Chase and Status
Chase and Status: "Now, when I think of what we do I think we have always been very fortunate to make a living doing what we love so much."
Bronte Evans | 8/07/2022
With the release of their new album What Came Before we sit down to discuss the highs and lows, pressures and the desire to continue to create.
HATC: Huge congrats to you both on your performance at Radio 1’s Big Weekend!
Saul: Thanks! We are still recovering from a bit of a whirlwind weekend. We literally had a call at 11 pm on Friday asking if we could play this Sunday afternoon? We had to figure out the logistics of getting six different vocalists from all different parts of the country. We borrowed Mabel’s lighting tech. It was pretty full-on but Coventry definitely knows how to rave.
It must be good to get back on the road, you must be enjoying it being back playing post-pandemic.
Saul: “We’re fortunate enough to do a gig from the moment we were allowed to again. Since July 21st hit and restrictions were lifted, we have been nonstop. We’ve been fortunate enough to have life back to some normality in that regard for quite a while now. But it hasn’t been this usual for a long time. Which has been fantastic. Obviously, it was a horrific time for many reasons especially when it comes to mental health. For over 12 years it’s been non-stop, and in many ways you get a release from it, playing out and performing. So we definitely felt an emptiness without doing it. In the past, you’d be lying if you didn’t roll your eyes when thinking of another gig, oh, god, okay. Because that’s just how you get accustomed to what you’re doing. And you complain about it. That’s just life. Now, when I think of what we do I think we have always been very fortunate to make a living doing what we love so much. We’ve really been enjoying every part of being back, and appreciating it.”
It really seems as though you’re both enjoying being back in your element. Did you find moving back to your normal busy schedule difficult at first, or did you feel at ease getting back to normal?
Will: I definitely felt a slight anxiousness about being around a lot of people immediately afterwards. I know the first gig that was a festival on Brighton Beach and it was absolutely huge. To go from two years of sitting at home to turning up in a split van and coming out backstage to hundreds of people was a culture shock. I thought it’d be easy but it was definitely more overwhelming going from avoiding people in the street to the opposite, hugs, kisses and handshakes. It took a while to get back to wanting to touch others, which is not a great vibe but that took a minute. Thank God that has subsided because it was the most depressing part of it the lack of physical contact.
It’s been a bit bizarre getting back to the status quo but at the same time refreshing as you say to have a little human contact. Speaking of human contact it must have been amazing to be part of London’s notorious KOKO reopening. It must have felt incredibly intimate for you both?
Will: Growing up in London, KOKO was important to us whether it be going there for the first time in my life or DJ’ing there. We were fortunate enough to play there, I think our first London live show was there in 2009. So it was great to go back. It was a really special night with it fundamentally being a listening guide for the album. Those who came to watch were the most loyal and ravenous who all scooped up exclusive tickets super quick. It kind of followed on the scene from our album party where no phones were allowed, you could tell everyone who came there was there to hear the album for the first time in full from start to finish. It’s an incredible new era.
Since the very beginning of Chase and Status, you’ve both been so passionate about helping the next generation, encouraging them when starting or studying the creative industries. Why’s it been so important to you to give back opportunities to the next generation?
Will: The idea came from our time, me and Saul living up in Manchester at the start of our career, about seven years up there and just falling in love with the city. I did a bit of teaching in a Sixth Form College to make ends meet and I came across these amazing kids from tough backgrounds, who were super talented, and passionate about music. I was teaching music production. I remember thinking these kids were better than me, 16 years old and already making beats, rapping and singing. Our career started to take off so I left that job, and we came to London. I stayed in touch with these kids. When I thought back to that college, it didn’t actually provide the opportunities, and skills that you really need to break into the music industry in the same way that we did. So I thought, what a waste of potential. So many of the courses had a quite bad rep for one reason or another. They can be flaky and a bit watery. It made me ask ‘what does it mean if you don’t come from a privileged background if you don’t have money or parents who can help all of this.’
So that was where the initial seed was planted. I started to ask what happens if you could take those talented young people, and give them the right space, the right opportunities, and the right training, to go and work in the creative industries. When I started it 10 years ago now it sort of snowballed into this big thing. We teach music, film, television, games, design and stuff like that. These kids are vulnerable. It’s a tough time at that age, hormonal, full of emotion with everything going on in their lives. When you’re 16 everything feels like the biggest stuff. The smallest thing can be so mega, as you figure out who the hell you are. Particularly in this day and age, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be. So you mix all that in with creative young people, many of them have mental health struggles or learning difficulties, and it’s tough even though they’re the most intelligent kids.
