They started out as film-makers and wound up one of The Netherlands' most respected electronic acts. I caught up with Harm Coolen and Merijn Scholte Albers, together making up Weval, ahead of their performance in Malta.

From film to music – how did that happen?

It happened very accidentally, at first we had no goals other then finishing our EP and before we realised it music completely took over our lives. Merijn didn’t let film go though, he made a short film last year.

How do you describe your sound?

Perhaps ‘psychedelic electronica’ is a way to name it. But you can name it anyway you want!

Weval – what is it?

It’s a made up word, we like the fact that is has no other meaning then just a name for our music.

Did you ever think you’d take Weval out of Amsterdam?

We never thought we could make a living out of it. When we finished the first tracks we had one dream and that was playing a couple of times in Amsterdam, hopefully in a nice place as well. Outside of the Netherlands was never a possibility in our head, until we got to meet the Kompakt crew.

Do films/soundtracks still inspire you?

Merijn: I listened to a lot of film scores when I was young and that was also a big part of me when I started making music. Especially those 1990’s soundtracks like Pi, Equilibrium and Fight Club.

What is the creative process like for you as a duo? Who does what?

Harm: Each track comes together in a different way, we both come up with track ideas. But there are also differences. Merijn is more focused on a hook and a strong track idea, whereas Harm starts more from experimenting with sounds. I guess those different attitude’s go together in a nice way.

You dropped your first album last year, an entirely self-produced affair. What was the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge is always to write a song that you can hear a thousand times. That was our threshold for every track that should be on the album. The second challenge was trying to find music that feels new. We realise that ‘completely new’ is not possible and there are always references to things that already being made. But we’re not interested in new music that sounds like something else, so besides composition we searched for ways to make it feel fresh and somehow unique. If we really succeeded in this or not is not up to us, but at least we tried.

Have you seen any evolution in your sound since then?

Yes, we will always change and explore new ways of making music. Part of it is unconscious and has more to do with coincidence. And a huge part of our joy in music is to find weird combinations and new ways to make sounds and songs.

You’re known for enjoying a dynamic performance, rather than straightforward playing. Will there be any improv elements in your Malta concert?

After touring a lot we slowly got better in improvising and we found out this is the only way to keep it fun. We don’t want to perform a song without our own emotion in it. So we keep on rearranging tracks and the live set has an open structure. It’s a bit scary to improvise a lot, but we found out that the audience really responds to this challenge. They feel we’re not in the comfort zone and that can make a moment special and intense.

What are your thoughts about the electronic music scene these days?

We get a lot of inspiration from music outside the electronic spectrum, such as weird, old, soul records or recent stuff that’s more experimental in a pop way, for example. At the moment we don’t get a lot of inspiration from the electronic scene, but maybe that has more to do with our own taste than the scene itself.

What can we expect from your Malta concert?

Besides dancing, some new tracks maybe? Who knows!

Nil By Mouth featuring The Wedding Present, Happyness, Weval and Pional takes place on September 30 at The Dome, San Ġwann. The event is being organised by Hairyamp Promotions and Trackage Scheme. Tickets are available online.

Sign up to our free newsletters

Get the best updates straight to your inbox:
Please select at least one mailing list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.