The Chalice: Collaborating in Minneapolis has helped us all out
Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen
Could there be a better group than the Chalice to play host to 10 Thousand Sounds' first go around? In short, no. It's only been 12 months since these three ladies dropped their first single, "Push It," but they've been quick to leave a mark with their brash, sassy, and fun-loving brand of hip hop. They even topped City Pages' Picked to Click poll last fall.
So it should be no surprise that they're ready to party.
"I see it as us having a party, and people being a part of our party," says singer, Claire de Lune, of the group's upcoming hosting duties. She and her bandmates, rappers Lizzo and Sophia Eris, are gathered at Muddy Waters for late-night drinks, barely a week after appearing at Soundset, and mere days before a further performance at Voltage.
Indeed, the members of the Chalice are plenty busy these days -- Lizzo, for instance, has her debut solo record, a collaboration with Lazerbeak and Ryan Olson called LIZZOBANGERS, due out this fall -- but 10 Thousand Sounds is just another chance for them to do what they do best. "As long as there's drinks," Lizzo says, "we'll be straight."
Picked to Click 2012: #1. The Chalice
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City Pages' inaugural 10 Thousand Sounds Festival lineup is here!
Gimme Noise: It's closing on a year now since you put out the EP, and you guys have stayed busy with live shows. How's the show been evolving in that time?
Lizzo: We've slowly been adding other songs. The cool thing is how we're a collective, so we do solo songs. When we have a new solo song we want to debut -- for instance, Claire had a new song that she wanted to debut that was very experimental -- we can do that at our shows. The songs from the EP, though, they just keep getting better as we perform them.
De Lune: Basically, instead of adding tons of new material, we've just been focusing on trying to make the material we have the best it can be. We're just trying to put on the best show we possibly can regardless of what the songs are.
It does seem like a big aim for the Chalice is to mix in a lot of the different personalities -- to find ways to express the different sides of the members.
De Lune: I think it's a very central thesis or point of the group. We've talked about it that, when we come together, it's something super special, and there's a very special energy to that, but we are a collective.
Lizzo: We don't just do stuff to be like, "Here's my shine." It's putting on a dynamic, well-rounded show.
De Lune: It's definitely gotten us to higher places quicker and [now] we can excel on our own, but it's really intended to be a platform to jump off of.
Part of that is visual too, though. You each have your own distinct styles, and it seems like that's an important consideration you make, as well.
De Lune: That's part of the appeal. It's not just like, "Oh, we're hot," but like it's aesthetically interesting and cool. We play up matching and we play up the differences. I think it's kind of old school to be thinking about coordinating outfits, which kind of sets us apart. A lot of contemporaries don't think about that.
How do you feel your individual contributions have evolved over time as a function of the group?
De Lune: I think we've all gotten better at working with each other, and all learned a lot from each other... But besides that, we're all pretty different; I think that's what makes our music compelling. It's not just three Lizzos or three Sophias or three Claires.
Eris: I've grown a lot. My rapping has gotten better. I know what keys are and what tunes are; I didn't know that before. I feel more confidence in myself.
It seems like a pretty fundamental change for you, Sophia, having come from a poetry background. How has being in the Chalice changed the way you write?
Eris: Now when I write, I hear drums in my head. I'm not just writing poetry, I hear a beat. My writing is like a drum now. I know my cadence and I know how I want it to sound before I think about words.
Lizzo, you actually have a solo record on the way. Were those songs that you've been waiting to use for a while?
Lizzo: No, it all happened really quickly. Because it's a project with Lazerbeak, it's all brand new. They just came out of nowhere, know what I'm saying? For instance, [Eris] might have some old poems she wants to turn into spoken word [but] this was more of a project that turned into a solo album.
Would you say that was a direct function of the what's happened with the Chalice?
Lizzo: Everything is everything... Being able to collaborate in Minneapolis has helped us all out in terms of finding our own voice, and finding our voice musically.
What kind of doors do you think have opened for you through this group?
De Lune: I'm working with Grant Cutler on a solo record right now. I met him at a show at the Sound Gallery [and] came up to him and was like, "I really admire your work, I would love to work with you." Would he have said yes if it wasn't for the Chalice? Who knows.
Eris: And because of the Chalice, I got to make a record for the first time, and sell out a show for the first time, and be on stages I've never been on for the first time. It's given me a lot of firsts.
Do you find, at this point, that people respond more to your being a girl band or to being a party band, as you put it?
De Lune: I think it's both. We've talked about this a lot, but we fall into the roles of being a role model or whatever because we're females in a male-dominated industry. That's just a fact of life. But our music is party music; it's fun, it's lighthearted... It's a statement in and of itself to be a strong, empowered female having a good time and not be shy about it.
Having a good time the same that guys would.
De Lune: It always make me really happy when I see people describe us as a "hip-hop group," and not a "female hip-hop group." Then you know you're doing your job, because it stops being a novelty thing and about pull quotes and whatever, and it starts being about the music.
See Also from 10 Thousand Sounds artists:
Greg Grease: I like to change people's minds
Free Energy's Paul Sprangers: I can look like an idiot and dance like a monkey
The Chalice will host City Pages' 10 Thousand Sounds festival at 8th St. and Hennepin Ave. in downtown Minneapolis on Saturday, June 22. The lineup includes the Walkmen, Free Energy, Greg Grease, Prissy Clerks, and Strange Names. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, and $45 for VIP (not available day of show), and are AVAILABLE FOR HALF PRICE HERE.
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