Chroma Interview & Guest Mix (CIA Records)

CIAQS008 is hot off the press those of you that may be unaware, and the Break remix of ‘Intermission’ has been doing the rounds for a while now and is a firm favourite in the IR team! We’ve always followed the lads and really rated their output. For those who don’t know, they’ve released a fair amount of music on some of the top labels in the scene including the likes of Commercial Suicide, CIA, Program and Renegade Hardware to name just a few. Here’s what the guys had to say when we caught up with them last week….

Yo guys, thanks for taking the time to speak with us…. Could you introduce yourselves. So who’s actually involved in Chroma?

Phobia, Sato and Tyrone. The Chroma project is built around the three of us being friends first and foremost. Doing Chroma gives us time together in the studio, approximately 10% of which is productive. We all live in the Newcastle area and got to know each other through the scene up here which is a fairly close community. As we became closer friends it was natural progression to start producing together. Phobia and Sato have been long term friends and have had several collab releases under their solo alias’. Around 2011 Tyrone started sending us tunes and we decided instead of shoehorning 3 names on a collab we would start an alias – some of the names we came up with we’re shockingly bad, predominantly down to Sato’s vivid imagination. What have you guys been up to as of late?

After we finished off the EP we had a bit of time off over Christmas. We’ve mainly been djing and making some upgrades in the studio (converted from PC to Mac and updated from Cubase 5 to 8). We’ve been back in the studio now for the past four weeks and have got a couple of new things on the go which are sounding really good. Our time in the studio is pretty restricted to one evening a week due to work/family commitments, hence our output can be limited. However, we seem to be working fairly efficiently and we’re happy with our output at the moment.

I know you are all busy working on solo material as well as the Chroma stuff. How do you guys juggle the studio time?

Phobia and Sato both have kids so don’t have much time to spend on solo stuff at the moment (Sato’s current side-project involves re-tuning a guitar so he can learn to play the banjo). Tyrone on the other hand has been working hard on some solo stuff. He has also been working with close friend Jubei on a follow up to the release of ‘Out of Sight’ on Jubei’s ‘True Form’ EP. As a group we tend to come together once a week either Friday or Saturday evening which is what works best for us given our personal commitments. The down side of this is we spend far too much time catching up and talking crap before we get any music done.

We don’t task ourselves or set ourselves targets, we write music because we enjoy the process and get to hang out. We don’t particularly care about getting loads of music out, we’re more interested in having fun (and a takeaway) in the studio. We are however quite picky on what we put out which we feel is important when you have a limited output. Not every tune we finish see’s the light of day which we’re sometimes quite glad of. There’s been a few we’ve listened back to and pissed ourselves laughing thinking “WTF was that? “. We were once dared by a mate to sample one of Little Mix doing a Jamaican accent and fit it in a tune. Luckily that one never slipped off the hard drive but sometimes comes out when morale is low.

Your latest EP has just landed on CIA with a huge break remix of a previous track ‘Intermission’. How did the EP come around & what made you choose break for the remix?

We’ve always been big fans of CIA and Total Science since the early days. We often take inspiration from that sound so we feel our tunes fit well on the label. We were really happy when we submitted our first 12″ (Intermission/Knock Knock) and they offered to put it out. The lads asked us if we would do an EP for them and we of course said yes. The original idea was to come with 3 new tunes and get a remix done of intermission as that is a firm favourite of all the tracks we have written.

We wanted to cover a subtle yet broad spectrum of the styles we write. When it came to getting the remix done we all said Break would be suited for Intermission. We all love the music that Break makes and his style is in keeping with the rest of the EP so he was the natural choice really. For Sato it has a nice circularity too as Break remixed his first release on Ingredients.

What have you guys got planned for 2016. Any other releases in the pipeline? Any gigs over the coming months?

We’ve got a track ‘Deja Vu’ forthcoming on the new CIA compilation album, we’ve got some new material almost finished and a couple of things we’ve been testing recently which we are happy with. Gigs wise we are back playing Soul in Motion this week which we are really looking forward to, then a couple more UK/EU over the coming months.

So we want to run through your process for making tracks. Could you give us a rundown on your studio? Any particular favourite plug ins or hardware?

We tend to work in 1 of 2 ways. All 3 of us will be in the studio and we will discuss the style of track we want to go for, then build it up from the drums. Inevitably the track goes in a completely different direction than the one we set out in but then that is all part of the fun of it. Alternatively one of us will come with a solo idea and we will add elements in the studio, then arrange together. Our studio started as a mix of Phobia and Sato’s hardware which has been gradually (rapidly) added to over the past few years. Tyrone moved in about 4 years ago and brought all his gear so the studio is now fairly snug once you get us 3 in there! We have quite a few analogue synths (Pro-One, Juno 106, Oberheim Matrix, Korg Z1, MS-20 to name a few) which is really nice and is a big part of our sound.

Sato doesn’t like the sound of soft-samplers and so bought an EMU last year. The sound of the EP is heavily coloured by the sound of the EMU – hence ‘Hodrull’. Plug ins wise, since we moved over to Mac we haven’t really installed many and have just been pulling it back to the basics/outboard. We are however big fans of the FabFilter stuff and use Cytomic’s ‘The Glue’ on our drum bus in nearly all our tunes. We used the UAD stuff quite a bit too prior to moving to Mac, however we still need to change our DSP to something Mac compatible as our current UAD card is in a box collecting dust. Outboard, we often run our drums through an SPL Dynamaxx compressor and always have an FMR RNC on our master bus which we record back in from. We also went through a phase of collecting guitar pedals so we like to run elements through those and resample into the Emu e6400.

Could you each give us a favourite release from last year? Always a hard one considering the high output.

Tyrone – Ivy Lab – 20 Questions

Sato – Break – Simpler Times LP

Phobia – Noisia & The Upbeats – Dead Limit

Could you give me an insight into artists you guys are feeling at the moment?

(Tyrone) Ivy Lab are on another level for me. I recently heard there remix of Glimpse whilst I was driving and had to turn the radio off, pull over and replay it. LSB is making some great music and Klax are knocking out some really innovative stuff too. (Phobia) Like Ben, I think Ivy Lab are wicked at the moment, I love Mefjus’ output on the more techy side of things, Klax, Skeptical, Perez – the list goes on there’s some wicked music at the moment.

What do you guys get up to when you’re not in the studio?

Sato spends most of his free time exercising to offset the copious quantities of food he eats. When he’s not being that person on Twitter posting pictures of food he can be found in the gym, kitchen or playing 5-ASide. He also has an unhealthy habit of turning up at the studio following a game of squash, un-showered, wearing horrifically tight shorts. Tyrone is a keen rugby player and trains/travels a lot with that. As the only member of Chroma without kids, his social life tends to be slightly more ‘outgoing’ but we won’t discuss that here. Phobia co owns the Evolution Artists agency so is busy with that from day to day, what with that, a family and making sure that we all get a long in the studio there’s not a lot of time for anything else.

We’re honoured to have you guys lay us down a guest mix. Was there a particular direction you wanted to go when recording the mix?

We’re all big fans of rollers, nothing clever and fancy, just straight up rolling tunes so that’s the direction we like all our mixes to go. We wanted to fit in some classics along with some new exclusive stuff, some by us, some by others, some deep and some a bit deeper. .

Any last shout outs?

Thanks to the Total Science lads for putting out the EP and shouts to Freddie for putting up with us being late with the guest mix! ! Also a big thanks to everyone who has supported our music so far, we’re looking forward to getting some new stuff to you soon!

Article Words: Nick & Jamco