Chase & Status open up about making their new album Tribe
With their constant touring, both as DJs and as a live band, it’s never really felt like dance duo Chase & Status have gone away, but it’s been four years since they last dropped a full-length album. That changes today with the release of Tribe, the fourth album of their career.
As you’d expect from a duo who can fill arenas all over the UK, they’ve assembled a cracking line-up of guest singers, with the likes of Kano, Craig David, Emeli Sande and indie stars Blossoms all on duty for this new LP.
We spoke to Saul Milton (a.k.a Chase) about why it’s taken them four years to make this album and why they’re looking to inject a bit of positivity into these turbulent times...
It’s four years since you last had a full-length record out, has this album taken a long time to get right?
“We had a little bit of time off after we finished promoting Brand New Machine, but it’s been a long journey, this album has been over two years in the making. Not every band gets to four albums, so it’s a lot of pressure and you’re trying not to repeat yourself. You’re trying not to watch what’s going on and just be true to yourself.”
“You get older, you get married, you have kids, suddenly you’re not 26 anymore you’re 36, life changes. But we couldn’t be happier, we think it’s our best album to date, we’re passionate about British music and there’s loads of British talent on there. We had the best part of three albums’ worth of music for this one and we’ve now got the cream of the crop.”
How did you find slimming down three albums’ worth of material into one? Was it a difficult process?
“It’s just whatever works. Everything finds a home eventually, any of the ones that didn’t make it could end up being a record for us in the future or a record for someone else, most things get used at some point. It’ll all surface at some point.”
You’ve got a great collection of collaborators on this album, you’ve got Kano, Bugzy Malone, Emeli Sande, Craig David and loads more, do you always choose your collaborators or are they suggested to you as well?
“No one was suggested to us. Every collaboration was our idea and our intention, except Blossoms, that was more of a chance meeting. Everyone else was people we knew or people we wanted to get in touch with. That really feels like our unique selling point, how hands on we are with collaborators.”
Can you talk us through some of the artists you picked out to work with?
“We absolutely love what Bugzy Malone and Section Boyz have been doing, Kano was on our first album and we’ve been friends ever since. We did a dubplate in 2014 with Emeli Sande and we’ve wanted to do a track with her ever since. Tom Grennan was someone we were shown, we heard his demo and we said straight away that we had to get that kid in the studio. Seinabo Sey, we heard her stuff and we got our manager to reach out straight away. We’re passionate about all of the artists we’ve got, we’re fans of every single one of them.”
For every collaboration that works, there must be a few that don’t, are you guys quite good at knowing when to cut your losses when you’re not clicking with another artist?
“Thankfully we’ve been pretty blessed. The vibe for this album was great, I mean when Craig David came down to work with us it wound up being one of the best days of our lives. The vibe was incredible. He just walked into the room and 15 seconds later he was on the mic, coming up with ideas over a beat.”
“Sometimes it’s frustrating. When you’ve been there for 24 hours and nothing’s really working you can pretty much write it off. We don’t drag things out, quite a lot of times we’ll just say to someone if we’re stalling ‘Let’s pick it up tomorrow’. It’s always best to end on a high, rather than turn a session into a chore. This job isn’t supposed to be tiresome, you need to get the vibe right.”
Where did the lyrics to this album come from? Do you leave that all to your collaborators?
“It depends on the person. Sometimes we’re all hands on, but it’s not like you need to give someone like Kano any tips! If we’re all in the room together we’re all at it. Apart from rappers and grime MCs, we’re very hands on with the words and the songs.”
When did you decide that Tribe would be the album title? Was it always going to be the title?
“It’s funny. Tribe was the first title, we had the theme down and it was all going to tie in with the amount of percussion we had on the record, then we moved away from that. We were in the doldrums about a name, we didn’t have one, we couldn’t think of one, then we had a great run of tracks, got a lot done and we came back around to Tribe. It felt like the correct name.”
What was it about the word that inspired you?
“We’re a tribe. We’re British. The world is so crazy right now and we need a bit of unity. We need to be positive, we’re trying to embody that, there’s a lot of crazy s**t going on and hopefully our music can be a positive thing for people.”
You must be excited to take these new songs out to people in your live show...
“We’ve only done one festival this summer with the live show and we played nine new songs in the setlist and it went well. We’re excited to attack the live show, we DJ week in week out and we’ve tried out all of these tracks in the clubs. That’s how we can tell whether they’re working or not, whether they need re-working, now they’re all finished, I’m excited to play them out to people.”