Chester French: Loving Their Future With Star Trak

. Jun 19, 2008

chester french

Listen to Chester French as you read on about this amazing group

They were lined up, going through several meetings and negotiations just hoping they could get a chance to sign this up and coming, talented duo. By “they”, I mean Kanye West, Timbaland, Jermaine Dupri, and Pharrell Williams & Chad Hugo. Eventually, Chester French chose to go with Star Trak and who could blame them. The Neptunes have consistently been releasing bangers for the last couple of years and have had one of flyest sought after clothing lines as several celebrities have been wearing BAPE, Baby Milo, BBC, and Ice Cream gear. Their group N.E.R.D. artistically conveys an eclectic balance between genres that fits Chester French well as they sound like a modern Beach Boys with swagger, a dash of the Beatles, and a hint of present popular alternative rock bands like Fall Out Boy and Gym Class Heroes.

Chester French is Max and D.A. and in the last year, they have graduated from Harvard (got to give them props on that one), got signed to Star Trak, and have been performing all around the U.S. at the Viper Room, The Cutting Room, and at SXSW partying with Perez Hilton. They are currently in the studio working with Pharrell and Chad for their debut album that will be titled “Love the Future” that is expected to be released some time this summer. What is impressive about these guys is that they have pretty much complete control over their debut album that has been in the works for three years now. Although they are signed with Star Trak, Pharrell and Chad are only there to provide guidance, allowing Chester French to retain their own unique sound.

Interview with at SXSW

Their music is an uplifting, smooth and chill kind of sound and their lyrics are creative and witty with occasional surprising punch-lines. For example, on “She Loves Everybody”, they say the second verse and chorus is as follows:

“You’re just a little girl now, you’re just a girl who misses her dad/
And all the toys that she had/
Thought I could make you older, thought I could keep you out of harm/
But now you’re caught in my arm
But you feel so clean, Well she craves affection, so I use protection
And I know she loves me, she loves everybody”

This song is my favorite from Chester French, the production on the track is really creative from the violins at the beginning of the track, the subtle drum beat throughout the song, the guitars at the chorus, and the electronica sound that fades out at the end of the song. It’s an amazing sound and I cannot wait to hear more once the LP drops.

Lupe Fiasco on Chester French

These cats have slowly crept up on the radar as they were featured on the Hillary Clinton diss track “Fall Back” with Idle Warship and Talib Kweli, had “She Loves Everybody” play during the credits of HBO’s hit show Entourage, and “Jimmy Choos” was sampled on Mickey Factz’s mixtape Heaven’s Fallout. They have also done remixes of “Excuse Me Miss” by Jay-z that have gotten a lot of hits on the Internet. I have only heard three tracks so far from this group, but the buzz for what the rest of the CD is going to sound like is deafening as the two have been featured in Rolling Stones as “Artists to Watch”, SPIN magazine has covered them as “Who’s Next in 08”, and along several other magazines such as Giant Magazine.

Well, these guys have certainly been really busy traveling and putting final touches on their debut album, but I was able to get a quick, mini interview into their tight schedule. So see what these guys had to say about topics ranging from how they got their name, how it is working with the Neptunes, and what is in store for Chester French for the rest of 2008 (Be prepared for a little wit and humor).

IIl Vibes: Thank you so much for taking time some time out for Ill Vibes. I expect some big things from you guys in 2008. Now, I know you pretty much set up Chester French during your freshman year of college with some of your friends, but how did the group eventually form into just Max and D.A. and how did you get the name Chester French?

DA: We had been working as a duo in the studio for much of our Sophomore year. The other three dudes decided they wanted to do other shit. We picked the name after seeing it on a bust in our dining hall. Daniel Chester French was the sculptor.

Sculpture of John Harvard by Daniel Chester French

IV: The bidding war...everybody knows about it, you had Kanye West, Jermaine Dupri, Star Trak, and of course probably other music industries trying to sign you all during exam time. Why did you ultimately sign with Pharrell and Chad?

DA: Their creative outlook fit well with ours, and they gave us over ten million dollars.

Max: We were super hungry for more BBC and Ice Cream gear. We were pretty pissed that Young Berg wouldn't sign us though.

Pharrell Talking About Chester French

IV: Hahaha, well I'm pretty happy he did not. Although you signed with Star Trak, do you still plan to work with Kanye or Jermaine Dupri in the near future?

DA: We would love to.

IV: A collabo with Kanye would be amazing. So, how was it like working in the studio with Pharrell and Chad? I know you guys pretty much had some autonomy as the main producers of the album, but what kind of insight did they provide? Any stories?

DA: They told us which songs were their favorites. Chad gave us some good advice on mixing. Most of what we've learned from them has come from watching them work on their projects. They are astonishingly efficient in the studio.

Max: I've learned a ton from being around both of them in the studio. We haven't worked with them on our stuff, but getting to watch both Pharrell and Chad make music has been exciting and inspiring

IV: Yeah, their CD Seeing Sounds is one of my favorite CDs of 2008 so far. You guys have been making some of your first large scale performances lately in the Cutting Room, Viper Room, and at SXSW. Tell me a story about one of your favorite performances during college at

DA: We did a special holiday show our freshman year. That set included covers of Jingle Bells and Hava Nageela.

IV: I guess you gotta do the crowd pleasers. So, the media has said you guys sound like the Beach Boys (myself included), but what are your actual musical influences?

DA: We've both always enjoyed lots of different kinds of music. It would be hard to name one or two.

IV: Do you guys have any stories behind any of your songs that inspired you to write them like "She Loves Everybody" or "Jimmy Choos?" Where does your inspiration for songwriting come from?

DA: The inspiration comes from all over. With lyrics I think we try to be true to our lives and tell stories or create cohesive concepts.

Max: "The Jimmy Choos" was something we put together during a 24 writing session we had in the bell tower of our dorm. It's a really bare room except for this incredible piano in there that supposedly belonged to Leonard Bernstein. We locked ourselves in this freezing cold space with the piano, an acoustic guitar, a loaf of white bread, and some stuff to keep us awake.

IV: Hahaha isolation breeds inspiration. So, what are your upcoming projects in terms of making music videos, performances, and collaborating with other artists?

DA: All of the above. Lots of performing all around the world, coming up with cool visuals for the records, and collaborating freely with folks we dig.

Max: I am writing a pornographic novel.

IV: Hahahaha woooow. So, I saw a clip of the Viper Room performance and heard you guys cover Daft Punk's "Robot Rock" (that song is amazing). So, what are some of your favorite albums (hip hop, rock, electronica, etc.)

DA: Aquemini by Outkast, Plastic Ono Band by John Lennon.

Max: That's a really tough question. I think the Vampire Weekend album is probably the best album since Graceland, which is the best album of all time. That and Manson's Smells Like Children.

"Not Over You" Acoustic Set for MTVU at SXSW

IV: "Love the Future" is set to come out sometime this month, what can the people expect and how would you describe the whole feel of the album as a whole.

DA: The album took us almost three years to make. It's very diverse and should take you on a journey. It's the sort of thing that I think people will enjoy most if they turn the lights out and listen all the way through.

Max: People can expect something boring and undercooked. The songs suck, and I think it's pretty clear that we didn't try hard at all. If you like it, you probably suck.

Yeah man, a synesthetic experience. A lot of people are waiting on this album and expect a straight debut classic and Max I'm pretty sure it won't suck that much (lol). Thanks for interview. Peace.