In Conversation: Chuck Inglish

The Cool Kid flies solo with four new records...
Chuck Inglish by Shama Anwar

Still a Cool Kid beside Mikey Rocks, but equally comfortable flying solo, Chuck Inglish (aka Evan Ingersoll) has enjoyed the limelight since breaking into the mainstream with 2008’s EP ‘The Bake Sale’. The debut Cool Kids studio LP proper, ‘When Fish Ride Bicycles’, emerged to a fine critical reception in the summer of 2011. And now, he’s promoting a new solo mixtape, ‘Droptops’, with further releases due for later in 2013.

Clash caught up with Inglish as he stopped over in London for a pair of performances, to speak about his forthcoming ‘Convertibles’ debut album, dreams of producing for Prince, and his positive break-up song…

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Chuck Inglish, ‘Drops’, from ‘Droptops’

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So, you’ve been producing and rapping for a while now. But how would you describe your sound for a young’un, just now getting put on to Chuck Inglish?

Somebody just said in an interview that I was “retro-futuristic”. That’s very, like, bland, but I would say that it’s pretty much dead on. It’s like I take a little bit of shit that’s old and I try to make it newer, or bring older things that aren’t necessarily old and just shine them up and light them up and put my own little twist on it. So I wouldn’t really describe my sound because I don’t know what it sounds like.

Would you say your sound has changed, though, over the last few years?

It’s evolved, but there’s a lot of stuff that I made before that’s still cooler than some of the shit I’ve got right now. There’s a lot of new stuff that I know I could never make then, so it’s kinda like a weird twist because I don’t necessarily know where the evolving comes in, because I’ve gotten better at certain instruments, that’s true. Like, I play the keys way better than I did before, I play the drums… and I think different.

There are also songs that I listen to from when I was like 17 or 18, which had those same complexities. So I really don’t know, but I feel like I’m evolving because what I’m listening to is different, what I want to make is different, how I want to make it, how I mix it, how I structure it is different. So maybe that’s what evolves.

My listening ear is maybe a little more diluted than it used to be, ‘cause I used to think really crazy. I used to listen to a Neptunes song, or a Timbaland song, or something from the producers I look to and I would just go and try to f*cking beat it. I used to really try to do that.

Now I spend more time trying to make songs that will work, that will be used. Then, I used to make beats knowing that they weren’t going to go anywhere, they were just going to be for my friends and I was still going harder than I’m going right now. But then there’s times, like now when I listen to shit and I’m just like, “Yo, there’s no way I could’ve done that then.” So it’s kind of like a little, weird balance.

How’s your ‘art war’ been of late? Any rappers picked a beat you weren’t expecting them to?

Yeah... Now, more or less, I try to make the song I know you need. So, instead of them going through a long list of beats that I used to make, I would rather make the song I know you need for certain. So, that’s why like, that question’s ill, but now I don’t let that choice go down unless you’re like really close and then you can go through some shit. The last person that did that was Kid Cudi. I never make anything from scratch with him; he’ll just go through my shit and tell me what he likes. And that’ll usually be within three beats.

‘Four 12s’ was released on last year. What can we expect from ‘Four 15s’, with Boldy James, that’s dropping soon?

It’s done, that’s a ‘Convertibles’ track. It’s just bigger, like you had ‘Four 12s’ and now you got ‘Four 15s’, so the sound’s going to be bigger. More people ride around like, if you’re going to do it big, do it with four 15s (he’s talking in-car speakers – Clash). So I thought about that when I did ‘Four 12s’, like, this is the small truck joint; so ‘Four 15s’ is like the big truck shit. I play with my songs: my songs are like my toys. So now I’m pulling out the more extended version of the model car.

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Chuck Inglish, ‘Four 12s’, from ‘Droptops’

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What was your favourite part of recording ‘Droptops’?

Just doing it as quick as I did – in three weeks – was like lightning, like just being polarised. I didn’t really sleep too much, but it didn’t hurt. It was just seeing myself go lightning fast, like that, ‘cause I usually take a ton of time. I kinda carve shit and carve shit, and take my time. This one was like, “I need this summin’ out right now.” And I like that sense of urgency because I can work pretty well, when it’s faster or if I’m taking it slow.

What’s your favourite track from the mixtape, and why?

‘Keith Sweat’. I had the most fun recording that one. What I was talking about, it sounds very all over the place and cool, but a lot of that shit was really me talking about what was happening at the moment. It just felt good to get those raps off, you know, like have a song where I could bring it back: you didn’t think I was going to rap anymore, and then I’m still rapping and shit. People don’t get that, not from me I don’t think. I never really snap off, so now I’m feeling it more, so it happens more.

