Five Minutes With Chroma
Following individual successes on Renegade Hardware, Critical and Symmetry to name but a few, Phobia, Sato and Tyrone converged in 2011 with their debut release on Coded Music and have since featured on RAM’s sister label, Program, as well as C.I.A and Commercial Suicide. Adam K and Chris D caught up with Phobia to talk us through the rise of the Newcastle-based Chroma!
You’ve all had various successes as solo artists, what led to the link up as a three-piece?
It first started with me and Sato deciding that we’d get some studio space together. We both had home studios and just thought that it would be easier to find a place and split the time. We collated all of our gear together and that was pretty much it, naturally being in the same space we started to work on a couple of projects together. Tyrone had been resident of his own night in Newcastle for a while so he got involved and we sent these tracks off without saying who any of us were as individuals, just to keep it as a blank canvas basically. We got them off to a handful of labels with of of them being Ram and that’s how we got linked with Program. I’d released a couple of tracks on my label, Coded Music, plus I actually act as an agent for Total Science which is where the C.I.A link came up.
So how does it work in the studio with all three of you in there?
Put it this way, we used to have an X-Box but that had to go! There’s always something to be getting on with and we’ve got plenty of equipment in terms of hardware and laptops, so it’s not a case of three of us crowding round a computer screen. The way it has fallen is that Tyrone will write a loop just to give us a simple idea, a couple of breaks and some bass sounds, and then we bring them into the studio and get working. A few of the bits are sporadic and straight from the studio, but generally we have a starting point.
Sato is massively musical and great with keys, chords and progressions etc. so I guess he’s really the leader in the studio. I work a lot on the mixdowns purely because I’ve been doing for so long, and Tyrone brings insane amounts of enthusiasm and energy, so the dynamic works really well. We’ve never sat down and listed our individual roles or anything like that but we all subconsciously know where our strengths are and just get on with it really. It gets a bit difficult when you’re all trying to write basslines, or drums so it’s good we can all get on with our own jobs.
Do you rotate responsibility for bookings or does it tend to be all or one of you?
Tyrone has the broadest mind when it comes to selecting tracks and playing out, so he is the one that represents us in terms of DJing. I’m married with a child now so I’ve got a lot of private commitments – if you play out for a night it literally swallows your whole weekend! Tyrone is a wicked DJ and plays a bit of everything, so it gives us a wider-appeal whereas if I was out playing I’d slap a load of heads-down, dirty, dark rollers on and that would be it!! So yeah as a trio, he’s definitely the one that represents us out on the dancefloors.
The new release, Intermission/Knock Knock, is very different to your own solo work but is unmistakeably C.I.A material! How did the release come about?
We wrote a bunch of tracks that had a certain dubby style to it. The C.I.A thing was actually done with something that we nicked off a Dennis Brown interview when he started singing at the end. We ended up finding some really cool vocals from various sources and put some tracks together with them in mind. You’ve got to bear in mind that I’m 35 now so when I got into the scene it was all about hardcore and jungle – even to this day I still listen to loads of it, I love it!
So I guess Intermission was really a response to what’s happening in drum & bass at the moment in that it’s all driven towards this clean, clinical, almost minimal style. So we thought we’d write something different with a proper old school break in it, no layering, some big rubbery vocals, and then couple that with some modern breakdowns. Knock Knock was something that we wrote purely with C.I.A in mind as we really wanted to do something for them.
The feedback has been really cool. It’s strange because there’s such a range of people playing it. I think it shows that that old school jungle vibe is still a major influence on so many people.
So what’s coming up for you guys, any cheeky exclusives you can throw our way?
Haha, yeah I probably shouldn’t but it’s been a safe interview… we’ve just remixed Whoonga which was a tune by Total Science and SPY. It’s all done but we’ve kept it under wraps until now. As for the future we’ve got the EP coming out on Program that we’ve done three tracks for, we’ve just had our Fabric Live mix done and dusted and have a couple of 12’’s coming out on Commercial Suicide fairly soon. Hopefully it will be a big year!