No one can question the success and importance of the London duo, Chase and Status: their ability to intertwine heavy, gritty drum ‘n’ bass with more accessible house tunes has taken an otherwise underground music scene to the masses and consistently paved the way for electronic music and over the ten years they’ve been in the industry. ‘No More Idols’ achieved double platinum status in the UK and featured the hit song ‘Blind Faith’, they’ve played to many a sea of sweaty festival goers on a huge scale and they’ve worked with high profile artists like Plan B and Dizzie Rascal – Chase and Status mean business and are here to stay. So with the release of their third studio album, ‘Brand New Machine’ on the 7th October, we catch up with Saul Milton (Chase) to hear all about how their new album is shaping up to be their best yet.
Making a third album after such success previously is no easy feat: there are expectations, prying music critics and a huge network of fans across the world to please. Saul explains his feelings about the album being released: “Anxious. But relieved. Like with every record, it’s spiralling back to the first in 2008: when you deliver it, it’s such a good feeling because it’s the biggest stress getting it in for the deadline – everything stops. So actually having it out there is just a relief.”
Such stress is especially expected when their new album is filled with a mammoth fourteen tracks which paints the electronic/drum ‘n’ bass spectrum with every colour. There’s dark, dense tracks like ‘Gun Metal Grey’ – an immediate insight into Chase and Status’ underground music background – and jungle drum ‘n’ bass with ‘International’. But, placed alongside these tracks are radio-friendly, house tunes like ‘Count On Me’ and also mellow, emotive tunes like ‘What Is Right’. They’re all stamped with the Chase and Status trademark that they’re known for, yet all are completely different in their own right. It’s incredibly eclectic and sounds excitingly experimental. Saul explains: ‘If you listen to some of our stuff from ten years ago, you’d hear me break that shit all the time, with a lot of different types of music. Within drum & bass, we do everything: liquid, hard shit, jungle – all kinds of stuff. So I think we’ve always been eclectic. But on this album we just got it all out: house tunes, working with Major Laser, and, as a first, we’ve released an original garage tune with ‘Blk & Blu’. It’s our first garage tune – the timing feels right. We’ve been making garage for a good ten years but its our first all out tune that’s been released on an album. Ed Thomas, the singer of ‘Blk & Blu’. Check him out.’
With such an array of songs, its obvious that the album represents their ten years in music – this is a collection of every stem of electronic music they’ve ever explored. How, then, will ‘Brand New Machine’ stand up to their last album which was such a success?
“When we did ‘No More Idols’, we didn’t think we’d do anything. We thought, the album’s done, please the record label, release the album – no one’s going to shoot us in the head. And then it just did really well. There was nine singles on there and it was a bit of a career changing album. It all happened without much thought.
“This album is stronger, the production’s better, the song writing is better. It’s where we’re at. It’s everything that’s inspired us to make music.
“It’s inspired by 1998 with the raves and all that shit – it’s all those memories from when we were DJ’s. It’s why I’m sitting here now, talking to you; it’s why we’re doing this shit. With everything we do on the record, we’ve really gone back in time and remembered all of why we’re here. The whole spectrum of the album is very 1990s. You’d be at a rave at two in the morning and, let’s just say, not sober, and that was the music you’d hear which wouldn’t be on the radio. But now, God knows how many years later, that’s mainstream. The whole structure has changed – it’s all different now. It’s in the charts which I think is fantastic. So yeah, the album is a big step back in time.”
Being drum and bass producers, Chase and Status have worked with a lot of incredible artists as collaborators, Nile Rodgers being one of them on the newest album who helped them make the tune ‘What Is Right’: “We got to the studio, we were with him for a couple of days and he basically played guitar non stop – he’s a machine. He’s incredible, an incredible guy as well. He was sending us emails like, ‘Let’s do this, let’s try this’. He was constantly on it – he’s very inspirational. We were really pleased with the outcome: he’s known for ‘Get Lucky’ and ‘Let’s Dance’ and we thought, ‘Let’s just do something different’.”
