Nope, not Houston. The handsome twosome that makes up Whitney doesn’t want to be seen as a concept or have a typical band name; they simply created their own fictional-but-real persona. On the heels of releasing the acclaimed debut album Light Upon the Lake, guitarist Max Kakacek and singing drummer Julien Ehrlich elaborate with Glamcult. “We were both writing as one character…”
We heard you two were roommates once.
Yes, we became roommates because Max played guitar (Smith Westerns) and Julien was a singer and drummer (Unknown Mortal Orchestra). Whitney was born from some laid back early-morning songwriting sessions during the winter of 2014. First as roommates splitting rent in a small Chicago apartment, later as musical collaborators. So we didn’t sit with each other and talk about starting a band, we just started making music.
How did you come up with a name?
The band’s name is what we call the personality behind our songwriting. We were both writing as this one character, and whenever we were stuck, we’d ask: ‘What would Whitney do?’ We represent some other being through this person, which is a relief. We wrote the record as though one person were playing everything. We wilfully didn’t add a lot of parts and didn’t bother making everything perfect, because the character we had in mind wouldn’t do that.
How would you describe Whitney’s character?
He or she feels sad, but likes to feel sad. You can be really, really good at something but no one ever realises how good you are. And then the years pass… Some people have that unbelievable talent for something and they’re super passionate about it. We see Whitney as that big star that is not discovered by many people yet.
What does ‘perfect imperfection’ mean to you?
No recording is ever good because it’s perfect. Auto-Tune is cool, for instance; it’s perfect because it’s not perfect. It’s a weird thing. And you also hear the effect of it. Auto-Tune is great because you still hear ‘the human’ who sings. It keeps it real and it’s part of the process. The perfect imperfection is just the best recording for us.
Does analogue recording also count as that kind of imperfection?
That’s actually one of the hardest things. With digital recording everything is safe and directly organized in different folders. With analogue recording you always have the risk of having to do things over and over. But when it’s good, the effort you put into it is so worth it. We did the same for Light Upon the Lake, we captured it in a way. It’s all about being organic.