Chandeliers puts a danceable twist on art rock, Krautrock, and avant-garde influences; their kaleidoscopic electronic jams are artful yet accessible. Together the trio of Chris Kalis, Harry Brenner, and Scott McGaughey play with adventurous indie rock bands like Icy Demons, Killer Whales, and Michael Columbia and began making electronic music in 2004 as an escape from Chicago’s chilly winters, debuting live early the following year at University of Chicago. Their first recording, the Circulation EP, arrived two years later and the albums The Thrush, Dirty Moves, and Roulé (a split with like-minded Chicagoans Mahjongg) revealed more layers of Chandeliers’ entrancing energy. In 2011, Cinema 16 commissioned the group to perform original live scores to Wallace Berman’s Aleph; and Elmen Etting’s 1933 nature/dance film Oramunde. The grooves continued on the 2012 album Founding Fathers, deemed “one of the most exciting records to come out of the Chicago underground in a long time” by the Chicago Tribune. Chandeliers have toured with and locally supported groups such as Yeasayer, Blues Control, Shabazz Palaces, Javelin, Man Man, Nite Jewel, John Maus, Sleigh Bells, and Cluster and performed at the WIRE Adventures in Modern Music Festival and Tomorrow Never Knows Festival. The group’s music has received praise from Pitchfork, The Fader, MTVHive, AdHoc, Chicago Tribune, WBEZ, Vocalo, AllMusic, CHIRP, WNUR, WFMU, KCRW, The WIRE, and many others. They have performed the music of Terry Riley, Moondog, Steve Reich, and most recently the Residents for the premiere of “Theory of Obscurity: A Film About the Residents” at CIMMFest 2014.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. Scott and Chris: We enjoy the divine taste of a cold ‘rona in the summer and we’ve been making music with Harry Brenner and many other friends for many moons. We been releasing records since 2008 on labels like Captcha, Obey Your Brain, and Pickled Egg. During the day, Scott is in charge of production and licensing at Drag City and Chris is an Assistant Professor at DePaul University in the School of Cinema and Interactive Media. We work closely with Nick Ciontea aka brownshoesonly, who provides a moving visual counterpart to our music with his modular video synthesizer. We’re currently working on two albums that we plan to release near the end of the year.
How has living in Chicago affected your music? It’s pretty supportive & non-competitive usually. We’re very lucky in that way here. Chicago’s got a great cast of people to meet and live amongst. The cold weather has a huge impact on creativity because you are forced to live 75% of the year indoors. If we were in California we’d probably be at the beach all day and would get nothing done.
Describe your current studio or practice space. We practice at the Shape Shoppe, which is a majestic loft in near Chinatown, it’s a real trip and a half. Many fine bands and musicians were based and grew out of this space. The vibe there is out of sight.
What kinds of things are influencing your music right now? Getting back into Jon Hassell, Bernard Krause, Shabazz Palaces new LP, Syd Mead’s illustrations & the black hole of bliss called Cinema!
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? We recently performed a set of Residents songs, mostly stuff from Commercial Album. This was for the premiere of Theory of Obscurity: A film about the Residents. Always working on new music we’d like to hear if we randomly stumbled on. Just wrote a whole new set for this recent show for VersionFest, but alas it got cancelled last-minute due to the gallery flooding, or a least that is the story they sold us, and we totally bought it.
How did your interest in music begin? Wine from Libidos? That’s a long story that none of us can really recollect with any accuracy. So let’s just say the interest just seemed to “happen” one day similar to how time and space just “happened” one day.
Tell us about your work process and how it develops. Life, Sex, and Death. Plus, we just got 13 likes on Soundcloud—so we’ve got that in our back pocket, which is nice. Seriously though, we record and “jam” them out (songs that is), then edit them into something cohesive. Then we usually don’t finish it completely before we get bored and move on to the next one. We’ve been doing that for about two years since our last release, Founding Fathers, so we have about 50 unfinished tunes that we hope to eventually complete and release before the year 2020.
Where is your ideal place to perform? Probably the Thirsty Whale, Gas Works, or maybe Tuesday nights at Jericho. Rest in Peace Harold Ramis
What are you reading right now? We’ve been sharing a lot of books with each other recently. Most notably: The Friedkin Connection by William Friedkin, Expanded Cinema by Gene Youngblood, and the 33 1/3 books for Donuts, Trout Mask Replica, Song Cycle, and Selected Ambient Works II. Chris is working his way through a cheap paperback version of 2010: Odyssey Two by Arthur C. Clarke.
Any upcoming shows or tours we should know about? July 29 at Wally World in Logan Square.