Monday, 28 May 2012

Tantrum exclusive : CHESTER FRENCH

With a controversial new music video, Black Girls, currently going viral on the internet and a new sound that has had plenty of ears pricking up all over the music industry, we thought it was about time for us to talk to the lads behind Chester French and find out what makes them tick.

From their roots as Harvard graduates to working with Beyonce’s sister, Solange, we get all the gossip on on these American indie-pop boys.

You both studied at Harvard, what made you decide to go into music instead?
Max: Harvard makes you pay money and asks you to leave after four years.  It was time for our backup plan.
D.A.: I just thought that it would make for a better life than the other jobs I foresaw.

What is is about music that you find so captivating?
Max: I think Insane Clown Posse put it best: "music is magic, pure and clean/you can feel it and hear it but it can't be seen."
D.A.: I think it's one of the few mediums in which people have been able to create things more beautiful than nature. That's hard!

The single ‘Black Girls’ is about lust, what is it about black girls that drives you crazy?
Max: To me the song is more about interracial relationships than about lust.  There is a song on our album called "Drop" that has a more erotic and lustful disposition if you're interested in what drives us.
D.A.: I agree with Max. "Black Girls," and the video, certainly touch on sex but our goal was really to talk about love. This isn't meant as a heroic gesture of any kind, but I'm in an interracial relationship and still find that it is stigmatized in subtle and overt ways. I find
women of all shades beautiful, and though everyone has instincts of their own about what's more or less appealing aesthetically, sexiness largely emanates for me from a girl's personality.

The video for your current single ‘Black Girls’ is rather provocative, what was the inspiration behind it?
Max: It was inspired by our song "Black Girls."
D.A.: We wanted to depict love that crossed peoples' mental boxes.

The video also features two woman as the couple of interest, what was
the message you wanted to convey with this?
Max: It's ok to love whomever you like!
D.A.: We wanted to push people to look at love that violated multiple norms. The song is nominally about black women, but the spirit behind it is one of empathy and empowerment directed at any mature love that society outcasts. I feel strongly, also, that people wouldn't have found this offensive and that youtube would never have age-restricted it were it featuring a heterosexual couple.

You worked with the fashion photographer Francesco Carrozzini on the video, what was it about his work that made you pick him?
Max: We've done a few photo shoots with Francesco in the past, all of which yielded conspicuously great photographs as well as excellent hangouts.
D.A.: Francesco also knows how to convey simple and clean visual ideas. There wasn't a lot of margin for error here.

With the new single, is there an album in the pipelines?
Max: Yes. I dare say it should come out this June. Preorders, our next single, and some things should be available this week at

As an American band, what draws you to the English music industry?
Max: For such a small country, you guys have created an enormous wealth of amazing and inspiring records.
D.A.: Agreed!
You’ve worked with the likes of Pharrell, Janelle Monae and Solange, who else would you love to collaborate with?

Max: I want or collaborate with any and all musicians over 50 and the Flaming Lips.
D.A.: I agree. I think both of us are far more excited by masterful musicians than we are by trendy or popular ones, though sometimes they are coincidental.

Where would you like Chester French to be in ten years?

Max: I want to have a bigger studio.
D.A.: I'd like people to still be listening to our work. Even just a few people.

Interview by Robyn Lynch
image via Chester French. Special thanks to the Chester French boys, Davida Williams & Dana Boulos.

check out the chester french website here, and follow them on facebook / twitter too!