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INTERVIEW: Derek DiScanio from State Champs: “I like the second album-pressure, it fuels my fire”

New York-based band State Champs have officially left the new kids-area in the rock scene and are stepping their game up. The second album Around The World And Back is released October 16, and has to make sure that the energetic five-piece will be here to stay. LLUID chatted with frontman Derek DiScanio in Amsterdam, about travelling the world, working with Ansley Newman and dealing with the second album-syndrome.

You’re on the road with Knuckle Puck an ROAM right now, how is that tour going so far?
“It’s our second time in Europe now. We did a few shows here a year and a half ago, when our first album The Finer Things came out. We were supporting The Wonder Years then. So this time it’s more like a headline tour. It’s exciting for us, a lot of shows are sold out including tonight.”

Your second album Around The World And Back is a couple of weeks away. Did you experience some ‘second album syndrome’ in the process?
“You gotta step your game up, there’s defenitely some pressure. People are expecting things and it’s gonna be anticipated. I like the pressure, it fuels my fire and gets me working harder. We learned a lot from the process of The Finer Things and we knew what we wanted to take from that. We were anxious to get back in there. It’s still the same sound, but there is just so much more and a lot of cool surprises. We got to experiment with more production this time. From the first track ‘till the end, it takes you on a journey. There is a dynamic level of energy throughout the album, it picks up and slows down and then it has it’s chill moments and punchy moments. We’re really excited about it.”

In what way did the world influence the record?
“It’s almost two years ago since The Finer Things came out, and until that point we had never even left the US. So once that hit, we got all these tour offers. We went into the world and saw all these places and made all these new friends. At the same time we were writing songs for this record, so we literally wrote this album around the world. I did a lot of writing on long drives in Australia, Japan and the UK. We would sit in the back of the van with an acoustic guitar, just riffing. We went to a lot of different places, so the title really fits. We recorded the titletrack in the studio as one of the last, but we still didn’t have an album title at that point. After that, we listened to the songs and tried to decide on a name, when that song came up. It opened with the line ‘been around the world an back this year’ which was kinda perfect, it made so much sense.”

What is the story behind that title track, Around The World And Back with Ansley Newman?
“We defenitely knew we wanted to do at least one acoustic track on the album. It started out with just me and an acoustic guitar in my room. Just, like, a very mellow song, that i thought had a very different sound. It’s the most low-key song, but I still think its very powerful. We added a lot production on there, like synths, keyboards and timpani drums. And when I was working on it, I thought that it would make a good duet song. We had never made a song with a female singer before. It was really cool to work with Ansley and I think her voice is amazing too. We couldn’t record it together, so I send her all these notes, like, she should sing this harmony here, and that one there. When we got it back, it sounded so perfect. It sounded like we were actually side by side recording it. Around The World And Back is one of my favourites on the record.”

Listen to Around The World And Back Ft. Ansley Newman here:

Playing acoustic is something you do often, you even released an acoustic version of your debut album The Finer Things.
“Yeah, people really dug the acoustic versions, it showed a whole other laid-back, unplugged side to us. I think a lot of people were expecting at least one acoustic track on this album, and we gave it to them. The reception has been really well. Maybe we’ll do an Around The Acoustic World And Back thing too, who knows, haha. But if we get bored and wanna do it, sure! There are even fans who ask if we could play acoustic versions of our songs live. Unfortunately, we didn’t brought an acoustic guitar on this tour, so some people are disappointed with that. Especially since the song Around The World And Back came out some days ago they really wanna hear us play that song. But then I don’t think I would sing that song without Ansley, because she needs to be there. Maybe we’ll be able to play it live together sometime, but that would be something exclusive.”

You guys did a cover of Zedd & Hayley Williams’ Stay The Night. Could State Champs ever create a pop song of their own?

“I won’t name ourselves a pop band, but I’m really into new music and are a big top40-listener. It was cool to do the song for Punk Goes Pop, it’s something I grew up listening to. We were really excited about it, but when we were asked to do that, we were in between tours, so we had one week to record the cover. But given how rushed it was, we still had a lot of fun with it. We tried to make it as State Champs as possible, without staying to close to the original. We really made the song ours, it went really well. It’s one of our top played songs on Spotify, haha.”

State Champs second album Around The World And Back comes out October 16 on Pure Noise Records

Photo: Bas Koppe

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INTERVIEW: Chloe Charles: “everybody sings in the shower”

By Maaike van der Linden

With her second album With Blindfolds On, Chloe Charles explores her own orchestra soul-pop genre even more than on her debut album Break The Balance. With a lot of happy and sad emotion it marks a director approach, In which she encourages the listener to open up. LLUID sat down with the Canadian singer to talk about her new music.

What’s the biggest difference between your first and second album?
“This second album I produced myself. So everything is directed by me and my imagination, so It’s more honest I guess. Also the lyrics are more direct and less cryptic than the last one. I wrote a lot about things that happened the last couple of years. You know, break-ups, people dying, just life. I’m writing all the time.”

Could you discribe your orchestra soul pop?
“Well it’s not classical, it’s not pure jazz, it has pop inspirations and my voice is very soulful.”

But it doesn’t sound like a very sad album.
“Some people say it does. Some people only hear one side and be like that’s a really sad album and others hear the other side and say this album is so happy. I think it’s both sad and happy. The song Trough Your Eyes means a lot to me. It’s about family members who passed away. So that is one song I have strong emotional feelings with. It’s about people you love and they are gone. I am very proud of this album. It was a challenge but it was very rewarding. It was a lot of work but we did it so I’m very proud of that.”

What inspired you to start making music?
“Actually it was myself, I always wanted to but I was really shy. It was a personal feeling that I needed to do this and I wanted to do this, so I thought fuck it and I tried. It’s not that anyone told me to. I always think everybody sings, It’s a normal thing. I mean, everybody sings in the car or under the shower.”

In which city or concert hall would you like to perform at?
“I think Tokio because I’ve never been there. Every concert is special and I put the same energy in every concert. I enjoy every concert!”

How do you look back on the release of Break The Balance?
“I thought it was great. I didn’t love every part as well but you learn from every project you do. I’ve worked with an amazing group of musicians. I’ve learned the most that you have to feel good about everything and don’t compromise too much. I hope I can continue to be able to create new personal projects. I also hope to experiment with new styles of music and work with really talented people. I guess my greatest wish is to take that in and perform for a great audience who respect all of it and that I can sustain this career. I want to share that with more and more people.”

Check out our review of Chloë Charles’ latest album With Blindfolds On here!