Meet Spiritchaser, aka Mark Bamford & Richard Earnshaw. No strangers to the dance music world, they’ve been penning stunning dancefloor cuts for more than a minute, as they release their new single with Est8 and Emily Cook, we catch up with these talented purveyors of deep and melodic sounds for a natter…
A huge welcome DMCWORLD Spiritchaser, where on planet earth are you today?
We’re currently at home/Spiritchaser HQ, which is just outside Chichester. A sleepy little village by the sea which is perfect for focusing on writing music, as there is little to no distraction. Apart from the local pub which has been known to distract us on the odd occasion!!
What is the best piece of new music you have heard recently?
As you’ve not mentioned genre, we’ll throw a couple of pieces into the pot as we do listen to such a variety of music. On the dance music end of the spectrum, we’re very much enjoying &Me, Rampa, Adam Port, Keinemusik “Muye” (Original Mix) and on the complete opposite end, the beautiful “Flight From The City” by the late Johann Johannsson, which is actually 2016 but new to our ears.
So you’ve been producing together since 1998, tell us bit about how you first got into making dance music as a duo and how has your sound evolved?
There’s a common theme here as we met in a huge old church in Chichester, which had shall we say undergone a change of purpose. Musically that was how came to work together, socialising around turntables. A mutual appreciation of music which resulted in a “shall we get in the studio and see what happens?” conversation. And that was nearly 20 years ago now! Funnily enough in that very same venue, we came up with name whilst having a Spirit (Whiskey) chaser…but we must stress that we are responsible drinkers!! Over the years, the industry and trends have shifted all over the place, but throughout all the environmental changes we’ve always kept an eye on how we came to work together, the sound, the emphasis on song and music, our influences and visions of what we were wanting to achieve. It’s hard to maintain that when there are so many shifts in trend, but we think we’ve managed so far.
When making a new track, who does what in the studio and what’s your favourite piece of kit?
We’ve come from an era when there were little to no plugins, so not surprisingly we have a lot of love for the outboard. Whether it’s an old Roland JX8P, Yamaha CS5 or the newer breed in the shape of the Roland Boutique Series. It’s usually Rich at the controls as it’s his studio so workflow is quicker that way. Although we both weigh in with compositional ideas, Mark generally brings the songs to the table and Rich brings the musical side of things. That’s a tricky question to answer really because yes, we have our roles during the process but ultimately, it’s the combined contributions that make ‘the sound’. Without one or the other, it just wouldn’t sound the same. All hands on deck basically.
You’re releasing your new single ‘Because I Knew’ a collaboration with Duffnote label mate Est8 and Emily Cook on vocals, what can we expect to hear?
With this particular single, Emily’s vocal drifts effortlessly through what is a very simple love song. We always know when we’re writing when to pick the phone up to Emily as we can hear early on that her sound and delivery will be just right. Musically, we went a little heavy, a little moody, but with little snapshots of uplifting moments. We like simplicity and space in our productions, gives the actual notes the chance of context and perspective. Mozart is quoted to have said something along the lines of “music is not just in the notes, but in the space in-between…so true. “The Est8 version slows things down and led by familiar piano structures. Bamo [Mark] has gone in on the Dub end for the dance floors and N’Dinga Gaba covers all things afro house in the very special way that he does.
You’ve worked quite closely with Est8 on a number of other releases, how did you meet and what’s your relationship with him?
Est8 (Dan Jones) is an old friend of ours and for the last 15 years has run Duffnote Ltd with Rich. Dan has been involved in a number of projects as writer, producer, remixer and having struck a winning formula with “These Tears” back in 2010, we’ve been worked closely on a few projects with him and Emily on vocals.
How important are songs for our dancefloors?
We’d like to think that the song is important to the listener wherever they are. It’s how people on the dance floor, listening on their smart phones or on their home system connect with us. Get to know what we’re about, the stories we like to tell in our music and lyrics.
Aside of Emily Cook, you’ve produced and remixed an impressive list of artists already, who else would you most like to work with?
We have been very lucky to have worked with some amazing artists, through production and remixing over the years. We’ve approached some singer/songwriters that we regard very highly to hopefully collaborate with us on the next album. Julie McKnight is one of them… aside from being a fantastic singer, we’d like to think her unique approach to songwriting would marry well with our approach to music making. Fingers crossed!
You’ve released on labels such as Papa Records, Quantize, Z Records, Purple Music, Discopolis, ITH, as well as your own labels Duffnote and Guess Records. What are your personal favourite own releases and why?
Not to avoid the question but all the records we’ve written, produced and remixes we’ve been involved with all hold a special position in our journey. We can pretty much remember every moment of every record, what was going on our lives, how we were feeling, what the weather was like, what brand of sausages we had lined up for lunch! Our very first remix/production was Deep Architecture “The Realm”. We’d never worked together before so there was anticipation as to how things would turn out. It came out on the label Niche Blue and was a huge success…clearly as we sit here doing this interview almost 20 years later it was the beginning of something awesome.
And what’s been your most successful release to date?
The success of a record is all about perspective. Whether it’s 1 person or 1 million who have connected with it, that’s a success. Every record that reaches someone and makes a difference is a success. But if we had to choose a particular one, “These Tears” would be the pick. It was a very well received record in Southern Africa. Number 1. Radio playlists as long as your arm… and the most wonderful thing, is how important the song was/is to those who connected to it.
As artists today why is it still important to release on other labels when you have your own successful and strong brands such as Duffnote and Guess Records.
Like most labels, we have our way of doing things, our fans/followers, etc., and other labels will have their own unique position in the game. Whether it’s a remix or licensing on an original work to another label, it’s an important part of broadening the reach of your music. Yes, generally speaking we release on our own Guess imprint, but we’ve licensed plenty over the years. We feel it shows that you’re wanting to feel part of and are part of a much bigger musical environment, working with people outside of your own ‘in-house’ comfort zone.
You’ve seen the music scene change a lot over the years since you first started out, how does it compare to now and looking back what precious advice would you give to yourselves?
This question is an entire interview in itself!! Everything has changed about the industry. The way we produce, the technology, the way we sell our music, the way people consume it..this is just the start. The foundation we have held firmly since day one has always been the music. Trends shift, the distribution of/consumption of music changes, throughout all this, we have always made the music the priority. So even if we had a crystal ball when we started and could see how the musical landscape was going to be 15/20 years later, we’d probably just say to ourselves…”just keep focused on the music, keep writing emotive songs, keep writing evocative music, the rest will work itself out one way or the other..”
Outside of your work together Spiritchaser what other musical projects do you work on?
[Rich] I have my other “hat” as Richard Earnshaw as an artist, producer and remixer so constantly writing and producing. And with Dan spend time composting for TV/Film as well.
[Mark] I’m piecing together some new solo material under my ‘Bamo’ moniker which will be scheduled for release on Guess this year. On top of all this, we’re constantly contributing as writers, co-producers and mentors to other artists/projects.
Finally, what’s coming next from you?
We’ve been planning out the next couple or so releases for the year and aside from those we’re busy working on the next album. We’re about half way through on that project so it’ll be ready for release in early 2019.
‘Because I Knew’ is out now on Traxsource promo / Full release May 28th on 2018 on Guess Records