You recently said that if you produced a track for Jay Z you’d want it to sound like ‘Where I’m From’. I hear you are inspired by Prince also, so if you produced a track for him, what would you want it to sound like?

Like ‘Soft And Wet’. I’d want to make that, or ‘Controversy’. ‘Cause I would want to do what I was good at, and it’s that stripped-down funky shit he used to do. I would be on that shit so hard, but I would want to watch a ‘When Doves Cry’ get made. Or like a ‘Diamonds And Pearls’.

Would you ever consider rapping over an instrumental you hadn’t produced yourself?

I did a whole album with The Blended Babies, this production crew. They’re from Chicago too, and they’re living in LA. I did a whole album with them, ‘Ev Zepplin’, which might come out later this year, and I didn’t do one production on it. I didn’t touch one piece of the beat, and that’s why it’s different. I’m actually rapping way trippier.

I know you really love Timbaland and Pharrell but who would be your dream producer to work with?

Shit, I just met Budgie today (of Livin’ Proof / Piff Gang fame) and we f*cking snapped off. So, probably just some shit with him. I’ve got a record with Alchemist too, a full record that we called ‘The Thunderstorm’, that’s actually done. I did some joints with Action (Bronson) for that, and Fashawn, I’ve got some raps from Alchemist on it. Like, you do an album with Alchemist, you do it with the homies. I don’t know when we’re going to put that out. Alchemist’s got a ton of records to drop this year, so it’ll probably be after I put out ‘Convertibles’ for sure.

Cool. So it's fairly evident you’re into convertibles. If you had to pick a European model to coast in, which would it be?

I mean, my favourite car is a Saab. But, just like an all-black one – like the one from the film Paid In Full. I don’t know if you ever seen that, but that’s my favourite car, period. Dressed just like that, nothing changed. I would do a white one, and I would do a black one, and I would have another just off-colour, same shit. It’s the only European… well, my lineage is kinda Swedish, my real last name is a Swedish last name, and Saab’s a Swedish car, f*ck it.

That’s a link right there. And ‘Convertibles’ is done?

It’s done. I’m just finishing up the details of how to put it out, and like a couple more mixes. It’s just me sitting with it, making sure it’s like, perfect. Not perfect, as perfect’s a bad word, but making sure it’s like, that shit. Just that shit.

You’ve said that ‘Convertibles’ won’t sound like a Cool Kids project, or like ‘Droptops’. So what does it sound like?

It just sounds completely… it’s hard to explain. It’s like Parliament, Funkadelic rap shit. You know what I mean. It’s Prince-ish in some places; it’s just all my musical influences put into rap beats, and me rapping about some shit that I haven’t really rapped before and telling stories.

I’ve actually got, not necessarily a love song, but I got an ode to some shit I used to be in on there. That [situation] wasn’t necessarily so bad, but it was just like you learn some shit from some people and it’s weird how like, once that book or chapter is closed, it’s just f*cking closed and there’s nothing you can do about it. Nine times out of 10 if you just accept what it is, it’s cooler to look at, and you ain’t mad at the person, you ain’t mad at shit.

On some real shit, I was in a relationship for two years and sometimes you just know it’s a wrap, and it’s cooler to be that distant from that person once you realise, okay, I actually learned some shit, cool. Not everybody looks at that – a lot of people just stab themselves open and bleed out and cry. So, I feel like nobody ever wrote a song like the “break-up was good” song.

Yeah, it’s usually cry, cry, cry

All break-up songs are bad, except for this one. It’s like, I don’t f*cking hate you at all, I actually f*ck with you for like f* king with this.

Mike Einziger of Incubus is exec-producing ‘Convertibles’. How did that situation come about?

My manager, Jack, when we first started working together, he just gave me Mike’s address and said, “Yo, I told him about you, you should go over there and take him your album.” I did and Mike was like, “This shit’s jammin’ dog, let’s do this and let’s do this like this.” So to take advice from one of the best musicians on the planet is not a bad idea.

So, there’s ‘Droptops’, ‘Convertibles’, ‘Ev Zepplin’…

Yeah. And there’s the second half of ‘Droptops’. I didn’t even tell anybody I was doing that, but I am gonna drop that as soon as I get home. That shit might be harder than the first one, but it’ll have no features. Just rapping. So I’m doing four records this year. Then I’m on tour all of next year.

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The Cool Kids, ‘Black Mags’, from ‘The Bake Sale’

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Words: Laura Arowolo

Photo: Shama Anwar

Read an archive feature on The Cool Kids' Chicago hangouts here

Find Chuck Inglish online here

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