ChessClub talks new projects, recent accolades, URBNET & more
It’s been quite the year for critically acclaimed indie / electronic group, ChessClub.
The Toronto by way of St. John’s, Newfoundland group won Best Rap Album (These Flowers Are for You) at MusicNL, and also recently picked up a couple of ECMA nods including Video of the Year (“Amelia Earhart”) and Group Recording of the Year.
We sat down with seasoned writer James Piercey of ChessClub to discuss their upcoming EP, a possible second distribution deal with URBNET, and the group’s recent accolades.
You can find the Q&A below along with the ECMA-nominated “Amelia Earhart” video.
Q&A: Uncle Buck
HipHopCanada: Give me a quick run down of who’s a part of ChessClub and what are each others roles in the group?
ChessClub: Adrian Gangnon—Adrian is our producer. He has made the majority of the beats over the years and he also mixes the vocals. He’s the man behind the scenes, because his voice isn’t on the tracks, but he’s probably the most talented man in the group.
Andrew Lahey—Andrew is a rapper and singer. Definitely the most versatile vocalist in the group. If the song has a more R&B feel, he’s likely to be singing on it. Also, he can sing and rap verses, and is a seasoned emcee in his own right.
Matt Murphy—Matt’s role in the group has probably evolved the most over the years. In the beginning he was mostly just a rapper. Now, he’s evolved into co-production, melody writing, and occasional rapping as well. He still raps his ass off, I just think he has expanded his focus over time. He’s our do-it-all guy!
James Piercey—(Me) I’m the purest rapper in the group, meaning I don’t do much else. I’ve written a hook or two for us over the years but mostly my role in the group is just that as a rapper. I’m also the friendship glue, in my personal opinion.
HipHopCanada: How long have you guys been working together?
ChessClub: Matt and I started writing raps together when we were sixteen. Which is literally half our lives ago, which is fucking terrifying really.
HipHopCanada: You’ve had quite the year! A couple of ECMA nominations and Rap Album of the Year with Music NL. Have you been getting booked more as of this recent success?
ChessClub: Well unfortunately, with the rest of the guys living in Toronto and myself living in St. John’s, we kinda don’t get booked at all (laughs). When we get our next project off the ground, we’ll cross that bridge.
HipHopCanada: Will you guys be rocking at the ECMA’s in Charlottetown this month then?
ChessClub: I’m here as we speak. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get funding for everyone to come, so I’m here alone and we aren’t showcasing. I will be representing the group in the SOCAN Songwriter’s Circle starting May 2. I’m excited to see how rapping is accepted by what I’m assuming will be a bunch (of probably talented) guys with acoustic guitars.
HipHopCanada: What are you working on at the moment? Is there an album in the works or some new singles / visuals on the way?
ChessClub: Lately, we’ve been discussing the concept of functioning more as a collective than a group, for the time being. We’re all working on separate projects at the moment and you can expect us to feature on each other’s work. We also have a couple of singles in the chamber that we’re super excited about. We’re not sure exactly what the future looks like at the moment, but we’re excited for it.
HipHopCanada: Will it be released on URBNET this time around?
ChessClub: We’ll definitely touch base with them (URBNET) when the time comes. We’d be happy to work with them again!
HipHopCanada: What are your thoughts on the current state of hip-hop? And please speak freely…
ChessClub: Man, you’d get different answers from the other guys maybe, but personally I think the game is in a fantastic place. If you’re looking for traditional lyricism, Homeboy Sandman/A-F-R-O/Boogie/Saba/countless other guys have got your back.
Personally though, I also fuck with Young Thug, Future, 21 Savage and all that stuff. Those guys are doing a whole new thing sonically, riding beats in entirely new ways, and I think it’s exciting music. I’m the last guy to shit on the current state of hip-hop.
HipHopCanada: What’s in your deck right now?
ChessClub: Anderson.Paak, Billie Eilish, and Sean Price. Always Sean Price.
You can follow @ChessClubRap on Instagram.
Written by Uncle Buck for HipHopCanada