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UK-based EDM act Chicane talk about their change in sound, new album and high-profile collaborations

Rolling Stone IN Jan 10, 2010

Headlining the second night of the Bacardi Blast Festival 2009 in Goa, UK-based electronic dance music outfit Chicane, probably best known for their collaboration with Bryan Adams on ”˜Don’t Give Up,’ made its maiden trip to India. The outfit was on tour having played Australia, the UK, Jakarta and India. We caught up with producer/composer Nicholas Bracegirdle and his live crew ”“ vocalist Natasha Andrews and guitarist Simon Small ”“ before the night of their performance. They spoke with us about their sound, inspirations, collaborations and upcoming album.

When you were here last night did you catch any Indian outfits perform?

NA: We reached late, so we just got to see Sister Bliss perform but we did chat with Shaa’ir and Func afterwards. What they do sounded very interesting cause they’ve got live instruments as well, just as our performances do, so it would have been really nice to see them.

Your collaboration with Bryan Adams kind of put you at the forefront. It introduced Chicane to a non-electronica listener, sort of aligning you with the mainstream. Do you still look to collaborate with that intention? Are there any collaborations on the cards?

NB: Yeah it did sort of bring us to the forefront and we have also had quite a few collaborations since like with Natasha Bedingfield and tom Jones. Though right now, for the new album, we are working on a track with BT and on another track with Armin van Buuren. We also might have Lemar guesting on a vocal track ”“ that’s being done as we speak, might be already done (laughs).

What’s the sound on your new album like? When does it release?

NB: The sound that we are building today has got one foot in where we’re coming from and one foot in the future. I think we’re kind of incorporating some of the original downtempo Chicane vibes that we started with, at the same time keeping it fresh and more experimental. It’s got a lot of classic Chicane stuff; even the new stuff is very Chicane, but current.  I should be done with it by end February and it should be out by late April. A lot of it is done, it just needs those finishing touches.

You keep emphasising on the fact that this album and your current sound is rewinding to the old Chicane Is that saying maybe you made mistakes along the way or something didn’t work for you sound-wise on your past albums?

NB: Mistakes? Oh fuck me! Yeah, all the time! (laughs) But you know you’ve always got to do it for yourself first and then for the fans. Our last album, Somersault, was very song based, it wasn’t really dance-y. I got tired of dance music for a while and needed to go down other avenues to get inspired. Right now I’m back in love with dance music and that’s all I’m doing. But it can’t be the same, as it would get very dull if I did album after album of chillout. When we go to our website, there is this forum of people desperate for the old Chicane, so we are bringing the old stuff back but in a new way. I keep waffling on about how it’s more about my attitude to the atmosphere and melody and how it is portrayed, rather than what kind of genre I am working with.

Your songwriting, is it collaborative?

NA: Nick writes all the parts. Even if it is a vocal or guitar part he always has this very structured idea of what he wants. I mean, I’ve been singing with Chicane for only five years and Chicane’s been going for nearly fifteen.

So Nick, what inspires you when you’re writing songs?

NB: Chicane’s all about melody and it’s like this age old thing. I always say that the qualities that are Chicane aren’t necessarily bound by genre. I tend to like songs over artists really ”“ ”˜Iris’ by the Goo Goo Dolls, ”˜Nothing’ by A or even opera music. It could be all sorts of things. As a producer you’re like a sponge, you pretty much soak everything up and then you churn it out in a different way. Sometimes I’ll go into the studio and just muck about and maybe hit upon a groove. Lately, for the new album, I have been working with what you call a mood board so I’ll get about twenty of thirty different tracks that have this sort of variable feel while some will have the arrangements and from that I’ll bounce off an idea. You just have to keep at it.

What’s the best place you guys have played, where the audience has been most receptive to your music?

NB: In Manila there seemed to be like huge Chicane fans, they treated us like the Rolling Stones, I even had my own car (laughs.) They just seemed to know every single word of every Chicane song. We’ve played some great venues in London to be honest, I mean we did huge shows in Australia and they were great but we feed off the audience and how they are reacting to us and reciprocate. Sometimes it’s quite hard to make that connection at a big gig, but it’s all good as long as the fuckers dance (laughs).

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