Chicane performing in Stockholm, May 2011. Nick Bracegirdle in the middle.
|Birth name||Nicholas Bracegirdle|
|Also known as||Chicane|
28 February 1971 |
Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire, England
|Genres||Trance, balearic trance, ambient, chill-out, electronica|
|Occupations||Electronic musician, composer, record producer, song writer, remixer, record label owner|
|Instruments||Synthesizer, piano, classical guitar|
|Labels||Modena Records Ltd. (UK)
Enzo Recordings (UK)
Armada Music (NL)
Ultra Records (U.S.)
Central Station (AU)
|Associated acts||Disco Citizens, Mr. Joshua Presents Espiritu, Rebel Transcanner, Sitvac|
Chicane (born Nicholas Bracegirdle; 28 February 1971) is a British composer, songwriter and record producer. He is known for the singles "Offshore", an Ibiza dance anthem included in many compilations in both chill-out and dance versions; "Saltwater", which featured vocals by Clannad member Máire Brennan and is one of the most well-known and popular singles of the trance genre; and the UK number-one hit "Don't Give Up", featuring vocals by Bryan Adams, which became a top ten hit on singles charts across Europe and Australia.
Far from the Maddening Crowds, Chicane's debut album from 1997, is still considered a seminal release among the trance music community, while the second album, 2000's Behind the Sun, was certified gold in the UK. In 2007, after the hindrance of an ultimately unreleased album (Easy to Assemble) in the intervening time, the third artist album Somersault was released on Bracegirdle's independent record label, followed shortly after by a tenth anniversary re-release of Far from the Maddening Crowds which included a new mix of "Offshore" ("Offshore 2007"). He released his fourth studio album Giants in 2010, with the fifth studio album Thousand Mile Stare following less than two years later, in spring 2012.
In addition, Bracegirdle also worked under the aliases Disco Citizens, producing a handful of less radio-friendly, vocal-less tracks with a stronger progressive house sound. Working with singer Vanessa St. James and producer Mr. Joshua, Bracegirdle was part of the Mr. Joshua Presents Espiritu project, known for the song "In Praise of the Sun", released with both English and French vocals. Bracegirdle has also gone by the name "Rebel Transcanner" to produce a remix of Tomski's "14 Hours to Save the Earth." Nick Bracegirdle has also used the alias Sitvac to produce a one-time single, "Wishful Thinking."
While having trained in classical guitar and piano at an early age, Bracegirdle's earliest influences in electronic music came from melodic composers such as Jean Michel Jarre and Vangelis, and synthpop pioneer Vince Clarke; a further influence was the dance hit "Anthem" by the house music group N-Joi. All this convinced him to pursue the creation of melodic electronic dance music, and by the age of 12 he was making music in recording studios and sending demos to record labels.
1996–1998: "Offshore" and initial success
Eventually, Bracegirdle founded his own record label, Modena Records, which holds the rights to all his songs and licenses them to other labels for release and distribution. A partnership with Leo Elstob produced the first Disco Citizens single, "Right Here Right Now", in 1995, as well as the first Chicane single, "Offshore", in 1996. "Offshore" would be the first of Chicane's many releases on edel UK Records and independent UK dance music record label Xtravaganza Recordings, then-newly founded by DJ and Bracegirdle's college friend Alex Gold. It reached No. 12 on the UK Singles Chart (and No. 1 on other UK-based charts compiled by Mixmag, Record Mirror, and others), the top 40 in multiple European countries, and No. 5 on the US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play charts in 1997 upon re-release. Its inclusion on numerous Ibiza-themed trance music compilation albums (such as Café del Mar) attest to its popularity in the nightclubs on the island, one of the worldwide epicentres of dance music.
"Sunstroke", the follow-up single, attained similar popularity and chart numbers. A third single, "Offshore '97" (a separate item from the re-release of "Offshore") was actually a mashup of "Offshore" with the vocal track from the Power Circle song "A Little Love, a Little Life", mixed by producer and DJ Anthony Pappa. Originally a bootleg, it was turned into an official release, credited to "Chicane with Power Circle".
Following these releases, the first Chicane album, Far from the Maddening Crowds, which included new songs and multiple versions of the previously released singles, was released in September 1997. Additional singles that followed were "Lost You Somewhere", the Benelux release "Red Skies", and the non-album single "Strong in Love", for which Bracegirdle used vocals by British singer Sylvia Mason-James (after discovering that she was the vocalist on the Paul Oakenfold/Steve Osborne remix of "Lemon" by U2) and first collaborated on production with Ray "Madman" Hedges (producer for B*Witched and Boyzone).
