By Ali Lopez
Fresh off their first cross-Canada adventure, Emily Kells, Barb Merrick, Scott Raddysh and Adam Martin—one half of the local soul outfit The Chantrelles—were gracious enough to cram into one of CFUV’s small studios to chat with me. When asked just how their tour was, Adam says, “As far as music goes, yeah, great success.Yeah, absolutely;” while a smiling Emily pipes in with,“As far as personal health goes….,” leading the group into laughter. They continue to joke about the plight of attempting to eat healthily while on the road, with Scott chiming in on the shared microphone, “The gas station is your main stop on the road, ‘cause you’re like, `Oh hey, we need gas. Oh look, ice cream and chips.’”
The giggles continue as the band touches on their favourite venues, their best and worst openers and the peculiarity of having vinyl merchandise in days where most music is digital. As much as it has become a sort of standard these days for bands to have vinyl, it can also get some mixed reactions. “When you go out on tour pretty much everyone goes up to the merch table and says,‘Oh my God, you guys have records?! That’s so cool, that’s so weird!’ Unless you’re playing someplace like [Edmonton’s] Wunderbar, or Rancho Relaxo in Toronto where it’s more of a hip, record collector’s type of place,” says Adam. “It’s just funny—we played at the Gaslights in Regina, which is a biker bar and everyone’s like, ‘I threw out my record player years ago. I don’t know what the hell you people are doing.’ ”
For a band that’s only been together about two years, The Chantrelles have gained attention and success, which is not common for most bands inVictoria’s underground scene.The eight- piece, ‘60s-soul-inspired group even landed a spot in Victoria’s only large-scale music festival, Rifflandia. “[Our invitation to the festival] involved so many different parts of the community, like restaurants and tattoo shops and ar t studios. It was really the whole community that got involved in it, which was cool,” Emily says excitedly after the band peers through the newly pressed Rifflandia magazine, which
features an almost full-page entry and image of the locals.
The Chantrelles drove Victoria’s bandwagon in reviving vintage soul, funk and R&B in the psyche of contemporary music enthusiasts. “Maybe it’s because it’s actually music you can dance to,” says Scott of the sudden resurgence, with soul and funk nights popping up all over the Harbour City beginning last fall. “I’m someone who can’t dance to something I don’t enjoy,” he continues. “[For] lots of indie bands, you know, it’s very straight—not a lot of syncopation. It just doesn’t really motivate my body to move. I just
cross my arms and do the hipster nod.”
The eight piece draws influences from mid- to late- ‘60s Stax Records-style soul. “The more hard hitting stuff, not the Motown stuff as much. Motown is super polished and poppy,” says Adam. What he prefers comes from the time “when soul was starting to turn into funk,but before it fully turned into funk because then it just gets unbearable.” In their beginnings The Chantrelles focused on covers of late greats, and after becoming seasoned in the style, the compositional nuances which give that vintage sound grew apparent.
“It’s not like we’re trying to re-create a certain era,” says Scott.“We’re taking kind of that mould and then just trying to make it our own.” With the stylistic composition down, the band feels they have enough material to supply another seven-inch, if not a full length album, that should materialize into the hands of local music supporters “soonish.”
With their first full Canadian tour out of the way, a seven- inch currently topping local radio charts, and a chance to perform at Rifflandia with the likes of The Flaming Lips, Sloan and Fucked Up, these guys have a lot more to give and we are all eager to dance in reception of whatever they’re offering.
Ali Lopez is one of the alternating hosts of Post Everything, which airs Mondays from 1:30pm – 2:00pm. She’s also the Productions Manager for Animal Productions – animalproductions.ca.