You never know who you’re going to meet on the first day of school. Sometimes, you can end up being introduced to one of the best friends you’ll ever know. That was the case for Clemens and Philipp—otherwise known as Milky Chance. The Kassel, Germany duo met in an “Advanced Music Course” at the start of eleventh grade, and they creatively gelled right off the bat.

They got along so great that they played in a local band until graduation. Even though the group disbanded when their drummer left Kassel, Clemens and Philipp kept on making music. Weaving together elegant electronic production with acoustic guitars and lilting, lush vocals, they harnessed a style unequivocally their own.

Clemens put it best, “Think of it as the singer-songwriter spirit mixed with electronic beats. Somehow, it’s always a little bit melancholy, but there’s a positive spin. You can dance to most of it too! Melancholy is something that I carry within me. I write the best songs when this mood catches me.”

In order to capture that, the boys built a tiny studio in the quiet house Clemens grew up in. Over the course of two weeks in 2013, they cut their full-length debut, Sadnecessary, on a minimalist setup, spending hours getting the settings just right. They didn’t need anything more than a rudimentary interface, microphone, and computer. That’s why Sadnecessary sizzles so much.

However, it went a lot further than that. After cutting the tracks, Clemens and Philipp uploaded the first single “Stolen Dance” to YouTube. With its bright handclaps, plaintive acoustic guitars, and his own gravelly smooth delivery, the song became a viral sensation, eventually racking up over 50 million-plus YouTube views and made them the “most blogged about act” on HypeM for that month.

Sadnecessary, released on the musicians’ own Lichtdicht Records in Europe, became a phenomenon followed by packed shows around the continent. In early 2014, Republic Records inked a deal with Milky Chance to release the record stateside, opening them up to their largest audience yet.

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