Future Yard – 06-07
Black Country four-piece CHARTREUSE visit Birkenhead on a socially distanced mini tour of the UK this month. The jazz-infused indie folk troupe have been winning admirers since their 2019 debut EP Even Free Money Doesn’t Get Me Out Of Bed introduced listeners to a laid back and intimate sound which draws comparisons to King Krule and The National. Their weighty tracks allure audiences with the twin vocals of Harriet Wilson and Michael Wagstaff providing the perfect foil to textured and spacey compositions. From the road, Harriet and Michael spoke to Shannon Garner about returning to the live arena and the inspirations behind their songwriting.
How does it feel to be on an actual stage again rather than doing performances via stream?
Harriet: I love seeing real people. It’s nerve-racking to start with because these people are literally in front of you just staring at you, socially distanced of course, but it’s been so nice to be near people again and have proper conversations. I think we all forgot how to talk after a while and being back on stage, back in the venues, we feel alive again.
Michael: It feels good to play again. We’re playing a lot of new songs this time around and testing songs we’ve never played live before.
H: It’s exciting to be back on the road, back to where we were.
When did you begin playing/writing music and what inspired you to take on this career? I read somewhere that you guys had been friends in your teens. Why have you only recently started off as a band?
H: We’ve actually been a band for seven years but we only recently started putting our music out there. Perry and I were childhood friends and then Mike and Rory are brothers. We properly started the band in 2014 when we met in college but just waited a long time to release music. We waited because it didn’t feel like the right time to release anything.
M: We did want to release stuff a bit earlier but it didn’t sound that good. Now that we’ve found the right producer, the right songs, and the right time, we’re happy with our journey so far.
Where do you get your inspiration from for your music and is there an overriding influence?
H: They’re all different I suppose. I’d say each song needs a different influence and they all work really differently in terms of the way we write and produce them. Some do come out quicker than others, some taking only an hour or something. That’s very rare though, it’s like one in thirty songs where that happens.
M: We take our influence from anywhere really. Sometimes I will go off and write by myself whereas sometimes we make the music first then go off in pairs to write some lyrics. It just builds up over time and depends on the conditions of how the songs being made. One of the main influences for me has been lockdown because when we were in it, I wasn’t writing anything. As soon as we could get out and about more, just seeing faces, talking to people, and overhearing conversations gets me creatively filled.
Did you find that lockdown impacted your creativity positively or negatively overall?
H: I’d say both. Negative in the way we weren’t together playing shows or writing music which was a huge change for us because we work best when in a room together to finish songs off and then positive because we made an instrumental EP [Relaxation Tape For Nobodies] which we probably wouldn’t have done out of lockdown. We recorded separately in our houses then sent to someone else for them to carry on etc. It was completely different to anything we had done before with it being instrumental and we got to make something we’re very proud of. I think we made the best of lockdown.
Now that you can perform again and be together, has performing together come back naturally, or has it been something you have had to adjust to again after such a long time?
M: We’ve practised quite a lot to be fair and we are a band that feels the nerves quite a bit, but after playing a show yesterday, I think we all feel like we are back to normal.
Is there anything you do before a show to calm yourselves down/to deal with the nerves? A tradition/pre-show ritual maybe?
H: Honestly, not really. I guess just being around each other before the show naturally calms us down.
M: Turning up to the venue on time, setting up, and having a nice smooth soundcheck works. Even having a little bit of spare time before the show is relaxing. Like, when you’re thrown into a venue and it’s all chaotic, nothing’s working, there’s technical difficulties, that’s when the stress and nerves kick in so it’s just finding balance in those experiences to settle yourself down. It’s little things like that which really throw you off balance but that’s not happened on this tour yet.
Why is music important to you?
H: Music just becomes part of your life, especially when you do it for so long. It becomes the easiest way to express yourself as cliché as that sounds. It lets you express yourself and it’s fun. It keeps your mind going and lets you figure stuff out. When you get to the end of a song, there’s nothing more gratifying knowing that you’ve produced it completely yourselves and it’s something that hasn’t been heard before.
Do you have any advice to give to other emerging artists, or for anyone considering sharing their music/taking on a more creative career path?
H: I think the only piece of advice I can give is to work as hard as you can. If you don’t put in the work, you won’t get anywhere and that’s something we live by in general. You have to keep working at it. One piece of advice we were given was just blag it. If you act and look like you know what you’re doing, you’ll be fine.
M: Also, make sure to take your time. Have time to read, watch films, go out with your friends, go and see some art, just constantly refill your creative cut whenever you can. Don’t sit and stare at a screen for too long.
Is there anything new in the works that you can tell us about?
H: We actually just recorded something that will start trickling out in the next few months! We’re really excited to get new music out there and share it with people.
Chartreuse play Future Yard on Tuesday 6th July. Support on the night come from Memorial and Astles.