Chase and Status aren’t strangers to massive names – their last album had an an abundance of established artists: Plan B, White Lies and Dizzie Rascal to name a few. Although this album does have big names like Nile and Skrillex, it seems that the album is coated with a bunch of new names, strangers to the masses yet very promising talents:
“We love working with new talent: it’s inspiring, it’s exciting. All they want to do is make music and perform. It’s an incredible state to be in and for us, it’s inspiring. It’s also an incredible feeling to be part of someone’s journey. Elli Ingram did one of her first performances with us, headlining The Other Stage at Glastonbury and she just took it in her stride. She’s got loads happening for her, she’s going to be an absolute star. I’m so proud – I love seeing it happen and being part of that journey. It’s an incredible feeling for us, to see this kid go out there, 21 – amazing. We love it. I guess working with new people is a big part of us and we like people who don’t sound like anyone else, who are on their own wave.”
It’s true – the vocals on many tracks of their new album are wonderfully unique: MOKO starring on ‘Count on Me’ and ‘Like That’ has a flawless, chillingly high pitched voice – and it’s not surprising that Saul would speak so high of Elli Ingram as her vocals on ‘Heaven Knows’ reach climatic, moving heights. The whole vibe of Chase and Status seems very fitting with other artists, so I asked Saul about Disclosure and Sam Smith as potential collaborators.
“Yeah, we love Disclosure and Sam Smith is amazing. I love Disclosure – they’re wicked – and I love Sam Smith. He’s an incredible boy, a real talent. I love what he’s doing. Also, Knytro: he’s, for us, one of the most incredible rappers we’ve ever met, and we’ve met a lot. We’ve just released one of his first mixtapes, it’s called ‘Project Harpoon’ and it is quite possibly the best hip hop albums I have ever heard. I’m looking forward to making an album with him – I can’t wait. MOKO as well – we signed her to MTA. Her voice is incredible. Artists like that are always exciting.”
Moving on from the album, it seems fitting to talk of their massive summer – playing at Glastonbury on The Other Stage and playing on the main stage before Eminem at Reading – and their even bigger next couple of months.
“It’s amazing – loads of really fantastic summer shows for us. One of the best summer’s we’ve had of all time. We played some really big shows; it’s unbelievable. As bad as it sounds, with the large shows, we’re getting quite used to it. It’s sort of built up to our first arena tour, which we’re really excited about as it’s a lot of tickets for a lot of people. Where we’re from, as house DJs, and we’re now headlining huge festivals and doing arena tours – it’s fucking nuts. In terms of large live shows, we’re quite used to it now: but there’s still the excitement before you go on stage, there’s still little nerves.
“We’re going in with brand-new stage production, incredible lights, great visuals. It’s just going to be much, much bigger. It’s a much bigger show. Much bigger stages. We’re working hard now, getting it all sorted. You’re going to have to come and see us.”
The problem with coming to see them is that standing tickets for many of their arena shows have completely sold out, and they did within no time at all. This is the scale that the drum ‘n’ bass duo have come to – and, from their background, it’s pretty much unheard of to reach such success. They’ve played massive shows, about to embark on a monster arena tour, got a double platinum album and about to release another incredible record… What else is left, what other goals can the Chase and Status lads be aiming for?
“We’ve evolved – lots changes on a daily basis. We try and see our families as much as possible as that’s very important to us. Musically, we’re going to carry on making music, do more albums as Chase and Status, work with more people. MTA, our label, we’re very passionate about. There are a lot of artists on there who we look after, who we nurture and help them be successful, to pursue their dreams. It’s non stop, really. I’ve got a couple of weeks holiday this year and then I’ll be back in the studio, start doing some stuff with other artists. It’s just always on the go, really.”
The passion is still bubbling under their otherwise calm and composed demeanour, their talent is still fresh and exciting, and they’ve even decided to start taking new artists to reach success themselves. Chase and Status, despite their longevity in the industry, have not even started going stale – upturning old memories and inspirations have made their new sound incredibly eclectic but, all in all, interesting which will score well with fans and newcomers alike.
Check them out on tour over the next couple of months – they’re definitely worth it – and buy their new album, ‘Brand New Machine’ to see the nostalgic, 90s inspired record for yourself.