A Q&A with Chef’Special
by Elice Ongko (Business Administration/Finance), published September 13th 2016
Chef’Special is a European indie-pop band with a style that is a unique mixture of reggae, funk and pop. Their breakout single “In Your Arms” from their album Passing Through has gone triple-platinum. Tastemakers caught up with all five band members on June 14 when they played in Agganis Arena as Twenty One Pilots’ opening act.
Tastemakers Magazine (TMM): I actually have seen you guys live last Fall on tour with AER in the House of Blues.
Joshua Nolet (JN): Oh really? That is actually one of the coolest show that I’ve been to.
TMM: Why is that?
JN: I think crowd-wise…
TMM: Yeah, Boston is a college town and therefore very lively. People are musically active.
JN: People here are very receptive and [have] a lot of good energy. What did you think of the show?
TMM: It was really great. I have been to so many concerts, and there are artists who are very good live, some are only good on record. I think you guys are very fun live.
JN: We actually started as a live band before deciding on making records. Then we realized that making a record is not the same thing as performing live. We do both, and for the past years, it’s great to see the difference between recording and performing, but being a live band is how we started.
TMM: So did you guys start by performing around Europe? Or how did your band form?
CS: Eight years ago, in Holland obviously, we met each other through various ways, [it’s] not a very interesting story. But we got together this one Sunday and just jammed, actually. I didn’t know most of them. I just knew Jerry, the drummer. We jammed and then I thought, “Hey, this is really good.” Everybody was doing other side projects musically. But after that day, we kind of decided that we want to just do this, go for it all the way, which is a big decision for all of us. I think we’re all convinced about it.
Jan Derks (JD): What we then did was, we bought a van and just spray painted it, and we cruised around the west coast of Europe just to play shows at parties. It was a great six weeks or so for starting out. We get to know each other better as a group.
Wouter Jerry Prudon (WJP): Independently we then released our first album; it was a pretty good success. We then went to Brooklyn to record our second album. “In Your Arms” became a hit back home and actually that song got us here. We finally had the opportunity to start making baby steps in America, which is what we’ve always wanted.
TMM: Oh, so you guys have been thinking about America?
Guido Joseph (GJ): Yeah, we want to take over the whole world actually. We grew up hearing American music, and I always thought, “Oh man, I wish I could just go out there and play for them.”
TMM: Like I said, I was there for your show with AER last year. What is the difference between that tour and this tour now? Especially since the change in venue from House of Blues to Agganis Arena with twice the capacity.
JN: Well, I think that right there is the difference. This tour is huge; it is all either arena shows or big amphitheater shows. The AER tour is very dope first tour for us, we got to see the whole country, reach people every night. But now, we get to reach out to more people every night. Twenty One Pilots fans are very dedicated, they show up early, which is awesome.
TMM: Did you guys get to check out the cities that you perform in? What is your favorite thing about Boston?
JN: Sometimes there’s time to explore, depending on when we arrive.
GJ: We’ve been here before, and to me, when I first walked out of the bus last Fall, and strolling in Boston, it had a European vibe somehow. The architectures wise like buildings, it became close to home.
TMM: Oh yeah absolutely. There’s little Italy are with Italian restaurants all around
JD: Yes, also, if you compare it to other cities, Boston has an older history
TMM: So I know the song “In Your Arms” is about your dad. When you guys wrote the song, do you know what it will become a big hit? To me, music is a way to spread words and reach to people. How do you feel about accomplishing that?
JN: When we first wrote it, G wrote the chords, I kinda took that to bed that night. Then I wrote the lyrics. For me, it is a very personal story. It is a personal accomplishment for me to write about my dad. At that time, I wasn’t thinking about making a hit. Actually none of us did. We think that this is a very real song and that we should put it in the album. But everybody thought that this is gonna be the last song in the album, and just that little lullaby, that some people hopefully are going to love. We do not expect this song to be a hit. People said that it should be a single, and I had to think for myself. You know, whether I want to push this song forward because it is personal. But I think that it should be that way, pushing the most real song out there. We also had a lot of personal feedbacks from people who’ve been through the same thing or even different story, but somehow still relates. I am happy not just because it is very successful, but that I get to connect with people.
TMM: Since I am interviewing for a college magazine, our readers are those who love music and might even want a career in the industry. Any tips? Things that you wish someone told you early on?
JN: Well, a very simple and straightforward one is that you need to make sacrifices. You have to go all the way. When you’re touring, it’s hard to combine it with doing anything else.
Make sure that you can play music somewhere or record songs. Surround yourself with good people that you trust. That helps you grow. This may be different for solo artists, but for us as a band, we value each other’s opinion and creative involvement.
TMM: What are some things that you guys are looking forward to in your career?
GD: I think that I want to still have fun making music. Because having fun creatively is something we all always look forward to and something we try to protect.
JN: It is a very vulnerable industry. It is easy to be successful in terms of how many people will show up to your show or how many albums you sell. But in the end, when it comes to it, it is about being happy artistically.