1999–2003: Collaborations and more hits
1999 saw the release of "Saltwater", a song based on Máire Brennan's vocals from "Theme from Harry's Game" by the Celtic band Clannad. This song was also used on one of the Belfast City advertisements broadcast in 2005–2006 across regional channels. The version of the vocals used in "Saltwater", however, was a new recording by Brennan herself. It surpassed all previous Chicane singles, reaching No. 6 on the UK charts and No. 1 on all five major UK dance charts.
After producing a radio remix of Bryan Adams's "Cloud Number Nine", Bracegirdle offered Adams the vocal position on the song "Don't Give Up". The vocals Adams recorded were subsequently heavily processed through a vocoder so as to play down his rock music vocal style; in fact, the vocal credit was initially not publicised when the single was sent to Pete Tong's BBC Radio 1 program Essential Selection. On the show, Tong made the song his first "Essential New Tune" selection of the new millennium. It was also Chicane's biggest hit, debuting at No. 1 on the UK charts (and notably replacing "American Pie", Madonna's No. 1 single of the previous week), reached No. 3 on the US dance chart and No. 1 on Australian and Russian charts, and made other charts across Europe as well.
The subsequent album Behind the Sun was certified gold by the BPI, while "Don't Give Up" was certified silver. Two other singles were released off the album—the double A-side Halcyon / No Ordinary Morning, and a dramatically remixed version of "Autumn Tactics"—but neither was as successful as the preceding releases.
In 2002, Bracegirdle co-wrote two songs on Cher's album Living Proof, "You Take It All" and "Alive Again", the latter which was released as a single in Europe only. The 2001 Edition of the EA Sports Formula One Video Game Series included the songs "Sunstroke", "The Drive Home", and a remix of "Nagasaki Badger".
For the next two years, Bracegirdle became engaged in a lawsuit with Xtravaganza, which ended in Chicane's departure from the label and its signing with WEA for the release of a third album, Easy to Assemble. Originally scheduled for 2003, the album's release was preceded by the lead single "Love on the Run", followed by a promotional single, "Locking Down". After promotional copies of the album were distributed, however, Easy to Assemble was not commercially released as expected—though over the following year, the official Chicane website was periodically updated with messages announcing further delays towards a still-expected release.
More recently, biographies, interviews, and publicity have stated that the album's release was outright prevented due to an Internet leak and bootlegging of the promotional album. It was also revealed that Bracegirdle had left Warner following its 2003 sale to Edgar Bronfman, Jr. and was planning an independent release at the time.
2006–2008: New management
Sample of "Stoned in Love".
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Eventually, under the new management of John Cavanagh, April 2006 saw the release of a new single, "Stoned in Love", on Globe Records through Universal Music Group, featuring singer Tom Jones on vocals. (Press Release). At the time of the announcement the song was also played twice by Pete Tong.
The track received substantial UK TV promotion in the run up to the week of release, featuring utterly live performances on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, The New Paul O'Grady Show and a semi-live performance on BBC's now defunct Top of the Pops. Jones and Bracegirdle were also interviewed on Channel 5 News; When asked in the 5 News interview where he had been since "Don't Give Up", Bracegirdle replied that he had been "basically stuffed" by the internet bootlegging of the album Easy to Assemble.
In February 2007, Chicane departed from Universal as well; according to the official website, all new material would be released through Modena itself. The follow-up single "Come Tomorrow" was released on 16 July 2007, followed by the third official studio album, Somersault, a week later on 23 July 2007. Bracegirdle has entirely self-financed these initial independent releases, as well as subsequent live performances. On 4 May 2007, the Cicada remix of "Come Tomorrow" was played on Radio 1 by Pete Tong.
On 25 August 2008 Chicane released "Bruised Water" with Natasha Bedingfield. Promotional copies of the track were made available, with remixes from Mischa Daniels and Adam K. Following the leak of his 2003 album, Chicane now employs the international internet policing company, Web Sheriff to prevent links to pirated material, such as this single and other tracks from his upcoming album, from being posted on various blogs and websites.
In October 2008, Chicane released a new Best of compilation, which features all hits, along with a new track called "Wake Up", which is a collaboration with Keane.
