The wait is over – finally, there’s news from the electro-pop duo DRAMAS! The debut album “Nothing is permanent”, which was released in 2018, is followed by the 2nd album, appropriately titled “DRAMAS”. VIKTORIA WINTER and MARIO WIENERROITHER, the creative minds behind DRAMAS, told Itta Francesca Ivellio-Vellin why the new album is actually not named after the band, to what extent Viktoria is a prophet and why the 1980’s are the greatest source of inspiration for them.
Your album is coming out very soon!
Viktoria: Yes, we just realized that [laughs].
Mario: It’s just going so fast all of a sudden!
Was the whole production really fast?
Mario: Actually, it just dragged on, but everything is going quicker now.
Viktoria: It’s usually the case that you take an incredible amount of time because you believe that there is still that much time left anyway, but towards the end, it all kind of gushed out. At the end, we even added two or three songs, which we produced in the shortest amount of time.
Mario: We switched them out for others, but then we thought, oh no, there are songs missing now … You think you’re done, but then you have even better ideas.
Viktoria: You also need a little pressure. The deadline is important, because then you have a bit of inner stress and then there are some cool, intuitive things happening.
You can take forever for the first album because nobody expects anything from you.
Your debut album, which was released in 2018, was called “Nothing is Permanent”. What has changed since then, what has stayed the same?
Viktoria: The production method has changed a lot. On the last album, I did the layouts and lyrics for almost every song. You can take forever for the first album because nobody expects anything from you. You just do whatever. With the second album, we have developed a lot on a personal level and have become more open and direct. But we both worked a lot together. Actually, every song was created together somehow – I wrote most of the lyrics on my own, that did not change – but we jammed together, turned on our loop station and tried funny melodies and beatboxing. This is how the basic ideas for many of our layouts came about. We also got along like never before [laughs]. Each of us had our own struggles, but together it worked really well and I think we also influenced each other in a cool way and got the best out of each of us.
Mario: We also delved deeper into our own musical preferences than we did on the first album. I was able to fully live out my love for the 80s and their ballads, and was able to use snippets of samples – that wasn’t the concept on the last album, the theme back then was more the cinematic atmosphere. That has changed fundamentally. We hope you hear the fun we had making it too!
Viktoria: I also have to say, I broke out more vocally. I really needed that and I also had fun showing a little more. Writing the album from a first-person perspective was a new experience and a new development.
Why is it so important for you to write or sing from the first-person perspective?
Viktoria: My protective walls were raised a bit with the first album. Art is indeed the place where you let off steam, but I’ve always done it with a distance. There are a lot of narrative elements and impressions and world views on the first album, but I wanted to portray them a bit isolated from myself. It’s not like that with the new album anymore. It wasn’t on purpose, but it was somehow necessary. I started training as an actress after the first album, and it certainly inspired me to show more of myself and have the courage to express myself honestly.
Opposites and contrasts seem to be particularly exciting for both of you. What do you find so fascinating about them?
Viktoria: There is simply never a one-sidedness. There is always more to it, for example with a sentence. That kind of fascinates me. Nothing just stands there flat, there is always a depth, an ambiguity. You can get something good out of everything and you can always get something bad out of it. Always questioning that – I can’t help it. It’s a way of life. For me, it’s always about ups and downs, which can be good and bad – it’s often good for art! But yeah, I just have to question everything, always.
Mario: I make up for that a bit! Emotionally, I’m more the balanced type, and then I can notice what’s good about your high or your low.
Viktoria: I often see it as a weakness in myself, but you’re more of the type who sees it as a strength. I’m just learning to see that as a strength in myself.
The constant questioning, you mean?
Viktoria: Yes! But also the mood changes – some of them are so uncontrollable that I no longer know my way around and am overwhelmed with my own feelings and thoughts. In the last year, it has probably happened to many people that you just pay more attention to yourself. That is also extremely important and good, but you also get to know your abysses then, and I definitely got to know mine. But it all makes sense; often times, you only notice that afterwards. This is also often the case with song writing. I write songs that come intuitively and only two months later do I understand why I wrote that. It has such a predictive effect, that was also the case with this album. I am also happy about moments like these, because then I know that there is so much unconscious intuition behind it. I mean, the idea is completely honest and authentic anyway, but the understanding often only comes later.
I write songs that come intuitively and only two months later do I understand why I wrote them.
Do you usually come up with a text and then you work out the beats and melody together? Or the other way around?
Mario: It was mainly like that on the first album. This time, however, I often came up with ideas.
Viktoria: Mario often had a layout that he liked. The music is definitely there first and then comes the text.
Mario: I didn’t want to have Vicky’s layout wrapped in music, but rather that the music comes first so that it somehow seems more fitting.
Viktoria: Sometimes it happens at the same time, like with “Ouch” for example. “Ouch” was created from a loop that we made together. I usually sing some nonsense text over it, because then you already have a bit of a feeling for which vowels sound good and then in results in a text.
The first song on your album, “Noday”, kind of made me think of Joan Jett – do you understand where I’m coming from?
