Chase & Status Talk "No More Idols", Keeping it British, and HBO
Wed, 04 May 2011 08:16:22
Chase & Status rewrite the rule book for electronic music on their second album, No More Idols.
No More Idols floats from dubstep drops into soulful vocals courtesy of Cee Lo Green back down into raucous rhymes from Tinie Tempah and Dizzee Rascal. The arsenal of vocal guests on No More Idols fit into a bombastic vision from Chase & Status that embraces everything from classic electro and East Coast hip-hop to reggae and rock. Their palette contains every sonic color, and it's what makes No More Idols a landmark in dubstep.
When he's not flipping the script on electronic music, you might catch Saul "Chase" Milton watching premium cable series." I’m a sucker for HBO," reveals one-half of Chase & Status. "I'm a massive fan of The Wire, Rome, Eastbound & Down, and things like that!"
Saul "Chase" Milton sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for an exclusive interview about No More Idols, HBO series, keeping it British, and so much more.
Did you have one vision for No More Idols or did it come together track by track in the studio?
It came together song by song. The actual track ordering of the album was the final stage of it. For me, that's one of the most important parts of actually making the music flow. We thought because there are so many features and different-sounding songs that continuity might be a bit difficult. We're quite happy with how it turned out in the end though.
Is choosing all of these guests like casting a film? Do you have a voice in mind for each song?
It varies. We just wanted to work with White Lies, so we wrote a backing track and sent it to them. We had "Blind Faith" all done we just needed some verses so we sent that to Liam Bailey. We wrote the Plan B tracks organically together. Cee Lo sent us some vocals. Every single track came about differently. There was really no set formula. We really wanted to keep the album British. 99 percent of the features besides Cee Lo are British. A lot of them are new up-and-coming talent. We’re very proud to be from there, and we think the music there is the most exciting in the world. We want to show the world this is the best of the British. The reason we thought Cee Lo could work on the record is he's talking about Brixton which is an area of South London. A "Brixton Briefcase" is actually a ghetto blaster. It's old British slang. You’d have it on your shoulder in the '80s.
How much of an influence was coming up in that London scene?
It's everything. We get influenced and inspired by absolutely everything in the world as well. Living in London and being in the hub of it is very important in trying to stay ahead of the curve and remain cutting edge. There’s no better place to do that than London.
What’s the story behind "Hitz"?
Well, we wrote that beat a little while ago, and Tinie Tempah supported us last year during our March tour. We did basically every single festival in the UK and around Europe together with him as well. We struck up a relationship and became friends. We wanted to do a track that wasn't just poppy but quite raw and underground instead. It's a throwback to East Coast '90s hip hop and that was the goal.
Do you feel like you can incorporate any style on a Chase & Status album?
I hope so. People often ask us, "What's your sound?" and we're never able to tell. Everyone else can. When we came up doing drum and bass and jungle, we did loads of different styles of it—not just one. We grew to be quite versatile in order to keep it interesting. We'd had early dubstep breaks and things like that. To just write the same kind of track is boring. We're artists as well as producers so we always try to write something different every single time. Somehow, we've managed to stamp a signature sound in there with it. I’d like to think the versatility is what separates us.
What's up with "Flashing Lights?"
We wanted to start nice and end dark. That doesn't happen often in dubstep. There was a bit of inspiration from old jungle tracks, and it just really worked.
Is the visual component crucial to your music?
That often comes afterwards. When we did "Blind Faith", we leaned towards the video we had made. It's the birth of the rave scene and the beginning of this world that we’re actually in. For other tracks, we made the videos dependent on the pitches. I don’t have too many visual ideas when we make the tracks. Every now and again you will. It's about a mood really.
Do you guys tend to read a lot or watch many movies? Where else does inspiration come from?
Both! We get inspiration from watching television series and films. There might be a really cool line in a TV show that you might not expect. I found a really cool sample in American Dad. It's hilarious when you watch it, but when you put it in a track it's really deep and quite emotive. You can get cool inspirations from different things. On our first album More Than A Lot, there’s a track called "Smash TV." I was reading Slash's autobiography. I'm a big Guns N' Roses fan, and he wrote about this legendary gig thing they did at The Roxy in New York in the '80s. I found the exact footage, watched it, and it the beginning there’s this cool little speech that Axl Rose did. I lifted that and put it in "Smash TV". That basically inspired the whole thing. Everything and anything brings inspiration and that's the beauty of being able to make music for a living.
How has dubstep changed?
It's amazing! When it first started, it was really exciting, new, and had no rules. It didn't sound great but that was part of its charm. Suddenly, overnight the production value went through the roof. It's incredibly-made music and it's cutting edge. There are great artists with fantastic production skills. It’s blown up in America too with my boys Nero, Skrillex, and more.
Is that your dog or Will "Status" Kennard's on the cover?
Unfortnately, it's neither of ours [Laughs]. However, it captures that punk-y British feel we were going for.
Have you heard No More Idols yet?