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Q + A With Chavez Cartel

Hi, thanks for taking the time to chat with Hear 2 Zen, what have you been up to today?
Hey guys how ya doing. I’ve got my family over visiting from the UK at the moment so be enjoying a rare bit of downtime with them. Emphasis on the word RARE 

Tell us about yourself, how long have you been performing/creating music for?
I guess I’ve been taking it seriously for about 7-8 years now. Before that my creative outlet was more poetry and creative writing focussed, which ended up being quite useful once the music came along as the lyrics were waiting patiently on the shelf. Chavez Cartel has always existed inside in one way or another it just wasn’t always musical. I met the boys around 7 years ago and it became what it is today. It’s been a journey 

Who are your greatest inspirations?  Why?
If you were to ask any band member the same question you’d get completely different answers but me personally I owe a lot to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. They’re the band that made me want to start a band. I first heard them when I was at school and their sounds blew my mind. I’d never heard anything like them at the time and it opened me right up to a different way of hearing music. They’re king for me. A band that can do no wrong. 

How do you create music?  Are you lyrics/story driven, or does the music/melody come first?  Explain your process.
In the bands earlier stage as I touched up on before the poetry was always there and the stories wrote themselves so yes at the beginning we were very lyric driven. We still are and you’ll never hear any lazy lyrics from us but the message is more of a well rounded one these days. A lot of emphasis on sounds and trying new things as much as we can. Tom plays around with different sounds in percussion and the boys are always adding to their pedals. We take our pre production more seriously now too which again I think comes from the sound exploration. It’s opened up the writing process as we’re getting more out of our notes now so the songs can stem from anywhere. It’s less pressure on each individual too. Very much band writing these days. It’s great. It’s why we’re in one! 

What has been your greatest challenge so far in performing/creating music?
Stress! Any emotion is great for writing except stress. Love, depression, pain, boredom all great catalysts for creativity but not stress. Stress kills it. In my experience so far that’s been my greatest challenge. 

Tell us about your new release Dead Weekend, how did it come about?
We did a 5 track live recording back in 2020 during the pandemic and did a version of it in that set. It got picked up by BBC Radio over in the UK and got some support over there so we recorded it properly. The wonderful and hard working girls over at On The Map PR kind of gravitated towards that song too as a preferred single from our upcoming EP and now here we are talking to you fine people. And that’s it. You’re up to speed 

What advice do you have to artists who are just starting out?
Enjoy it. Be ambitious. Never stop learning. Ride out every wave of doubt and keep going. Repeat that 

Tell us your favourite Zen practice.
Sleep. I don’t even know if that qualifies as a Zen practice but it’s my favourite and I need to do more of it. I’ve got a 3 year old daughter and I’m still running my construction business around the band so I’ve got 3 full time jobs. If you can think of anything more Zen than sleep then please get in touch with some suggestions. I’m fucked 

Liven up your day with a sonic cocktail of hazy guitars, moody melodics, and sultry swagger courtesy of the brand new single Dead Weekend out now from Gold Coast rockers Chavez Cartel. A track that would equally be at home soundtracking a slick HBO series as much as it appears to unfurl like a shot of single-malt whisky, Dead Weekend finds Chavez Cartel teaming up with ARIA Award-winning producer Govinda Doyle on recording and engineering duties to bring this dark and blazing tune to vivid life.

Drawing inspiration from two key hypnotic, slow-burning tracks, Colossus by British rockers IDLES and In Every Dream Home A Heartache by Roxy Music, Dead Weekend also pulsates with nods to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club alongside deep and mature self-exploration, as the band elaborates, “Dead Weekend is all about deep self-reflection. It’s about everything we have been through to get us to where we are now – the current version of ourselves. No matter how low we allow ourselves to go in life, it’s always ultimately up to us to pick ourselves back up, and it’s also up to us on how high we are able to climb. Dead Weekend is all about that. And if you’re to look at that notion fully, it’s also up to us how to decide how low we allow ourselves to fall in the first place.

Dead Weekend is brutal in its take on self- accountability, but it admits that it’s all part of the act. The title of the song is sort of like a grim way of looking at growing the fuck up and sorting out your life from the pit of the stomach. When we are younger, we tend to live for the weekend, but Dead Weekend is about the stage of life a little later on when we’re looking to live for a lot, lot more.” Perfectly complementing the sonic flavours on display, the accompanying music video for Dead Weekend is deliciously dark and equally hypnotic. With Nathan Frost helming the clip as director of photography and producer, whose work also extends to music videos for Tory Forsyth and Bad Pony, and film work on Aquaman, Alien Covenant, Pirates of the Caribbean and Thor Ragnarok, the end result is a finely-tuned work of art – but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a lyric video, as the band explains, “The concept of the video is very much inspired by the concept of the song.

We wanted it to be dark, minimalistic, and hypnotic and for it to all be in one place. The idea of keeping the camera up close to Ben’s face throughout means the viewers have nowhere really to look except where we want them to: directly into the eyes and soul of the storyteller, which is essentially what the song is about – looking into the mind and soul through different eyes and moods. There’s a lot of words in the song that suggest really delicate, perhaps desperate, inner dialogue; words like “pray” and “praying”, “fear”, “believing”, “toxic”, “control”, we really wanted the viewer to be right up close to these intensities. There’s lyrics running through the video that could be mistaken for subtitles. This is deliberate. We wanted the viewer to feel like they were being spoken to directly. Almost like a therapy session and the viewer is the therapist interpreting the words in their own way. It’s important they hear the right words which is why we added lyrics into the video – but it’s equally as important they make their own minds up on what we’re actually saying. It’s a mysterious-sounding song to be fair, and this was our attempt at adding that to the visual.” 

Spending the past 12+ months honing their sound and crafting a new batch of music, Dead Weekend is the perfect addition to both 2023 and Chavez Cartel’s ever-growing catalogue. A group equally enamoured by music as they are with art and food, Chavez Cartel, comprised of four self-described “working class dreamers”, firmly embrace the loose acronym for the word “Chavez” with every creative move they make – aka “Can Have it All Very EaZily”. Constantly spurring themselves to surge forward, their relentless hard work has also led to the group working with a UK record label and ultimately, as of this year, ticking off an exciting career first: their first ever overseas tour, with festivals and side shows lined up in the UK this May. And before they trek across the pond, Chavez Cartel will also appear as the main support for UK rockers, and current UK and Ireland #1 Album Chart toppers, The Reytons, with a show in Sydney next month. And as to what fans at home and abroad can expect from a 2023 Chavez Cartel live show. “We try to make sure all our shows have big energy and big sound,” the band conclude, “but we’re really excited by all this it’s our first time being booked overseas so the enthusiasm is through the roof.

We don’t really know what to expect…us on steroids, I guess! 

Dead Weekend is out today, Friday March 3.


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Hear2Zen Magazine
Hear2Zen is a "Non Genre Specific" publication that celebrates all things sensory.

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