Mario: I do, but I would never have thought that it would be there!
Viktoria: When we showed it to our friends, they were more likely to say that it reminded them of Blondie, like “One Way or Another” and so on.
Definitely 80’s vibes!
Viktoria: Yes, definitely. The 80’s were just the heyday of music.
Mario: As far as the experimental is concerned, they didn’t know any limits at all. Many songs in the charts sound very similar today – which is not a bad thing. But in the 80’s, there were songs in the charts that you couldn’t compare with anything that came before.
Viktoria: I like the 80’s so much because back then they had this courage for these beautiful, big ballads. It is difficult to dare to go there, “Illusion42” is perhaps the song on the album that is most likely to get there.
As far as the experimental is concerned, the 80’s didn’t know any limits at all.
Mario: Which was actually not the plan. The plan was to make something very flat and electronic, but then we quickly noticed that somehow an 80s ballad was emerging! But why not?
The song really stands out – in a very positive way. Just like “Bloodbath”, and the video for the song is even nominated for the Berlin Music Video Award, congratulations! The video is sensational too. Can you explain the concept behind it?
Mario: Rupert Höller could certainly explain that better, as he was responsible for the concept. But we discussed what we’d like with him beforehand.
What were your specifications?
Mario: Abstract, brutal, colourful, …
Viktoria: … Quirky, and a little funny, also a little playful. In any case, nothing striking, no Mickey Mousing with blood flowing or something. Definitely not.
Mario: This is also the first video where we dared to go further than normal. Before that we released “Eph”, which is also executed rather artistically, but with “Bloodbath” we thought that it was something new, and that is why we could reinvent ourselves. Then we gave up all the responsibility for the video, which we never do otherwise, but we wanted to get involved in something new and see what people say about it. We’ve waited a bit to see how “Bloodbath” works, but after that we thought, it’s okay, we can do something different and dare to do something new. That’s why the new album can’t really be assigned to a genre. With the first album, we didn’t really dare to go beyond the genre that the album encompasses. That has changed. Our style, how we act in the videos and what the lyrics and music are now, that has all changed.
Viktoria: It’s a bit funny too, because growing up makes you somehow a bit more childish again. I went through this phase where you always take everything so seriously and ask yourself: where do I want to go and what are my priorities? But if you can define that a bit, you become more relaxed and care-free again. It’s a very long process, I think, but then comes the point in time when you become more playful again, and just don’t care as much anymore. In this album you can also see that, me just breaking out vocally a bit and showing a different, more relaxed attitude.
Mario: At the beginning it took us almost nine months for one song, but we never finished it. I was very frustrated that it took us so long and wasted the time, but in retrospect it wasn’t a waste of time at all. That somehow got us to care less about everything. We just do what we enjoy – it doesn’t matter whether it is played somewhere [laughs].
Well, you’ve been pretty successful with the single releases so far!
Viktoria: Yes, that’s such a nice confirmation! We’d just carry on anyway, but getting this validation is insane. We like our music; we listen to it all the time – at least until the release. After that never again, at least the last time it was like that [laughs].
Mario: Yes, while producing and mixing I always ask myself whether I would hear the song in the car with the windows open. If I can answer YES at every single song, then it’s good [laughs].
The ultimate pre-release test!
Mario: Yes, exactly! Years ago, I had a band project, and when the first CD came out, I thought, well, now I’ll listen to it in the car and I was really happy – but then I didn’t dare to roll down the windows at a red light while listening to it! [laughs]
The color red always appears in your videos and artwork – what does that mean for you?
Viktoria: It actually came about through the video of “Bloodbath”. I’ve always hated red. I didn’t have a single red outfit. “Bloodbath” was very red, and then we performed at the Donauinselfest in our red outfits too, and all of a sudden, I fell in love with the color. I’m also crazy about this red/gray combo right now! [laughs]
Mario: At the beginning, we also thought about album titles that would have needed such a coloring – it didn’t turn out that way, but we were already thinking about naming the album “Bloodbath” or something like that.
So rather more aggressive titles.
Mario: Yes! We used to be grey mice anyway! Almost emo-gothic, in black and white. And now it’s just fun for us to be a bit more ostentatious, also on a musical level.
Viktoria: Talking about aggressive titles, I’d like to add that it turned out that every song on the album is in some way about a fight. Again, that wasn’t the concept, but it’s about fights in terms of worldview, in terms of relationships, in terms of simply interpersonal relationships, and also the fight with oneself, in the end.
So why is it ultimately a self-titled, the album?
Mario: I don’t actually see it as self-titled. “Dramas” is also a separate word that stands for itself. The title actually doesn’t have much to do with our name Dramas.
Viktoria: I finally understood why the album is called that, and why we are called that. [laughs]. I told you, there is often this a predictive shield! Short anecdote to this: I recently had my first visit at my psychiatrist and at some point she asked me “Do you need the drama?” [laughs]
Thanks for the interview!
Itta Francesca Ivellio-Vellin
To read the original German version, go here.