Chats in a Carpark with Chromatics
Car parks seem to be a comfortable place for Johnny Jewel to do interviews; he doesn’t really like doing them in front of anyone. Currently, the Vince Noir-like mastermind producer/multi-instrumentalist for Chromatics and the founder of Italians Do It Better record label is standing in an abandoned car park outside a city somewhere in Ohio. His band kicked him out of the car and have gone to find something to eat.
Chromatics’ third studio album, Kill for Love, was initially due in 2010. Dissatisfied with the original record, (“it was embarrassing, laughable,” Johnny told Pitchfork) Chromatics delayed its release for two years.
The build up of anticipation resulted in an explosion of hype when it was finally released in April this year. It was well worth the wait. Kill for Love is a highly sophisticated, 90-minute long conception of sleek, ominous dance pop, and minimal electronic ambience. With an influx of demand, the four-piece from Portland decided to stay very selective with opportunities to tour.
“We could be on tour for 400 days of the year,” he says, “but the way that I work is so meticulous and organic that I can’t really work while I’m on the road…being away from the studio is really productive as well as being in the studio all the time, but my heart is really in writing and producing, and if you travel too much you don’t get as much of a chance to do that.”
Johnny says he utilizes studio time as an opportunity to reflect, physically recover and allow for everything that happened on the road to be emotionally digested.
“That’s a really important part of our writing process,” he says, “if we’re on the road too much, we lose that and we just become exhausted.”
The band is set to travel to Australia in November for the Harvest festivals; pretty much the farthest away from home you can possibly get and they plan to take a little bit of time in between shows to reflect and absorb.
‘We really, really like Australia,” he says, “Glass Candy did a tour with Architecture in Helsinki in the US and that was sort of our crash-course with…Melbourne representatives… It was intense the way people were digesting the music in this really romantic way, which really spoke to me.” Chromatics fans should get excited because Johnny adds, “we’re working on getting as many sideshows as we can.”
The band has an extremely busy schedule in the lead up to November. After their tour of the US that will finish in September, they travel to Paris for the European installment of the Pitchfork festival, and throwing in a unique set for a couture fashion show in Paris, if you don’t mind.
“We’re making a special set just for that show,” he says, “[and] I imagine all of that will leak into what we bring to Australia.”
“There’s a great risk of electronic music becoming kind of sterile in a certain sense…and the way we keep it fresh is…we try to improvise as much as possible and let the songs constantly evolve.”
This or that with Johnny Jewel.
Day or night?
I love night, but I have a new hobby which is being in the sun, which is a new thing for me [laughs], but in general, you know, I was born at night and I’m always awake at night, that’s when I work and I like how everything shuts down. I like a lot of privacy, so, you know, nighttime is generally more private.
Love or friendship?
Love, definitely. Because I’m a really extreme person, I like all or nothing, you know, so I want everything from somebody.
Do you like songs that make you dance or songs that make you cry?
Oh, songs that make you cry for sure. If I had to choose, that’s what I would choose that for sure. But you know, dance songs can make you cry, too.
Music: job or way of life?
A way of life for sure. There is no other reason why we would still be independent and working so hard if it wasn’t a state of mind. But as a job? Yeah…that’s weird. I see bands, especially on the festival circuit, that they can’t stand each other, and they’re just there for the job, and that’s very depressing for me, especially because I’m a music lover.
Chromatics join Beck, Sigur Rós, Grizzly Bear, Ben Folds Five and more at the Harvest festivals. Tickets on sale now from http://harvestfestival.com.au/tickets