News Chaplin: ‘We Sold All Our Belongings And Drove To London’

There’s a stunning, authentic charm in Chaplin.

German-come-South Londoners Chaplin are something genuinely special. Now, I know that’s said a lot, I do, but there’s a stunning, authentic charm in Chaplin that proves impossible to fade from your thoughts even days after a listen. Or maybe it’s because I’m a massive softy. Their first EP, ‘Momentaufnahme’ (try saying that after a few… come to think of it, try saying it sober) bears the splendour and beauty of a less whiny, more masculine Bon Iver. And there’s whistling.

The question on everyone’s lips… Who are Chaplin?
Pippo Vari and Dali Bor - childhood friends for over 20 years from Cologne, who call South London their new home.

You’re both from Germany. How long have you lived here and what lured you to London?
We’ve been living in England for the past four years with a little gap, which took us back to Cologne for a while - we spent the first year living in East Anglia, Norwich. It’s hard to deny that we fell for England pretty quickly- our initial plan was to stay for a few weeks!
We came back to Cologne to gather some perspective. A few gigs later as a two piece and with some demos in our bag, we decided to leave Cologne at its peak. We sold all our belongings except our instruments, packed our friends car and drove to London.
Funnily enough, I think it was an interview that I read back in Cologne which tipped everything over the edge. It was an interview with Morten Harket from A-ha, who basically said: ‘If you’re in a band, move to London. There’s no way around it!’ Looking back, it’s been the best call so far.

You’ve just made your EP, ‘Momentaufnahme’. My excellent skills in the German Language (also known as, Google translate) tell me that this translates into ‘A Snapshot in Time’. Tell me a little about the EP.
After spending quite some time gigging all over London in 2010, we started meeting more and more people in our neighbourhood. One of them turned out to be the Irish musician, Foy Vance who we spent a lot of time with, with a good old bottle of Whiskey and nothing else but a guitar and our voices.
I personally think that ‘Momentaufnahme’ captures the feeling of moving from a state of blur into something perceived as clear and back into blur and so on. Whenever I listen to the EP, I always think of climbing. You get clear days and foggy ones and when you think you’ve reached the top, you turn around and see even higher mountains.

What was the recording process like?
We recorded most of the EP with Foy, in his home studio and did quite a bit in our lounge. In the beginning we made sure that every song worked with just vocals and guitar. The rest really happened during the recording process.
The atmosphere you can hear on the recordings was the one we could sense in the room - it was bloody freezing, but a brilliant experience to work with Foy.
The other important bit of work was done by our long time friend and producer Hannes Jaeckl (which by the way is the guy who drove us to London in the first place!) He gave the recordings their warmth and a certain ‘oomph’.

Your video for ‘Controversy’ is very… ‘Hands on’…that was an awful joke. It’s really beautiful. What inspired you for the video?
I mean the main inspiration was the fact that the first video we made for ‘Controversy’ just completely sucked – mainly because it had us in it! Our friend and film maker, Matthew Humphreys happened to be involved and we remembered some of his footage he had used in one of his documentaries. The moment we put ‘Controversy’ on top of Matthew’s hand footage, we knew that we’d found it. You watch it and you almost feel like two ideas are marrying together…or at least are intensely making out. It’s one of those moments that take you by surprise.

Lovely. So, you guys are a two piece. I love a two piece, me. Are there points where you feel pressurised or that you have to prove a point with your music because you don’t have a great deal of band members to hide behind?
I mean, first of all it’s all about the songs for us. The only pressure we feel is to communicate what we want to communicate. Don’t ask me what it is, all I can say is that it either feels good or it doesn´t.
We are always fascinated by other artists ourselves who seem to go somewhere ‘uncomfortable’ but powerful.
It has been a bit of a process for us, but we started Chaplin based on the idea that we would only work with what we’ve got at this particular moment and to not be dependent on anything else.

Who are your biggest musical influences?
John Frusciante, Radiohead, Gill-Scott Heron, Depeche Mode, Yann Tiersen, Björk. Balkan folk music has also been an influence as both of our parents come from the Balkan region.

What do you have planned next? Where are your next gigs?
There’s going be a digital EP release soon and at the moment, we’re working on our new live set. The main goal at the minute is to spread the word and make sure that people out there notice what we are doing and share the love. It would be great to play some festivals next summer and we’re working towards an album, which basically just needs a budget! The rest is ready to go.

Chaplin - Momentaufnahme by ChaplinMusic

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