In the talent powerhouse that is the West coast, one beat-smith in particular has truly caught our eye (and ears, of course). The name: Chase Harrison AKA Chase Manhattan. If you’re a sucker for down-low, trapped out, trippy bass music, then he’s an artist you need to have in your library. And if our word isn’t enough to convince you, the Portland music maker just released an absolutely massive new mix. Fresh off the release of his collaborative track with Chrome Wolves, The Block is Hot Mixtape couldn’t be more accurately named; this is sonic fire of the highest intensity. It’s a recreation of his extra hyphy performance at this year’s Emissions Festival, so if you didn’t make it out then you’re totally in luck.
Digging the tunes and want to learn more about this talented up & comer? We’ve got you covered there too. Chase took time out of his busy schedule to sit down with us for a particularly intriguing interview; read on past the jump to peep what he had to say. But wait, there’s more: He has also released every single one of his High Noon Artist Pact music for the extra low price of free.99. You can grab those on his Bandcamp page; happy listening!
Tell us a little about your origin story; what kicked off your musical career?
It’s actually quite a story. I’ve always loved music, I’ve always been an appreciator of music. I was never classically trained; never in a place where I was like ‘I’m gonna start a band’ or anything like that. I just knew I loved music. Then in 2004, I got into a really gnarly accident. Fortunately, it wasn’t my fault and I walked away with both my life and a $25,000 settlement a few years later. Since a lot of the up & coming music I was into at the time was only being released on vinyl, I invested some of that money into a solid pair of turntables. Then my friends and I started hosting parties at my house; that’s where I began DJing and I quickly became addicted to performing in front of a crowd. Eventually though, we didn’t have that outlet any more and I sought out other ways to play tunes for people. As far as music production goes, that came onto the scene for me because I recognized that almost no one makes it big outside their city if they’re just a DJ. Putting effort and focus into creating your own music is what sets you apart and really shows people you’re serious.
What was the first piece of electronic music you ever heard? Did you love it or hate it?
It was this obscure record called ‘Hard-Hop & Trypno’ actually. It came out in 1996 on Moonshine Music, which was a fairly prominent label back then. It was way different than anything else I was listening to; I may have heard a Chemical Brothers track here and there, but I really grabbed ahold of this as something new and interesting. It wasn’t the catalyst for me getting into creating electronic music, but it was definitely my first encounter with it and that was very exciting. However, hip-hop has always been my roots; once I started creating music of my own, that was my main inspiration.
So, obviously your name is Chase; but is there any other significance to the moniker ‘Chase Manhattan’?
Ahh, no. It was mainly just a nickname that was given to me by some friends I partied with in my early 20s. When I became a DJ, it was sort of like ‘Well, what else am I going to call myself’? Like you said, my name is Chase so it works out. Kind of ironic though, as that company stands for everything I’m against! *chuckles*
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen while on tour or playing out?
One time I was playing at a club and had a great set going; the crowd was going nuts. But apparently, there was some guy who kept coming up to my friends and saying things like ‘Isn’t this terrible?’. Later on in the night, he very discreetly left a napkin on next to the turntables with a note that said ‘You are horrible. Signed – Everybody’. A friend of mine suggested I send a picture of it to No Breasts, No Requests, which is this Tumblr page that collects stuff like that. I took his advice and now that napkin is in a coffee-table book. No joke.
How do festival performances compare to club performances for you?
I think each have their own merits. A club performance has the potential to be extremely intimate, as well as having the added bonus of most people in the audience being there to see someone specific. At a festival, though, you’re often playing to people that have no idea who you are, or maybe just aren’t there to see you specifically. On the merit side, though, the energy you feel at a festival is untouchable. There’s an unbridled nature about it because everyone is living in the moment; no one is worried about how they’re getting home or checking their Facebook or anything like that. They’re completely free to be there with me, experiencing the music.
You’re one of the founding members of the We Got This crew. Tell us a little more about that; what sets this collective apart?
We Got This is comprised of Tiger Fresh, Exodub, Prism Lab, SPEKt1, Doc Riz, and myself. And Chrome Wolves is a late addition. I think what makes us unique as a crew is how communally we make things work. When we first started out, we were very much trying to assign positions and setting people up with specific tasks. Now, it’s a bit more relaxed with people handling whatever is necessary when they recognize a need for it to get done. When we say ‘co-founders’, it’s a very equal term. As far as our agenda goes, we’re all about bringing forward-thinking music to the front of the scene. We want to give artists a platform from which they can shine. The community on the West coast is just so amazing; we’re very fortunate to be able to share music and elevate each other.
What’s been the high point of your career so far? What about a low point?
To be honest, I think the high point so far was my set at Emissions. Going up against the headliner is a daunting task; you never know how that’s gonna go down. I put a lot of work into preparing my set, making sure there were no holes anywhere. I wanted to show people exactly who I was while also providing a sharp contrast to the other stage. It was a ton of fun. As for a low point, maybe that napkin story from earlier? Ha! Actually probably, a couple tunes I made were slated to be in an EP a while back – however, for one reason or another the release was significantly delayed, I believe for a couple years-which is an eternity in electronic music (as you know). Anyways, interest in the tunes waned severely & when they finally dropped, there was hardly any notice.
What helps your creative process when you’re feeling uninspired?
This is something I’ve struggled with fairly recently. I hit this point where I was not inspired whatsoever. What I would say to past-Chase and anyone in the same position is to keep pushing. A lot of people say take a break and let it come to you, but I’m in a position where there’s not a lot of time that I have strictly for working on music. If I show up to my computer and I’m not inspired, it feels like a loss. However, I’ve learned it’s not something to beat myself up about. When I was doing High Noon, for example, it was all about pushing through. I made tunes at hours that I’d never imagined I’d work on music before and it worked. Persistence leads to perfection.
What’s more fun for you to make: bangers or deep, sexy tunes?
I used to be the kind of producer that would set out to make a ‘banger’ and end up with a really chill tune. *chuckles* When I was in school, I never wanted to take art classes because you’d be told what to draw. I realized that’s exactly what I was doing when I sat down with a specific idea of what I wanted to create. Now that I’ve gotten a little better at getting the creative flow going, I have to say that I mostly enjoy making the bangers. People seem to enjoy my trippy, weird tunes a bit more than the bangers though, which is interesting to me.
What’s next for you? Any plans for a new EP or album?
Yeah! I’ve got a new EP in the works, but it is summer; which is the busiest time of the year with festivals and whatnot. And EP is shaping up though, and I’m also working on another tune with Chrome Wolves since the first one went over so well.