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Songtrust Spotlight: Coffee House Anarchists

COFFEE HOUSE ANARCHISTS are an established English/French indie band based in Montpellier, France. CHA is made up of two brothers who have been playing together ever since rock and roll first burst into their lives. They later decamped to the South of France from the U.K. with no real plan other than to conquer the world with their music. There the lineup was completed by a French bass player who also liked the idea of leaving real employment.

Since its fledgling beginnings, CHA has moved from a guitar-based indie group to one that has found maturity in a far more contemporary sound. CHA constantly seek to change their sound and push their creative limits with each new recording. The band has moved from electro-pop, post-punk to modern folk whilst still retaining the CHA identity. To date, the band has recorded 7 studio albums and 4 singles. Of course, if you’re still not convinced, just let the music do the talking…


WHAT OR WHO INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO MUSIC?

It was just always something that made sense to us. From those first days of learning basic chord changes and progressions, we always preferred to be creative and write our own music both individually and collectively. The possibilities are literally endless. 

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PHILOSOPHY AND STYLE AS AN ARTIST?

We’ve been called "non-genre specific" by journalists as we’re very much a mixed bag. We always try and keep each album coherent within itself, but there’s been different styles and experiments throughout the years. We pride ourselves on "never the same song twice" and try to continually move forward.

WHAT DRIVES YOU TO CREATE, AND HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS FOR YOURSELF IN MUSIC?

Maybe a natural drive and belief in what we do. It's kind of an instinct. We define success by our own barometer, do we want to put our name on this record? Is it up to the standard of our previous work? If so, that is success for us. The sheer time and effort required to write, create, record, produce, and all the other effort is in itself a victory.

THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER, WHO HAS HELPED YOU THE MOST WITH DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT?

Very often it has been making mistakes and learning from them. Otherwise, music is about the journey, not the destination, and it’s one as a band that we are definitely still on. 

SOMETIMES BEING IN THIS BUSINESS CAN BE OVERWHELMING. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR MAINTAINING PERSPECTIVE AND NOT SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF?

Be honest about how you feel and what you are personally going through. You need to be a tight-knit unit. As in any walk of life, communication is key. Your band members are like your brothers and that literally is the case in CHA. In a band, you are all on the same team...it's you against the world. 

YOUR LATEST MUSIC -- "SEPARATED BY THE SEA" – HAS BEEN DESCRIBED AS A "HAUNTING, MESMERIZING, AND DARK ALBUM THAT PAINTS MOMENTS OF SILENCE AND OF NOISE, CALMNESS, AND VIOLENCE, WITH EACH TRACK OFFERING A GLIMPSE OF BEAUTY." WHAT WAS THE CREATIVE PROCESS LIKE FOR DEVELOPING THIS PROJECT? DID YOU GO IN WITH AN EXPECTATION OR DID IT EVOLVE OVER TIME?

It was definitely something that developed and evolved over time. We were experimenting with Celtic and folk influences whilst trying to add a modern twist in terms of production and sound. At the start it felt very much as if we were drowning and well out of our depth, but when experimenting that’s often the best place to be in terms of creativity. Eventually, it began to take on a life of its own, something which now gives the record a real depth. 

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG MUSICIANS JUST STARTING THEIR CAREERS, BASED ON WHAT YOU’VE EXPERIENCED?

Develop a thick skin. You have to get very used to people criticising your work, or simply just ignoring it. Ultimately though, you need to be confident in what you create. One of the many reasons that we all love music so much is that there is no real right or wrong answer. It's a matter of opinion, it's not black or white, or 2 + 2 = 4. 

WHAT MOTTO, AFFIRMATION, OR QUOTE EMPOWERS, INSPIRES, OR MOTIVATES YOU?

There are a few but like we said earlier, "never the same song twice," is a big one for us. Some artists have built strong and lasting careers by doing the total opposite of that and if it works for them, why not do it? We’re trying something different.

FOR FUN, IF YOU WERE STRANDED ON AN ISLAND AND COULD ONLY HAVE (3) ITEMS WITH YOU, WHAT WOULD YOU BRING?

It’s not the first time we’ve been asked this so we’re getting used to being stranded! Apart from the obvious bottle of rum and Captain Jack Sparrow to hang out with I think the first thing would be a guitar or other instrument. Not the tuba though, please. After that someone to share the experience with as really human relationships are the thing that counts most in life. Finally, we might need to talk about that rum again. 

WHAT DO YOU HAVE COMING UP NEXT?

We’ve got some shows coming up to try out the new songs in a live setting. It’s always amazing to see them come to life in front of an audience. Elsewhere we are constantly thinking about songwriting and production ideas, so watch this space. 

WHAT HAS BEING WITH A PUBLISHING ADMINISTRATOR, LIKE SONGTRUST, ALLOWED YOU TO DO AS AN ARTIST?

All the way throughout our career we’ve written, engineered, produced, and mixed our own music. Once the creative side of things is finished, Songtrust has allowed us to remain in control of our songs. The band is called Coffee House Anarchists so it’s probably no surprise that being able to make independent decisions about our music is more than important to us. The reality is that Songtrust makes this possible.   

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