I am convinced that there are few albums that have captured the essence of existence and, in general, the essence of life. Without fear of being mistaken, the music of this band from Guadalajara, Mexico, gave us a candid description of what it means to live and a vivid representation of the beauty and movement that flows in each phase of us.
Formed at the end of 2012, Wohl distanced itself from that small need to define everything we create and, thus, far from the concern to be placed within the schemes of a specific genre, Amadeus, Ángel, Octavio and Samael, found the opportunity and the means to express themselves in pure instrumental music.
Although they are generally considered as post, math or progressive rock, the universe offered by Wohl goes beyond that and, therefore, transcends. Without molds and without specific genre but with a lot of substance and freedom; without worries and without limitations; rather, total sincerity and congruence with what they feel and dare to express.
Wohl is like life itself and, specifically, like the contrasts of which we are all protagonists throughout our existence: tranquility and chaos, happiness and sadness; everything coexisting. And, En vida (“In life”), their 2017 release, is the reflection of the changes that make us exist and be; this album gives meaning to our daily life and makes us think of it as a whole.
En vida speaks of us, En vida speaks of you and me and, for this reason, I decided to know a little more about the people behind this album. In the following lines I present you the interview that Amadeus, Ángel, Octavio and Samael allowed me to do to them, as people, as musicians and as creators of one of the most touching and captivating albums I’ve listened.
1. How did WOHL come to life? How did this project come about and what does the name mean?
The project began in fall of 2012 with Amadeus, Ángel and Octavio when they first met just to play some songs together. The truth was that, as each one of them experimented in their respective instrument, a kind of strong and cathartic music arose and we fell in love with the sensitive quality that came out in that moment.
From this discovery, we opted for making it more serious and tried to continue to compose more songs. Throughout the years, several guitarists, one keyboard player, and excellent friends of ours contributed tothe project, however, it was until 2016 that Samael arrived and since then we have maintained a stable lineup.
The word Wohl means something like “good” and “prosperity”in German, and it was proposed by a friend of ours called Israel, who upon hearing us on several occasions, determined that it would be an appropriate name for our music and that it was easy to remember, so we kept it.
2. I would like you to answer individually: How was your experience with music? how did you decide that you wanted to play an instrument? Did you grow up within a musical environment?
Octavio: Personally I have lived in a quite diverse musical environment, both in my personal tastes and profession. My great-grandfather was a clarinetist in the Tlaquepaque band orchestra and my uncle was a prolific DJ in the 80s-90s that had a lot of knowledge in audio engineering and also some of my cousins have played in rock bands. All of this made me interested in music, and when I was 14 I took the opportunity to play acoustic drums for a school festival at the end of the year, and that’s when I started playing.
Ángel: Since I have memory I have always been in contact with music very directly. My cousins played a lot of Topo Gigio or las ardillas songs, my mother’s family got together and my uncles played the guitar and singed. I loved that environment as a kid. When I was in high school I started learning to play guitar and played in the school’s ensemble. I´ve been playing my instrument since then.
Samael: When I was a kid I never really had a strong inclination for music and none of my relatives were musicians either. It was until high school that I fell in love with rock music and I took fascination for the guitar and the energy you can express through it. From there I started getting into different kinds of music until I started studying electric and then classical guitar. It was in one of my first recitals outside school that I felt something very strong that to this day I still can´t explain, but since then I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.
Amadeus: I remember that I was very influenced by an uncle who plays percussions; whenever I went to my grandmother’s house I would sneak upstairs to try to play his drums or when he was rehearsing with his band, at that time I did not know how to play but I liked it a lot when I heard him. Until now I knew that he played Latin music with progressive tints.
It makes me laugh when I get this question. I started playing the electric guitar, my intention was never to play the electric bass … when I started my first project, which was a cover band, we never had a bass player. As time went by we saw that we needed one to get the project going on; nobody knew a bassist and nobody wanted to play the bass, and well, I think you will realize at the end who ended up playing the electric bass in that project hahaha. That’s how I started this beautiful romance between the electric bass and me. As the time passed, I became increasingly fond of and familiar with this instrument. The truth is that I do not regret to see that decision made.
3. The most important thing to me and the obligatory question in the interview: What does music mean for each one of you?
Octavio: For me, music is a universal language that allows me to reflect the reality in which I find myself, it does not represent my life in its totality because I dedicate myself to the graphic field but it is in my mind all the time and it is a fundamental part of my communication
Angel: It means the richness of my life.
Samael: Music has been for me the way to understand the world, understand my own life and the relationship that exists between both. It is also my true happiness, my friends and the most beautiful part of being alive.
Amadeus: For me it is the ultimate expression and a universal language. We all like music, who does not? Be it mariachi, reggaeton, jazz, pop, rock, boleros, hip hop,cumbias, etc. All this makes us feel alive.
4. Regarding the creative process, how do your particular musical tastes converge in the music you create? What are some of your influences?
Octavio: Since I can remember, instrumental music, electronic, folk, new age, rock and pop have been present in my family and therefore are part of my influences, besides that, on my own, I have affinity also for genres such as black metal, hardcore, jazz, shoegaze, noise, rap, house, trance, glitch, to name a few.
