Much like their debut, Forever Turned Around is a great ongoing proof of the remarkable connection between the two friends and songwriting partners that is at the core of Whitney’s music. It is ‘an album about relationships’ and for the past three years Whitney have most certainly experienced a lot together that they are now ready to share with the world while their personal as well as musical bond has only gotten stronger over the years.
Forever Turned Around may be the title of the duo’s sophomore album, but the truth is, Kakacek and Ehrlich are turning towards each other continuously. Perhaps even forever? Most definitely during our conversation on a very hot summer day in Berlin with the two friends sitting opposite of each other – always ready to exchange glances – and the atmosphere being very laid-back.
A good moment to talk to Whitney about ‘The golden rules of friendship’ – a list of important steps towards maintaining a healthy friendship – crossing topics like boundaries, compliments or finding out what is still on their bucket list.
1. Getting on the same page with discipline.
Julien: That’s literally always what we’re trying to do and we’re pretty much most of the time on the same page. I view that one as a songwriting tip. Sometimes you really have to work for a magical moment to pop out and a song to come together.
Max: There was a lot of work for this new record and after we had worked for so long we felt really crazy about it and a couple of songs just popped up out of nowhere. Those are some of our favourite songs, for example like Giving Up that came together in about 45 minutes.
2. Trying something new.
Julien: We had a lot of confidence going into the studio, but we felt we still wanted to change lot’s of things…the lyrics or the arrangements of the songs. An album isn’t done until it feels perfect to you or as close to perfect as you think you can get.
Max: There was a point in Chicago where we completely wore ourselves out writing in this one space so we decided to go to Wisconsin on our own – just the two of us – and it ended up being like a month and a half. We were close enough to Chicago and could drive back anytime. That was really the moment that we checked ourselves out of the Chicago world where we had all our friends, girlfriends and family and decided to be isolated and really try to get to work.
3. Complimenting each other daily.
Max: Honestly, I think we’re so hard on each other and push each other to make better ideas. The biggest compliment we’ll give to each other would be ‘That’s good.’ (laughs)
Julien: Something like ‘Alright, that’ll work.’ I mean the biggest compliment is when a song is finished and we’re both totally obsessed with it. The boundaries have totally crossed as to who is doing what in the studio anyways. It’s a mixture of being proud of yourself, just proud of us as a unit and the other person.
4. Spending quality time with each other.
Julien: We do this all the time actually.
Max: We have to take planes together…
Julien: Super quality time (laughs). I don’t want to say what we did towards the end of the writing process… Ok, I’ll tell you. We would go golfing. I think golfing is kind of stupid. In America, our dumbass president goes golfing all the fucking time. It’s like giving golfing a bad reputation. Not that it probably ever had a good rap…
Max: Golfing is usually like you must wear a collard shirt, slacks – at least in America. It was a bunch of Redneck dudes in their gym shorts drinking beer and us. It wasn’t the posh type of golfing at all.
Julien: The second time we went a lady working at the place was like ‘You’re in a band?’ Maybe because we were the youngest people around…or I don’t know. Honestly, I have no idea why she asked us that. Golfing is something we are pretty terrible at.
Max: We are miserable at it so it’s kind of joky. We would go on a day where it’s beautiful outside when we didn’t want to be in the studio.
Julien: Oh and driving a golf cart is really fun. It’s a good way to kill 2 hours if you need a break.
‘So back to spending quality time with each other – I think all of it is quality time.’
5. Creating a bucket list.
Julien: I never really had a bucket list…besides…I want to eat at Pujol, this restaurant in Mexico City. I don’t feel like that is so hard to accomplish. We just have to book a show there (laughs).
Max: I’m not a really longterm person. We are both more spontaneous. If we have a few days off, we go to a basketball game or things like that.
Julien: I want to play Glastonbury again. It’s been re-bucket listed. I feel like that is a bit of a goal for this album cycle. We had a good time playing there.
Max: Make it to 30. We have been doing this since we were 18 so 12 years is a long time.
Julien: I want to be proficient at the piano. I would like to get a better understanding of it. I had plans to buy a Wurlitzer, but I also couldn’t sell the big couch that was blocking the space where I wanted to put the Wurlitzer. But I just got rid of the couch. Now I just need to do it.
6. Always being honest with each other.
Julien: We are. Always,
Max: We are both, friends and we make music together. Both things are the same for us.
Julien: We’re that not old, but we are a little bit hardened when it comes to this kind of thing. We are not too sensitive when comes to our ideas. I’m open to making changes, even if it takes a day sometimes.
‘For us, it is a constant conversation which revolves around honesty.’
7. Understanding each other’s belief system.
Julien: That’s a deep one. I think we have the same belief system probably. Understanding each other’s belief system – that is probably, subconsciously, why we wanted to write songs together to begin with because we share the same sensibilities and beliefs in music, what makes songs that we like good. We just like the same kind of music.
Max: Writing music is about writing something that inspires you and I think we are pretty similar in that way.
Julien: We believed in Jim Ford a lot when it came to the first record.
Max: Also the belief of how the music should make someone else feel. How do we create a song that we care about without coming off selfishly and how can the song be open for other people to take it any way they like.
8. Defining boundaries.
Julien: We don’t have any. There has never been a moment like ‘Don’t touch me, bro’ We also don’t call each other bro, by the way (laughs).
Max: The other day, when we first landed in Europe, we were suffering from jet lag and went out for a long time in Amsterdam. I went back to the hotel and we had two beds that were really close to each other. I don’t think he knew I was already in the bed, but he got completely naked and jumped into my bed.
Julien: By accident! He was like ‘Dude, what are you doing?’ and I was like ‘Oh my god…!’
Max: I was like ‘Jesus, ok man, go to your bed.’
Whitney‘s album Forever Turned Around is out now via Secretly Canadian.