Chew Lips – Artist Information | The Camden Crawl 2012

Formed in London in late winter 2008, CHEW LiPS – Tigs (vocals), James Watkins (bass, synths) and Will Sanderson (guitar, synths) – wasted no time in garnering an arsenal of electro-epics, hitting upon a rich songwriting vein – famously, they wrote over 20 songs during the course of their first two rehearsals – from the off. They had no choice – Tigs had booked their first show before they’d actually written anything. “I knew James and James knew Will and we talked about being in a band for a while – it was all quite theoretical,” explains Tigs, “and then James wrote a few bits and sent them to me to add to and we booked a show. Well, I say booked a show but we arranged for this guy to have a house party so we could play. It was two weeks away.” “And we ended up like this, not because we were deciding to be an electro band or use drum machines, but because we didn’t have a drummer. We didn’t know what we were doing, so we just pressed GO on all these machines and wrote ten songs in our first rehearsal.” Those songs becoming the band’s blueprint, the next year was spent honing and perfecting on the road and in the studio, with singles, the self-produced ‘Solo’ and its follow-up, ‘Salt Air’, both released on cool-label-du-jour Kitsune, bookended by tours with Howling Bells and The Virgins. CHEW LiPS fast established themselves as a band with brilliantly contrary characteristics – synth-poppers with guitar and bass bulletholes all over their songs, eschewing the usual bedroom-based boffindom of electronic bands and slinging themselves around the UK’s toilet tour haunts, Tigs’ barbed tongue growing ever sharper with each show. In journalistic parlance, she gives good copy. Let off the leash, CHEW LiPS have gone on to create an astonishing, visceral debut that thrills from start to finish, each song different from the last but with the hallmarks of the trio stamped over everything, the tracks intrinsically connected and detached at the same time, grand and intimate at once. Opener ‘Eight’ creeps into life slowly, its glacial soundscapes giving way to a robotic surge of glitches and bleeps, ‘Play Together’ sees shrill synths pirouetting round Tigs’ deviant vocals, whilst ‘Slick’ is space-age soul, building to its climactic outro in a haze of cascading, kaleidoscopic harmonies as Tigs showcases her vocal allure – the CHEW LiPS frontwoman is mesmerising of voice, her prurient laments imbued with a playful menace that could break hearts and the law at the same time. “’Play Together’ sums us up as a band,” says James. “It’s got an amazing bassline and some really cool keyboard sounds, whilst ‘Slick’ could signal a change into a new direction for us – the thing I really like about it is that the music could be Beyonce or something. It was one that me and Tigs were always excited about. It came on the most out of all the songs we recorded in the studio.” “I love ‘Karen’,” adds Tigs. “I love that little break in it.” Indeed, anyone whose accustomed to its original live version should grip themselves for the moment it morphs from straight-arrowed art-rock into its swirling, mesmeric breakdown, whilst the likes of ‘Too Much Talking’ and ‘Piano Song’ reveal tenets of raw emotion within CHEW LiPS that underline the heart pumping within their mechanical beats’n’synths. “I like that about our record,” opines Tigs, “the suggestion that we could go in any direction afterwards and it wouldn’t be completely surprising. Like ‘Piano Song’ – where the fuck does that come from?” As it transpires, the plaintive lullaby that closes ‘Unicorn’ comes from when James sat down at a piano left in David Kosten’s studio that Stevie Wonder used to play. “It’s not a song, there’s no structure to it, it’s just… nice,” smiles Tigs.