenge to convert studio songs into live performances. For our current World Live Tour, we have spent countless hours developing the live show. Collaborating with visual artists like Solo Avital & Ariel Vromen at LA-based EyeMix Studio, flora&faunavisions – the visionary team behind stage designs for music giants, Chris Mulligan from New York City, and legendary Danish architects BIG to make a live visual statement.

What artistic influences have shaped the visual aesthetic of your shows? And what was it about Bjarke Ingels Group that made them the ideal partners to bring the vision of WhoMadeWho to life?

We wanted it to be organic and full of experiments and love. Not a cold tech experience but a nice trip. Meeting and hanging with Jakob Lange from BIG at Burning Man was a nice trip, and a good reason for the start of us working together. BIG is clever, organic, and ambitious. Hence a perfect fit for us.

In your opinion, what makes an unforgettable show - as a performer, and as an audience member?

The show should have the component of a psychedelic trip. Also “sensations” during the show are important. I personally love it when artists have courage and create special moments in live shows. Like doing a section that is super acoustic after a rave-part for instance. Making the experience dynamic and thereby more emotional.

WhoMadeWho has done SO MUCH in their time. Is there a particular personal milestone or breakthrough that you feel strongly about achieving that you haven't yet?

There are always new milestones to fight for. For instance, we played this year at Coachella in the legendary Yuma tent. That was a milestone, now we have a new target. Playing big outdoor festival shows. That is going to be epic to experience.

Okay so, 1) an artist/band you’d love to go on tour with 2) an artist/band you’d love to have a D.M.C (deep meaningful conversation) with 3) An artist you would love to be your mentor. You’re welcome to select from artists who are dead/retired.

1. The Grateful Dead. They seemed to have an extraordinarily close and respectful connection between the band and the audience, very inspiring to me. They had this thing where EVERYBODY on the tour got the same fee, from lead singer to roadie. They also had a system where the audience could bring their blank cassette tape and get the evening's show live recorded right down to their tape in real-time. Apparently, they had a huge amount of tape recorder slots as part of their live rig. I don’t know their music very well, but I'm very fascinated by the whole thing around them.

2. The Beatles. I listened to them a lot when I was a kid and a teenager. They remain kind of magical. John Lennon made my all-time favorite song; “Imagine” is more relevant than ever. Harrison and Lennon seemed to have some very interesting points about life and death, they were philosophical and spiritual artists. Too bad they are dead. Fun fact I heard Lemmy from Motorhead also praising Beatles as one of the greatest rock bands he ever heard. That said something about their depth and broad appeal.

3. Daft Punk. They just seemed to do all the right things all the time. I would love some guidance from them.

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