Chase Atlantic are on a mission to put Cairns, Australia on the map. Despite Cairns being better known as ‘the gateway to the great barrier reef’ rather than for its music scene, these boys are determined that Cairns becomes a household name. Whether or not this will be achieved is still to be seen, however Chase Atlantic have already made a name for themselves. Famous for their unique blend of woozy trap and R&B, Chase Atlantic have an impressive reputation for fearless experimentation and innate melodic inclinations. When I catch up with Mitchel Cave, 1/3 of the trio, the line is pretty crackly, and he’s just woken up. We have a great chat anyway.
Mitchel is speaking to me from inside his LA home, the first space all the three boys have shared together, aside from a tour bus that is. “We’re used to living together in close quarters on the road” Mitchel tells me, “but it’s nicer having your own room rather than just your own bunk.” The boys must currently hold some kind of record, having spent a total of 18 months straight on the road prior to the emergence of COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdown. Mitchel seems excited about finally making a home for the group, “We went to IKEA and built everything ourselves – it’s the closest thing to a home that we’ve had in many, many years”, he tells me. However, despite the allure that a private bedroom can bring, Mitchel isn’t completely sold on LA. “Moving from Air B and Bs into a house in LA definitely changed our perspective. While it’s beautiful here it’s definitely important to stay away from bad influences in the city – we’re still growing and there’s definitely opportunity to get caught up in a bad crowd. So, we try to make sure that we don’t get involved in any of the nonsense that is LA in general.” I ask him how they achieve this. “We’re very reclusive. We have a very tight group of friends and we all trust each other, and we all have each other’s backs.”
However, the move was necessary for the boys to level-up in their careers. When I ask Mitchel about growing up in Cairns, he laughs at my pronunciation, explaining Cairns is actually pronounced like soda ‘can’. Although he quickly admonishes himself for his own Americanisation. “There’s not much of a music scene in Cairns”, he explains, “I was super lucky to have friends who made music and we started a band out of my garage. We were in that phase where everyone had spiky hair at the back and a big fringe at the front.” I tell him that trend reached us here too in the UK, but I was lucky enough to escape it. “Yeah me, too”, he replies, but over the static I can’t tell if he’s joking or not. He goes on to explain that most of their exposure to music came via family parties. “Our grandpa would always put on old French music for example, and I don’t even know the names of the songs because he’d always play them on his old record player – and it would always be at like 7am in the morning. I remember being annoyed that he was playing it. But now I see myself going down that path very quickly, being someone who wakes up crazy early and starts playing very loud.” I’m sure his new LA neighbours will be fans in no time.
Classical music also played a big role in the boy’s upbringing. Mitchell’s brother Quentin, another 1/3 of the trio, trained as a classical musician. To a lesser extent Mitchell also played clarinet and sang in the school choir. I ask him if his clarinet playing will feature on any future Chase Atlantic releases, “I’m not too sure,” he replies laughing, “when I play it just sounds way too nasal-y”. Despite the unlikelihood of this direct transference Mitchell does think that this classical upbringing has influenced the way Chase Atlantic make music. “It taught us how to adapt and how to be creative – and acknowledge things that I feel like other people don’t acknowledging.” Classical music isn’t really what sets the group apart however. Mitchel brings our conversation back to Cairns. “It’s interesting to think about coming from that environment compared to the one that we live in now. I think that’s what inspired us, coming from such a small town and then getting thrown right in the thick of the worldwide music industry. We’re coming from a small town, not just an American small town, an Australian small town. And I think that’s what gave us our drive, gave us that push we needed.”
Growing up in Cairns affected more than their music however; Mitchel explains that sustainability and environmental welfare are issues very close to the band’s hearts. “Growing up near the reef, even growing up in Australia in general, just seeing the kind of environments that we have, it would be impossible not to be environmentally friendly.” Mitchel’s dad runs an ecotourism company around the reef, and he tells me that the whole band is basically vegetarian/vegan, it’s even seeped into their style. “Actually, the clothes we wore during our shoot are from an independent label called nu-in who share like minded thoughts about the planet,” Mitchel tells me. “Most of the clothes are recycled, biodegradable, water saving and more. We think that is important given right now only 1% of textile production is from such materials.”
Taking their pro-sustainability standpoint and down to earth approach to LA into consideration, Chase Atlantic seems like a pretty moral group. I ask Mitchel what advice they have for other aspiring musicians just starting out who want to stay true to their beliefs. “Don’t make any enemies. I feel like that’s the most important thing. Be nice to every single person that you meet and you’ll go a long way. It doesn’t matter who that person is. Even if it’s the guy who is loading gear out of your van, because you never know where that person might end up.”
The band’s recent album Beauty in Death came out on March 5th. Mitchel says that the album tells the story of where Chase Atlantic ended up and their journey through 2020. “2020 has been a shit year for everyone, but we decided to hunker down and make an album. So, Beauty in Death is really about the fact that, whether or not it’s immediately obvious, every situation has a silver lining.” To finish up I ask Mitchel what’s next for the band. “I think we’re always looking to the future. But at the same time, like we have no idea what we’re doing”, he laughs. “Definitely gonna keep making music. We’re going to hopefully hit the road soon so we can give some more performances to our beautiful fans. And hopefully we can keep making content that the world loves and helps us get through day by day. What’s next? Well, I guess it’s to come.”
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