It’s been five long years since Chase & Status – the musical moniker of Saul ‘Chase’ Milton and Will ‘Status’ Kennard – have released any new music. The electronic duo are one of the most commercially successful acts associated with drum and bass, having released five studio albums and collaborated with major artists including Rihanna.
Diehard fans can finally rejoice with the arrival of the duo’s newly released sixth record, What Came Before, which features vocal contributions from Popcaan and BackRoad Gee, among others.
When it came to envisioning the accompanying album art, they enlisted the help of imagemaker trio Crowns & Owls, who were previously behind creative album campaigns for the likes of Slowthai, and London-based independent production studio Noir.
In order to bring the artwork to life, they decided to put on a gig in London for Chase & Status superfans, which took place just as restrictions were beginning to ease in the UK. “Crowns & Owls’ vision was to do this one-off private event, which was for the top listeners only. They came up with this whole idea of shooting a huge crowd shot and then using that hero image to pick out the single art too, which ties it all in really nicely,” Noir tells CR.
“We were in charge of making sure it was possible to shoot what we needed,” the production studio adds. Worked closely with the duo’s management (Frame Artists) and label (EMI), the team visited various venues until they landed on the perfect location at former gasworks turned multi-purpose event space, Oval Space.
The resulting artwork is a snapshot of the rave as a whole, the crowd completely immersed in the duo’s new music and without a mobile phone in sight. “Crowns & Owls made the decision to ban phones from the event, so this was an entry requirement for everyone coming in. They felt this would then leave everyone fully immersed in this one-off gig, purely soaking in the atmosphere,” says Noir.
In addition to the set lights already in place, Noir added multiple flash packs rigged above the crowd, which helped them capture a series of evocative freeze frames. “We had a stills and digi set up there, and also an Alexa with a big zoom picking off interesting people, who were fully immersed in the event. We used a black drape to cover it, creating this voyeuristic-like aspect, which allowed us to capture people’s unfiltered expressions,” they add.
As the album campaign rolls out, the accompanying single artworks will feature enlarged faces of the crowd – often to humorous effect. Crowns & Owls have also revealed they are planning to release a book documenting the rave in full. “After the last two years, it’s been interesting exploring what drives the inherent human need to get fucked up and dance in a dark room full of people,” say the trio.