Wehbba is one of Brazil’s main electronic music ambassadors worldwide. Born in São Paulo, Brazil, and currently based in Barcelona, Spain, this former dentist has been spinning house and techno music records, around the globe, for over a decade.
Wehbba has been a prolific producer, and has developed a very distinct style, marked by stellar production standards. His achievements, as a producer, could be measured by the number of respected artists who he’s worked directly with over the years, either remixers, remixees or collaborators. The list includes Laurent Garnier, Danny Tenaglia, John Digweed, Christian Smith, Stacey Pullen, Joseph Capriati, Stephan Bodzin, Ambivalent, Huxley, Bushwacka!, Secret Cinema, ANNA, Carlo Lio, Samuel L Session, Funk D’Void, Valentino Kanzyani, Harry Romero, 2000 And One, Robert Babicz, X-Press 2, Mihalis Safras, Coyu and Kaiserdisco, to name only a few.
His productions have been featured on labels like Tronic, Systematic, Bedrock, Soma, 2020Vision, Knee Deep In Sound, 100% Pure, Audiomatique, Material, Missile, Suara and many others.
‘Full Circle’, Wehbba’s first studio album, released by Tronic Music in 2010, was the landmark which set Wehbba’s career off to a new level, achieving outstanding media, DJ and public success. Over the following years, he’s been a regular in charts of portals like Beatport or Resident Advisor, and with a second studio album on Tronic, ‘Square Two’, released in 2013, Wehbba further explored his musician background, displaying a more prominent versatility, including a guest appearance from Jon Dixon and D’Sean Jones, 2/3 of the Detroit group D3, part of the legendary Underground Resistance collective.
Out of the studio, Wehbba’s heavy touring schedule includes venues and festivals such as Tomorrowland, The BPM Festival, Sensation, Lollapalooza, Warung, D-Edge, Pacha, XXXPerience, Triblatech, Ministry Of Sound, Creamfields, Vision, Rex Club, Fabrik, Florida135, Cat & Dog, Crobar, Westerunie, Coda and countless others, while also hosting 2 monthly radio shows, broadcasted over hundreds of stations worldwide, namely Pioneer DJ Radio and Tronic Radio.
Hi Wehbba, thank you for talking to us today, let’s get right into it!
You are due in Australia this weekend to begin your 5 date tour, is there a process you go through before each tour and what are you most looking forward to experiencing when in Australia?
The only process I go through before a tour is making sure I’m all good with deadlines in the studio and have enough new music to take on the road, it’s a great opportunity to test new tracks out while on tour because I get to really get an idea of what’s good and what needs to be changed, if at all. I really love Australia, it’s one of my favourite places and I’m actually really looking forward to being there with my wife for the first time, who’ll be touring along with me.
You are playing a mixture of club shows and outdoor festivals, do you approach each one the same or do you find yourself altering your sets for the atmosphere?
I always go with the flow. It’s a lot easier to figure out what works best in a club environment, as it’s a lot more personal and you can really feel what needs to be done, in festivals I adjust more to the flow of the music before and after and try to stand out, while being myself in the process.
You made the switch in cities from Sao Paulo to Barcelona, how did you find the transition, was it a drastic lifestyle change or did you find it quite easy?
It was quite easy, as I’ve spent quite a lot of time in Barcelona already over the last few years, mainly when I was always touring in Europe. I actually had a hard time keeping up with my lifestyle in Sao Paulo, so the change has been very welcome. Barcelona is a great city and I haven’t felt at home quite as much in a long time.
Barcelona is quickly out pacing Berlin as an epi centre of techno and electronic music, how do you see the cities compared side by side?
They are very different, in every way. Barcelona feels a lot more laid back, and there’s not a huge amount of parties and clubs or even DJs like Berlin, even though there are quite a lot. I prefer the less intense lifestyle of Barcelona, it gives me room to live outside of the music scene, although I do like to spend a few days in Berlin whenever possible, buying records, synths, and experiencing the culture.
Your first album “Full Circle” was released in 2010, followed by “Square Two” in 2013, did you feel pressured to capture the accolades you received from your first album?
Yes I did. I actually wasn’t really able to enjoy the experience of working on my second album. I had moved from Czech Republic, where I wrote Full Circle, to Sao Paulo, and I felt the need to express my vision at the time, but looking back now I realise it wasn’t the best moment, I felt pressured from many angles, and as a result the only tracks I’m still proud of are the collaboration with my friends Jon Dixon and D’Sean Jones from Detroit and the other non-club tracks. It’s a solid album and did well, but it just doesn’t really translate my vision.
Can you talk us through the arrangement of your tracks and the details you focus on to make your music so unique?
Each track has a life of its own, I approach every piece completely different. I really love working with instruments, that’s what makes the most difference to me. So when I’m in the studio I spend a lot of time working on my synths, guitars, percussion instruments through my different effects units or plugins, and I keep recording everything until I find something that inspires me, then I put it all up together with Ableton and work a lot on the Push controller to build the track after I have all the recordings.
Every artist grows with their music, how do you see your production style and technique change over the years? Has the digital age has opened up new creative doors?
I’m an avid researcher and enthusiast of recording gear and instruments in general, and I study a lot about new – and old – techniques that I can try to incorporate into my work flow, but with experience I found that the more limited you are, the better you get. So with computers and plugins it’s very easy to become overwhelmed with possibilities, every tool is designed to be as flexible as possible, and that takes a toll on the actual role some tools were designed for in the first place, so I’ve resorted to hardware to limit my options with well crafted instruments with a properly planned and well laid out set of features, so that I could then use my inspiration to extract the most out of them. I feel it’s been the best move I’ve ever made. I’ve never felt so inspired and so happy with my work like I do right now.
Do you think artists place un-achievable pressure on themselves to create a lasting legacy through their music?
I can’t speak for other artists, but I certainly don’t. The way I see it, electronic music is about freedom and expression, and was always meant to be ephemeral, to be enjoyed to its fullest instantly, it’s not about status, so I don’t really care about what my legacy is. I hope I can continue to do it as long as possible, that’s the only pressure I put on myself.
You have remixed incredible artists such as Laurent Garnier, John Digweed, Christian Smith, Stacey Pullen, Joseph Capriati and Stephan Bodzin, can you walk us through the mindset when working on a remix?
It’s all about the original, I go through the parts and see which one gives me that little spark of inspiration from which everything else will expand from. I also like to be respectful to the original track and use as much of the parts as possible. That’s why I am very careful with the projects I choose to take on nowadays, as I don’t like to just create full tracks and use some small bits just to say it’s a remix, I feel it defeats the purpose of this kind of project.
In a recent interview with CJ Jeff, he explains that changes in the music industry “no-one’s really making money directly from music anymore, which is a shame – it’s been devalued almost to the point of irrelevance” How have you experienced this transition in recorded music?
That’s maybe a little too harsh of a statement, but there has been an undeniable decrease in sales of any kind of music, and there also has been a great shift in how things are monetised nowadays in the music industry, between streaming services, digital subscriptions, radio, syncing, etc…I’ve been releasing music since 2004 back when CDs used to sell more than vinyl and mp3s, so I have definitely experienced lots of changes, but I don’t fixate too much on that so that it won’t interfere with my art.
Lastly, thank you for speaking with us today, is there anything in store for 2017 we can know?
Thanks for having me, 2017 is shaping up to be a great year, I have a lot of projects going on at this time but unfortunately you’ll only hear about it in a few months! Only one small clue, from one of the things, comes from Detroit…