Sydney blues/soul band Chich, is bringing back authenticity to music, having just recorded their debut album live similar to the styles of the 60's and 70's. Infusing soulful vocals with elements of rock ‘n’ roll, blues and jazz, ‘I’m Alive’ is a collection of songs Chich has written. Forming the band from an independent music showcase, Chich is set to educate us on classic soul and blue with plans for another EP due to drop towards the end of the year.
We talk to lead singer, Chich on the band's writing and recording process, the inspiration they had for a 60's and 70's record, as well as what we can expect from the debut album launch at Newtown’s, The Vanguard on 31st of August. Adam Lunn writes.
Tell us a little about ‘I’m Alive’ and what made you record live?
'I'm Alive' is our debut record. It's a collection of songs I've written over the last few years. It floats between soul, modern blues and has some jazz elements.
I think recording live is at the heart of soul. The wonderful soul records of the 60's and 70's that were recorded live, sounded great and were perfect despite their imperfections. Today, technology for recording musicians has never been so sophisticated but I think we’ve forgotten something important along the way. Look, I think technology is great and can have an important role in creating music but music isn’t always about technical perfection. Our whole thing is that the truest music is recorded when the engineer sets the microphones and just lets the tape roll, then we pick the best, most vibe-y take. Sure there might be mistakes, but fabricated perfection shouldn’t always be the goal, great sounding tracks where you can sense the feeling of the musicians in the room is what’s important to us.
Tell us a little bit about the band. How did you guys link up?
Well, I met Simon (Simon Morel, guitar) through his wife the singer Amanda Easton. Together they ran 'PopTarts', an independent music showcase in the inner west of Sydney. We played as a duo here and there over the years and I always love playing with him. He’s got great feel and ideas, and we both just have a ball playing together. So when the time was right, we thought band. My cousin knew Brad (Brad James, Drums) and Simon had played with Yann (Yann Charavel, bass) on another project. We got together, and it all just fit. I'm loving the band! There's way less pressure on me playing guitar, so I’m happy just not strumming sometimes. This way I can really listen to the band, relax and get my soul mojo going. Even though I still find playing solo fun here and there, the power and energy you get when playing with musicians you also love hanging with, can’t be beaten.
What has influenced the styles you guys have explored on the album?
I love real sounding music, music that hasn’t been complicated. I’m influenced by any great music, so I could go on for days, but I’ll keep it simple for your sake and mine. My soul influences are Bill Withers, Otis, Donny Hathaway, Curtis Mayfield, the golden age of soul. I love blues artists like Albert King, T-Bone Walker, Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, plus you can’t forget Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Rodriguez, Tim Buckley. I’m finding it hard to hold back but you get the idea. There’s modern stuff I like too, The Rubens and Allen Stone for example. We just take what we love, put our spin on it and try and make it our own.
Tell us a bit about your writing process. Does the band contribute?
Well on this record Simon helped with arrangements and putting together counter melodic parts, but the actual lyric and song-writing was down to me. I also had a great producer, Michael Carpenter. The string (Helen Grimley) and horn (Simon Wolnizer) arrangers were a great part of the record too. We're planning to record an EP later in the year, which will feature some band written songs. This time we will be going all the way, playing live and recording at a fully analogue studio. I don’t see myself as an analogue purist, any style of recording is great if the product is good, but it will be great fun to really go for that sound.
What inspires you about 60's and 70's soul singers and music?
The 'truth' in it. When you listen to those songs you really believe the singer and you feel like they’re singing to you. People forget that just like now there were both good and bad tunes but the good stuff was special. Whatever the subject, be it politics, like “Ball of Confusion”, love, like” Let's Stay Together”, family, like “Grandma's Hands”, or sex, like “use me’ you can really feel the soul in it.
What do you guys think about soul and blues music right now?
I feel like the 'soul' tag has been hijacked a bit. The term soul is thrown around a lot to describe music because soul equals cool. If the music comes from the heart it is soul, but there seems to be more vocal gymnastics than heart in a lot of current 'soul' music . Plus, everyone seems to need to be naked. Who needs internet porn when you’ve got music video clips!
We'd like to think of ourselves as 'Soul Revivalists' like Paolo Nutini, Sharon Jones, Allen Stone, even Adele. I guess that is all part of recording it live, all together in a room thing. We want that energy captured, that moment recorded. We'd like to bring back old school soul and add our own twist.
The debut album, "I'm Alive" will be released on 31st of August at The Vanguard, Newtown, Sydney. Tell us what we can expect on the night?
Well we are actually going to try something new for us. We are recording the show and offering it as a free mp3 to everyone that has come along. We're thinking of releasing it later as a live album too. As for the show itself, we will be playing a 90 minute set. We are delighted to be joined by special guests, Goodchild.
Tickets for the show are available at the Vanguard website. We love the feel of The Vanguard, it is a great venue. It suits our style. In addition to standard door entry, the venue also offers dinner plus show deals too, details are on their website.
What’s next for Chich and the band?
After the launch we are going to be continuing our residency at Batch Brewing Co in Marrickville. We've also booked some studio time later this year to record an EP of new songs. Writing with the guys will be a blast, and putting it on tape even better. We just want to get out there and play, we've enjoyed the festivals we've played at and would love to do more of that too.
What stimulates your soul?
Where do I start? Writing, playing live, recording. Love, friendships, relationships, politics. In general life and feeling Alive! Ha, see what I did there? At least I try and do it with soul.
Want to hear more?
Don't miss Chich perform at The Vanguard on the 31st August. Purchase tickets here.