We Enter Sacred Ground: Sound Tracking
In a quest to uncover London’s alternative creative hub, Rooms caught up with the bands behind the freshest emerging sounds in our ever bustling music scene. Meet the artists…Chaplin
On melancholy, Charlie Chaplin and upcoming gigs… Suzanne Zhang talks to the South East London band Chaplin about their music and their influences.
Hello Chaplin! How are you doing? Could you tell us a bit about yourself? I hear you two are childhood friends above all. How did you guys start?
Hi Suzanne, thanks we’re well, only a bit cold – can’t believe that it is still snowing here at the end of March… Crazy!
Childhood friends, indeed. We’ve known each other for a really long time. I taught Dali how to tie his shoe laces when he was 4 or 5… That might give you an understanding of our friendship.
Looking back we started making music together in early 2000. Lots of songs, gigs, travels, break-ups. Later we decided to start a project with only the two of us. That was the beginning of Chaplin in 2011.
What is behind the name Chaplin? Is it a reference to Charlie Chaplin’s hats? You guys are often seen wearing bowler hats on your pictures.
There is quite an interesting story to that…Back in 2011 when we recorded our first EP we were looking for a band name and just couldn’t come up with anything (as Dave Grohl said in his keynote speech at SXSW) ‘finding a good band name is still the fuckin’ hardest part…’ Luckily our good friend Foy who recorded the EP with us said like from out of nowhere: ‘Why don’t you just call yourselves Chaplin?!’
He was right! At that time we were both reading Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography and the influence this book had on us and on the decisions we made at that time was huge.
We sold our belongings, emptied our flats and drove with our music equipment to London to start from scratch. That was definitely the second hardest bit after finding a good band name – or at least after finding a band name…
Your music seems to combine electronic pop and soul with melancholic and sentimental tones. Who are your major influences? I hear a lot of Depeche Mode and Radiohead inspiration!
We both grew up with a wild mix of influences. One of the reasons is our background. Dali’s parents are from the former Yugoslav Republic and I was born in Romania so we both grew up listening to some crazy, melancholic Balkan music while finding our own taste.
Depeche Mode and Radiohead are for sure major influences, but also people like Gil Scott-Heron, Stevie Wonder and John Frusciante just to name a few. It’s also not only the music that inspires us, it’s a lot about the personality, the story behind the music and the approach. That’s why Charlie Chaplin is a major influence as well.
You also take inspiration from artists with a softer tone, such as Yann Tiersen or Foy Vance. Are you willing to use xylophones, accordions and violins etc as well, as part of your tracks?
Sure! We’re open to everything when it comes to instruments and sounds, but picking the right ones is a different story. So whenever it feels like a song needs an accordion for example I’m sure we’re gonna use it.
Your music is extremely haunting, sentimental, and somewhat sad, even? In your Livingroom Session 1, you croon incessantly “My mother said ‘there will be days like these’, when my love is all over the floor”. Do you take inspiration from your own lives when writing the lyrics? Do you believe an artist should draw inspiration from their own presence or project experiences onto the world?
Music is a beautiful thing. What I love about it is that it feels/sounds different to you than it sounds to me. You know what I mean? We might feel the same if we listen to a song but… maybe we do not. I wouldn’t say that our music sounds sad. For me it sounds melancholic. That’s a very common feeling in music from Southeast Europe. It is really hard to explain if you haven’t grown up with it but there’s a good album by Goran Bregovic called ‘Tales and songs from weddings and funerals’. Title says everything, doesn’t it?
You played at the launch party of our issue 7, prior to releasing your 5-track EP, Momentaufnahme (translates as ‘snapshot in time’). It seems you are doing well overall; your video clip Controversy has even been featured on German television. Are you working on any new and exciting projects at the moment or just focusing on the ‘living room sessions’? (Livingroom session 2 Williamsburg came out on the 25.03.2013)
Oh yes, the launch party… that was good fun! Thanks for reminding me.
Last year was great and also this year things are going really well since we got back from our studio in Austria. We’re getting good feedback on the new recordings so we’re quite excited about the upcoming months.
We’ve got a couple of things we’re working on at the moment. First of all we’re planning to have some people around for our next “Living Room Session“ which is planned for the second half of April. It will be limited to 16 because of the size of our living room and another bit more technical thing…we’re gonna do the session through headphones so people will have to bring their own headphones to be able to listen to what we play. We’re quite excited about that to be honest.
At the same time we’re working on our live set to go on tour and play more frequently in the second half of the year.
Can we expect any live shows soon? I know you had some dates in the UK some time ago, but do you have anything soon?
The next gig will be in our living room and then we’re playing at the Strongroom Bar in Shoreditch on the 8th of May.
I know you guys decide the visuals of your video clips. How would you perform your music in a live setting? Would you include visuals or some other kind of medium to accompany the music?
We’re thinking about that quite a lot at the moment and to be honest I don’t know yet. Ask me in a month’s time and I might have an answer…so I’d better go now and do some work!
And finally, what is your favorite Charlie Chaplin film?
That’s a tough one………..
The Great Dictator (Dali)
City Lights (Pippo)
Photography by Juste Suminaite