In a work space above a fancy Japanese restaurant in central London I join Tigs and James AKA London electronic duo, Chew Lips for mid afternoon beverage. The first thing we talk about is the new album which Tigs says was done “officially speaking” in March yet it is not to be released until January (all things going smoothly) but the band are carrying on writing after taking a short break. “If we come up with a hit then that will probably go on the album” Tigs admits but “technically we are writing for the next album.”
In terms of singles from the forthcoming album, their single ‘Hurricane’ is next, which is out on September the 3rd but nothing’s confirmed after that because “everything’s always changing” says Tigs. This then moves us onto the topic of being with a major label: “it’s weird being with a major label suddenly as things happen a lot more slowly and boringly. Everything seems a lots less certain.” ”Everything’s quite vague at the moment” James adds, which seems to be something that the band seem uncomfortable with. “It’s better to have an announced date to work towards as it doesn’t really matter if it comes out later than that date” Tigs explains.
Sonically, Chew Lips have changed rather a lot from their debut album, Unicorn, so I ask them how they think the new material differs which sparks a bit of a debate between the pair: “it’s a lot heavier”, James says straight away whilst Tigs prefers to describe it as “more full on but there are a lot of emotional moments on the album as well.” ‘Razor’s Edge’ is quite an emotional one but generally it’s definitely more pop.” “Yeah it’s more hip hop and R & B inspired and less delicate and floaty than our first album”, James suggests. “I think it’s a more accurate representation of our live show which is something that I really wanted to do after the first album. We worked with David Kosten on the first album who’s done a lot of work with Bat For Lashes which is amazing but he is a very delicate producer” Tigs concludes.
I ask then if they think that this new work is more accessible than Unicorn and within milliseconds James has said “yes” where as Tigs is a bit more unsure: “I’ve given up trying to work out what people understand and what they don’t. I think that there will be people that listened to the first record and really got it and they’ll feel like they don’t get the new stuff and I think that potentially a lot more new people will listen to the new stuff.”
Tigs adds a further sugar cube into her coffee whilst announcing “fuck it, I’m going for it.” Then, on the subject of touring the band tell me that they’re doing a lot of foreign shows at the moment but should have a couple of UK support tours coming up “fingers crossed” Tiggs says hopefully.
They then tell me that they’ve just come back from a stint of European festivals. “We’ve just come back from Russia and Poland; we seem to do quite well in that part of the world” Tigs tells me. “We’re going over to Singapore too next month as well as Paris, Spain and Romania” James chips in.
I then ask what kind of venues they’re looking to play in over the next few months and Tigs humbly suggests that “when you come back, you feel like you’re starting again which I don’t think is an entirely unhealthy thing as it gathers new exposure. You feel like there should be fans waiting for your next record but I don’t think it’s quite like that any more. It’s harder to be on your second album than your first. People are more excited about new music. There’s far more weight behind being new now than being good, that’s for sure.”
This then delves further onto the subject of the current musical climat: “we live in an era where there’s a really fast turn over of new music; artists like Rihanna and Lady Gaga put a record out every nine months which exacerbates people’s really short attention spans. Of course there will always be real music fans but people do want things very quickly now yet sales are lowly now so you have to be in music for the love of it rather than the money.”
They then naturally move onto discuss between them how the quality of their live show has changed: “we’re much better now than we used to be”, says James. Tigs then suggests that it’s because they’ve now got a live drummer and “a bit less backing track.”
We then go back onto talking about the band’s transition from an independent label (Family) to a major label (Sony) James says that he thinks it’s “potentially a lot better” whilst Tigs says that the main way of dealing with it is that “you have to be able to pick your battles.” In terms of the major label setup she explains that “it has lots of different sections: you’ve got the video people, the people that want to tell you about your style and all of this other stuff. You can’t fight them all at once because no-one will listen to you. If it doesn’t bother you, just let it go and if it does then you have to stand your ground ” she advises. She then goes onto give an example of the meeting that they had a few weeks ago: “half of the meeting was about whether I should wear a hat in a video.” Whilst the band don’t seem to agree with some of the focuses of major labels James says that they are doing it because it’s “beneficially better” and Tigs agrees with this as it allows them to “put the record out in America” which is easier on a major label yet still adds that the band are “taking a chance but they’re taking a chance on us too.”
We then get back to talking more about their live shows and they tell the story of their show in Slovakia the other day. “The plane from China got delayed by three hours and we had to change at Moscow so we only had three hours to make the connection but we were three hours late. We got to the airport and had to elbow old grannies out of the way and we did actually make it onto the plane” James explains. “It was pretty euphoric” Tigs adds. “Yeah, I had ‘Chariots of Fire’ playing in my ears” James jokes. “We were so excited about the fact that we were actually going to make it to the gig after thinking we didn’t have a chance. We then got the festival and it was fucking amazing; it was forty degrees and there were loads of people and an amazing sound system but we totally hadn’t prepared ourselves for a show because we thought we wouldn’t make it. We hadn’t slept or anything and then suddenly we were at this festival.” “It’s always the unexpected things that are good like that” says Tigs. “I love all of eastern Europe. They’re all such good shows as it’s when you get to the places that people don’t necessarily tour, they’re so up for it. They don’t have any qualms at all or the constraints of London crowds. They just fucking have it!”
Words: Katie Wilkinson
‘Hurricane’ is released on the 3rd September on Sony