Hot Music Live talks to Chasing Deer
With a new home in West London and plans for tours in Europe, the U.S. and Japan, Chasing Deer (originally from Solihull) are in a great place right now. Although very much a touring act, they return regularly to their home town for local shows and festivals.
We chatted to Chris, Rob and Adam to discover the recipe for the secret sauce. (Which just happens to be one part busking to one part planning to one part self-respect.)
What's special about Chasing Deer? "We love what we do. We take pride in being well rehearsed and tight, harnessing the feeling that develops from working and writing as an acoustic trio." Presence is very important, being out there and being seen, creating energy from constantly performing. "We do it full time so we're out there all the time. We try and put that energy into the songs as well."
So, are they a covers act or an originals band? As my Buddhist friends like to say, unask the question; it's not a distinction they really recognise. Some shows are cover nights (with a few originals sneakily placed in) whilst others are all about the originals. It's important to recognise that the type of music venues want is not a fixed thing. A safe set list that suits a corporate function in Coventry one year might be much too dull for an adventurous Amsterdam bar a year later. Encouragingly though, for fans of new music, the band are finding that there's a growing market right now for acts with strong original material. Clearly, however, Chasing Deer understand that music is a business and that success needs a clear head and a sharp plan.
How do they go about writing songs? Up until last year with their third EP, Rewriting History, ( https://www.youtube.com/chasingdeer
) the guys tended to write as individuals and then brought their songs to the band to be fleshed out. However, after a writing gap of about six months, they've been checking out a different approach. "We actually write all together now. We're writing better quality stuff but we get a whiteboard and we get all the ideas out and see what flows." Above all, writing as a team helps keep things fresh and creative, "Every song we write can end up in any number of different styles." On speaking to the band, they had just completed ‘Don't Slow Me Down', a punchy acoustic song written in an hour and half with an eye on strong busking material and audience participation. "We deliberately wrote this with a busking audience in mind … it's probably going to be one of the most fun ones to perform." And here's that planning thing again, "We get up for 9am and we start song writing in the morning - we treat it like a work day really."
So, busking - is that now a rock and roll thing? When Chasing Deer started out, venues would insist that you guaranteed an audience of twenty or thirty people. You can only round up family and friends so many times but it turns out that people who see you playing on the streets will often come along to your gigs. "I think the difference when you're busking is every single person standing watching and clapping actually wants to see you, it's not just the same quota of people you've had to fill." On a recent visit to Manchester, the band filled a venue with new fans they had picked up from a day's street music. Even as full-time professional entertainers, it remains a major part of their routine. "It's a good laugh too. In fact, just yesterday we met some fantastic people while playing for passers-by in Marble Arch and Trafalgar Square who we've seen at shows since." It's clear that for Chasing Deer, building an audience is a priority and, as with everything they do, there's a plan. As well as taking acoustic guitar, piano and cajon to the streets, they have attended countless open mic nights, performing not only for audiences but often taking time before the show to play their material to other acts on the bill. They mentioned huge support from local radio stations such as BBC's Introducing on BBC Coventry Warwickshire, and the First Break show on Touch FM.
We asked who Chasing Deer rated on the local scene. Indie Ska rockers Grass Routes are "doing very well .. always churning out great music." The Rushmore are also excellent, "Definitely go and see them if you have a chance." Shanade, too, is writing some excellent new material and we're looking forward to playing alongside her at BBC Coventry and Warwickshire at the end of November (look out for links at http://www.facebook.com/chasingdeer
We asked if they had any advice for new acts? First, have a plan for exactly what you want to do, "Actually write out all your thoughts and ideas. Whether that's writing a song or your entire career." Second, be professional and focused, "Really run it like a business … fun as it is, it needs to go somewhere." Third, get out there and be seen at open mics, on the streets and at bars where there's already an audience. "Go out and busk where people will see you rather than dragging your friends and family to shows - because they're going to support you anyway." And finally, know the value of what you do and don't be afraid to ask a fair fee for delivering a great show. "So we kind of made the decision that we are worth a certain amount. We're giving them a good service and a guarantee that they'll have a great night. We stopped being scared about asking for a price and they ended up being really happy to fund us for what we do."
So, that secret sauce thing? It's obvious from our chat that Chasing Deer have a definite musical ethos, stripped back and street-ready. But there's more to this story; they are also seriously organised, purposeful, planned and networked with a confident sense of the value in what they do. Maybe the real secret is about the lessons to be learned from taking the leap and taking your craft seriously, honing it through repetition.
Make sure to check out Chasing Deer's YouTube Channel ( http://www.youtube.com/chasingdeer
) every Thursday, where they release a new cover song. You can also find them on all major music retailers, including Leamington Spa's very own Head Records.
Finally, why not get in before your friends and give them a like at http://www.chasingdeer-official.com