Chuck Love is literally a one man band. From playing the flute to the drums and from the bass to vocals, he does it all in his live show while mixing songs. He also incorporates self-produced videos – and even adds his pet parrots to the mix.
I’ve heard you’re a trained musician. How long have you been playing for?
Trained? I don’t know about that! [Laughs] I’ve been an ear-player since I was a tiny kid, picking out melodies on the piano and stuff. I’m really just a self-taught, ear-trained musician.
So have you taken any lessons at all?
Early on I took piano lessons and I was in the school band. I didn’t take too well to the lessons, I kind of already had my own thing figured out to the point where it was almost like I was slowing the process down and taking a step backwards trying to learn to read the music.
What are all the different instruments that you play?
Currently when I play live I have guitar, flute, trumpet, melodica and hand percussion as well as vocals, but I also play drums and bass. It’s pretty much a full rock band complemented with a few wind instruments.
At what point did you decide you wanted to start working on production?
I was doing multi-track recordings of my own music back in the day on a quarter-inch four track open-reel tape deck since I was about 12 years old. I went to school a little bit for audio engineering later on but the process of assembling music has always been interesting to me from the start.
What kind of music were you putting together back then?
Back then I was really into progressive rock like Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer but there was room for stuff like Stevie Wonder and some Gospel roots too.
When did you get the itch and decide to try your hand at more electronic-based music?
I had been playing all the instruments and did the recordings, but I was always into synthesizers because they sounded cool. I had an old school 16 segment analog sequencer (the kind of stuff they would record on a Pink Floyd album). That’s always been a part of the equation before there was a DJ or any of that type of thing associated with electronic music. Stuff like Walter/Wendy Carlos and Jean-Michel Jarre; artists that were the cutting edge of electronic music 20 years before there was anything like DJ culture.
Where did the transition to House and the DJ aspect come into play?
Through the 1990s I was doing various productions, running a studio and doing stuff for television, commercials and film – that sort of thing. Along the way I dabbled a bit into House Music production. I had actually gotten a few tracks ready to go and signed to a local label here called Celebrity. That kind of got the whole ball rolling with the process focusing on DJing the music that I produce.
Were you already incorporating singing and the instruments into your DJ sets from the beginning?
Yes, before I was even DJing, I was doing basically what you would consider a live PA. I would do that typically with my Roland workstation. I had my backing tracks on it and created the mic inputs in order to play the hand instruments and stuff like that. Playing instruments of what the prerecorded stuff was before it was House Music was always part of the deal.
Have you thought about doing the House band-type thing with other members?
I’m content with what I’m doing at the moment. I could see it happening but probably not in the House context. It might be more eclectic than a House band in that respect. If I were to do something with a full rhythm section or involve some other players it might be more mixed tempos. I could see an earlier set mixing up more instrumentation and segueing the later portion into House. I’m definitely open to the idea but as of right now I don’t have any plans for that.
Last year in Miami at the WMC we saw you play on top of Jay-J’s set at his Shifted Music party. Do you do stuff like that often where you play over other artists?
I’ve done it quite a bit. That’s one of the ways I got into House Music. I was in a group called Tambuca that consisted of DJs and a couple of us did percussion and I did everything else. I’ve played with Colette, Jay-J and Mark Farina recently. Last time Farina was in town I played a full percussion kit. We try and do stuff that like that as often as possible – plan it advance and get everything wired up. Especially now since I have the record out with Colette.
You also incorporate video with your show too, tell us about that.
I prepare some video stuff. It’s kind of hard to keep the content current though. I’m looking for better ways to deploy that. I would love to get a fully realized set full of material that’s all supported with video, in that I can play it from one source, which is Serato Scratch live. It’s pre-recorded and pre-edited. That’s the beauty of it: you can bring your special guest vocalist along on video singing right in time. It requires a lot of post-production. You would only come at it from the discipline of being a video editor, which is something I do.
You just put the first release on your new label Love Network which is a collaboration with Colette titled “U R Everything”. How did that project come about?
It was something we had been working on and we were shopping it. It just kind of turned out that it would be a great way to introduce the label with a name the size of Colette. And seeing that we overlap and get to play together a lot, it seemed like a strong collaboration to start the label off with.
You have a Santiago & Bushido remix on there which is kind of a big room banger. Are you planning on incorporating more mixes like that on the releases?
I think it’s a good idea for the label, especially in this case where Colette and S&B have had a success at that level recently. It has name brand recognition and I definitely see stretching it to make the biggest impact out of a release. I also have the Network Rework which is more like a rocked out mix.
Tell me about your birds!
I’ve got birds! I’ve got a parrot sitting on me right now. She rings like a Motorola flip phone. It’s horrendous! I got her with that and I’ve been trying to set her to vibrate ever since! Her name is Abigail. I have two, and they’ve been with me for 7 or 8 years. Merton is about 16 and Abby is 7 or 8.
You’ve incorporated them in some of your tracks, right?
Abigail by accident because you can’t not hear her sometimes, so her ring is on a couple of tracks. Merton actually is featured fairly prominently on “Soul Symphony” doing his little zipper sounds. You’ll hear him especially in the dub mix. Abigail you can hear on the flute solos of “Funky Ass Beat”.