JAKE ALDEN-FALCONER talks to drum and bass legends CHASE AND STATUS, about collaborating with the mainstream, life on tour, and the bright young things the experienced pair have their eye on.
Outside the Corn Exchange window it’s a thoroughly boring and British afternoon, and my small sticky table wobbles to the bass notes from the soundcheck onstage. Ten minutes pass before Will ‘Status’ Kennard arrives in a smart shirt and long coat, his blonde hair slicked back. He doesn’t look like your typical DnB DJ. Saul ‘Chase’ Milton soon follows, head down, speaking heatedly to his iPhone like an East End entrepreneur, throwing ‘fifty grand’ and ‘go for it’ around in the same sentence so openly I wonder if it’s for my benefit. He’s a busy man who enjoys the role.
I’ve come to conduct an in-your-face interview (accuse them of selling out and ask them when they’re collaborating with Justin Bieber), but their friendliness instantly disarms me. Off the phone Saul is surprisingly charismatic: “I like your shoes,” he starts approvingly, “Nice style.”
Softened, I’m worried; my game plan’s out the window and he’s more observant than I am. What shoes is he wearing?
Turns out they’ve just woken up, probably more due to a touring lifestyle than a rock’n’roll one, having arrived in Cambridge at 6.30am, and Saul delves into a breakfast-sized tub of ice-cream as we talk evolving genres and the new album. Status dismisses critic terms like post-dubstep and future garage as “all journalistic bollocks” describing C&S’s style as “Same as always man, just like Drum n Bass, Dubstep, you know what I mean? Hip-hop, Garage, that kind of stuff.”
Chase and Status’s latest single ‘Time’, released 2nd May
Friends since school, they act “like siblings. Or a very peculiar married couple.” They dropped out of Manchester University in the early ’90s to pursue their DJing dreams, but never saw it as a particularly big gamble: “It was just this is what we’re doing, this is what we have to do.” So they weren’t ‘too cool for school’? “Funnily enough,” Saul reassures me, “as you get older, it’s something you become more interested in. I spend a lot of time on buses and I’m always reading.”
As they dispense such pearls of wisdom, it suddenly strikes me that Chase & Status are actually quite old. They recount distant tales of dank hotels and European tours, along with unpublishable accounts of cold paella and broken doors. Punchlines of the kind: “So I run upstairs, go to his door. No answer. Kick it down to find him in there, with another guy, both with their pants, looking over at me all sheepish. So I’m like, ‘You lot. I don’t know or care what you’re doing, but you gotta get me a FUCKing cab outta here!”‘
These days they’re more backstage producers than edgy new kids: “I feel old all the time now,” Saul confesses. No longer the trackies and Reebok classics of the ’90s (“That’s how we used to roll back then” says Saul), but shirts and Barbour jackets: they think youngsters James Blake and Jamie XX are “wicked and would love to collaborate”, but yet they haven’t heard Jamie’s new album: it doesn’t add up. Perhaps they’ve lost touch with their more underground roots; but then with Rihanna and Jay-Z fighting over your material, who wouldn’t?
Still, C&S remain dismissive of accusations of selling out: “If people wanna hate on people who get successful, that’s cool. A few mainstream incidents won’t change anything.” Some ‘purists’ are just too possessive: “To them it’s like their secret. We’re telling their secret to the world… You might come home and your mum says “Ah, I like that Chase and Status tune!” and you’re like, “fuck Chase & Status ‘cos my mum likes them!”‘
I tell them that happened to me last week. They say “that’s cool:” how has Chase and Status made my mum cooler than me?