With the release of “Mӕre” (here our review), the latest album by the Austrian duo, we had the pleasure of interviewing the singer Michael “JJ” V. Wahntraum!
Good afternoon, and thank you to give us the opportunity to interview you. So, tell us: are you excited with the release of your fifth album, Mære?
Yeah, of course, you know, it’s over one year since we finished it and we had postponed 2 times the release, first in September 2020, but it was impossible and then in January 2021 and then finally the next week it will go out. It’s a huge relief. Such a shit load time
What is the story behind that name?
We were looking for some time to something that, kinda, describe the overall feeling of the lyrics and the music and then we came across, this creature that kind of seize you when you sleep and brings some nightmares and we thought it was a proper summary of all the topics that we talk about in the songs. It’s not always easy to find an album title so we are glad we find something that fits
So, why Trauma has the number of the album, while the others not?
A good question! I don’t why we thought it was a good idea at the times but it looks good. As you can see the follow-up albums are not numbered any more
How was born the idea of the cooperation with Neige [singer of Alcest]?
You know, we are both big Alcest fans and we listened to Alcest already when we started the band, and over the years we got to know Stephane and Neige the main guy, and yeah, then, of course, we thought why not make cooperation. we asked him and he was happy about the idea. It was something we wanted to do for quite some time but now finally we make It happen, luckily.
How was work with him?
Obviously, it was not that he came here, to Vienna, to record something. It wouldn’t even be possible, you know, with the fucking pandemic. It was actually weird the album was finished and then we want to record the guest parts back then in France, where there was also a hard lockdown they were not able to go out even without a written note from the police. So, it takes like one month until  get to go somewhere to record at even, so it was a long process but yeah, I just was afraid to tell him which part I want him to sing and then left him like 3 hands because it is easy, a very good, like, feelings for melodies so I want that he brings a bit of his style into it. Yeah, that was pretty much it, we were happy we had what he did right away and, yeah, you can hear it on the album
Remaining on “sing of the damage we’ve done”, that on youtube has reached 300k visuals, did you expect that? Do you have an idea of why it has success?
We are happy people like that, it’s nice to see that there are some views already. I was a bit surprised too, so apparently, that’s the favourite song of the people so far. I hope they will like the rest of the album too.
I don’t know actually [the main reason why it has so much success] we did everything the same in the process of the writing the album, maybe it has reached more people now than before. Maybe we are a bit more well-known than while the last album still not, you know, some people show it to the friends, when they like it then some more people check it out and then yeah, it’s gradually growing always, always a little bit from the album. I’m just happy to see that it doesn’t stagnate, nor it doesn’t go less or sets the same it’s always a delight to the people that appreciate the music.
So, if I’m not wrong the group was born in 2011, 10 years ago. How you can resume these years?
Time flies man! That’s one for me. Yeah, we will want to do some, anniversary touring and everything but as you can imagine. There is that nothing that we planned
How you can describe these 10 years?
It was like a nice journey, we started all like a studio project we did it until the release of the first album. And then yeah, people ask us if we wanted to play live, and then we get some live members and then first we played only in 5 shows and then it grew and grew, and so it was a really interesting journey. We played 100 days a year before the pandemic. It was quite a ride. I can’t remember anything, in particular, that was negative, I mean, we had the chance to tour China and all around the world. For me, it was an awesome experience that, I hope, we will go on when thing go back to normal
That’s a tough question. I think that the strangest concert definitely was in china because we didn’t know what to expect then. Then you see also online in china that all the people like going get really crazy to the music, such surrounding with something they are not familiar with. That was definitely something special. There were many great shows, but if I have to pick something it would be in China tour
If you can go back, you would change anything in your career or in the songs?
I think it’s all a reflection of the time. Of course, the sound, in the beginning, was not exactly what we intended to be because we had limited possibilities. But I think I wouldn’t change anything in the songs, but maybe with the songs, but you know it’s always possible for example a re-recording for the anniversary or something like that. But in general, if I look back, it’s a rassemblement of this time, it is what it is and I’m ok with that
How was your 2020?
You mean it sucks? That’s obvious. We had all the tours cancelled and everything. When you have every day live when you are used to playing in concerts, being a bit at home, and then go concerts again and then suddenly you stay at home all the time and the foundation of your normal life is pretty gone then it’s a bit tough to deal with. In the beginning, it was alright because, you know, everyone was naïve and thought “this shit will be over after three months” and it went on and now we have the third lockdown and then there are new mutations and nobody knows exactly what we will have. It hit really hard in family, I don’t know if you’re familiar too. In the end, you have to learn to deal with it because you can’t change it. It was not a great year
Do you think 2021 will be better?
Right now I don’t think so. Here in Austria, the government is slow with everything and until everybody has a vaccination that it will be probably 2 years later. Much hope that thing get back to normal very soon, but yes, we will see
Favourite song of the new album? And in general?
It’s tough to say, the new album changed a lot. When we were here listening there i9s something that I’d like to play live and some others to listen more. At the moment I would say “Us against December skies” it’s my favourite because it’s a lot of fun to play with the guys. [in general] that’s a tough question because there are many songs. At the moment I haven’t been listening to a lot the old stuff. If I had to pick one, I like “Dancing on debris” from the first album, but yes, it’s a tough question. I cannot really pick one
Plans for the future? Are you already thinking of future stuff or collaborations?
Not really, we want to have this album out and then we’ll see about the future. We want to do live, we want to re-do the tours and play like in the US, South America and so on. Just try to keep up with the shows as soon as possible, and about collaborations of the album, we didn’t think about that. We need this album to be released first, then we can think about new stuff because then this chapter is closed, then we’ll think about new collaborations.
And what about Italy?
It’s always fun to play in Italy. We have planned there was no show but I think we had some plans for like 3-4 shows outside the tour, probably in the north and we want to do a show in Rome as well, but yeah it won’t happen any time soon.