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Taking a (Milky) Chance with German folktronica duo

Philipp Dausch and Clemens Rehbein (Milky Chance)
Philipp Dausch and Clemens Rehbein (Milky Chance)

When you listen to songs by Milky Chance — the hot new German folktronica duo that hit it big on the strength of its weirdly infectious hit Stolen Dance — you get the feeling that the guys are just two laid-back dudes who enjoy writing tunes and possibly partaking in a certain substance that is now legal in several states.

And when you talk to lead singer and guitarist Clemens Rehbein, that feeling is further validated.

Rehbein is pleased, to be sure, that his band is selling out dates from coast to coast on its current U.S. tour (“That’s really cool, and we’re very happy about that”), but he doesn’t seem particularly moved or even affected by Milky Chance’s relatively overnight success. Like his music, he exudes a refreshing, “go with the flow” attitude.

“We just did it for fun,” Rehbein says of Milky Chance’s humble beginnings. “I don’t think we had any expectations. I had all these songs finished for an album that I recorded for an internship in songwriting and recording, and then we decided to record all the songs together. And then we started the first tour, and then we became a normal band.”

And then, naturally, world domination ensued. Rehbein and partner Philipp Dausch — who adds tasteful production and subtle electronic pulses to Milky Chance’s pleasantly eerie blend of reggae-pop and neo-folk — will take the stage Sunday afternoon at SunFest in West Palm Beach, where they are sure to perform Stolen Dance, among other hits during their hour-long set.

But their live versions might sound significantly different from the records, as Rehbein’s vocals in many of the songs’ verses are extremely low and therefore difficult to project.

“I sing a little differently,” he says. “I sing a lot of the verses an octave higher, or I change the melody sometimes.”

Rehbein adds that Milky Chance’s live show might jolt their fans out of their laid-back comfort zone.

“It is definitely less mellow, more energizing,” Rehbein says of their set. “It’s louder and more … just more [laughs]. You can dance around and freak out or something.”

In case you’re wondering whether the name Milky Chance holds some profound significance or hidden universal importance, Rehbein puts those thoughts to rest.

“There’s no meaning at all,” he says. “It was just one of the random artist names I used on the computer when I made music.”

In case Rehbein’s somewhat blasé attitude tempts you to dismiss Milky Chance as just another flash in the pan, consider that the band’s influences include Ray Charles, gypsy jazz guitar legend Django Reinhardt and singer-songwriters James Blake and Ben Howard.

And also note what The New York Times had to say about the band: “In the random dice throw of genres that comprises today’s international pop scene, no one has yet combined reggae and electronica as successfully as Milky Chance.”

Milky Chance performs at 2 p.m. Sunday at SunFest, along the Intracoastal Waterway on Flagler Drive from Banyan Boulevard to Lakeview Drive in West Palm Beach; www.sunfest.com; $40, $12 ages 6-12, free for kids 5 and under.

Michael Hamersly

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