Chase Cohl, “musician, writer, designer”

Although Chase Cohl isn’t exactly a household name, she has been in the art and entertainment industry for quite some time now and managed to put her name on...

Although Chase Cohl isn’t exactly a household name, she has been in the art and entertainment industry for quite some time now and managed to put her name on numerous of its facets.  With parents in the music industry, Cohl spent much of her youth on the road with the Stones (She still cites Keith and Ronnie as her “style icons.”) before going on to play and write music as a poetry major in college.  She’s also been in the world of fashion as a designer for over a decade, having made pieces worn by the likes of Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Fergie.

Chase Cohl has been in LA for about half a decade now doing music.  Her debut full-length, Far Away and Gone, dropped in 2018 and this Spring saw the release of Dear Dear: Volume 1, the first of a four-part collection of EPs.  This first entry was co-written with keyboardist Barry Golberg (Steve Miller Band, Bob Dylan, Percy Sledge), produced by Loren Humphrey (Guards, Cults, Willowz), and recorded in Valentine Studios, famous for recordings by The Beach Boys and Elvis.  The four tracks found on the EP have a distinctly late-‘60s/early-‘70s retro sound of sunshine pop, girl-groups, and blue-eyed soul.

Last month saw the release of a microfilm for EP track “Special Situation.”  The video was directed by actor Giovanni Ribisi and features famous friends Luka Sabbat, Duke Nicholson, George Cortina, and Marissa Ribisi, who came together with Chase when she joined them at the largely empty and unstaffed Chateau Marmont while her house was being tented for termites.

I recently got a chance to chat with Chase Cohl, who told me about her collection of EPs, her recent music video, and all of the other things she’s currently got going on in her life.

Izzy Cihak: So, considering you work in so many facets of the art and entertainment industry, I find it hard to come up with a fair and accurate title for you.  Have you or anyone you know come up with one that you’re a fan of?  What does it say on your business card?  Or do you have like a dozen different business cards?

Chase Cohl: I know, it’s kind of a handful. I have been called many things, lots of off missed marks. I don’t have business cards. I actually adore the concept of them, much more romantic than having to type someone’s name into a hand computer, but I always just end up using them to spit old gum, honestly. I would say I am a musician, writer, designer (and apparently very indecisive, ha!) It doesn’t roll off the tongue with so much ease, but at least it’s accurate.

Izzy: Well, since we’re focusing on your music career (if that’s okay, haha), what have been some of the highlights of writing and performing in that capacity?  Have you had any especially exciting experiences playing or promoting it, or any especially memorable responses to it?

Chase: I love every aspect of making music. I find the experience of taking the time to see an idea through from nothing to its strongest form to be incredibly rewarding. Playing live has always been the thing that really wet my whistle. I love the energy that is born out of a room full of people joining to experience something. Definitely the thing I’ve been most missing during covid, whilst performances have been resigned to the screen.

In terms of response to the music, I think I’ve succeeded if anyone at all feels a connection to it. I feel incredibly inspired by this style of music, by my co-writer Barry… So, all you can hope is that the right people recognize that and feel inspired too?

Izzy: You tend to wear a lot of your musical influences on your sleeve, and I know you’re a huge fan of the ‘60s and ‘70s, which you’ve talked about, so I’m curious if there are any recent musical artists that you’re a particular fan of, whether they’re doing anything similar to you or not?

Chase: Oh, truly, I’m just forever so floored by the work other women in the very small pocket of the community are making. There’s a really long list of awe-inducing female songwriters out there at the moment: Natalie Bergman, Allie Buckley, Maggie Rogers, Zella Day, Florence & the Machine, so many other phenomenal women out there, most of whom I’m lucky enough to call friends.

Izzy: You recently released a really cool music video for “Special Situation,” which includes a handful of your most artistic friends.  How did this concept for a video come about?

Chase: The idea was to do something black and white, very French in its cheekiness. Sarcasm and that level of subtlety, I find, are very often lost on American culture. Giovanni had this idea of making a sort of anti-music video. It couldn’t be overly ‘60s, because that would feel too obvious considering the project’s sound and production quality. The song is so earnest there was definitely a desire to put a pin directly to that balloon. Mostly, I just trusted him entirely. He’s really got a brilliant brain.

Izzy: Not to detract from you, but it’s so cool that Giovanni Ribisi directed the video, so I have to ask if you have any favorite films of his?  I’m 36 and such a “’90s kid,” so I’m a huge fan of things like SubUrbia, Lost Highway, and The Virgin Suicides.

Chase: Virgin Suicides and the dance scene in Ted, always.

Izzy: I understand that your latest EP is just the first in a four-part series of releases.  What was the idea behind this?  Will each volume have its own mood or tone, or does it just have more to do with people preferring to consume smaller portions of music these days?

Chase: Each volume has its own mood, made to reflect the emotional evolution that comes with the changing of the seasons. Together they make up a full-length record. I wanted to be patient with the process, allowing each section to evolve without looking over the cliff at this massive daunting project. The consistent goal has been to avoid anything getting missed in this particular body of work. It felt like a really welcome opportunity to be especially intentional with every second of every song, every visual, simply because I love the work that is making records.

Izzy: Finally, what do you have planned for the rest of 2021, whether relating to your music or one of the many other fields that you work in?  What are you most excited about at the moment?

Chase: I have much more music coming. Currently in the midst of getting the follow up volumes of Dear Dear to release by the year’s end. I’ll try to make it up to North Ontario at some point to jump in a lake. I also am releasing my first book of poems, Donation Plate, this summer and two new collections from my small line of headscarves, Besa. There doesn’t seem like much of a plan to slow down, but honestly, I like it that way.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.