Having previously introduced and discussed this Belfast trio last year during the release of "Conditions", I recently had the immense pleasure of attending one of their live concerts and meeting with them.

I found the live experience to be particularly transfixing and evocative (both sonically and visually). I would say that Chalk is a band striving for minimalism through obscure intellectual complexity.

This follow up EP opens with a grandiose electro number: "The Gate" is a track filled with punk/EBM influences, and the feeling of an impending panic attack. It may not be the easiest on the ear - especially if you are approaching Chalk for the first time, but it does make for a bold opening statement. This is exactly what the trio is about: finding the powerful within the essential, and pushing it to the absolute limit.

The following tracks, on the other hand, engulf us in a catatonic dream, in which detachment and dissociation become leading characters, and their hypnotic synthscapes the supporting ones. These profoundly dark anthems are crafted in modern poetry and "post-nothingness". 

Here is what they had to say:

- Where did you all meet and how did the band start?

We all met at Film School in our first year. We connected over a love for Gilla Band and general noisy music that no one else was into.

- Who picked the name "Chalk"?

We got it from a random word generator and felt it fitted us aesthetically. We’re big fans of the power of a single word in general, especially regarding song titles.

- One aspect I find particularly appealing in your music is your storytelling style. It's raw, emotionally charged, and it makes your tracks relatable and personal. Is this an acquired quality that came from your film/video art background?

I think so. We’re all filmmakers; we want to convey a story. We don’t like to explain outright what our songs or videos mean. We know what they mean, but we think it’s more interesting for people to come up with their own interpretations.

- Your rigorously black & white music videos seem to be an integral part of your art process and identity. Would you say your music is almost conceived as a soundtrack to the videos and the two are one artistic entity?

Our videos are definitely an integral part of our creative process. Our music always comes first, but our writing is very image-driven. Many of the images we create in our minds when initially writing lyrics or creating soundscapes end up in our videos months later. For example, the “Them” Music Video feels like a complete work to me. 

- Many artists dealing with electronic and post-rock nowadays are writing film scores. It became apparent that one of the biggest hurdles is writing with a "space" in mind. If you are writing for a movie, you have that limited space, if you are writing with a live venue or club in mind, you write for the collective experience that your audience shares. I think in your case this separation has almost become irrelevant. I find that your tracks work great in a live venue and great as soundtracks. It's actually a very unique feature. Are film scores in your near future?

The near future would probably be quite optimistic. We have a lot of love for Nine Inch Nails and Trent Reznor, and we would love to pursue scoring for film. However, we haven’t been asked yet, but who knows?

- What are your biggest influences in music, art, and cinema?

We’ve already mentioned Trent Reznor, but other influences would be:

Gilla Band
Joy Division
Man Ray
Maya Deren
Jonathan Glazer
Wim Wenders
Ingmar Bergman

- How would you describe your music style? I think it's quite hard to categorize and it defies any sort of stereotype.

We find it hard as well. We’re still figuring it out. Noisy, dancey? We get called post-punk the most.

- Is "Conditions II" a continuation of "Conditions" as the title suggests? And what is their shared narrative/feeling/concept outside the sonic DNA.

It is. That would be giving it away.

- I think I've said and written this many times, but you are for me one of the darkest acts out there. It's really hard to be musically original nowadays, as post-punk and post-rock are highly derivative genres filled with stylistic sensationalism. You, however, managed to create a style that is unique to you. When I listen to a Chalk's song, I don't think of technical and production embellishments, I just find myself in a really obscure and liberating place. There is an element of raw authenticity to every piece of music you write. Are your lyrics referring to personal experiences?

That’s kind of you to say. We write about universal feelings and experiences — emotions we have felt ourselves. Overall, we aim for an expressionist approach with our lyrics. So, we might not be outright telling you what we’re feeling, but we hope we can evoke a mood or a feeling from a listener, one that goes hand in hand with the music.

- Talking about your unique sound, what are your music backgrounds?

We all have to varying degrees. I (Ben, Guitarist) played in an indie band as a teenager. Luke (Drummer) played in the school Orchestra, and Ross (Lead Singer) played some gigs as an acoustic two-piece.

- There is a sense of impending doom in most of your tracks and accents of morbidity perhaps. These feelings are amplified by your spiralling sonic and lyrical repetitions. It seems to be the special signature you authenticate every track with. Many contemporary artists use the concept of repetition in order to build to a particular moment and release. Is this the case with your music? 

We do love repetition. There’s an absolute freedom that comes from simplicity. Sometimes, you’re striving for simplicity in the musical process, as you can get lost in the complexities of production, and you start to overthink every decision. We feel that the repetition of a line or a word is enough to guide you through a track.

- Do you have a collective favourite Chalk track that holds a special meaning?

This one is up for debate and can probably change. I’m not sure if we can all agree on one, but it might have to be “Velodrome.”

- "Bliss" has a very similar structure to "Conditions" (in the first EP). It's a patient contained slow-burn that takes time to reach its climax and explode. Maybe "Conditions" implodes as opposed to "Bliss" that explodes. I do find them sonically and metaphorically complementary.  When the EP Conditions II was announced the first thing I wondered was - Is there going to be a Conditions II track too? In a way I think Bliss was just that. Is it coincidental?

That’s a great observation. I’ve been pretty obscure so far, so I’ll say that Bliss is the Conditions of the EP. It is spiritually “Conditions II”. You nailed it. 

- Are you going to play at any festival this Summer? Also, any plans for a European tour?

Yes, we have a lot of festivals booked for this summer and the rest of the year. So far, we’ve announced shows in Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland, the UK, Italy, Germany, France, Belgium, and Switzerland.

- And last question, also the most important! Is there an LP on the horizon?

There is definitely new music on the horizon. 

- Well, I guess that is as much as Ben is going to reveal for now! haha. I do look forward to anything materializing on Chalk's horizon.


Conditions II

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