Interview: Chase & Status – BBC Radio 1Xtra Live 2013

Photography: BBC/Sarah Jeynes

2013 marks ten years since electronic production outfit Chase & Status first formed, and this week they released their latest LP Brand New Machine – the follow up to 2011’s No More Idols. I grabbed three minutes with Saul Milton and Will Kennard just before they hit the stage at Radio 1Xtra Live in Bournemouth last night to talk about the new record, the 90s and bringing the soul back in to dance music.

First up, congratulations. Top 5 single yesterday with Count On Me – another #1 on the dance charts – and the new album out today. How are you feeling?

Saul: Glad it’s out. It’s emotional finishing a record and finally getting it out there. It’s hard to describe the emotion that you feel so we’ll see what happens really. It’s for other people to hear it and enjoy.

Was there a planned approach you took coming out of No More Idols and going in to the new record? Did you say, ‘Right, this is the direction we’re going to start taking…?’

Will: It takes a while to figure out what direction you’re going in. We never really properly sit down and plan it out. It’s just a case of trying lots of different things and realising actually ‘this is a nice theme’ or a nice vibe or just basically what we’re in to.

I think, just by chance, we started to bring back a lot of influences from the 90s. I think that just happens often in a 20 year cycle. It feels relevant again and you remember all the magic. And that just started to flow in to what we were doing. And it provided a bit of an identity.

But we never really sit sown and think ‘Right, this is going to be the sound’. You just take stock of what you do after a certain amount of time and think…

Saul: …oh, that works…

Will: …actually, we’ve nearly got an album here. Whereas often you think you’re nowhere near and then suddenly you’re actually quite near.

You talked about the 90s and there’s definitely that real deep house, northern soul sound that runs throughout the record. I like to think I’m pretty good at finding new artists but you’ve got Moko, Bo Saris from Holland, Jacob Banks…And they’ve all got that really rich, soulful tone…

Saul: That’s right, yeah. And really individual sounding people as well. That’s what we’re interested in. Moko has that pure diva 90s kind of sound which works well with our sound. That period of time was important to us. Not just musically but fashion-wise, and style and forming identity. It was a big part of our lives.

Will: That soulful thing as well you mentioned… Actually, that was probably one thing where we said, ‘You know what? Dance music is getting really un-soulful.’ It’s really clinical. That kind of big room house stuff. And we said ‘Where’s the really cool soul vibe?’ It’s kind of getting lost a bit in the world of production, technology and stuff.

But it’s back. This year, it feels like it has had something of a renaissance so you’re bang on timing wise…

Saul & Will: Thank you…

And at that point my time ran out as the duo were swept away to the Radio 1Xtra stage for a barnstorming eight track setlist that brought the house down, and featured guest appearances from Moko, Jacob Banks and Knytro.

Watch the DJ set in full below:

BBC Radio 1Xtra continues tonight (8 Oct) at London’s Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith before heading to Liverpool tomorrow (9 Oct) and ending in Leeds on Thursday. Artists on the upcoming line ups include Azealia Banks, Robin Thicke, Nelly, Angel Haze, Sean Paul, John Newman, Wretch 32 and Rudimental and many others For full line up details, content and even more information head over to the official Radio 1Xtra site.


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