The musical journey of WIR HATTEN WAS MIT BJÖRN started in 2012 with singer and composer Maika Küster and trombone player Maria Trautmann. The band uses to present its music as Indie Jazz/Pop, and to describe it as an ecclectic experience, defying genre rules. They deliver a warm, delicate, intimate, tender and intelligent sound mixing acoustic instruments and a touch of electronic sounds, real introspection of human being.
Credit Photo: Marcus Engler
I had the chance to ask this talented band some questions for introducing them better to the Spotify Community. You can read our conversation below:
■ How did you meet? How did you decide to create a duo and where does the name of the group come from?
We met on a train in 2011 when we both studied at Folkwang University. There was a mutual falling in love and a lot of shared taste in music. So it felt very natural to start writing songs together. The band name came about when we once sat together in Maria’s kitchen...
■ For Maria: You are playing the trombone. It's not a usual instrument to begin with as a kid. Where does your love for this instrument come from, and when did you start playing it?
I started playing trombone at the age of 12 and it was a very pragmatic decision. There was a need of trombone players in many local youth orchestras and big bands so I got to play with a lot of people at a young age. A bit later, after I bought my first instrumental CD (Tommy Dorsey) and I realised that the trombone has a very unique and singing sound which I fell in love with, so I stayed with the instrument.
■ For Maika: When you started to sing, did you practice classical singing or did you directly start with Jazz? You also play the guitar, is this your base for composing?
I started with Jazz singing. Me and Maria both studied Jazz Performance in University. A bit later I took classical singing lessons. At some point it was clear that the best approach to reach freedom in singing and be able to access all possible colors in my voice is to practice classical technique, because it’s like a master discipline of singing. When you are able to sing that kind of style you are able to sing everything. It depends how I compose, sometimes on the piano, sometimes on the guitar.
■ Your first album "Oh What Pretty Thing" was released in 2017. At this time you were playing with Manuel Loos as your drummer. In 2018 you were joined by double bass player Caris Hermes. What made you feel that you had to extend your duo to become a quartet?
We prefer to play in a quartet because it gives us more dynamic possibilities on stage. The rhythm section helps to create the dancy vibes.
■ Your music is very intimate, can you tell us a bit about your creative process? Do you improvise a lot? How are your lyrics coming together?
A lot of time passes from the first idea for a song to the finished version of it. In between there are a lot of steps, they definitely include improvisation, but also working on the lyrics in a very concentrated and not-improvised way. The music we are trying to make roughly consists of these two components, one is finding new structures through improvisation, the other is very dedicatedly thinking about what we want to say. So writing lyrics can be done from a very intimate perspective, sitting on the piano, trying to figure out melody, harmony and lyrics - trying to achieve the vision of a song and the message in our heads. The other part of the music happens together with the band in the rehearsal room.
■ On "RUINS", your original acoustic sound marks an evolution with the introduction of electronic sounds. Was it, for you, obvious to widen the rendering of your music?
It was a conscious choice to use all the possibilities of instruments and sounds we have in the production process of the album in order to serve the message of each song. We fell in love with the additional depth that comes with the use of the electronic sounds and synthesizer harmonies.
■ Your last single "RIVER", released at the end of June, begins like a beautiful intimate ballad and turns into a magical haunting soft electronic dance-pop song. Is this the musical direction to expect on your album "ON THE RUINS" coming this september?
"RIVER" is definitely the song with the widest range of styles and the most extremes in this sense. However, you can definitely expect a varied and colorful album where each song has its own soundscape.
■ I guess that, like every musician, you have other artists inspiring you, and maybe, some that you would love work with. Can you tell us a bit more about them?
If Maika ever got the chance to work with Kendrick Lamar, she would be reeeeally happy. Other inspirations include Devendra Banhart, Little Dragon ... but also a lot of friends we work with closely are a big inspiration to us.
■ I have read that you perform live with the full quartet, but also as a duo Voice/Trombone improvising and creating music in the moment. What does this way of performing give you musically?
This is actually all you need and can transport the purest version of the song, melody with bass line, two instruments contrapuncting. So it helps us to get to the essence of a song and to get to know each other through improvisation.
■ Thanks a lot for all these answers giving the opportunity to the Spotify Community users to get to know you better. I will finish with one last question:
Imagine that I can give you the Keys of the World, what would you do with them?
Make ressources accessible for everyone ... and kill the rich! 😀
Maika Küster—Voice Maria Trautmann—Trombone Caris Hermes - Double Bass Manuel Loos—Drums & Electronic