Unlike many other genres and music communities, the indie/alt culture appreciates new and rising artists that create diversity and new insights within the genre.
We constantly feature notable rising artists in the alternative scene on the verge of success. Meet this week’s artist: the West-Midlands UK indie group, CHORD.
Find out how Anthony La Pusata, Darren Barnard, and Girish Patel collaborated to form CHORD, their thoughts of TIDAL, and their take on all things alternative culture in our interview below. PLUS check out the exclusive premiere of their music video for Science.
Actually the track could not have been released at a better time, with it's medical-meets-love theme. After the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy that caused the internet to go into mourning, this is the perfect soundtrack to cope with. I mean that show did bring mainstream success to similar rock bands as Snow Patrol and The Fray, why not add CHORD to the mix. The song dynamically builds into a developing electro outro, that is simply to die for. Life Support Machine is a fantastic addition to the ranging CHORD discography, fitting nicely between the darker atmospheric electronics and the delicately yearning alternative love-songs. Take a listen below, it's the aural therapy that we prescribe.
To begin with, we all have very different musical tastes which come from a mix of electronic, rock and indie influences so it was a challenging question and three answers are just not enough! However, after heavy debate, spilled beer and crushed cans being thrown at each other we whittled it down to the following;
Anthony La Pusata: Origin - The Origin
Darren Barnard: The Innocents - Erasure
Girish Patel: Master of Puppets - Metallica
What are your fondest musical memories?
We've answered this one individually.
DB: Fondest musical memories, again so many but the one that sticks out in my mind the most is when I used to mess around on the Draw bars of my dad's Yamaha Organ when I was a kid.
ALP: Writing my first song, called 'Honey Bee', while in my first band. We used to practice above a pub in Walsall Wood and had the police called on us so many times for noise pollution that in the end we disbanded. Darren recently found those lyrics up in his loft so apart from framing them we might bring them back to life.
GP: Going to live gigs in Birmingham and trying to discover bands that no one had ever heard of. As a designer I judge a band's music by it's cover artwork, I'd say about 7 out of 10 times it works.
Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener?
Collectively we listen to 80's Synth Pop, Korgs and Moogs have got a lot to answer for and we just love that analogue-y sound but a lot of 90's Indie Rock is also thrown into the playlist. Darren is heavily influenced by John Lennon and New Order while Anthony is also guilty of listening to Take That every now and again (he's going to kill me for writing that!). Girish is all about Metal full stop.
ALP: Yes, in fact Darren is now dead lying in a ditch
How did you all meet and decide to start writing and collaborating to form CHORD? How is this group different from your previous bands and projects you all have been involved in?
We all met at art college back when Girish looked like Cousin It, Darren thought he was Luke Skywalker and Anthony wished he was Morrissey (he still does but the younger Smiths version). Both Girish and Anthony had been in bands before, Anthony was lead singer for The Wishing Chair, Girish played just about everything for his metal rock band and Darren was coming up with electronic instrumental tracks in his back bedroom. Chord really was born out of Anthony and Darren writing a 'soundtrack' to their screenplay on which Girish collaborated musically but it never stopped, we just kept writing songs until we became Chord and decided to share our work with the world. The fact that all three of us come from different musical backgrounds and merge them together in our music style keeps us open and causes us to have tracks that sway slightly in different musical directions while keeping our own style.
What is your creative process like? How do you approach the writing process?
DB: 99.9% of the time we start off with Anthony's lyrics and I add a melody which evolves into what becomes the song. Then Anthony steps in to battle it out with me and together we argue, craft the song, argue some more until we are happy with the finalised track. We are both very stubborn and sometimes it takes Girish to clear a path and push us in the right direction.
Girish, you say you judge a band’s music by its cover art. I was wondering if you are in charge of the design and aesthetic elements of CHORD? How would you describe the visual vision of this group? What is this part of the creative process like?
GP: Hi Josh, the judging a track by it's cover thing is a personal challenge I set myself but I guess that's due to the fact that I'm a designer as are Darren and Anthony. I like to see if the designer got it right because it's not easy conveying a specific sound through a static visual image. However, in regard to our artwork, it's Anthony who defines the design aesthetic of our band and music… with our input of course. So I'll let Anthony take over and answer your question from here
ALP: Hi Josh, good question! It is quite challenging, as Girish said, to convey the sound of our music through artwork so it's a big bonus already knowing what kind of visual style we want to go for and of course knowing our own music style. I think because our music is quite analogue-y or 'faux electronic' mixed with traditional instruments we like to keep the images quite flat, slightly desaturated yet clean all at the same time. When it comes to the creative process, we usually sit down and define which tracks we are going to release as singles and then begin developing a contextual overall look and feel for them as a whole - usually based on the track title or lyrics. Being quite artistic people, we are always snapping hi-res photos of obscure and weird things that we can come back to as a resource later down the line. The artwork for the singles that are leading up to the second album are a very subtle mix of photography and illustration opposed to our earlier artwork which was solely illustration based. I think this is due to the evolution of our sound too, the first album was a lot more acoustic and guitar based whereas now we are leaning more towards a darker, heavier sound mixing rock guitars with electronic sounds and pianos. But, all artwork is subjective at the end of the day so what we find to be a good reflection of our sound might say something different to other people. So, you be the judge… does our artwork reflect our sound?
As an indie artist in the digital age, social media and streaming are essential tools for marketing and promotion. What do you think about online music sharing, both as a music fan and as a musician? How do you think social media/music streaming services impacts the rising musician?