So I set it up to help those kids and they’ve flourished ending up with three or four A-Levels, which is really lovely to see. One of the nice stories about the school is that on this album, one of the kids featured went to the school, and graduated last year he’s called Ethan Hall. He’s so young, and so wet behind the ears. He featured on a track with us and came out a big weekend, performing to 50,000 people for his first gig. He wrote an amazing song for us. I see a lot of the alumni who graduated last five, or six years moving into the industry, and we bump into them all over the place, whether they’re working for management companies work, record labels, publishing houses, or event companies. It’s amazingly cool to see.
It’s nice to see such a shift in more people wanting to support the next generation by those who have such huge influence. It’s amazing that he’s created something like his first gig. Can you imagine just coming out and performing to such a big crowd for your first gig?
Will: I can’t imagine. I mean, I was saying saw yesterday, our first gig in London, our first pay DJ show was in a tiny club in East London, with a few people there. I mean, our hands were shaking playing vinyl on the needles, nervous about every little moment, and that was to 50 people. So for him to perform to 50,000 people live on BBC was madness.
He seemed to have handled it really well. You’ve got a new album coming out this month (June). From having such unprecedented success from all your previous albums did it feel the natural next step to bring out a new body of work, what are your hopes for it?
Saul: I guess we wanted to write it purely because that’s what we do. We love making music. But I’m in terms of hopes, without sounding cliche and cheesy, not in terms of any kind of accolades or success, we’d like people to like it. We think we just made a great record musically, we think it’s wicked. We’ve come to the point where if it’s an unprecedented success when that’s the case, everything before came from influences in our lives and the music we listen to before that. The holy experiences we’ve gone through led us here with the ability to make hopefully a nice cohesive piece of work. We are very proud of this record. It’s our sixth album which is not something we’d ever imagined we would get to.
Did you find having such a focus on that that you felt as connected to it as your first album in terms of the evolution of your music?
Will: I think we felt a connection to the kind of state of mind that we had in our first record, having no expectations. We’re in a privileged position now where we’ve been around for a minute. We’ve had some success. So we looked at this record and thought, let’s not worry too much about having to tick this box or that box. When you come into as an artist, you’re desperate to kind of keep proving yourself and you’re worried about it being as good as your last record. Often there are these questions of are you secure financially, all these kinds of things, which can really make the creative process quite difficult. Whereas your first album, you’re just accidentally making an album almost because you just love music. And I think we got to the point with this record, where we thought let’s just remember how that feels. Not worrying about labels or radio commercially, this or that scene. We just wanted to make a fun album, for the love of music. It’s a nice symmetry for us to come full circle.
It feels like it’s come full circle. You both seem in a really good space and excited for the new album. Having spoken about those you are helping nurture, I’m curious to hear how you both look after your own mental health. I know you, Saul, are a huge lover of dogs, have they helped you find a positive space for your mental health?
Saul: I love dogs. Yeah, I love my dogs. Old English sheepdogs. They made me a better person. My favourite time in life is walking in the park, with no phone just my time with them. It’s hard to answer really, to be honest about mental health and stuff. I’ve certainly got a few kinds of nuances, shall we say? I struggle with OCD. I’m very particular about things a lot. I still struggle with some of the same kinds of emotions, thoughts and reactions and the gut reaction I have from them. I’m still battling with those today. You know, I’ve always smoked cannabis. That’s probably the cause and solution. I think it’s just actually understanding yourself as you’re getting older that it’s ok. I think a lot of it is about adapting and owning it. If you’ve acted wildly or made a mistake, it’s about understanding it and fessing up to it yourself.
Will: We’ve been very blessed with having young healthy families, we’ve both got two daughters, and amazing wives. It’s been big grounding-wise for us. When you’re younger, sh*t is pretty wild. The stakes are high, and the emotions are high so often it is about finding some form of grounding to lean back on. For me, I ask myself when I’m thinking something’s really serious, or really bad, how bad is it? There’s always someone else in a worse situation. I think age helps. You don’t need to have kids to have that perspective. You can relate through other relationships. It could be a partner, it could be your friends’ circle, or could be kids, but they can help give support and perspective.
With the launch of ‘What Came Before’ being a roaring succe, once again presenting to the world the the era of Chase and Status continues, it’s no wonder those they mentor are flourishing. And with that aside it’s clear that their desire to create and continue is something that is here to stay,
Words: Alice Gee
Photography: Sam Neill