ILT Interview: Chase and Status
With I Love Techno just around the corner, the new I Love Techno Magazine has also hit stores - including a couple interviews I did with some of this year's tastiest artists. I Love Techno didn't mind me throwing them online as well so here's the third one with Chase and Status (and be sure to also check out the previous ones with Mumbai Science and Brodinski)!
They’ve won five Official Drum & Bass Awards, parked five of their own songs in the UK Top 40, made even more hit singles and remixes for artists like Rihanna, The Prodigy and Example, and they’re about to turn I Love Techno upside down. Brothers and sisters, give it up for Saul Milton and Will Kennard a.k.a. Chase and Status!
UK Bass is so hot again these days that it’s hard to imagine there was a time when it had – well, let’s be honest – gotten a bit out of fashion. According to you, what has been the recent turning point?
WILL: ‘It’s hard to pinpoint one moment in time but I think the whole dubstep movement played a major role in bringing drum & bass back in the spotlight. From the birth of grime and the beginning of dubstep in the early 2000s to artists like Skream and Benga really working their magic, there was simply no stopping dubstep or denying its significance as an underground force. It all took flight from there – with radio stations and music journalists getting excited; songs entering the UK charts; the genre crossing over to the US, where artists like Skrillex started redefining it again; and now even Jay-Z and Kanye West are on board. It’s been a crazy ride and we’ve all benefited from it – dubstep and drum & bass artists alike.’
Despite the fact that both dubstep and drum & bass have crossed over to pretty much every country in the world by now, UK producers still rule the scene. How come The Force is much stronger where you live?
WILL: (Laughs) ‘I think we’re just really lucky that the UK is such a multicultural place. From drum & bass to acid and garage, there has always been an emphasis on bass – and a lot of it stems from Jamaican reggae dub culture. Like with drum & bass, all you needed to do was add some funk and breaks to it – simple as that. And the UK being a genuine melting pot has not just helped kick-start drum & bass or dubstep, it is also what has kept both scenes alive.’
That and massive radio support?
WILL: ‘Yes, definitely! It’s easy to think nothing of it when you’re used to it, but I’m sure we’ve got the most open-minded radio stations in the world. And I’m not just talking about former pirate radio stations like Rinse FM, where Dizzee Rascal and Wiley got their break. I’m also talking about the BBC and people like Zane Lowe and Annie Mac, who reach millions of people all over the country. You just don’t get that kind of support in – per example – the US, where radio stations are a lot more corporate and music is just a commodity.’
What about the drum & bass party scene in the UK? I Love Techno holds up to 35,000 people. Ever played at similar events in the UK or are dubstep and drum & bass still more restricted to smaller venues?
WILL: ‘There are lots of small, intimate dubstep and drum & bass parties across the country – and those are great. But we’ve also got some really big summer festivals in the UK where artists like us, Skream and Benga get to play for 20,000 people. I guess that’s still 15,000 short of I Love Techno but it’s already pretty massive to us. Oh, and in November we’re headlining UKF Bass Culture at London’s Alexandra Palace. UKF is quite possibly the biggest website on dubstep and drum & bass in the world and they’re throwing this enormous party where Flux Pavilion and Doctor P are playing as well. Still no 35,000 people but you know: we don’t mind playing for 10,000 people every once in a while. Keeps us balanced.’ (Laughs)
On to the annoying ‘this is Belgium so we have to ask you this’ question: how do you feel Netsky is holding up amidst all those UK producers?
WILL: ‘Extremely well, I’d say. We really love that guy – every time we play in Belgium, we try to meet up. Actually, we’ve even asked him to do a remix for our last single but unfortunately that didn’t go through. He’s in high demand.’
Can you hear he’s not UK?
WILL: ‘In his music, you mean? I’ve never really given it any thought but maybe a little bit, yeah. He has a very British style though so if I didn’t know any better and you’d tell me he’s from London, I’d believe you. The same can’t be said about a lot of American drum & bass producers, whose tracks sound too perfect – too clinical. Trust me: that’s not British at all. In fact, those early drum & bass tracks were often glamorously underproduced. They didn’t sound polished whatsoever. That’s also what I liked about them.’
Just so people at I Love Techno know when it’s time to breathe again: do you still play Fool Yourself at the end of every set?
WILL: ‘Only when we play live. Such a loud and noisy song full of energy, it’s perfect to end a gig with. But expect to hear different sounds from us when we DJ: lots of cutting edge tracks that no one has ever heard of. Going back to our roots, man!’