Like most, the producer and Contraband’s Head of Culture Chip Merlot has been isolating to stay safe in these challenging times. We sat down with His Serene Highness for a virtual interview to shed some light on the life and times of the man behind many projects.
What’s the biggest change you’ve noticed in yourself in these changing times?
– The biggest change? I don’t think I can specify that just yet, maybe next year I can answer that in hindsight. But what I realized was that I’m constantly having internal struggles with what’s okay and what’s not in respect to going out. Can I go? What venues can I go to? Can I see as many friends and can I even enjoy a pint without feeling bad about it? On a positive note, when I’ve had to regulate going out, I found myself actually really enjoying early nights and nights at home. I’m surprised how quickly I’ve been able to get familiar with the new normal.
Going out to socialize has always been a big part of your adventures. What do you miss most about that?
– The social mingle, for sure. I love being in a venue that’s packed with friends and acquaintances, you know, a hug there, a chat here, coming up with fun ideas and telling crazy stories. Usually those are the nights that are the most eventful as well. They kinda get to live on as legendary.
We’ve obviously been grounded in Finland, not able to travel much. What destination do you miss the most?
– I don’t know if many people know this, but as a young connoisseur, I used to live in Tokyo for a bit. For some reason I’m longing to get back there – or Japan in general. Either to explore Tokyo and the culture there or go up north for a ski. The other destination that comes to mind is the south of France. I have this weird mental image that I want to make come true. I imagine myself driving the coasts of southern France, eating the freshest loaves of bread, drinking fine wine and exploring lavender fields. I can’t tell where that last part came from but I’m definitely doing it.
If you had to pick one, would you rather live in Tokyo or France?
– Tokyo, for sure.
You still speak Japanese?
– Not really. I used to be quite good, but now I just understand some basic phrases.
What kind of projects have you been working on this year?
– I think most of the focus so far has been on THRILLV, but we’ve also been cooking up our mega-project Kølme with Sano and JYT.
How’s it been working on new material under the pandemic? Have you been doing the whole Zoom session thing?
– Yeah, we did the Zoom thing in springtime. I was very surprised about how well that worked for the needs we had. During the summer and now autumn opportunities for actually being in the studio have opened up, which is always nice.
You were recently appointed Head of Culture at Contraband. When can we expect a full cultural revolution?
– Yes, that’s true! I’m afraid I’m not quite sure what is expected out of a revolution. I will be working with all things cultural in high and low arts. I think this suits me well due to the fact that music might not be the only media that I want to create. That in itself can be a revolution to some.
How would you change the music business and culture in Finland – what would you like to see more of?
– That’s a good question. I’d like to see more artists and more high quality music. In my most humble opinion some of the latest tracks I’ve heard are only so-and-so, if you catch my drift. I would love to see more music made in English and that really taking off in markets. In regards to live music and events, because of Covid-19 I’m only hoping that we can get to a safe situation where we can have some concerts and people would feel comfortable enough to attend.
With all these projects from disruptive cultural revolutions to launching supergroups and branching out from music to other mediums: are you plotting to take over the world?
– I am trying to do anything and everything I am interested in, so I won’t have to think back about “what ifs”. Who knows what the new mediums bring along. But yes, definitely yes.
Follow Chip’s adventures on his Instagram @chipmerlot. This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.