Interview with Brooklyn born genre-bending Chase Winters
Welcome Brooklyn born musician and producer, Chase Winters. Friday March 24, Chase kicks off a northeast tour with Letters to Nepal at Pianos in Manhattan, NY. Chase is a master of genre fusion as a solo artist and with his previous bands as well as a multi-instrumentalist. He is also a fluent speaker of Russian, animal advocate, and Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles fan; he is someone you have to get to know!
Ethos Live: Hey Chase! When Mike and I are swapping our new musical discoveries with each other, we like to play a game. It doesn’t have a name but we pick 3 bands to ascribe the bands sound to- one contemporary band, one local band, and one classic band. Which three would you choose for someone discovering Chase Winters for the first time?
Chase Winters: Cool game! The contemporary band would be The Gorillaz. Local - Silent Armada (I'm pretty sure they are no longer together :/) Classic - Kino (A classic Russian rock band)
Ethos Live: You've played in Casual Hearts and Oh You! and have written many songs over the course of 10 years. You play multiple instruments. What experiences over the course of your musical career do you feel have stuck with you the most in influencing your songwriting and performing?
Chase: I remember going to music seminars when I was 15. The panelists that resonated with me the most were the ones that advised upcoming songwriters to just pay attention to why songs that are successful work. It really woke me up on how to structure songs in a more accessible way.
As far as performing, just studying my own stage presence and pitting it against the greats has molded me. Mick Jagger, Anthony Kiedis, Michael Jackson and Adam Lazzara were a few of my favorite study subjects.
Ethos Live: The World Outside My Window album is a fusion of different genres and songs with both English and Russian lyrics. There’s really a little bit for everyone to appreciate, whether they understand English or Russian and no matter what kind of music they like- pop, hip hop, rock, alternative, or dance. When you sit down to write, do you start with music or lyrics?
Chase: It's honestly about 50/50. I would say that it usually starts with a voice memo, whether it's an idea for a guitar riff or the vocals. I usually think of how the song will sound in my head and then I sit down with the instruments and what not.
Ethos Live: When you’re writing lyrics, do you purposely write lyrics in one language or the other or do you go with whatever you feel like doing?
I usually sit down and see what comes to me. Since Russian isn't my native tongue it's definitely more of a thought process (sometimes a long one). I try to immerse myself in all Russian music and watch only Russian movies/documentaries etc when I sit down to write a Russian project.
When I sit down to write in English I try to add some Russian in wherever I can. I think almost all of the English projects that I'm working on have a song or two that I pop in some Russian.
Your next Russian release is Island Boy EP. What are you looking forward to sharing about Island Boy? How many songs will be on it?
My next Russian Release is actually "Это на вкус как болезнь". It translates to "It Tastes Like Disease"
The name is inspired by "It Smells Like Teen Spirit" and the fact that the lyrical content is a bit skeptical and cynical. This project has a lot more attitude than my first project in Russian and I test out some pretty cool new sounds. There are 5 songs on it and there is a song called "Monster" that I'm particularly excited about.
The Island Boy EP is a joint project with the extraordinary guitarist and songwriter Andrew Ruiz. It's influenced by Faces, Bill Callahan,John Mayer,Don McLean,Kings of Leon and Bob Dylan.
I hope to have both projects out by the summer but I'm looking at a total of 4 EP's for the year. Most of the material is already finished so there's a 75% chance that everything will see the light of day before the 4th quarter of the year.
Ethos: When you toured in Russia, what was your favorite place you visited? If someone you know were to be traveling there for the first time, what would you recommend to them?
Chase: It's so hard to pick... I really enjoy Moscow but I've been there three times already so I'm sort of biased. I really like Sochi, which is like Miami. I actually haven't been to Miami yet but it's super hot and there are palm trees everywhere! I recommend that anyone that goes to Russia should start off with Moscow. Soak up the beauty of the nation's capital and enjoy the big city life there. Tretyakovkaya museum is a must.
Ethos: You’re about to head out on a Northeast tour with Letters to Nepal. Can you tell us a little more about how you met them and share your favorite song by them?
Chase: I actually posted a demo version of the song "Две тысячи два" ("2002") which is on The World Outside My Window. Letters to Nepal found it and invited me to one of their shows. About a year and change later we are going on tour together.
My favorite song by them is Lupus. It's on their new album Lux and it's a chilling song about the band's perception of their home region - Siberia.
Ethos: On your tour, you’re visiting many cities- including one of my very favorites, Chicago. What are you looking forward to the most on your tour?
I just look forward to playing which I know sounds like a totally obvious statement but I really just look forward to sharing my music with a bunch of new people. Any chance I get to do that is exciting to me.
Ethos: Lastly, the word ethos describes the basic morals that form one’s customs in creating their culture. Describe your work ethic as a musician- what makes up Chase Winters’s cultural input?
Life is short... I try to stay as active as possible to keep up with the battle against time that we all are up against and I try to make music until my heart is content. I make music that I hope makes people feel some sort of emotion. I want to bring as many people together as possible through music and that's what makes up Chase's culture. Togetherness, emotions and good tunes.