Interview with Chapel Club

Chapel Club, a Synthpop band from London has just released their second album Good Together and begin their UK tour on 3 June at The Temple in Birmingham. Comprising of Lewis Bowman, Rich Mitchell, Liam Arklie, Michael Hibbert and Alex Parry, they combine electronically produced notes with echoing vocals, which resonates to create mesmerising sounds with intimate lyrics. Aesthetica spoke to Chapel Club to find out more about their influences and what we can expect to hear from them in the future.

A: Who or what are the biggest influences on your song writing?

CC: Writing doesn’t come that easy to me, I have to put aside a lot of time in order to get into the right ‘headspace’, then I’ll write very quickly over the course of a week or two and then totally burn out and have to do something else for a while. In terms of influence I’d say my environment is probably the biggest factor, that and collaboration. I’m a social person, I like the way personality and past experience shapes creative output, I like the way every individual will look at something from a slightly different angle, or interpret a lyric or a song differently. It’s almost like dating, it forces you to be at your best and encourages you to inhabit that space in your head, that overlap between the reality of who you are and the alter ego, the character that enables you to detach and channel something that isn’t normally attainable. I think it helps to be emotionally immature.

A: What prompted the stylistic shift between your first and second album and in particular the use of analogue synths?

CC: I think subconsciously I was sick of playing guitar; we didn’t sit down and discuss how we were going to approach the album it just happened very naturally. I was listening to a lot of late 70’s early 80’s House and Disco, you know, Arthur Russell, Mr Fingers, Arthur Baker stuff and so I bought a couple of old synths and was hooked. My original plan was to use them for another project but I realised that the sounds were much more suited to Lewis’ voice than guitar. One thing that no one has picked up on is the use of samples on the album; I think this is just as important as the introduction of analogue synthesis. Sleep Alone for example and there were two songs that didn’t make the album that were all sample based and a lot of the new material we’re writing is sample heavy.

A: Was recording in LA an inspiration or a distraction?

CC: A total inspiration! I’ve always found recording in London very difficult, I struggle with the idea that you have to be creative within a certain time frame, then you get the tube home and resume a normal life for an evening then start again the next day. As I’ve already mentioned environment is a huge influence for me so I wanted to create the perfect environment for us. We found a house, a producer in Tom Biller who helped us build a rudimentary recording set-up and we stayed there for two months and made an album. Half the album was written in that house and usually late at night while high on mushrooms or weed, something we’ve never really tried before. Most of the takes on the album were cut live and most were recorded without our knowledge. Tom fooled us into thinking they were scratch takes and in our relaxed state we played almost perfectly. There’s still a few mistakes on the album, in fact I was listening to Just Kids the other day and noticed a really obvious bum note on the vibes towards the end…it’s probably my favourite part of the whole song.

A: Studio or live; which do you consider to be your true home?

CC: I’m far more comfortable in the studio. I feel that’s where you can be truly creative, the studio is an instrument and once you master it the possibilities are endless. I’ve become far more interested in the process over the last year so would like to spend some time working in a studio when/if the band takes a break.

A: What are you listening to at the moment?

CC: A lot of hip hop stuff, Madlib, Dilla, Karriem Riggins, Flying Lotus, Doom, Dam Funk … the new Toro Y Moi album is amazing, as is the Foxygen album. I’ve been DJing a bit recently which has renewed my interest in house and garage music. People like Julio Bashmore, Shadow Child, Joe and LV and Okmalumkoolkat are doing some great things right now. Some of the new songs we’ve been writing have taken elements of this kinda music, the repetitive nature, gradual lifts etc.

A: What are you plans for the remainder of 2013?

CC: I should imagine we’ll spend most of the year promoting Good Together along with demoing songs for the next album. We’re looking for a space now so we can start building a studio as I think we’re going to produce the next album ourselves.

Words: Matt Swain