The Sydney creative Chase Zera‘s new song has a title that immediately caught our eye, and the wonderful thing is she wrote it whilst quite literally saving some bugs.
She’ll explain that in a second. Nic Kelly’s in bold, Chase Zera’s in not-bold, and the excellent new acoustic version of Saving Bugs is below for the pleasure of your eyes.
They say inspiration comes from everywhere, but Saving Bugs came from a place you wouldn’t expect.
I think that’s what I love about it as well. Sometimes I sit in the studio with the intention to write a song and I’m like, “what am I feeling? What am I thinking? What have I been through?” But with this song, I just completely flipped that on its head. I was like,”I’m gonna write about something literal.” I was really inspired by BENEE and Aurora writing about animals and turning them into metaphors. I was floating on a lilo of in my pool. There were tiny little bugs in the water, and I was picking them up and putting them back on the tiles so they could scurry away and not drown. I sound like I’m on acid or something. I promise I wasn’t! I just looked at that situation and turned it into a metaphor about watching people go through situations or things that are burdening them and wanting to help them through it because you know what it feels like to be in that situation. So it’s a real tough love thing, helping the bugs out of the pool represents me helping friends get through things and maybe wanting them to realise how special they are. Once I had that idea in my head and that connection between the bugs and that metaphor, the song wrote itself in about two hours. I was just going from the pool to my towel, doing voice memos and jotting down ideas. At the end of the day, I had a finished written song. I think just because I was so excited by how it all came to me. Maybe I should write about literal things more often?
Sometimes it takes flipping your approach to re-excite yourself about music. If you write the same way, from the same place, for a while then do something completely opposite, it’s kind of fun.
Yeah, absolutely. And with writing about literal things, people can interpret it in their own way. For me, it’s a metaphor about helping people and a tough love approach to growth, but to other people that could be about helping themselves. It’s open to interpretation, which is what art is.
In terms of your interpretation, do you find your role in friendships and relationships being the person that helps the other person a lot of the time?
Yeah, I think so. I give advice more than I take my own advice, which I think a lot of people can also relate to. Like if I’m going through something or someone’s treating me bad and I’m sort of stuck in that situation, I know that if I was the friend watching someone else go through that I’d be like, “get yourself out of there!” That’s what I’m trying to do, is be there for myself, the way I am for other people. But I think I do like giving advice, especially when it is something you’ve been through, I feel like people giving me advice helped me through it. It’s always worth a shot.
You did this with Xavier Dunn, who a lot of people are finding a beautiful sound with. I feel like everything Xavier works on sounds different. What is it about the room that he creates that helped you bring this to where it needed to be?
I’ve worked with Xav for a long time, I’ve worked with a lot of producers that I just adore. But I think moreso than skill and sound and what plugins they have and what knowledge they have, what is so important for me in a session, is how vulnerable you can feel in front of the person and how comfortable you are around them. So why I keep going back to Xav is because he doesn’t block any of my ideas. He’s very open. I don’t need to be like, “Oh, these are placeholder lyrics and I’ll change them…” I can just throw everything out on the table and I don’t feel dumb. I don’t feel embarrassed, because he doesn’t ever make me feel like that. I think that’s why I love working with him. That’s something I look for in a producer, like if it’s really collaborative and supportive, you can be as weird as you want. That’s why he’s great. Also, his music theory is incredible and every time I have a session with him I learn something new. It’s helping me as well.
We’ve got these two bops at the moment that we can all listen to and we’re definitely feeling something developing, but what do you want people to know at the moment about you and where this is going? What’s the topline Chase pitch?
I have grown up listening to pop music and being surrounded by pop music. I know how powerful it can be and how much it can stick with you, so I want my music to be the music that people grew up to and look back and go “that shaped my teen years…” or “that helped me through that breakup”. Or “I remember that dance I did to that song…” I want it to be the music that people remember because it made them feel good or helped them get through a situation. I’ve worked really hard to make my project all about confidence and empowerment and being yourself. That comes from inspiration from you know, Lady Gaga and Kylie, so many artists who might have hit troughs, and then come out of it. The idea of me being that artist for someone is a really special thought to me, of like, I’m building their confidence. I’m making them happy. I’m giving them songs to dance to on a dancefloor. That’s what I always try to remind myself when I’m like “what am I doing?” That’s what I’m doing. I’m trying to make people happy, trying to get them to dance, and just feel good about themselves.