As the Chase in Chase and Status, Saul Milton conquered the dance world. Now, as part of the Rebel Sound crew, he told CHRIS BROOM how they’re doing it all over again.
Saul Milton is better known to his legion of fans as the Chase in multi-platinum selling dance titans Chase and Status.
But along with his colleague Will (Status) Kennard, they’ve taken the act that made their name out of the public eye for a while.
But that doesn’t mean they’ve been idle – the duo have become part of the five-man Rebel Sound crew.
The crew, also featuring MC Rage, Shy FX and David Rodigan, was put together originally to take part in the Red Bull Culture Clash contest at Earls Court last October. The contest is a modern version of the soundclashes that have been a staple of reggae and dancehall music in Jamaica since the 1950s.
The prestigious event sees competing crews put together special sets with one-off recordings – dubplates – created for the contest, special guests and live MCs, over several rounds before the crowd picks the winner.
Following their victory in that, they are now taking the act on the road throughout summer – including a headline date at this year’s Mutiny Festival at Fontwell Park near Chichester on Sunday, July 19. When The Guide catches up with Saul, it’s the day after his 34th birthday, and he’s sounding surprisingly chipper. ‘I’m having a quiet one today,’ he says.
Explaining the creation of Rebel Sound, he says: ‘It was a long time in the making. As Chase and Status we had been approached by Red Bull in the past to do the Culture Clash, but due to certain cirumstances and associations with other energy drinks we were unable to take part.
‘When those contracts expired, Red Bull approached us again.
‘We’ve been close with Shy FX for years and years and been studio neighbours, plus we’ve known Roddie for many years and he’s been a big influence.
‘We’d been talking with Shy about doing something together, but not something just run of the mill, not just working on a tune and putting that out, but doing something different and exciting, and we’re all mad passionate soundclash fans.
‘We thought this could be an amazing coming together of three generations of sounds. The other teams we were going to play against, A$AP Mob, BBK and Stone Love, these are crews of eight to 10 or more, ours is only five people deep, but it felt good, a real meeting of minds.’
And they revelled in their underdog status at the Culture Clash.
‘We’ve been doing this for years, but for people to not have us as favourites to win, it was like we need to show them here, and we felt very vindicated to be victorious.
‘Don’t get it twisted though, we love those other guys: Stone Love, absolute legends, BBK, we’ve got so much time for them, and A$AP and his lot, they didn’t know what they were doing in a soundclash,’ he laughs, ‘but they’re making some great records.
‘When it comes down to the night though, there’s no doubt I’m competitive – no holds barred.
‘Actually the soundclash we planned out to the second, meticulously, like a medical procedure, down to the finest detail.
‘If you start getting flustered and changing your plan at the last minute... familiarity in those scenarios is always best.
‘We had two identical technical decks set set up, so when someone was playing we had another one mrroring it exactly, just in case the soundsystem blew, or whatever. Just in case, bam! We could have it with no delay.
‘But now we won’t have that in the show, we have 90 minutes instead of four short, staggered rounds.
‘Songs will breathe, you will get to hear full songs in some cases, not just 14 seconds calling out someone’s name.’
While they were focused on the Culture Clash – they spent months working on the dubplates – it went so well, the group felt it would be foolish not to carry on working together.
‘We went into that clash just thinking about that clash, and not about what we might get off of the back of it’ Saul says, ‘because that would be shallow and it really was about the soundclash.
‘When we did it though, we didn’t think it would be a one-off and we would go our separate ways and never see each other again. We thought if it works and it works well with a good vibe, we could do something on a different platform.’
However, for the show to work as a festival performance, rather than a soundclash, they have had to go back to the drawing board.
‘A big difference is that although the soundclash was four hours long, we only played for a maximum of 45 minutes of that and you’re slamming a lot in.
‘The clash is competitive and that’s what’s exciting about it. That side of it is incredibly important to us.
‘We haven’t got the competitive element here now though, but we do get to show the music we love.’
While the focus is off Chase and Status for now, they’ve been busy recording a new album, which they hope to have out next year.
‘As Chase and Status we have been nonstop for about a decade, apart from this year. And since the inception of the live show in 2009 we’ve been at all the festivals, it’s been incredible.
‘I just feel that it’s nice to step back a bit, have some fresh tunes, create a new vision for the live show, and come back with a bang, that’s the intention.’
For now though, it’s all about Rebel Sound: ‘We’re happy right now to be giving it back to the fans who have supported us and they’ll get to hear a lot of tunes that they will never hear anywhere else, exclusive stuff you won’t hear anywhere else apart from in our set.’
...where they’d like to take Rebel Sound
I guess as dancehall reggae fans we would love to take it to Jamaica and the Caribbean islands, places that mean a lot to us as individuals and collectively.
...their unplayed Tom Jones dubplate
We might be able to play a little snippet somewhere. Unfortunately it calls out the other crews, so we don’t want to air these post-clash as it would sound like gloating, and we’re not about that.
We are a mixed bag, we can go to Reading and get our guitars out on the main stage, or we can go to the dance stage, and get a good reaction there. We are quite eclectic in what we do.
Where & when...
Mutiny Festival takes place on July 18 and 19 at Fontwell Park near Chichester. Tickets are from £45 for Saturday, £35 for Sunday and £65 for the weekend. Go to mutinyfestivals.co.uk