Interview: Cinnamon Chasers
Cinnamon Chasers is an alternative electro/indietronica act based in London and also the solo project of Russ Davies. He makes melodic dance music influenced by early pioneers like Giorgio Moroder, Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre, and KLF and is inspired by films like Flight Of The Navigator, The NeverEnding Story. Read on to find out more!
Your album has just been released (iTunes). I imagine working on an album can be different to making a single or just working on tracks. How did you approach making this new album? Did you have a vision of how you wanted it to be before you started?
[Russ Davies] I prefer making albums, it’s what I love the most as you can really tell a proper story like that. For me I’m all about the concepts, every track or album is a concept. My approach to this album was that I wanted to create a fun party vibe bunch of tracks with a very strong disco/electro influence, but all packed strong with melody and feeling. The previous album was more song based but from what I’ve seen from the fan base and just from the general perception of the act is that Cinnamon Chasers is best suited to the dance world.
Does it sound the way you first imagined?
I work on the music a lot until it gets into the form I wanted, it never sounds exactly how I imagined but close. I also let ideas evolve a little organically, and then I can tweak it after into the aethestic of the original concept.
Did you achieve everything you wanted to with it?
Specifically with Science? Well the truth is I’m rarely satisfied. I have so many ideas and desires to create many more concepts that the moment one project is finished my imagination and heart gets fixed onto the next concept. I would make twenty albums a year if I had it my way, but I think I would confuse the audience with so much material (The trouble I have is limiting the amount of releases). But I started with a concept with Science, and that’s what it is so yes I did achieve that, but I still long for the all encompassing, heart nurturing and entirely satisfying music concept. I’m searching for that sound still, that sound that defines me in every single aspect. The image in my mind of the perfect sound gets clearer and clearer as I get each album concept done, for me it’s all little stepping stones to the ultimate score. It’s feels clearer in my imagination now more than ever.
What do you think about when you’re making your music? Is there a particular situation, emotion or landscape in mind that influences the music you make? Do you ever find yourself thinking of who you’d most like to hear it, or imagine the reactions of specific people you know?
The sources of inspirations vary so greatly. Personally I’m a very unjudgemental listener, I listen from the heart and don’t care much for press and hype. Infact I dispise ‘hype’, it is the evil that consumes the music industry and contaminates the minds of millions of listeners, it is the reason we have so much crap around which people believe they should like. So the point I’m getting to is that I try to make music from the heart and like to find something which soothes my hearts strings in one way or another, rather than identifying with some cultural materialistic idea. So when I make music I try to put that feeling from inside me into melody and sounds without thinking about hype and culture too much. However, having said that I’ve always loved daft punk and thought it would be cool to reference their sound a bit with this Science record, which I have on a couple of tracks. I guess that’s something I’ve always wanted to do – but that’s out of my system now, you’ll never hear another Cinnamon Chasers record like this again.
How personal are the lyrics?
Well that depends on what I’m working on. Personal and well thought-out lyrics are something very important to me, but in all honestly my goal with Science wasn’t to create a personal memoir of ‘Russ Davies’. It’s not me, it’s Cinnamon Chasers. Cinnamon Chasers is a concept, a futuristic robo disco funk electro concept. It’s like wearing a mask. So in the case of this album the lyrics are written with this mask on and are there to facillitate the melody. I do write acoustic songs and these lyrics are very personal and deeper – but I’ve no plans yet to release this.
I am curious about the tracks “You” & “I Like Watching You”. It sounds like they are different versions of the same song? Can you tell us more about the idea behind both tracks?
Yes “You” is based on “I Like Watching You”. It was originally a remix I did of I like watching you, but I thought it had enough character to be it’s own piece.
Let’s digress a bit here and talk about your other project, Abakus. What is it like juggling two different music projects with new albums to be released around the same time?
Well I love music concepts, I can put my mind and heart into different musical personas. If fact this process seems to be very important to me. I find if I stay on one concept for too long I stagnate, creatively. Like driving through a brick wall. I find having alternative concepts to work on cleanses me of any creative block and keeps the river flowing.
How different is your approach to making music as Abakus to when you make it as Cinnamon Chasers? Is there any overlap?
Sometimes I define the lines better than other times. Abakus is more spirit sounding music and I try for it to have no boundries or genre. Cinnamon Chasers is a specific concept – the whole retro/disco future thing, so everything Cinnamon has that kind of sound. But I plan on keeping the lines more defined than ever from now on. In fact that’s kind of the reason why I made this Science album so strong in it’s future-disco aesthestic – I want it defined very very clearly so I don’t blur the lines with my other projects. That’s it, that’s the whole idea with it.
How do you feel about singing on your tracks, as opposed to composing the instrumentals?
I believe vocals access a different layer of conciousness to instrumental music. More rudimentary I guess. I make deeper and complex music under the Abakus moniker, but I want Cinnamon Chasers to be more accessable so I’ve got the vocs in there. It’s also a great way to have an extra layer of melody! And I LOVE melody. But I’m aware that not everybody wants vocals, and especially Djs want instrumental mixes with club arrangements, so for this reason I’ll soon be releasing a version of Science that is exactly that – Extended Club Instrumentals, for the Djs. It’ll be released in March.