“Imagine being heartbroken, and life feels pretty bad right now and you don’t feel like you can cope with it in this moment,” says Clemens Rehbein, one-half of indie-electronic duo Milky Chance. “So, what do you do? You just call your friends willing to have good company and to get away, at least for one night, from all that trouble you had.”
With their new song “Colorado,” Rehbein and collaborator Phillip Dausch push back against life’s terrible lows to rediscover the dizzying highs. “It’s about consuming and compensating and being destructive or being weak for a moment,” Rehbein tells American Songwriter. “We all need it sometimes, but we also know it probably doesn’t bring us anywhere in the long run. This is what the song is about─not to forget─with a little wink in the end. It’s very honest but also not taking itself too seriously at the same time. We feel like that’s a very realistic and maybe healthy way to look at this life we’re all in.”
Rehbein and Dausch had been working non-stop for two days on a totally different song when they decided to take a break and refocus their energies. Two hours later, “Colorado” was finished. “In the very beginning, we had the guitar riff and started mumbling to it, finding melodies and so on. While mumbling/singing to it, one of the first words that kinda stood out was ‘Colorado,’” recalls Rehbein. “We liked it very much because of the phonetics and how it fit with the melody. We started thinking further and probably a second later ‘I get high like Colorado’ was written.
“Production happened at the same time, and in combination with that sentence, the whole vibe was kinda there already,” he adds.
Milky Chance blasted onto the scene in 2013 with their smash hit “Stolen Dance.” The Berlin-based duo went on to release three studio records, including Sadnecessary (2014) and more recently, Mind the Moon (2019). Time and time again, the duo vault back to the songwriting well to serve up thought-provoking pop tracks that linger on the brain long after they’re over. It’s the “universal storytelling” that drives them forward each and every single day.
“Most of the songs out there are three minutes long, and they have the ability to push each one of us into a certain state of mind” reflects Rehbein, “whether it’s a feeling or a memory or just a mood. A song is kind of part of your diary, not only for the one/ones who wrote it but for millions of other people out there in the world no matter where they’re from─and that’s very fascinating.”
When it comes to day-to-day songwriting, their approach begins very intuitively and swells into something more elaborate by the end. “It’s almost like this with every new song,” Rhebein adds. “First, you jump into the water without fear, you gotta let go and drift away. And then you learn how to swim and if you made it to the other bank the song is done.”