Chase & Status have been bringing us great British music for years now combining drum & bass, hip-hop, grime and much more, working with artists such as Maverick Sabre, Frisco, Novelist and Liam Bailey to bring their unique sound to the forefront of the UK scene. I spoke to Saul, one-half of the production duo, about the drum & bass scene, dodgy outfit choices, grime and more.
Saul, can you first tell us where you’re love for Drum & Bass stemmed?
It was in 1994 at a dance I guess. It was kind of like a ball where you go dressed up in a suit as a kid and try and kiss girls. I was like 13. It was somewhere in the West End and in the middle of all the crap being played, someone snuck in Shy FX’s ‘Original Nutta’ and everything changed and I stopped kissing whatever girl I was in the corner with. That changed my life, after that I discovered jungle, heard about Blackmarket Records. Life changed for me. I re-connected with it in about 1997, but it’s been a long, long relationship
There was a tweet the other day saying “Have I just seen another crime of mixing sports brands together? This has to stop”. What’s been your worst public fashion moment?
It’s hard to say you know. I guess if you look at some of our early press shots you’ll see a couple of guys wearing oversized jeans that weren’t well cut, with not very flattering hair cuts. One of my worst times was not that long ago about 5-6 years ago and my now wife told me I looked absolutely disgraceful at the time. I was wearing badly fitted, too long shorts that weren’t really shorts, they’re the worst, are they shorts are they trousers? When you don’t know you shouldn’t be wearing them (laughs). Fundamentally to be fair I live in tracksuits, I love them and I always have and I’ve been berated for them many a time, now 2016 everyone is wearing them. I’ve been collecting Moschino since I was a kid, loud, vintage, I’ve got 1,200 pieces, I’ve been wearing that non-stop too. A few years ago I was wearing it people said I looked mad, and now it’s the hottest thing to wear; crazy, vintage and the whole wavy garms movement.
You performed recently on Jools Holland with Liam Bailey, Tom Grennan and an exclusive with Bugzy Malone. These artists are quite different showing your versatility, is this something key to C&S music?
Yes, versatility is definitely something that is important to us. When our careers started in the drum & bass scene in the early 2000s, we were known for not making one style. We made liquid drum & bass, hard drum & bass, jungle, reggae and half time. As our careers have blossomed, and we’ve always done this since we first started making music, now we’ve got lots of outlets to release it, we make music from across the board from hip-hop to dubstep, to jungle, to grime to drum & bass, we just make dance music generally. Having different strengths and versatility is what makes it more exciting in the studio, it makes not every song sound the same, and it keeps the inspiration going. In terms of artists, we like working with people that sound like no one else. When we first started working with Maverick Sabre, no one sounded like that, no one sounds like Tempa T and no one will ever. That’s the exciting stuff we love doing, working with people who sound like nothing else.
Your music can’t be pinpointed to a particular genre anymore; it’s just original, British music. Where do you draw your influences from and how do you and Will start making a track together?
Influences come from everywhere; if you’re watching a TV show it can spark an idea. If you listen to an old song you can sample the vocal from that and muck around with it and the next thing you know you’ve got an idea there. If you feeling blue, if your feeling happy. It’s hard for me to pinpoint it as it comes from absolutely everywhere. In terms of making music together, we often start things on our own and bring them together and finish them off. We’re both pretty similar though, we both start with drums and we both like to get a groove going. Our favourite part of any tune is drums and bass. If we’ve got a nice groove going on the drums and a nice bassline line that’s what we basically what we wanna hear. Lots of tunes, be it drum & bass tunes or even an old funk tune, the effects of the tune where everything drops out and it’s just the beats and the bass rolling, that’s always been our favourite part of a record.
Now festival season is done, what do Chase & Status normally get up to in the winter months?
We still DJ, it never stops for us. In the summer it’s the festivals with the bands, on the weekend we got two shows, and the weekend after, that’s the way it normally goes for us. The end of the year we’re going Australia and New Zealand, it’s non-stop. We’re always making music be it at our home studio or the studio together, or on the road, we always have a laptop at hand. Come rain or shine we’re always making beats. We’re putting the finishing touches to our fourth album at the minute, then we’re on the road so it’s non-stop.
