When Chordblossom came into existence, it was always our aim to shine a spotlight on the artists and bands that make up the music scene in Northern Ireland. We’ve been doing it for over ten years now and one of our favourite methods is our Introducing feature.
Put the kettle on, curl up on your sofa and and join us for a quickfire Q&A with some of our favourite new musicians. Who knows, maybe you’ll even discover your new favourite artists.
This iteration of Introducing features the musical talents of Chalk who are gearing up to release more new music after a successful 2022. Ross from the band was happy to share some insights into their journey so far and their future plans.
What was the inspiration behind your artist name?
There wasn’t an inspiration other than we just liked the look of the word a lot. We were under a different band name for ages but never released any music so we felt a change was needed once we wrote all the music. We love one word band names so we just went to a random word generator website and the one that stood out the most was Chalk – it was www.randomwordgenerator.com for anyone interested.
You released Velodrome at the end of 2022. How did it come about and what does it mean to you?
The word Velodrome had been a song title idea for around 2 years and just looking at the word by itself I wanted the music to sound as big as possible. I had this loop of a bass riff and the Logic Pro X automatic drummer (shout-out to Kyle) that I used to play to the band all the time and they loved it. It was on the shelf for awhile until I cranked the BPM up and added a breakbeat loop which is when the idea began to come together.
I’d write a few lines and begin to start recording nonsense to work out the vocal. Luke and Ben would come in and we’d work out the lyrical content together. It ended being from the perspective of someone facing death, sickness and regrets in life all at once and how the mind travels throughout that experience. The track does have some personal meaning to it and I would say each of us holds our meanings towards it.
Have you any more releases or studio time lined up for later in the year?
We have 3 more singles coming out over the next 6 months that will be from our EP which is out in May 2023. We hope to jump back into the studio next year again and begin work on the next project.
Tell us about your song writing process.
I usually open Logic and begin creating sounds with the guitar, bass or synth without the pressure of saying to myself “This is going to be a new song” but instead make whatever I feel like on the day. I love ambient and drone music so sometimes I’d spend time working on sounds used in that field as a sketchbook to try new techniques and sounds that I employ in the music of Chalk.
There’s a big folder of 30 second ideas I have that I’ll jump into sometimes and see if today’s the day I finish it which isn’t very often – I guess it’s down to how I’m feeling that day and what response I give towards the music. I used to get so obsessed with one idea and find it hard to move on but I’ve learnt to spend time away and come back to them with a fresh perspective maybe after 1 hour or even a week being away from it.
Who were your favourite artists/bands growing up? Have your influences changed over time?
My first favourite band was the Red Hot Chili Peppers when I was around 5 years old. It was my earliest memory of music dancing around to ‘By the Way’. Growing up I also got a healthy dose of The Clash, Chumbawamba & The Specials in our house, eventually getting my own iPod Nano. I think my most played song was a toss up between Hot for Teacher by Van Halen or Call on Me by Eric Prydz.
In my teens, Childish Gambino’s album ‘Because the Internet’ was huge for me as it was one of the first full albums I got into and made me turn more towards albums instead of just singles. I remember looking up NME’s Best albums of all time and wanting to listen to every single of them. I got heavily into The Smiths and became obsessed with Johnny Marr’s guitar work which led to learning how to play guitar.
I’d say the influence on Chalk’s music does stem from the younger appreciation of heavy electronica and hard rock. I love the industrial sounds and gothic aesthetic in the early 80s that The Birthday Party / Bad Seeds had with Rowland S Howard and Blixa Bargeld. The debut album Silence Yourself by Savages really propelled me towards that direction which also allowed me to find more contemporary acts like Preoccupations, Protomartyr & Gilla Band.
The 2022 NI Music Prize has just concluded, what’s been your favourite album and single released this year?
Personally my favourite single and album are from the same artist this year, and that’s Robocobra Quartet with ‘Wellness’ and ‘Living Isn’t Easy’. The tracklist goes down a treat live, too. Love those guys, will be rooting for them.
If you weren’t a musician, what line of work would we find you in?
I’d probably be teaching or something… A modern languages teacher, why not! I feel like you can have a huge impact on people’s lives in a role like that.
If you could collaborate with one artist or band from NI, who would it be and why?
Hannah Peel. We’re big fans of hers and we’re continuously fascinated by electronic music, it’s something we would like to explore more intensely in our own music so it’d be great to have her involved. Fir Wave was just so cinematic, I loved that album.
It is intensely difficult to be successful in the music industry. What does NI need to do to invest in/develop to boost your chances?
I feel like Northern Ireland, or at least Belfast, could perhaps make more of an effort to fill up empty spaces, rooms and buildings to be used for rehearsal spaces or studio spaces of some kind. It was tricky early doors for us to find a rehearsal space that worked for a wide variety of reasons, and having a reasonable space is such a crucial part of maximising the potential your music or your art can have.
What does success look like for you?
Success for us is having audiences all over Ireland, the UK and the rest of Europe really feel and experience our live show both sonically and visually moving forward. The visual side means a great deal to us, and we’re putting in hard work to achieve this goal and make the gigs (and music videos) as memorable as possible.
We want to continue to build on the impact we’ve had with ‘Them’ and ‘Velodrome’, and we really look forward to more releases as we move towards our debut EP. People simply enjoying our music and reaching out to us about it is a success in itself for us.
Where and when can we next catch you live?
We are going out on tour including an appearance at the Great Escape in Brighton before running to NI to headline the Black Box on 19 May 2023.
If you enjoyed this feature and fancy discovering some more new artists, we suggest you jump on over to our archive of Introducing pieces.
If you are a band or musician based in Northern Ireland interested in taking part in our Introducing feature, we recommend submitting new music to us via our Contact page and if we enjoy it, you’ll no doubt hear from us.