Modal Electronics Backstage: Wehbba
From Brazil to Barcelona, Techno wizard Wehbba needs no introduction, gracing countless clubs and stages globally. With a string of remixes slated for this year, we took the opportunity to catch up with the DJ / Production master to discuss his influencers, industry insights and what to look forward to in his world!
So, tell us who you are, where you’re from etc?
My name is Rodolfo Wehbba, most people know me as Wehbba, I’m an electronic music artist from Sao Paulo, Brazil, based in Barcelona for the past few years.
What’s on your playlist at the moment?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Dub and Reggae, you know…it’s summer. Lots of King Tubby, Prince Jammy, Lee Scratch Perry (RIP), etc…
Has Music always been a part of your life? Was Music a big part of your childhood? What did you listen to back then?
Music has pretty much defined my life – so yeah, it’s a big chunk of it. I’ve been obsessed with music and sound in general from a very young age, probably influenced by my father who’s an electronic engineer that used to work for a hi-fi manufacturer in Brazil in the 70s; when I was born he had already moved on to different things but always kept the sound obsession as a hobby. I used to listen to a lot of what he listened to, which was mostly stuff like The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Steppenwolf; when I started to develop my own taste, I was really into the synth-pop and techno pop from the mid-80s, like Erasure, Depeche Mode, New Order, etc… which kinda led me into electronic music very early on.
What inspires you musically?
Absolutely everything. Feelings, emotions, words, movies, speeches, meditation, nature, and obviously music itself. I’m always absorbing my environment even if subconsciously, and that comes out either in the form of music or poetry/lyrics.
How would you describe your music?
As Wehbba I make mostly techno music, with lots of influences from classic electro and trance. I have another project called Inner Soto, which is more experimental and focused on ambient and organic compositions.
What is in your current studio setup?
I use an iMac to run my DAWs, Ableton Live 11 and Apple Logic Pro X, and I have a collection of synths and drum machines that go into my Antelope Audio Goliath HD interface and Audient ASP880 preamp, sometimes running through an old Roland M-240E mixer. Right now the synths in my collection are: Moog One, Moog Sub37, Access Virus TI, Sequential Prophet 6, Roland TR08, Roland D05, Roland SE02, Roland SH01A, Roland TR8 and TR8s, Pioneer Toraiz SP-16, Elektron Analog Rytm MKI, an Eurorack modular system, Oberheim Matrix 6, Roland MKS-80, Boss Dr110, Korg Volca Kick, Korg Volca Bass, Elektron Octatrack, Arturia Microfreak, Behringer TD-03, MAM MB33, Kawai PhM, DSI Tetr4, AKAI MPC Live, AKAI Force, lots of pedals and effects processors, and the latest additions were the Modal ARGON8 and COBALT8.
I’m always absorbing my environment
even if subconsciously…
Wehbba about the sources of his inspiration
We have watched some great DJ sets – how do you begin preparing for one of these and how scripted / rehearsed is the set?
I usually take a few hours about 2 or 3 times per week to listen to as much new music as possible, either from promos or record shops or websites. I then compile some of my favourites and put them in a playlist, which then gets arranged pre-gig or stream once I get the vibe of the place I’m in, the city or the type of club/festival. It’s not a predefined playlist, just a smaller selection of the bigger list that I would imagine would be more appropriate for that particular show. From that point I decide which will be the first track, and the rest is up to the universe.
Who are your biggest influences on your production?
That changes constantly, and are often super different, I guess right now I could mention Joey Beltram and Jeff Mills.
How does a track start for you – what is the spark that kicks off the rest of your production?
It’s never a fixed process. Sometimes it’s a snippet of a recording from one of my sound design sessions, sometimes it’s a full structured idea that pops up in my head after a run or a shower, sometimes it’s a line from a movie or series, and a bit less often it’s a groove or a beat.
Do you ever suffer creative blocks? What is your coping mechanism?
Yes, I did suffer the longest creative block in 2020, for obvious reasons. My coping mechanism was to return to other types of artistic expression I had put aside for a long time, like writing, and also focusing on learning different production techniques and instruments.
How does technology impact your creative process?
I’d say it’s a great companion, often when I run out of ideas, technology, be it digital or otherwise, often unlocks something that was not so obvious before, or just helps me to create in a way I probably wouldn’t just by myself.
What has your experience of the industry been like thus far and what advice would you give to anyone just starting out?
It’s a wild roller coaster, and to be on top of your game I’d say a curious mind, relentless work ethic and extreme focus on your own path will take you far. That works for anything in anybody’s life, but I found it especially true in my own experience.
What is your production setup at the moment? Is it fixed or do you switch things up regularly?
As mentioned in a previous question, I have a range of synths, samplers and drum machines that get used on rotation, I try to limit the number of tools I use for each song so that I don’t get overwhelmed by excessive options and keep moving faster. It’s also cool to realise the full potential of each tool while you do that, so it becomes easier and easier each time to know what to reach for at any given moment of a production.
What are you working on now? We hear a new Album has just been released – tell us more!
I’ve released “Straight Lines & Sharp Corners” on Drumcode just when the lockdown hit back in March 2020, and took a long break from any releases since then. My first release after this hiatus has just come out – my remix for “Capuchin” from Martin Gore – and I have a few other remixes coming up, one for Kevin Saunderson on Drumcode, another one for Stephan Bodzin and Marc Romboy on Systematic, and a couple of remixes for Jam&Spoon, all due this year. I’ve just finished my next single for Drumcode as well, but we’re still working out the release details.
I have been really enjoying my time
with the synths and they have helped me
to develop some really good ideas…
Wehbba about ARGON8 and COBALT8
So, we hear you have some Modal Synths the studio at the moment – what’s your impressions on the ARGON and COBALT synths?
I have been really enjoying my time with the synths and they have helped me to develop some really good ideas, I feel that they allow the creativity in sound design to flow really smoothly. I’m especially fond of COBALT for the musicality it has within the good weirdness that you can create with it. With both synths I realised they can be easily fit into different stages of a composition without being either too weak or too imposing, they seem to always find a spot. I’m looking forward to exploring them further and also happy to see the active development of new updates with different features coming every once in a while!