We Talk with Electronic duo Hundreds

During the recent Iceland Airwaves Festival, I was overjoyed to be able to sit down and chat with the lovely Eva Milner, of the electronic duo Hundreds, a brother-sister project formed in Germany. We discussed their beginnings, their impressions of Airwaves and Iceland, our mutual love of Arcade Fire, and finally some exciting future plans… which will hopefully include New York someday soon.

Tell me how you guys got started.

Well, Philip is my elder brother. Growing up, we always made music together. Then he started to study music. I was always singing in the choir and taking lessons, too. Eight years ago, we released the single “Happy Virus,” which was our first hit on Berlin radio stations. But we were living very far away from one another at that time, so we only made like one song per year. We started this project two years ago after we found a name, and then we started to work with each other. I stopped working for that and found another job, and we started to go to the studio, and then everything came out just… well, quite quickly.

What kind of job were you doing before you started to focus more on making music?

I was making music with children. It was a very nice job, and I liked it a lot. But now I’m just doing this because we have been touring a lot this year. Our album was released in April, and we have been touring since May, traveling to festivals all over Germany. (Airwaves) was the most international event we’ve played at.  Before Airwaves, we had only played in German-speaking countries.

How did it feel when you made that decision to focus primarily on music?

The moment when I decided to make music for a living was like the end of a thought process in my mind. I just thought to myself, “If I don’t start making music now, with all my enthusiasm and all my heart and soul, I will be angry with myself in ten years.” And after I made that decision and started to focus on the project, everything moved quickly, and everything went really well. We had our first concert three months after we entered the studio.

What is it like playing music with your brother?

Philip is my closest friend; we know each other so well. It can be difficult between sisters and brothers, but when he moved out of my parents’ house, I was like 12 and he was 18. I always could visit him where he was studying. He’d always say, “Yeah, come here and we’ll make some music”. At that time, I was 14 and going with him to parties, and he was always so cool with me. I don’t know if other elder brothers are like that.

Age difference plays a big role in that.

That’s right. And now that we’re working together, I look back on our past and I know that we had our biggest fights in childhood. Of course, we were living in one room, and we hated each other for some years. But nothing can shake this relationship now; everything’s fine. Nothing can come between us. We may argue sometimes, but it’s always all right. We are friends.

How did you guys get involved with Airwaves?

That was a funny thing. The booker for Airwaves may have heard about us from the blog because we had a nice live video on there. He met us at the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, where we live. Later, he saw us again and he was like, “Yeah! You’re definitely coming to Iceland!” It was such a great feeling because it had always been one of my biggest dreams to play at Airwaves.

How was the show for you at the Vesturbæjarlaug Pool?

It was nice, but it was small. We usually have more lights and do very nice visuals at bigger venues.

How was your other performance at the Reykjavik Art Museum?

It was so impressive that we opened for Efterklang and Moderat!

Describe your impressions of Airwaves – what you expected and how the festival met or exceeded those expectations.

I really liked being in Iceland and at Airwaves, although I didn’t see many concerts. We had to leave Friday morning to go to Stockholm and Paris, to play there, so we couldn’t stay for the whole festival. It was funny to see how crowded little Reykjavik got. I think it’s a perfect city festival because you walk around to different venues, which are mainly located on one street, so you can always switch places, and everybody is so friendly. I saw some very good bands, like Amiina and Who Knew. I think it’s a very special event because it’s in Iceland. Icelanders have such great taste in music. Maybe I will go there as a guest next year… Then there is also the countryside. Traveling around Iceland days before the festival started, we saw such amazing nature, leaving us speechless.

What kind of music do you like? What do you listen to?

At the moment I’m listening mostly to the new Arcade Fire album, as well as Interpol’s new album. I also like a lot of old stuff, like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. It all depends on my mood. When we travel, I can catch up on all the new music I want to hear. Arcade Fire is my favorite band at the moment, though.

That’s a really nice album (The Suburbs).

Yes, it’s beautiful. Quite different from the one before (Neon Bible). Initially, I was like, “Oh no, what did you do?” because it sounded very dry. But after a while, I started to get it.

Someone was saying that today – about how some of the music you like the most is the same music you didn’t really like or weren’t sure about at the beginning.

That’s true. That really happened with the previous Arcade Fire album. A friend of mine gave it to me, and I was like, “Oh this is boring.” But then I was on the train, listening to “No Cars Go,” and from one moment to the other, it just grabbed my heart, and I started crying on the train… and I was like, “What is this? It’s so strange!” It really touched me, and I think I’ve listened to that album like 3000 times on Lastfm since then.

What’s your plan for the next year?

We have quite big plans actually. The most important one is the international release of our album, which happens in early spring. Then we will start touring. We have some concerts scheduled in Hanoi, Vietnam, as well as in Israel and possibly Russia. We are really looking forward to this because making music and exploring the world at the same time is a huge gift in our eyes.

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About Christine Thelen

Christine is a music writer, photographer, and English teacher living in New York. She's been writing for Short and Sweet since 2008 but writing about music since 1999. She loves photographing and interviewing bands most of all. Notable interviews include Underworld (England), Supergrass (England), Gorky's Zygotic Mynci (Wales), Hefner (England), Zero 7 (England), Nylon Union (Slovakia), Clinic (England), Hundreds (Germany), Nive Nielsen (Greenland), Alcoholic Faith Mission (Denmark), Captain Fufanu (Iceland), and the Postelles (NYC). Watch her on the ShortandSweetNYC Youtube Channel.
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