Bracegirdle worked with producers James Hockley & Richard Searle on a Re-Work EP for a targeted summer 2009 release, along with a new and fourth Chicane artist album & mixes of forthcoming productions by BT and William Orbit. The lead track from the Re-work EP "Poppiholla" based on the track "Hoppípolla" by Sigur Rós was A listed on Radio 1. It charted at a very respectable No 7 in the Top 10 on 19 July 2009, and was added to a reissued version of the Best of album. The download single contained a Remix by The Thrillseekers, along with a mix by Bracegirdle's moniker Disco Citizens. The follow-up to this single was revealed as "Hiding All the Stars", which contains a sample of Gary Numan's "Cars", which had its first full play on Radio 1's Floorfillers on 21 August 2009.
In September, Chicane produced a remix of the classic track "Relax (Don't Do It)" by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, which is part of the 25-year anniversary of the seminal track. It was learned that the Re-Work EP was cancelled although no official announcement was ever made in regards to this. Other 'reworked' tracks that were due to appear on the EP were never mentioned from the initial announcement. Recently stated from Chicane Management; there were actually quite a few that people never got to hear. In a June 2010 interview with Impact Magazine, Bracegirdle commented on the 'Re-work Ep' issue. "We covered House Arrest and there's a massive bag of legal problems with that record. God knows why. Poppiholla became this complete and utter monster... The best laid plans of mice and men can go completely astray once you have a big record. Things change all the time... the plan was to (release Re-worked) and then the whole thing went completely mental... in a good way."
The first official word on Chicane's fourth studio album, Giants, came in January through his Facebook artist profile. "Come Back", the first single in connection with the new album, is a rework of the Paul Young 1980s hit "Come Back and Stay" and came with a remix by Riley & Durrant. The single was released on 25 April. The same month a new track, "Barefoot", was added to Chicane's website. A laidback, Baleric-style tune, it proved popular with listeners awaiting the new album. This was followed by the track "Titles".
In May, Bracegirdle officially announced the new album through Facebook. He also revealed a new single "Middledistancerunner", featuring Owl City's Adam Young on vocals. "The Nothing Song" is a remake of another Sigur Ros song: "Untitled 4". The album also features the singles "Hiding All the Stars", "Come Back" and "Poppiholla".
The album and the Middledistancerunner single were released on 2 August 2010. During the first week of release, a new track, called Velo, was given away as a free download via Chicane's website. In November the track "Where Do I Start" was released as single. Among others it was remixed by Armin van Buuren.
An upcoming Chicane single was announced in April through Twitter. "Going Deep", featuring British producer and rapper Aggi Dukes, had its first airplay on DJ Steve Smart's radio show Friday Night Kiss on 8 April. The video was released at the start of July and tells the story of Aggi Dukes—represented by a comical puppet—starting off in a cafe in the UK, before he undertakes on an epic party holiday to Magaluf, Mallorca. The single was released on 14 August, and remixes were made by Steve Smart & WestFunk, and VillaNaranjos. On 18 June, Chicane released the 'Wawa Remix' of his production "Spirit" as a free download from the official homepage.
On 29 July 2011, Chicane revealed a preview of the title track for the forthcoming artist album Thousand Mile Stare on YouTube. Unfortunately, by November it was clear that the album had been leaked onto the internet, the second time such an occasion had occurred in Chicane's career. For a time it seemed doubtful whether the album would ever get released, but an exclusive box set version of Thousand Mile Stare was released on 12 December 2011. It included a cassette-shaped USB flash drive of rare material and an album of remixes. Each early order contained the buyer's name on the album sleeve. The regular version of the album, which contained three previously unreleased tracks, was released on 16 April 2012, with an album launch live show following in London at Koko on 27 April with guest performances from Kate Walsh, Vigri, Aggi Dukes and support from VillaNaranjos (Zak Woodman).
On 13 April 2012, the Dutch label Armada Music announced that they had joined forces with Chicane's UK record label Modena Records. After having worked together extensively throughout the past four years, with Armada Music releasing Chicane's singles and albums for the Benelux, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Poland, Armada will be representing Chicane worldwide in the future.
In a 9 December 2012 interview with Eightoctaves.com, Chicane announced that he is working on a new album slated for release in 2013. He also said in the interview that "There are going to be some pretty stunning collaborations and guest appearances—I hope. I've just been recording in Mumbai with Anushka and that track is going to be stunning."
