In a new feature for Percussion Lab called "Touching Bass," we return to past artists and continuing friends, touching base and discussing their current status as a growing artist.
This debut segment features Chrome Canyon, whom Percussion Lab interviewed nearly a year ago, soon after their first performance. Since then, Chrome Canyon has added an incredible amount to their name, including getting signed to, and releasing their then-recently completed Elemental Themes LP on, Stones Throw. We met up with Chrome Canyon's ringleader and sole producer Morgan Z for an interview where we discuss getting signed, getting paid, and the making of his mix for Percussion Lab, which is up on the site today!
Percussion Lab: I feel like you're often introduced on the internet as one of the members of Apes & Androids, though you have in many ways gone beyond the threshold of their live notoriety, and you reach an arguably larger audience. Do you feel like this is something you will always carry with you, as Chrome Canyon and beyond?
Chrome Canyon: Ha. Ya, I feel the same way. I don't mind the legacy—the experience is one that definitely has had a huge impact on my musical outlook. So obviously I owe a lot to that band. I think Apes & Androids left a big impression on people and it warms my heart that people still remember and associate me with them. I think it's a positive thing ultimately. Seems like it's always a positive association...
PL: We had our first chat almost a year ago, when you were just beginning to get exposed. You've come a huge way from that point of performing for friends in your living room. What's it been like getting signed to Stones Throw?
CC: Getting signed has always been a "thing" that people talk about... it's this event that can supposedly make your career blossom, get you paid, make you famous, etc. But honestly, it's still a hell of a lot of work. I still work a day job, and it still feels like it's hard to get people to care about what I release. But I say all of that because I feel the real incredible part of signing to a label, especially a label like Stones Throw, is meeting and getting to know the people like Peanut Butter Wolf and Scotty Coats, who signed me. They're just incredible people who have amazing taste. It's a huge validation of what you're doing... and the support they throw behind me, even while we're all getting to know each other and while I'm figuring out what it means to put music out in the world. It's really special and such a huge part of the dream for me. These guys know what the fuck they're doing, and the fact that they'd listen to music that I made, for me, in my own little studio, and say we think you've got something here—it's really inspiring. It's a great feeling to know that all the work I'm putting into what I do has a home now.
PL: A year ago you had also mentioned you had dreams of letting Elemental Themes, "become an entire audio / visual piece. Now if I could just buy a winning lottery ticket to finance that…" Doesn't this new publicity and funding also allow for you to create these ongoing videos? That being signed to a pretty big label is your winning lottery ticket, if you will.
CC: Ha! I wish... I think it does do what you're saying, but not because there's tons of money to be tossed around. I think people have become more interested in me, like Scion—who was generous enough to pay for my last video for "Generations." But that lottery ticket would still come in handy. And about "Generations"—the opportunity to work with someone like Ace Norton, who wrote and directed it, and to have my friend Amanda Wells, who dances for Benjamin Millepied, star. That is really a dream come true... and there would be no way to do that without the label. They create those kinds of opportunities. But money is a tricky issue. I still fund a lot of what I do on my own. The videos I did for "Branches" and "Memories of a Scientist" were things that I funded on my own. But like I said... without the label, there definitely wouldn't be the opportunities there, so beyond money, there's a hell of a lot of value in the relationship for me.
PL: I feel like that's a great deal of why Chrome Canyon is so exciting to watch and listen to. There's a presence of hands on, pure creativity because you're composing the idea, you're sequencing the performance, you're sequencing the lights, and the videos are extensions into a fictional setting. I feel like if everything was taken care of and paid for something would be lost in the end aesthetic. That isn't a question, so you don't have to answer it, haha.
CC: No that's great...I think you're absolutely right. I think struggling to pull things off demands to be more creative, and that's always a really fun process. So many people help me out, and not because they're getting paid. In some ways it's another way to really feel like you're doing something worthwhile. People believe in the music, and in the vision you have for the show, and that's amazing. I hope when the money does come in (or if it does, ha) that that spark doesn't go away. But I'm not worried—there are so many things I want to do that I can't because of finances, and I think that as more money comes in, we'll find ways to do crazier and crazier things, and hopefully keep it creative and interesting.
PL: What were your ideas behind the mix for us? What driving force was there?
CC: Well for a while I was making all these mixes for people and I just got a little burnt out on new music. I feel like I go through stretches of listening to music and then there will be stretches when I just make stuff and don't do a whole lot of listening. With the mix for you guys I wanted to go outside my comfort zone and find some music that I wouldn't necessarily go to right away and concentrate my time on. And I think it paid off... I listened to a lot of new stuff and it was all really interesting. I try to make mixes that inspire me, and that's definitely the case with this mix. I feel like I was really inspired by the actual "feel" of the sounds in these tracks... not necessarily the compositions, but the actually way the sound was coming out of the speakers. I like that you can just zone out and feel the music - it's a really hypnotic mix, and that's something I'm definitely exploring in my own music.