After a busy year of gigs, winning the 2019 SoundWaves Music Competition and collaborating with Tileyard residents on new music, we caught up with Rob and Adam from the band Chasing Deer.
For those who don’t know you, can you introduce yourself?
We’re Rob and Adam, and we’ve been making music under the name Chasing Deer for the last five years.
It’s great how you are being proactive in raising awareness for British Sign Language. What led you towards your connection with BSL?
Adam: We wanted to create an album that had globally recognisable artwork and themes, as we love playing our international shows. We had the idea of using BSL, which my mum had been involved in for a few years, assisting deaf children in British Sign Language learning at schools. We released a single every month of 2018 with original artwork featuring a huge variety of hands portraying a word in BSL. We received support from the BDA and Sign Health, for who we are now charity ambassadors!
Rob: Our debut album launch at Bush Hall (Nov 2018) was attended by a large deaf audience, for which we provided balloons for feeling additional sound vibrations, in addition to our song lyrics being interpreted in full on stage. The show was sponsored by Marshall Amps who provided more power for us to crank up the bass frequencies, and the show was reviewed during an interview with the band on Sky News. We have been building on our mission for accessibility in music ever since.
You curated the world’s first fully accessible SOFAR Sounds show earlier this year. How did you manage this?
Adam: We contacted SOFAR sounds, who were on board with our accessibility goal. A show was arranged in East London back in June with a varied show of music and poetry. Every act that night was interpreted and available for anyone to enjoy. The balloons were back and a great success for both deaf and hearing audience members.
Rob: To go one step further, with some help from our interpreter, we learnt parts of our set in sign language, which we stopped and taught the audience during the show. It was amazing to see a whole room of people joining in with the movements in unison, and hopefully going away feeling like they had learnt something new, slightly more aware of others in the world around them!
Congratulations on winning the 2019 SoundWaves Music Competition. What did this involve?
Adam: We entered the SoundWaves Music Competition earlier in the year, which has over a thousand applicants of some very talented artists and bands. We played at a few regional heats in London which all went really well, and the competition between the quality of acts was really close. We were extremely happy to win the London regional final at the O2 Islington!
Rob: It all came at a good time for us, as we had written a few crowd pleasing songs using trumpet and a wall of synths, so our live show was a big step up show to show. We choreographed dancers into the live performance to really add to the party vibe, as well as keeping our BSL interpreted movements in the songs. We heard the Grand Final was in Birmingham, which is our home city, and everything came together for us. The atmosphere on the night of the final was electric, especially when we found out we had won! Now we’ll be taking our newly improved show on the road in 2020 for a good run of tour dates.
What was it like playing in front of the president of Kenya? How did this opportunity come about?
Rob: We were very fortunate to bump into a representative of the Kenyan Tourist board, who approached us in Oxford Street whilst we were performing some new songs back in 2017. In a state of half paying attention and half singing, I was asked if we would like to be involved in a project singing in Swahili. I said yes, as we love a musical challenge and an opportunity. Amazingly within a week we had hosted Masai cultural ambassadors in our home in Ealing and were singing songs in three different dialects used in Kenya. We went to sing in the Kenyan High Embassy where a video of us performing went viral via WhatsApp over in Kenya.
Adam: A few months later, we were flying over to Kenya to sing as guests at the Kenyan International Music Festival, with interviews and broadcasts on national TV stations. It is an experience we will never forget, widening our horizons and creating great friends and memories. We were honoured to perform for the Jamhuri independence day celebrations in London at the International Maritime Organisation building.
Tell us more about the single that you wrote for Pride in London in 2018.
Adam: We entered a competition called Pride’s Got Talent in 2017, another competition that taught us so much and helped us improve as musicians. After the judges voting us through a few early heats, we reached the final of the competition, allowing us to perform at both Charing Cross Theatre and Trafalgar Square on the day of Pride in London to thousands of people.
Rob: We made loads of great friends through the competition and realised that it would be great to perform with them all again sometime. We had the idea of a group single style song, which ended up being a huge project for us. Working in collaboration with Pride in London, we rallied over 20 singers between three studios to put together a song called ‘unstoppable’. The song received a huge amount of support and was picked up by an official Spotify playlist, making it our most popular song to date! We officially launched ‘unstoppable’ in Trafalgar Square to a crowd of 10 thousand people, alongside a selection of the singers from the song.
Are you working on any new music at the moment? Collaborating with anyone?
Rob: We’re working away between shows (or at 2am after shows!) on new material for 2020, having written and recorded some great new songs with Paul Whalley and Nick Bradley of the Sound Collective at Tileyard London.
Adam: There’s a list of collaboration song demos from this year that we are holding onto. We love collaborating in lots of different styles and are always open if anyone wants to get in touch!
Top gig of 2019?
Adam: Not quite 2019 but at the very end of last year we saw Paul McCartney at the O2 which was amazing, especially with Ringo and Ronnie Wood joining Paul on stage!
Rob: The Specials in the ruins of Coventry cathedral. Playing all their hits to a huge sell-out hometown crowd was so nostalgic. A few days before, their guitarist Lynval had also seen us perform live at Godiva Festival and had a chat with us.
Adam: So many great shows from this year, but being brought over to Holland for the second time to play our favourite beach bar Hippie Fish was pretty cool. Seeing the crazy/enthusiastic crowds singing along to our song Placebo was a nice moment.
Rob: We performed a live radio broadcast in the Coventry central library, (once a famous music venue mentioned in songs by The Specials) on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire as the house band. It was a totally different vibe and great to watch the public walk in expecting a regular quiet day.
Highlight of 2019?
Both: Recording four songs in the hills of Tuscany over two weeks. Great weather, great food and a whole studio to ourselves to experiment.
Go-to playlist at the moment?
Rob: We tend to have fresh finds type playlists on in the office to discover new artists, but on the road between shows it’s more podcasts. Comedy podcasts (check out Gossipmongers) or music interviews (Sodajerker on songwriting) are really good to pass the long journeys. Also some moments in the comedy podcasts have left us all crying with laughter on the motorway, which is a different experience to the usual M25 journey.
What’s in the pipeline for 2020?
Adam: After a busy Christmas period switching on town lights and performing for parties, we thought we might need a little sunshine. We have some shows in LA in January that we’re really excited about.
Rob: February through to April we’ll be on two UK tours, hopefully getting in an Ireland date too. We’ll be promoting our new song releases and performing them with our live band.
Find out more about Chasing Deer here
Photo credit: Henry WR Write