I'll let Anthony answer this one…
ALP: Well of course for the fan and music discovering aficionados like ourselves, having easy and above all free access to all musical genres through the likes of Spotify is a dream come true. From a band's perspective, although revenue from these kind of channels is pitiful the boundaries that once separated unsigned talent from worldwide distribution have been literally broken down and no longer require a demanding and controlling record label. Therefore a lot, if not most bands are going it alone - which in my humble opinion is great news, it means we get to discover and hear a lot of talented bands, artists and singers that through the old traditional systems would probably have never seen the light of day because they were not considered 'commercial' enough. The band is happy because they are able to get their work out there and listened to by the public rather than remaining digital files on a hard drive in a drawer somewhere. The downside to all this is that listeners have come to expect their music for free leaving artists to use their passionately crafted songs as a mere marketing tool in the hope that people will like what they hear and come to see the tracks performed live. So to cut a long answer short, social media and streaming is greatly favourable to the unsigned artist but it's also a very sharp double edged sword.
What do you think of this new streaming service TIDAL? Do you believe TIDAL will help and support indie musicians? (i.e.: Will this truly "make music history" in delivering their promise of giving ALL artists the power to release their music how they want to, and gain the appropriate compensation? Do you think TIDAL will prove to be supportive of indie and developing artists, in giving them the same type of power and comparable compensation as the first and second tier artists?)
We've seen and read a lot of buzz around Tidal with questions like, "Do we really need another streaming service?" attached. It's good to have choice, there's nothing new about it and we're sure Tidal won't be the last so no, it's not going to change music history in that sense. The fact that it has been set up - or rather - took over by artists rather than a corporation (although it was originally a Swedish corporation that set it up) is possibly a good thing but there may also be the speculative side to their actions too.
To say that the artists are in control is misplaced, yes, the artists that bought out Aspiro are in control of their new company but they're already big stars making big money off their own record deals and don't necessarily even need another outlet like Tidal. They say they want to give the power to ALL artists but who do they actually mean by all? It's the unsigned bands and artists who have undiscovered talent and have a real need to get their music out there so it would be a massive error to put them on the back shelf. However, there is no confirmation on whether unsigned artists will be allowed to stream via the Tidal platform as yet as all doesn't necessarily mean all. This is a point in Spotify's favour at the moment.
As artists we want to get our music to be in as many places as possible and hope listeners hear our music or at least have the possibility to 'discover' us. We also want to be rewarded for our hard work and artistry and the dismal royalties that Spotify offer are blatantly poor to say the least - if not offensive. But we get it - it's basically a free service and as we've said before this has also 'ruined' the music industry further as people have become used to not having to pay for their music. If Tidal does allow unsigned acts on board and will deliver decent royalties and compensation then obviously that is going to attract but then there is also the risk of quality - it all depends on how they will approach this. Will there be a screened submission process or will they allow any artist who is willing to pay to be on board?
I asked your friends Portrayal a question about the UK music scene. I pose you guys the same question, especially since you self-describe yourselves as “contributing to the post Brit-Pop tradition of bands like Travis, Snow Patrol and New Order.” I am the the type of listener that believes environment shapes music creation and I have noticed lately that the indie/alternative world has seen innovation specifically from UK artists. The UK is an international hub for music, between the radio and festival culture to the obsession with artists stemming from the area. How would you describe the UK music scene? Do you think there is a certain quality about the scene that adds to the creative process?
We definitely agree, environment does shape music and Britain has given the world some, if not most, of the best bands and artists in the world during the last half a century. Therefore being a British artist, there is a high level of quality predecessor music to live up to and I think this pushes new bands to ensure they meet the bar
What is your dream collaboration and why?
DB: Anthony would say Morrissey, for me it has to be the god that is/was John Lennon and for Girish it would be Metallica. I think as a band though, it would have to be either Keane or Snow Patrol.
What are you currently working on? Any new projects?
We are currently working on our second album, we are releasing the twelve tracks, one track per month and free to subscribers all through 2015 which by December will see the official launch of the new album. There will be four 'official' singles released and a few accompanying videos, even for tracks which we personally like or are particularly attached to. We kicked off the year with our first single, 'Someone' which we are quite proud of both musically and lyrically. We think and hope that this initiative is quite original or at least we haven't come across any other band doing anything similar and it's a nice way of repaying our followers by giving them exclusive content until the album goes public in December. However, it's important to add that even though we have an abundance of material not all twelve tracks are actually complete or even written yet so although we have a schedule set up we are still kind of running on a razor blade which is both very exciting and challenging all at the same time.
Besides the innovative second album initiative, what else can we expect from your second album? How does it differ from your previous releases?
Well, the first album, 'A Trick of the Light', was more of an experiment leading back to the idea of our tracks being an accompanying soundtrack to our screenplay and, as we've mentioned, a lot more acoustic in style but I think with the new album we have or are better defining our sound and style. The tracks are quite a lot darker in tone and a lot more personal this time, blending acoustic piano with heavy guitar riffs and subtle elements of electronica.
Finally, a question we have been asking all of artists lately: which songs are you currently obsessed with? What new acts do you recommend to our listeners? What bands do you believe are your best kept secret in the indie community?
ALP: Skylark Interabang - Made In Heights (Anthony)
DBL Top of the World - The Carpenters (Darren)
GP: Du Hast - Ramstein (Girish)
Bands we recommend: Made In Heights, Brightly, Lauren Aquilina
Best kept secret: Portrayal…and Chord :P