Chase & Status: Machine Talk

Chase & Status: Machine Talk

chase & statusWhat’s your favourite machine?

Your smartphone?

Your motor?

Your laptop?

Your X-Box?

Drum&BassArena has loads of favourite machines but right now it’s Brand New Machine, the new album from the seemingly unstoppable Chase & Status.

Their third to date, some of it is an irrepressible flashback to the 1990s while other chapters reflect the very best of the current bass game but on Chase & Status’s own distinct terms. From the militant fury of this…

To the star-spangled, liquid soul of this…

It’s another surefire success for the duo. We gave Saul a call to find out what his favourite machines are….

It sounds like you had fun making the album…

In theory, yes! In theory everything should be more fun. But in reality there was a lot of stress towards the end. Last minute deadlines, getting vocals back and so on… It’s always a hair-pulling nightmare during those finishing stages of any album. I’d be kidding myself if I said it was 100 per cent fun. There were a few times when we thought about throwing things out of the window! But yeah, in general, we did have a lot of fun drawing back to the 90s for our inspiration. I’m loving the 90s right now. What I’m wearing, what I’m listening to; it was a massively informative decade for us and for the dancefloor.

Talk to me about the 90s…

It was a very important decade for us. We’re both 32 years of age, so this was the decade we really shaped our opinions and tastes and passions in life. Unfortunately we were both too young to go out raving at the very start of the decade but we were bitten by the music from the very start; the Bristol movement, Portishead, Massive Attack and so on. I was just at home listening to my sister’s CDs in amazement.

Then towards the mid-90s, we were able to go out and buy records from Blackmarket and start DJing and actually take part in it. The jungle scene was absolutely everything to me. Going out to jungle raves, wearing head-to-toe Moschino and Versace, that whole rudeboy vibe was so important. You’d walk down the street and see someone wearing a Moschino jacket and Barker jeans and you’d be like ‘yes bruv, you’re jungle!’ and they’d be like ‘yes bruv!’ It was a real movement; it was inspiring, it was something we always wanted to be part of and we’re blessed to be part of it now. It was such a mad time; that feeling you’d get when you hear Andy C drop Sound In Motion on dub plate at The End. It makes my hairs stand up on end just talking about it, I want to regale you with so many stories of the time!

International is a massive highlight of the album. That Cutty Ranks sample is an instant headnod back to the jungle…

Thanks man, it’s a personal favourite for me. It’s also inspired by the 90s b-boy movement; hip-hop and the east coast. Those vocals are important; we’re ragamuffin and we’re international. We do this thing worldwide. As well as the badman jungle vibe, the track is also inspired by Nas’s Don. It’s a collection of influences for us and it’s also halfspeed, so the tracks is perfect for jungle and D&B sets. We’ve had some great feedback from D&B DJs already on it.

Let’s go further back; Deeper Devotion instantly recalls the 90s…

Yes man, we’re taking it back to 1991. Old jacking house with massive drums, 4am vibe, 90s hardcore: that must have been such an incredible time to be making this music. Everything was rough around the edges, no one was worried about the punchiest snares of the loudest bassline, it was just about creating vibes and bringing people together. We’re not known for 4/4 house tunes  but they had a huge influence on us, if we were tuned into them we wouldn’t have tuned into jungle. Deeper Devotion is all about those tunes that give everyone that special feeling; you’d be in the dance feeling the full impact and look over to complete stranger and have that knowing nod. You both implicitly know the score.

Is it harder to conjure up those knowing nods these days?

You’ll never experience what it was like for everyone to hear Ed Rush & Optical’s Wormhole for the first time again. You’ll never experience what it was like when everyone heard Midnight Request Line by Skream for the first time again. Those moments have happened. They will last the test of time, they have shaped what’s happened now, but it still happens. I have no doubt those knowing nods happen when the right game-changing tune has been dropped to fresh ears. Last night I played the new Baauer track, I’ve loved this kid’s stuff since he first came out, I know when I drop his stuff there’ll be that reaction out there on the floor. I might not be on that side of the dance with my hood up trying to catch like-minded peoples’ eyes but I know it’s still happening… Each time has its own different cultures, like dubplate culture in jungle, but the ethos is there. It has to be. How else do people react when they hear a brand new riddim?

There is no other way. Let’s flip from new riddim to legendary songwriter Nile Rodgers. Mad collaboration!

He’s such an inspiring guy. We had a gig in Ibiza and he just came up to us and said he was a big fan of ours. We thought ‘okay, cool!’ We had a nice chat and we thought that was it; just a cool chance meeting. Eight months later and he’s personally ringing our manager to work with us. Two months later we’re all in the studio and he’s like ‘let’s do it!’ He wouldn’t stop playing the guitar until we told him to get out! We locked some stuff down and four days later he was still sending ideas back to us, he’d been working on our stuff solidly, sending over more and more ideas. You couldn’t wish for a more collaborative, creative man to work with. He just loves making music. That’s the vibe we like. So surreal and very inspiring…

There’s a Soul II Soul and Unfinished Sympathy vibe to the track. Very understated. Not what you’d expect from a collaboration between the two of you…

That’s exactly it man. We didn’t want to make Get Lucky Part Two. No rehashing, no glory gunning. It wouldn’t have fit the album flavour. It worked out so well. Don’t get me wrong mate; we’ve got so many tracks on the computer that we made that day. Some of them do have that massive Chic sound but they’re tracks for the future. Who knows? This was the right track for this project; he loves it, we love it. You’re right, it is a bit of a curveball; people will see his name and expect something massive but it’s not. Not a curveball in the way you think ‘oh that’s a bit shit’ but a curveball in the sense of ‘oh, that’s a really nice piece of music’…

Nice. Talk to me about machines… What is the title Brand New Machine all about?

It means a lot of things. Just like our previous album titles. Chase & Status used to be me and Will; that was it. Now we’re a whole machine of people, we’ve got so many talented individuals working with us. Each one of them is a crucial cog in the machine. When we go on the road we’ve got two full tour buses, trucks and so on. There’s a massive machine that runs around us and makes stuff happen. We couldn’t do what we do without them.

Cool; a nice prop to the whole team. Let’s finish with something random… Give me your five favourite machines. NOW:

Oh bruv! Stich up! My family car, my iPhone, my laptop, wine fridges…. We’ve got an electric Gibson robot guitar, it’s got a synthesiser in it. Does that count as a machine?


Then there you go. My favourite machines…


Drum&BassArena Editor: Dave Jenkins has documented beats for over 15 years working with the likes of UKF, Mixmag, DJ Mag, iDJ, Bandcamp, Resident Advisor, Radio 1 Xtra and many more.