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Chicane (recording artist)

Chicane is an electronic dance music act, and the project of English musician and record producer Nick Bracegirdle. He was born on 28 February, 1971, in Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire.

Chicane is known for the singles "Offshore", an Ibiza dance anthem included in thousands of 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, and also a top ten hit on singles charts across Europe.

Far from the Maddening Crowds, Chicane's debut album, is still considered a seminal release among the trance music community, while the second album, Behind the Sun, was certified gold in the UK. In 2007, after the hindrance of an ultimately unreleased album in the intervening time, Somersault was released on Bracegirdle's independent record label followed shortly after by a re-release of Far From The Maddening Crowds which included a new mix of Offshore (Offshore 2007)

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. Nick 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."

Biography

The beginning

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 dance music, and by the age of 12 he was making music in recording studios and sending demos to record labels.

"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 independent UK dance music record label Xtravaganza Recordings, then-newly founded by DJ and Bracegirdle's college friend Alex Gold. It reached #12 on the UK Singles Chart (and #1 on other UK-based charts compiled by Mixmag, Record Mirror, and others), the top 40 in multiple European countries, and #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 epicenters 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).

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. The version of the vocals used in "Saltwater", however, was a new recording by Brennan herself. It surpassed all previous Chicane singles, reaching #6 on the UK charts and #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 publicized 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 #1 on the UK charts (and notably replacing "American Pie", Madonna's #1 single of the previous week), reached #3 on the US dance chart and #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, including "Alive Again", which was released as a single in Europe only. The 2002 edition of the Formula One video game included the songs "Sunstroke", "The Drive Home", and a remix of "Nagasaki Badger".

Difficulties

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.

A return

Eventually, 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.

Trainspotters may have noticed that when "Stoned in Love" was sung live by Tom Jones on The Jonathan Ross show it was in a lower key than the CD release. Jones appears to use his entire vocal range in this lower key. This may suggest that the CD version contains processed vocals which have been shifted higher in pitch, and hence at least partly explain why the vocal sounds younger and different from the classic Tom Jones sound (Madonna's vocals were similarly pitched higher on "Like a Virgin" to achieve a younger vocal). Jones also admitted to have recorded the verses consciously without vocal vibrato to be more in keeping which a dance-oriented track. On this track Chicane has moved yet further towards embracing electric bass and guitars, but underpinned with Chicane melody, progressions and keyboard elements.

In February 2007, Chicane departed from Universal as well; according to the official website, all new material will now be released through Modena itself. The follow-up single "Come Tomorrow" was released on 16 July 2007, followed by the fourth 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.

For 2008, Chicane has done a record with Natasha Bedingfield called "Bruised Water". Promotional copies of the track are available, with remixes from Mischa Daniels and Adam K. It is due to be released on 25 August 2008. Following the leak of his 2003 album, Chicane now employs Web Sheriff in order 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 their hits, along with a new track called Wake Up, which is a collaberation with ""Keane (band)"".

Music

Style

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 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.

Live

Chicane also performs live concerts as a full-fledged band, which has included a rotating lineup of singers, guitarists, drummers, and flutists, 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 and David Barbarossa from Bow Wow Wow.

The band's current lineup since 2006 consists of the following musicians:

  • Keyboards/programming - Nick Bracegirdle
  • Bass - Carl Holt
  • Drums - Mark Pusey
  • Guitar - Simon Small
  • Female vocals - Natasha Brocklebanks
  • Male vocals - Daniel Tooman
  • Percussion - Assaf Seewi

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 August 4 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 January 22, 2000 performance at the Palladium in Cologne, Germany. This is unusual in that remixes, as products of audio editing, and not generally considered instrumental performances in their own right. At least some aspects of this are credited to Tomski himself, on stage.

Bracegirdle also made a guest appearance live with Bryan Adams at the 2000 Slane Concert, as seen on Adams' Live at Slane Castle DVD.

Discography

Albums

Compilation albums

Singles

Chicane

  • 1996 "Offshore EP"
  • 1996 "Offshore" #12 IRL #14 UK
  • 1997 "Sunstroke" #20 IRL #21 UK
  • 1997 "Offshore '97" (with Power Circle) #17 UK
  • 1997 "Lost You Somewhere" #35 UK
  • 1998 "Red Skies"
  • 1998 "Strong in Love" (with Mason) #32 UK
  • 1999 "Saltwater" (with Maire Brennan) #6 UK #14 IRL #31 AUS
  • 2000 "Don't Give Up" (with Bryan Adams) #1 UK #6 AUS #11 IRL
  • 2000 "No Ordinary Morning" / "Halcyon" (with Tracy Ackerman) #28 UK
  • 2000 "Autumn Tactics" (with Justine Suissa) #44 UK
  • 2003 "Saltwater 2003" (with Máire Brennan) #43 UK
  • 2003 "Love on the Run" (with Peter Cunnah) #33 UK #50 AUS
  • 2003 "Locking Down" (promo only)
  • 2004 "Don't Give Up 2004" (with Bryan Adams) #43 UK
  • 2006 "Stoned in Love" (with Tom Jones) #7 UK #23 IRL #43 AUS
  • 2007 "Come Tomorrow" (download or test run CD)
  • 2007 "Offshore 2007" (Promo Only)
  • 2008 "Spirit" (promo only)
  • 2008 "Bruised Water" (Chicane vs. Natasha Bedingfield) (Download Only or test run CD) #42 UK

Disco Citizens

  • 1995 "Right Here Right Now"
  • 1996 "Footprint"
  • 1997 "Footprint '97"
  • 1998 "Nagasaki Badger"

Sitvac

  • 1996 "Wishful Thinking"

Selected remixes

Notes and references

External links

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