Ángel: Instrumental and classical music, Disney was a school for me, regional music, a lot of pop, rock, cumbia, trova. I think that in what we most agree in is the instrumental music part, we all have very different tastes, but we all have acertain ability to recognize and empathize with the music that we share among ourselves.
5. What was the inspiration behind “En vida”? What do you want to communicate to your audience with this album?
Ángel: I don’t think there’s such an inspiration behind this record, this from my very personal point of view. I think that it was a very strong need to get out a lot things that we had inside each one of us. Situations or feelings that we have lived and empathized that, I believe, are very common feelings in many people. That’s when we realized that it was simply life and that what we were doing represented that, living.
Samael: It is more focused on feeling, it does not represent as much or is inspired by a history or subject as it is mostly the case for plastic arts, for example. But rather deals with the movement and the impulse of life itself, that which makes the heartbeat, natures tendency to expand without measure, the unstoppable flow of the sea and the feelings; It is true that all these phenomena can be explained through concepts and the use of reason, but music is able to communicate and explain them almost in a supernatural way through its own language, which is pure feeling.
6. Do you feel likeinstrumental music defines you better? Why leave the vocals behind and prioritize instrumental expression?
Angel: It’s not like we never thought about adding lyrics to our musical pieces, but it just never happened. Since we started on this, we haven’t felt the need to express ourselves through lyrics; music alone satisfies our expressive needs. However, if one day it is necessary to express something through the voice, we will do it.
Octavio: The instrumental music ends up being our point of coexistence and, at the sametime, we consider it as the base on which the influences of each one converge. In this project, the absence of voice is due to the fact that, from the beginning, the emotional charge and the progressive composition of our pieces gave rise to the function by themselves without the need to add lyrics. In anycase, not adding them does not represent a strict rule for us, since we are open to experimentation and being able to integrate the necessary elements to give away the desired message.
7. If we recognize that in our country the majority of the population is not familiar with this type of music, do you feel like this reality has inhibited you in some instance?
Ángel: Not at all, I think that the Mexican by nature is a being who breathes and lives art every day, sometimes even if he does not want to. In addition, our current situation has made us being more sensitive to the present. For that reason, I think that people connect with our music, beyond the lyrics, they manage to capture some feeling in our music, which empathizes with their own reality.
8. As an independent band, what do you consider to be the biggest challenge that you face at the local or national level?
Angel: As a local band from Guadalajara, I think it was and has been, making quality music. We have that tapatío essence and character to demand ourselves well made music.
9. I think this is a question that maybe your relatives or close friends once asked: What would you like to achieve with your project? What do you aspire to achieve both on a personal and group level? In essence, is WOHL a mean or an end?
Ángel: I would love to get to see how much we can do, where we can go, as musicians, as people, as far as our creative lines go, how to live music in its entirety. Wohl would be a means and an end.
Octavio: Wohl has been the means and the end at the same time, because it has allowed us to meet people and incredible places, it has helped us to improve our musical composition ability, to want to study more, to take a responsibility and joined us to create something that allows us to express ourselves in a supernatural way. With this project we seek to provoke real feelings and interactions, connect with people and leave resonance in each act live, that is; that all that we share is transformed into learning for self-knowledge.
Samael: I would like to expand it in all the senses, make the most beautiful music we can, take it to all possible places and feel the energy of the people. To live for this and to illuminate with its light all the possible corners of our being, to learn to love them. Wohl for me is the end.
10. What is next for WOHL in the short term? New material, any tours?
Samael: At this moment we want to developmore technical aspects of the band such as working on the live shows, media, booking and all those things that are a little more serious. This, to start getting more in the international market and at the same time, consolidate ourselves truly in our own country. Also we want to continue composing and experimenting with different resources. Its internal work that will surely take us away for a while from the live shows, but we still have some in different cities of the country before the end of the year.
Ángel: There are still some concerts in different cities of the country. Also we want to take some time to compose new music.
11. Anything you want to add?
Octavio: We want thank each and every one of the people who support us, give us their time and continue by our side guiding us on this path.
Samael: Thanks 🙂
I want to thank Amadeus, Angel, Octavio and Samael for their time and kindness. I want to tell you that I love what you have created and that I am excited to listen more. Thank you for allowing us to delight ourselves with “En vida” and to understand that those big opposites through which we pass through our existence are those that allow us to live.
Finally I want to invite all readers to listen to Wohl. Listen and find yourself “En vida” (“In life”), reconcile yourself with your losses, enjoy those little things that seem to be simple, find meaning in the difficulties, get rid of those guilt that brings the uncertainty of the day to day and, most importantly, remember that, in spite of everything, there is still life.
Wohl: Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/WohlMX/
Wohl´s Bandcamp Page https://wohl.bandcamp.com/
Wohl´s Instagram Page https://www.instagram.com/wohl.band/
Alfonso Lebrum: Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/lebrumfoto/
Alfonso Lebrum´s Instagram https://www.instagram.com/lebrumfoto/