- Far from the Maddening Crowds (1997)
- Behind the Sun (2000)
- Easy to Assemble (2003, never commercially released)
- Somersault (2007)
- Giants (2010)
- Thousand Mile Stare (2012)
Bracegirdle describes Chicane's music as being strongly influenced by the relaxed, summer atmosphere of Ibiza, where he was taken on holidays as a child. The first two Chicane albums, along with Giants — the fourth studio album – are known for atmospheric, ambient melodies and shifting moods and tempos, particularly Far from the Maddening Crowds, which has been called "a soundtrack for an average day".
Bracegirdle's career took a turn following the release of Behind the Sun, at which point he stated desires to focus on being a recording artist and producer, starting with planned work on Adams' then-upcoming studio album. (However, Adams would not release another studio album until 2004.) Bracegirdle also put remix work on hold at this point, reportedly turning down Jean Michel Jarre, Moby, and both Kylie and Dannii Minogue. The music that followed also changed; in more recent interviews, Bracegirdle has noted that he is consciously moving away from the influences of Ibiza in his songwriting—calling it a return to his "song writing background" as opposed to dance music.
Bracegirdle's dance music productions have caused him to be incorrectly identified as a DJ throughout his career. As early as 1997, The Mirror called him a "top DJ" in an article, while the Portland Press Herald published a 2000 review in which both Chicane and BT were referred to as DJs. Most recently, in 2007, Bracegirdle remarked in an interview that many people still hold this belief.
Far from the Maddening Crowds and Behind the Sun were both primarily recorded at Chicane's personal recording studio, Modena One (sharing the name of his own record label), located at his parents' house. Co-producers who worked on these albums are Leo Elstob, Salt Tank, Ray "Madman" Hedges, and Martin Brannigan. Tomski was commissioned to program the opening tracks ("Early" and "Overture") on both albums and contributed snippets and sounds to other tracks. However, Bracegirdle has stated that he works alone when in his own studio. Recently, references to a studio called "Modena 2" have appeared in liner notes since the April 2006 release of the "Stoned in Love" single.
Bracegirdle somewhat returned to the old 'Chicane sound' with Giants, the fourth studio album. A mixture of emotive, atmospheric songs, such as "What Am I Doing Here? [Pt1]" and "Titles", along with 'hands-in-the-air' dancefloor tracks such as "Middledistancerunner", "From Where I Stand" and the title track, this album brought Chicane back to his roots, much to the delight of his loyal fanbase.
With the April 2011 premiere of the Chicane single "Going Deep" Bracegirdle stressed his own statement, that 'Chicane music is not bound by a certain genre'. 'Going Deep' is certainly a new turn in the sound as it is a blend of 90s retro disco, rap in a modern house, trance package.
Chicane also performs live concerts as a full-fledged band, which has included a rotating line-up of singers, guitarists, drummers, and flautists, as well as Bracegirdle himself on keyboards. Justine Suissa, who provided vocals on "Autumn Tactics" from Behind the Sun, toured with the band in 2000. UK trance producer Tom Jankiewicz (Tomski) was a frequent musical collaborator with Chicane from 1995 to 2003, and he also played keyboards in the band during that period. During April 2006 Tomski has programmed keyboard sounds for Chicane's live concerts. Session drummers in the band, notably, have included Mark Pusey (Eminem, Natasha Bedingfield, Sway), Shovell from M People, Simon Merry (Natalie Imbruglia) and David Barbarossa from Bow Wow Wow.
The band's current line-up since 2006 consists of the following musicians:
- Keyboards / Programming – Nick Bracegirdle
- Bass – Carl Holt
- Drums – Mark Pusey Or Simon Merry
- Guitar – Simon Small
- Female vocals – Natasha Andrews / Kristin Hosein
Though the band's singers usually substitute for the higher-profile original vocalists due to the latter's other recording commitments, there have been exceptions; for example, both Maire Brennan and Bryan Adams performed live with the band in Ibiza in 2000. The former took place at one of the annual Ibiza festivals held by MTV at the turn of the 2000s, while the latter took place at a heavily promoted concert hosted by Xtravaganza on 4 August at Privilege Ibiza, which was attended by over 7000, including Bono and Noel Gallagher.
Chicane has also played at major European music festivals, such as the Glastonbury Festival and Creamfields in England and the Roskilde Festival in Denmark; as well as Red Square in Moscow.
Chicane has performed remixes (specifically, the "Tomski vs. Disco Citizens" remixes) live, as shown by a track listing from Chicane's 22 January 2000 performance at the Palladium in Cologne, Germany. This is unusual in that remixes, as products of audio editing, are not generally considered instrumental performances in their own right. At least some aspects of this are credited to Tomski himself, on stage.
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