Meaningless nickname: With a name that could have been taken from a Mad Libs musical, you might expect a quirky story of how Milky Chance got his nickname. Alas, “it doesn’t make sense,” says Clemens Rehbein, half of the German electro-folk duo whose Stolen dance topped USA TODAY’s alternative and alternative adult charts. “When I was younger, I used to create artist names for fun. When I started posting music on YouTube, I just came up with this name.”

Instant connection: As Milky Chance, Rehbein acts as a songwriter, singer and guitarist, while co-founder Philipp Dausch is a DJ. The couple, both 21, met in high school music class and bonded as friends and musicians from the start. “We hear things pretty much the same way, it’s like we have the same ears,” says Dausch. “We fully understand the way we sound to each other and have the same vision for our music.” They clearly clicked with the others too: Stolen dance has nearly 170 million combined streams on YouTube and Spotify, and the pair’s shows in New York and Los Angeles this month sold out in less than five minutes.

Ray at reggae: The duo’s sound is most simply described as “singer-songwriter with electronic beats,” but there are also hints of folk, reggae and jazz, says Dausch. While the amalgamation of genres might seem odd, it makes sense considering Rehbein cites Bob Marley and Ray Charles as influences, and the two played in a jazz band before forming Milky Chance after graduation.

Learning by doing: Much of Milky Chance’s debut album Sad necessary, previously released in Europe and released on October 14 in the United States, was recorded in Rehbein’s childhood bedroom using a MacBook Pro, Logic Pro music software, a guitar and a microphone. Rehbein will usually write a song on guitar before writing lyrics, then Dausch will come in to create a beat and produce. At sadnecessary, “we tried a lot of things and were very curious,” says Rehbein. “It was a lot of turning the knobs and pushing something here and something there and seeing what happens.”

A hairy situation: Although the guys have yet to have any absurd encounters with fans, Rehbein will occasionally encounter people who want to touch his hair. “Sometimes they say, ‘Ooh, can I touch it? That’s so crazy!’ ” he says. What is the secret of his wild mane? “It’s all natural, I can promise that,” Rehbein says. “I’m too lazy to get up in the morning and stand in front of the mirror to do my hair. It’s not my thing.”

Dragons and drink: Their two years as Milky Chance are punctuated with “pinch me” moments: most recently, learning that Imagine Dragons covered Stolen dance while playing in Hamburg in August. Another highlight was winning Best Single at the 1Live Krone music awards in Germany last December. “We were sitting in the audience and all of a sudden the lights shone on us and we were like, ‘What?’ ‘ said Dausch. “It was really intense. We had to drink a lot to recover from it.”

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