A drum & bass duo keeps the attitude light and the breaks heavy.
Chase & Status’ debut album, last October’s More Than A lot, showed the drum & bass DJ/production duo moving effortlessly between 170bpm tear-outs, dubstep, and pop (“Against All Odds,” a collaboration with MC Kano, is all Ronson-esque horns and big uprocking breaks). Blissfully¬—and this is big—they’ve also managed to avoid the downtempo clunkers and boring “beatz” segues that plague most D&B artist albums.
More Than A lot is more fun than serious, a trait Saul “Chase” Milton and Will “Status” Kennard seem to share. They’ve got no shortage of tour stories—a swan smashing into their windshield on the way home from a gig; getting thrown out of an L.A. rave, then having to beg their way back in—and they love SNL-affiliated joke band The Lonely Island (perhaps because they resemble Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone). Kennard, 28, says he is addicted to Starbucks and obsessed with “golf, football, and boat shoes, although probably not in that order.”
Though these pursuits sound tame, Chase & Status are musically unpredictable. They’ve collaborated with R&B vocalist Jenna G, rapper Plan B, and dancehall’s Capleton, backing them with big-sounding breaks and flawless production that doesn’t get too techy or sci-fi. More Than Alot contains many surprises, including the guitar intro of “Pieces,” the Indian-flavored dubstep anthem “Eastern Jam,” and “Running,” which starts off as an ’80s electro boy-band number only to turn into a heavy bass wobbler.
“The technical skills needed to make drum & bass are second to none and the attention to detail and mixdowns are at such a high level that once you’ve got the hang of making it you can pretty much turn your hand to any other genre,” explains Milton, and Kennard concurs. “Drum & bass has taught us a lot [about] how to fill out and balance frequencies to get that sonic energy you need with dance music.”
Though they’re Top 10 in the U.K. charts and getting regular spins on BBC, success didn’t happen overnight. Milton and Kennard met as 17-year-old jungle ravers in London. “We would talk endlessly about tunes and wanting to be DJs,” recalls Kennard. In the early 2000s, the pair went away to university together in Manchester, where they “got to grips with the world of production.” Early releases on Zinc’s Bingo Beats and Fresh’s Breakbeat Kaos label previewed the duo’s hard, bouncy style, but things really started moving in 2007, when they linked up with Andy C’s anthem-generating Ram Records. To this day, Chase & Status still have far fewer 12”s out than most drum & bass artists but they are hugely critical of their own work. “We'd rather have less tunes out there but all of a higher standard rather than flooding the market with a load of average music,” explains Milton.
For now, their DJ calendar is too busy to worry about holing up in the studio tweaking amens and arguing over Milton’s messiness. But don’t be surprised if the next few years nets this pair mainstream pop production gigs or another long-player. “For us, it's all about albums,” says Milton. “It’s them that sets you apart as an artist. Also, you can’t take people on a journey through a collection of singles.”