Chavis Chance is an American singer-songwriter currently living in Spain. We were blown away by his latest single ‘Call Me’ that is released today and we knew it is our chance to talk to the man in charge.
Chavis is a son of singer-songwriter rock ‘n roller, Dirk Hamilton and together they collaborated on numerous songs. Chavis brings the spirit of a by-gone era to the modern pop song.
Here is our more in-depth conversation with Chavis Chance – a hippie at heart that loves a fat back beat.
Congratulations on releasing your 5th single this year. Tell us about your journey up until the release of your latest single?
Hey, thanks! Well, I moved from Texas to Spain about a year ago, ready to start recording a new project, but over the previous couple years, I’d collected a whole heap of finished recordings from different songs that a lot of love went into but hadn’t ever really felt like the right time to start releasing.
I kinda figured I had to do SOMETHING with the old ones or else risk them just collecting dust forever. So at some point, I just started putting them out one at a time. It’s been a cool experience, I definitely feel like I’ve learned a lot and it’s great just having people finally hear the music.
Do you remember what was going on in your life when you wrote ‘Call Me’?
Hmm… I think I started ‘Call Me’ in the summer of 2016 when I was living with my mom after my first year at Berklee. I don’t remember quite what spurred it exactly but I remember sitting on the couch at my mom’s house with a really intense feeling that I was trying to figure out how to put into a song.
At that point, I was really into a song on my dad’s second album called ‘Joanna Ree’ which is this inscrutable power ballad with a real dark edge to it. I was actually worried ‘Call Me’ was too much like it when I first brought it to him, but he didn’t notice. I think he actually ended up one by one editing out the parts that were totally stolen.
What does the song mean to you?
I had a certain person in mind when I wrote it. I think the lyrics pretty much say what I felt like I needed to say to that person at that time. I played it for her one night when it was nearly finished and we’ve never really talked about it.
Your dad seems to be a massive figure in your life. How did you decide to collaborate together?
Yeah, he absolutely is. I remember when I first got into The Beatles, I listened through their albums chronologically. I spent a lot of time on each album, really trying to absorb it, and in-between listens he would tell me all about what it was like living through those times. He did the same thing as I listened to Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, etc. He knows so much and
I had such an imagination that sometimes I felt like I had actually lived through it all myself.CHAVIS CHANCE
Then I discovered his music! I went to all sorts of his concerts as a kid but it wasn’t till I was around fourteen that I started actually paying attention. Lyrically, especially, I think his work can go toe to toe with just about any of the greats. I’m not sure how much we decided to collaborate as it just… happened.
Once I started writing songs I would always bring them to him and he would try to help me make them better. At some point, I started bringing songs where he would contribute so much that they became as much his songs as they were mine.
‘Call Me’ is the first single that you co-wrote together. You described your dad as a ‘poetic dude’. What does it mean for you to be able to work together?
So actually, this is the third of the six singles that was co-written with him! “Mama Juna” and “when we sync up,” which came out earlier this year, were both co-writes. I think “Call Me” might have been the first one that we wrote together, though.
He is a poetic dude. He’s very attuned to words, and he holds the quality of his work to a very high standard. It was super validating when he started seeing me as an artist capable of collaborating on something with him, and the songs I’ve worked on with him tend to be some of my favourites.
It was super validating when he started seeing me as an artist capable of collaborating on something with him, and the songs I’ve worked on with him tend to be some of my favourites.
Is it easy for you to find mutual grounds?
Generally, yes. I trust his opinion on art. We actually more often than not share the same opinions. It’s occurred to me that since I pretty much learned so much of my taste in movies, writing, and art from him it makes a lot of sense that we have so much overlap. When I’m writing something I can usually imagine what he’ll say about it before I show him.
There have been a couple of minor things in different songs. For example, in ‘Call Me’ I don’t think we ever totally agreed on some of the chords, so he performs it differently than I do – but we’re usually on the same page about the big stuff. I also think there’s something cool about having the different versions.
What does it mean to you being able to release music during this rather strange time?
It’s strange that so much of everything lives online now. In some ways I feel like this is the future we’ve been heading towards, but we suddenly got a firm shove and skipped a few steps. I miss the live shows.
My dad said to me sometime in early April that it’s good to be a songwriter in a time like this. It’s a self-contained activity that you can do anywhere and by yourself. I feel thankful for that. My friends who aren’t artists have been bored out of their minds at home but life hasn’t been too terribly different for me.
Where do your ideas for songs come from?
Most of them are just gifts. I don’t know. Some I toil away for weeks, months. A lot of them just fall out. I try not to tell the songs what to be so much as listen and do what I can to guide them towards whatever they’re meant to be.
When you keep making time to show up you tend to make progress.CHAVIS CHANCE
What does your creative process look like?
If you were a fly on the wall, probably pretty dumb! A lot of sitting around, dreaming. Strumming the guitar. Singing melodies with gibberish words trying to figure out what a song is about. More dreaming. I find when you keep making time to show up you tend to make progress. Some songs take a long time to reveal themselves – I have one I’ve been working on since early 2015. I like writing on real paper. I like sharpies.
If we’d hack your Spotify account, what artists would we find?
Nick Hakim, Phoebe Bridgers, Emily King, Leon Bridges, Amos Lee, Dawes, Foy Vance, Allen Stone, and Blake Mills.
Do you have a song, that when you hear it, you’d say, “I wish I’d written that”?
The first one that comes to mind right now is ‘If We Were Vampires; by Jason Isbell. He’s great. I’ve been coming back to that song for… years now, I guess. It just nails so much about what it is to be human.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our audience?
I want to shout-out the killin’ musicians who made ‘Call Me’ happen! Matthew Benthall on guitar, Jake Blumberg on keys, Gianluca Magalotti on bass, and Adam Saah on drums. Betty Gray sang backup and Thomas Debelian played the percussion. If you’re looking for players, hire these people!!
While I’m at it, Ryan Yobs recorded and produced the track and Joel Gardella mixed it remotely. Can’t recommend these guys higher.
What have you got planned for the rest of 2020?
I’ve been working on a project with engineer/producer Kauner Michael. We started last year together in Valencia but the last few months he’s been living in LA and the whole project has become this futuristic collaborative effort. Musicians and friends are sending in parts they’ve tracked from all over the world and we’re making some pretty exciting stuff. I was hoping to get a single out before the year ends… we’ll see.