Exclusive Interview with Chili
Chili is going to be leaving us soon. He’s moving to Austin. So we interviewed him! Check it!
1. How’d you get your stage name: Chili? :: Well I used to work for this big shoe company back in the day and after a while my buddy Kevin started calling me Chili Palmer. It was a reference to the movie get shorty. I had a little bit of a double chin back then and if I slicked my hair back looked a little like John Travolta so maybe that’s why it stuck. Then after I left that place I got a dog and I named him Chili to keep it going and when I moved to the east coast I couldn’t keep the dog so I had to assume the name again in his memory and conveniently it worked as a moniker so there you go.
2. What drives you to create music? :: Man, a lot of things. Mainly it’s an escape which is obvious I suppose but it’s what I’m escaping I think that drives me the most. Ya know I have a day job like everybody else and giving that much time to some company for a dream that’s not my own eats away at me like a virus. So at the end of the day when I’ve put in my time I NEED to make music or do something that makes me feel real or I’ll go crazy. It’s really all I want to do and it’s something I CAN do. I mean I didn’t go to college, I managed to make an ok career for myself but I knew early on like probably by the age of 13 that all I wanted to do with my life was make music. So I guess what drives me is this constant reminder that everything else is kinda secondary. I need the music to keep myself straight. It’s like I need to give myself a reason to exist otherwise I’m like a cog in a machine and I serve no real purpose but to exist for the sake of existing.
3. What are your weapons of choice? :: Weapons of choice. Well for the longest time my main weapon was an MPC. If you don’t know what that is it’s a drum machine and sampler with 16 pads and a sequencer. For example you could plug a record player up to it and grab a drum break and chop it into a totally new beat of your own. I like working with the MPC cause it’s so fast and tactile. I like using my hands and pushing buttons and getting some feedback like a solid “click” or a “cachunk”. I’m a big fan of hardware, I have a lot of it. I have a couple nice analog synths and some old digital hardware from the mid 90’s, various samplers, loopers, fx pedals etc. I’m really into plugging things into each other and seeing what kinda noise I can make with it. For example with the stuff I’m working on now, I’m taking everything I can find and pumping it through this circuit bent Casio sk1. It’s got this old nasty 8bit sampler with a whopping 2 seconds sample time. I love how that thing sounds. Right now my main weapon is a Monome. The Monome is the ticket for me. It allows me to perform my beats like a real instrument. I can arrange things in a way that allows me to control the direction of the music. If I want to do it the same way every time I can or If I want to change it up and improvise I can do that to. The thing about the Monome is by itself it doesn’t do anything. It needs software to do anything so as the apps grow and become more interesting so does the Monome. Lately I’ve been using Ableton Live to chop, arrange and record. I’ll take a beat down into the studio, hit the record button and just jam with it. Then I’ll go back and see what I can make out of it.
4. How do you feel about working with the artists from Oxytocin? :: Oxytocin is easily the illest crew of peeps I’ve ever had the pleasure to make music with. Not only is everybody really nice and nobody is a dick to one another, but every single person is a pro. I’ve never been so impressed by a group of individuals. My roommate Kedaar and I have been hosting the rehearsals/meetings at our crib and these guys show up with their game faces on. It’s a pretty cool thing that we’ve done. I mean these shows are crazy, with the visuals and the multiple acts. It’s a beast to pull it off. I think the only way that’s even possible is cause everybody is so chill and practiced. It’s a good dynamic for sure, nobody gets too stressed and people challenge and inspire each other so it’s cool. I feel really lucky to have had this opportunity. When Arthur came to me last year talking about this idea he had to do a compilation of all Harmonix employees making non rock music I was like “hell ya, I’ll throw down on that shit” and did not really knowing what to expect. Then he hit me back with the first couple verses of Ludlow and I knew it was on. That’s actually the first time in all my days of making beats that an emcee has picked up one of my beats and just murdered it like it was an act of self defense. I knew at that point he was for real and that this project was going to be dope. At first I think we were all a little nervous about trying to perform it as a group cause there are so many different performers, setups etc. but we did it and we’re doing it again at least one more time! Enormous room Aug 17th baby!
5. Blondes or Brunettes? :: I think flight of the conchords said it best. “We need blondes not bombs, we need brunettes not fighter jets”. We definitely need less war and more sexy ladies.
6. If there was one musical skill you wish you had, what would it be? :: I wish I could play the accordion. I wish I had an accordion. I don’t know what it is about that instrument, maybe cause my Dad played it but whenever I see someone ripping it on a accordion I get super excited and want that skill for myself. There is a dude that plays the subway here in Boston that is amazing. He’s an old Irish alcoholic that plays for his drinking money. I have this paranoid post apocalyptic view of the future sometimes and wonder what the fuck I would do if the power suddenly went out. How would I make music? I’m so dependent on having a space and power for my gear that in the event of a major war in this country or some kind of disruption of our luxurious lifestyles that I would be left high and dry. I’ve been looking at hand made melodicas as an entry into this world of sound.
7. What’s next for you? :: Austin is my next move. I’ve been living in Boston since Jan ‘03 and have had my fill of the east coast. I came out here to try and redefine my music and find a niche for myself. I feel like I’ve accomplished that goal so it’s time for phase 2. I’ve got a pretty solid process now and some ideas for future projects. I’m gonna focus on cranking out tracks on the monome for the next few months and see if I can’t put an album out by the end of the year. Whilst working on that I’m gonna start collaborating with my buddy in Austin. He’s got a band called “The Great Nostalgic”. He’s putting a tour together for the Fall so I’m gonna see if I can’t slide in as a keys player for that tour, learn a little about the rules of the road then come back and start putting a tour together for myself. Basically I just wanna play music so I’m gonna start doing exactly that. Playing every opportunity I get no matter how small and keep doing it no matter how hard it gets or how hungry I get.