Chase & Status’s Eastern Jam
British drum ’n bass stars Chase & Status make their India debut in Pune this month
There’s more to Manchester than Premier League football and electronica producers Saul Milton (Chase) and Will Kennard (Status) will be happy to recount how they put the city on the big stage. Chase & Status don’t believe in small. When I watched them tear through their hour-long set at Future Music FestiÂval Asia [FMFA] at Kuala Lumpur’s Penang International Circuit last year, they fired up the racing track as no other headlining act had done that night. Australian drum ’n bass group, Pendulum and Brit electro superstars The Chemical Brothers, who both played DJ sets, left me cold after Chase & Status. Powered by a massive LED set up and spectacular visual projections, the night belonged to the Brit drum and bass group.
This is a leap considering how the group started out. Kennard tells me in a phone interview from his London studio, “Our first paid gig was about 10 years ago for a group of 20 people at a small club named Herbal in Shoreditch in East London. We were very, very nervous and this gig was the biggest thing in the world for us.” Back then, Chase & Status was a two-member group that included Kennard and Milton. In 2009, they added drummer Andy Gangadeen and Patrick Williams aka rapper MC Rage to shake things up for their live shows. Though Chase & Status perform a DJ set when they play at the Bacardi Arena stage at the Pune edition of Bacardi NH7 Weekender this year, MC Rage will be part of their lineup. “Our drummer will not be there, but we will bring Rage. He will be right up front. He’s got so much energy,” says Kennard of MC Rage.
Combined with Rage’s rap, Chase & Status’s booming drum and bass and big dubstep beats are double the force. It only gets bigger on Chase & Status’s third album Brand New Machine, which released this month, with dubÂstep monster Skrillex guesting on “International,” a version that will make it to a Deluxe LP reÂlease. Says Kennard, “We grew up listening to Nineties music and this album has that feel to it. We’ve got some hip hop, house and RnB all thrown in.” The new album, like the group’s second release, No More Idols, credits a slew of guest artists, a numÂber of them from Chase & Status’s home label MTA, set up in 2008. “The label’s a big part of our day,” says the producer, “The best thing about it is that it helps us stay in touch with different kinds of music.”
Types of music brings us back to FMFA 2012. What we didn’t expect to hear during a Chase & Status set was Shreya Ghoshal’s vocals bang in the middle of crashing drum beats. Just how did a sample from the soundtrack of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas make it into their track “Eastern Jam”? Kennard sounds unsure, almost as if he’d forgotten the InÂdian connection on their debut album More Than Alot. “An InÂdian friend of ours gave us the soundtrack. It had amazing beats and so we sampled it. We didn’t realize it was such a famous film. We found out afterwards and so many people were talking about it,” says Kennard of the track “SilÂsila Ye Chaahat Ka.” Of course, Chase & Status will be blasting the track in Pune and if I had to hazard a guess, “Eastern Jam” may just be the set closer.
On playing Download Festival 2012
The duo had been quoted saying “piss will be thrown at us” before they made their debut at the Download festival 2012. Their fears came to nought when they won over the metallers in the audience. Recalls Kennard, “We played to a crowd of some 50,000 people and the reaction was amazing. We played before or after Metallica, I can’t remember.”
Best Concert Attended
I remember watching Kendrick Lamar in Scotland. That’s one of the most unlikely places to catch him, but yes, he was so cool and had so much charisma. That’s got to be one of the best shows where I’ve been in the audience this year.
Best New Album
Everybody’s listening to it. It’s the London Grammar album If You Wait.
Best New Artists
Two of the latest artists we’ve signed. I was a big hip hop fan while growing up and got into artists such as Mos Def so Knytro, a rapper from the East Coast of America has got to be one of my favorites this year. This kid has written a fantastic hip hop album. Then there’s this incredible singer Moko, who features on two tracks from our latest album. She’s special.
2013 Festival Highlight
Glastonbury was the most special. It’s the biggest festival we’ve ever played. We’ve played on the 3rd stage ”“ Jazz World Stage ”“ previously, but this year, we headlined the Other Stage at the same time when the Rolling Stones were going up on the Pyramid Stage. We got an incredible reaction. The sun went down and it was a magical place to be in.
This article appeared in the October 2013 issue of ROLLING STONE India.