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David Beule
Mario Metzler
Vladimir Dontschenko
(guitar )
Daniel Pampuch
(drums )

German heavyweights VITJA—which translates to “winner” from Russian—have come a long way since 2017’s Digital Love. Five years, one EP and two full-lengths in, the Cologne-based quartet are “returning to zero.” While that phrase, coined by the band, has the potential for multiple interpretations, it translates to VITJA returning to its free state, where the songwriters are open to explore, discover, and create without preconceived notions of what VITJA should or could be. In effect, VITJA have ripped off the proverbial band-aid on new album, Mistaken. The result, while initially painful, is VITJA’s most powerful expression yet. “Returning to zero is more related to our minds settling down,” says bassist Mario Metzler. “Being free while writing than doing everything different. We’re more than proud of our previous records. But we want to write music that comes straight out of our heads and hearts. Music that is not based on expectations of people outside the band.”

Mistaken is that record. Adventurous, brazen, loud, unorthodox, aggressive, and downcast describe Vijta’s music on their third full-length. Moored by the title track, the ultra-groovy “Overdose,” featuring Caliban’s Andy Dörner, the brutal “Anxiety,” the super-choruses of “High on You,” and the punchy “Sedamine,” Mistaken is VITJA’s crowning moment. The group’s decision to pull back the curtain, free up the songwriters, remove expectations, and accept the road forward turned out to be the right move. “We are all listening to different music,” drummer Daniel Pampuch says. “The variation of tastes already came together on our former albums. Same this time. We tried to put everything we like in other genres in our songs. It’s important for us not to be influenced too much by music we’ve written before and what people maybe expect us to compose. We wanted to write a few heavier songs, so we did. We even wanted to be softer on the other side, so we were. Mistaken isn’t another direction of music. It’s only another term of time we are living in.”

The songwriting sessions for Mistaken started immediately after the release of Digital Love. Pampuch says some of the inspiration came from childhood sources while others hit VITJA while they were in the studio. Tracks like “Overdose,” “Black and Blue,” “Anxiety,” “Down,” and “To the Moon”—considered Mistaken “spotlights”—were the result of VITJA’s newfound freedom. If an idea didn’t work, it wasn’t forced into the songwriting. Likewise, if an idea worked, it sparked a creative frenzy within the band. The fires of inspiration came from almost everywhere on Mistaken. “We just let it happen. We did not frantically try to make the second song written sound similar to the first one. We never thought that our new material has to be VITJA-esque or has to serve clichés or stereotypes that are typical of this genre.“

Lyrically, Mistaken funnels Digital Love’s utopian ideals—to love and be loved—into something far more tangible and relatable. While we all try to love, we all have or will fail. Mistaken is, at full capacity, about failure and how VITJA has opted to deal with and communicate it. From “Friends Don’t Lie” and the title track to “Filthy” and “Kings of Nothing,” Mistaken lays out a heavy missive on defeat. “Everyone fails,” says singer David Beule. “Until you drop dead. We try so hard to find sense in life that errors pile up, even if they are less than positive things. Like Tetris. And then you try again—only to make a mistake or be mistaken once again. Mistaken is also about depression and society, all the failures. I think if you really know what’s it like to struggle with things like this is, or you’ve endured pain, then you know what ‘mistaken’ means. Lyrically, it was harder this time than ever. I threw 90% of what I wrote in the garbage. I only wanted the real nuggets.”

Recorded by VITJA, with good friends watching and mentoring, at Sureshot Studios with Daniel Keller and Shrimp Audio with Lucas Kramer, Mistaken takes the group’s frenzied sound to new heights. The brights are brighter (“Overdose”), the heavies are heavier (“Anxiety”), the crazy are crazier (“Filthy”), and the lows are lower (“To the Moon”). The whole effort, which includes Aljoscha Sieg’s masterful mix and master jobs, took about 15 months to complete. “It’s such a good feeling to put our ideas—some many months in the making—together for a whole song. It’s always a kind of surprise what it sounds like in the end. We are more than happy with Mistaken as a result.”

With Mistaken, VITJA are aiming above and beyond the next level. Fans of Digital Love and Echoes will recognize the energy, the power, and the invention in the band they’ve come to love in songs like “Overdose,” “Friends Don’t Lie,” “Black and Blue,” “Sedamine,” “Down,” and the title track. They’ll also see VITJA in a different light, a place where genres blur, their favorite songs collide, and the multi-faceted talents of David Beule (vocals), Mario Metzler (bass), Vladimir Dontschenko (guitar), and Daniel Pampuch (drums) come to life. Mistaken is music for life, music for picking ourselves up again, music for the future.

Watch for VITJA on the ‘Mistaken Tour’ in 2018 and 2019! Expect to see longtime friends share the stage with one of Germany’s most exciting and vibrant acts.