Antipop – An interview with Philipp Weber

Last week (Philipp) Weber presented his sophomore solo effort, the pragmatically titled Zwei, to the world. The EP showcases an eclectic box of chocolates from contrasting ideas in electronic music, with the artist’s personality stamped in to every song. “I guess the EP is just me.” Zwei can be read as a continued biography of the artist’s own development, narrating a story that’s only in its second chapter. “I just wanted to continue what I started. Create music that takes you somewhere. It’s like a journey with some expected and unexpected events. I’m just trying to stay open and this seeps into my music.” These events are captured through the improvised moments that were revisited and refined for Zwei, Weber’s second outing on his spiritual home Holger. Philipp Weber is in his own words a musician first and a producer only from necessity. Starting his musical education with the classical guitar at the age of 6, the German artist soon fell into punk from grunge, which eventually found its way into noisepop, but ultimately it was his work with Sven Michelson as part of Webermichelson where something truly special was cemented in music. “I met Sven ten years ago and here I am.” The band would encourage comparisons to the likes of Battles and Ratatat, combining electronic and acoustic instruments to create songs in acutely disruptive rhythmical patterns with thin guitars, filled out with an array of synthesisers leading the way. “We don’t want a computer on stage, so we try to integrate and implement all sorts of other instruments. Radios, Synths, Drum machines, Glockenspiele.” These instruments can never be left untouched for Philipp, who is constantly in need of a creative outlet, and after some ideas became more concrete during his writing processes, his first solo effort as Weber, Eins was born. “It wasn’t a conscious decision to start a solo project. Sven was just busy working in theatre and I (have to) make music almost every day. So at one point I had enough material to talk to Steffen Bennemann (Holger) about a solo record. I’m glad he liked my stuff.”

Whereas Webermichelson is more at home on stage, Weber is the result of the studio. “Even as Weber, I try not to overdo it with all the elements and possibilities of the studio environment. I’m still more a musician than I am a producer. So I try to record everything by playing it live. My favourite way of working is still to improvise for some hours, record everything and than just pick out the interesting moments. The only problem is the limitation of my hands. I only have two of them.” That immediacy of playing live is something that comes across very conspicuously in Zwei, especially on B1/Warten where it’s obvious to discern Philipp’s German heritage in the 12 minute long improvised synth jam. “My approach is to capture moments. It’s me jamming with my memories and future plans.” And if you imagine that this unconscious streaming of the moment only translates into introverted sessions like B1/Warten, you’d be quite surprised what else lies further ahead on the EP. Skit and Dr Clapper are quite happily at home on the dance floor with repetitive beats and droning synthesisers the order of the day, and the Bug, why that is something different all together again. “It’s the Bug on the record. It does not really belong there, but it has to be on it. It’s like an Antipop song. Sometimes things just happen. And with the Bug it was kind of like that. When I work on something, I’m up for everything that happens. And because the Bug came by so naturally, it felt right to put it on the record. It creates a certain feeling, but it has no content at all. You wanna sing along (maybe), but you can’t. You wanna know, what it is all about, but there is nothing. Like life. Hard to understand, but there has to be a bigger meaning.”

Philipp Weber is based in Leipzig, a city with a remarkable musical heritage, and it influences something of his eclectic approach to music in the practicalities the city offers. “It’s the way people work here. With passion and making as less compromises as possible. Leipzig is a very affordable place to live and because of that you can really focus on what you want to do instead of what you have to do in order to survive.” It’s something that naturally will seep into Weber’s music, as it is part of “everything that made me the person I am now.” While striving for this pure personality in his music, he is still a musician at heart, always “trying to get better at playing my instruments” and it means that he is already on the path to Drei. “I’m integrating my modular stuff into my setup and will start recording now. What else can I do?”