You’ve always had a heavy grime influence as well working with Novelist on NRG, Roll Deep on Top Shotta, Kano on Against All Odds, the London Bars series, Sun City with Jammer and more. What other grime artists would you love to work with and why?
It depends. Something all artists share from me to Frisco to Tom Greenan to Liam Bailey to Plan B is that passion and that drive to do something and that unique moment in the studio, everyone shares is. When Frisco came in and said chorus to funny, I knew we got something here. When Liam sent over the demo for his verse for ‘Blind Faith’ we knew wow this is something here. You get the same feeling with them all. It depends how they attack the project, some people sit there and write, pad and pen, quite quiet. Some people don’t write anything like Giggs, he just goes straight in the booth and freestyles. Everyone has their wild time in the studio, I think Liam Bailey has to be No.1 when it comes to wildness in the studio.
We’d love to work with loads of other grime artists, we’ve been fortunate enough to work with most of them. There’s a couple of big names we’ve worked with, but the songs haven’t been finished and are just sitting on the hard drive, so they will see the light of day someday. We’ve produced something for CasIsDead, he’s one of my favourite artists. Been in with Flowdan, Ghetts, and P Money. The grime scene is something real close to our hearts and we’ve been passionate about it for a long time.
Grime seems to be doing really well at the moment and gaining commercial recognition. What do you think it will take for this to happen with the drum & bass scene and do you think it will happen?
You may or may not like the songs, but the biggest songs over the past couple of years have been drum & bass songs wth Rudimental and Sigma.
Those aren’t songs you’d hear in a drum & bass rave though…
You won’t hear those in my sets either though. I respect those artists and wish them all the best, but that doesn’t for me represent the drum & bass scene, you’re correct. ‘Bricks Don’t Roll’ by DJ Hazard they put a vocal on it and it got playlisted on Radio 1. Do I think I’m going to start hearing the new Noisa tune or DJ Pleasure single or most of the underground D&B tracks in my record box, on daytime radio? No, I don’t think so. I think the drum & bass scene is bless. We’re all out from people like me to Andy C to Sub Focus are all playing absolutely everywhere, Grooverider, DJ Hype. I came back from a festival in Czech Republic recently and there were 25,000 kids strictly raving to drum & bass on the main stage. The whole festival is drum & bass; I mean it’s massive. People couldn’t be busier, Andy C couldn’t be busier, and that’s a testament to how well the scene prevails and is strong.
The underground scene will never get that success. The reason grime get’s that success is because it’s a song; it’s got a chorus, it’s got a verse, it’s got a face to interact with. An underground tune in drum & bass has got sick drums, sick bass, it doesn’t really have anything to connect to take it any further, and that’s not a problem.
Underground drum & bass has had a fantastic year; Ram Records has had a great year, I’ve heard a lot of talent and a great school of music on their from the commercial end to the underground, they have always been leaders in that field. Doc Scott has got some wicked stuff on 31 Records. Some of my favourite records this year have been Spy’s remix of Congo’s Natty’s ‘Junglist’ – one of the favourites in my bag – and Lenzman’s remix of ‘Children Of Zeus’.
Any new releases we can expect from the MTA label?
There’s a brand new EP from an artist called 991 which we’re very excited about; it’s the ‘Dim Sum’ EP. It’s got four absolute crackers on there that we’ve been smashing. Dimension has got another single coming out soon, he’s really making some big waves.
We’re nearly finishing up the year, what’s your highlight been from 2016?
My personal highlight was the birth of my daughter in March. It’s been a great year for us and we were blessed to headline Wireless Festival on the Saturday. It was real special. We premiered our latest single ‘All Goes Wrong’ with Tom Grennan at Wireless and it was the first time it had been heard anywhere by anyone, and it got an amazing reaction. That’s what it’s all about. Taking a tune you’re nervous about or lose faith in, and you see it get such a reaction, it’s such a special moment.
*published on 5th Dec on The 405