Today I’m thrilled to chat with one of our longtime students-turned-artist, Chase Mangum. Chase joined the SoundLife family as the bassist for "TBD" back in 2016. Since that time, TBD has gone on to become one of the most influential bands in the SoundLife community, constantly inspiring younger performers to reach new heights. Chase himself has gone on to write, sing, play, and produce his own original music under his own name. In the early days, he was rather shy about stepping up to microphone, but with encouragement from his bandmates, family, and teachers, he began to add in background vocals, then harmonies. Eventually he stepped out front, and now TBD performs with three lead vocalists sharing the spotlight during every performance.
In 2018, Chase joined a second band with his brother Austin, appropriately called "Brother". In this band, he plays drums and contributes heavily to their original music. He also participates in the drumline at his high school, all while continuing to improve as a bassist, guitarist, and singer.
In March of 2020, when COVID-19 shook the world and forced schools to move to online learning, Chase seized the opportunity to learn how to professionally record his own music. Now much more than a singing bassist, he plays every instrument on his songs and has been so prolific that he’s released 5 singles this year, with more on the way.
With each new song, Chase shows immense maturity in not only his writing and playing, but also in his engineering skills. In acquiring these new skills and endeavoring to release his own music, Chase has dramatically influenced the way we at SoundLife approach teaching online.
All in all, it’s clear to see that the future is bright for this rising star, and we’re thrilled to share his insights and music with everyone.
Chris: Chase, for those who aren’t yet familiar with your music, tell us a bit about who you are and what you’re all about.
Chase: Thank you for having me, Chris. I’ve just always loved music. It’s been part of me since I was very young. I started playing the drums at age 2. Growing up, music was always playing around the house and always a priority, so my parents really inspired me to become a musician and an artist. When I became about 15 years old, I started to write my own music. Then just this year, I released my very first song called "Chlorine" in April during quarantine, which was of course a crazy time. Since then, I’ve just continued to write songs and put them out.
How has quarantine helped you to hone your skills as a writer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist?
C: It’s actually really cool in the sense that I’ve been able to do everything myself, in my room. I haven’t had anyone here recording with me or teaching me in person. It’s all been over Zoom. So everything that I’ve recorded has all been me by myself, and that’s been very rewarding. I have my drum set here, some guitar, my interface, midi-controller, mics, really everything I need.
And who are your biggest influences?
C: Right now, I really love Mac DeMarco. I love listening to his music, and I love his production style. I love how it's so simplistic, but just sounds so good. I also like The Police, Rush, Smashing Pumpkins, and this other indie band called The Garden.
Was there an artist, person, or moment that inspired you to want to become an artist?
C: There was. I was listening to a lot of Rex Orange County in April—and this one song in particular called "Sunflower" that I loved, and that's kind of what my first song "Chlorine" was inspired by. I really loved the melody, and I thought this would be really cool to write. I tried it, and it ended up working out.
When we first met, singing and writing were not things that you were as comfortable with. What motivated you to go from playing just bass in more of a behind the scenes role to wanting to be up front?
C: I've always loved the rhythm section, bass, and drums. Then my Mom said, “Oh, you gotta sing. You got it. It's just something you have to learn to do.” So, I just kind of saw it as something that I had to do and try to make the best time of it. Eventually I came to love singing.
What is your ultimate goal in music?
C: Honestly, my ultimate goal is just to inspire other people. When I listen to music, I love to sit here listening through my speakers and think, “How did they do that?” or “I love how this is mixed” or “I love that one drum beat.” I want there to be a kid out there that's listening to my music and saying, “Oh, I love how he did that.” Even if it’s only one kid, I don't care. As long as there's at least one person out there just nerding out about how cool something is that I made. That’s the goal.
Through music, we have tons of different avenues that someone can take, from recording to playing live to songwriting, and all kinds of little worlds in between. What is your favorite thing to do when it comes to music?
C: I love performing. I think it’s performing first and then writing. I also love producing. I like it all, I really do. I like it all because I like to start from the beginning of the process and see a song through to the end of the process. Though I think performing is definitely the most fun part. When I record in my room, I'm literally dancing around my room. I'm never just sitting still 'cause I miss performing so much.
How important was your parents' influence in terms of getting you started in music and entertainment in general?
C: They’ve always been on me about it. Since I was young, they’ve asked, “Are you sure you wanna do music?” And I've said, “Yes, of course.” At the age of four and five, they were telling me what to do all the time, but it's because they wanted to help me. Sometimes I'll disagree with them just 'cause most kids don't always agree with their parents, but I know they're definitely trying to help me and they want the very best for me. Now, they tell me their opinions, and then we'll kinda talk about it together. Overall, they're very supportive. I’m definitely lucky to have them help me out.
Tell us about these new songs. How did they come about, and what do they mean to you?
C: I wrote the first track in June (2020). It's called “Where are you now?” I wrote the riff at 5 a.m. The sun was just about to come up, and I just felt something. I felt motivation, and if you feel any type of motivation, always follow it, even if it's small. I heard that from Steve Vai, and it’s stuck with me.
That song is about not recognizing yourself and change. The first line is, “Wake up to the face of a stranger, I can't remember my name.” It’s imagining that you wake up one day and you just can't even recognize yourself because you've changed. Do you change? Did you change for the better? Did you change for the worst? Why do you change? That’s the whole idea. I've noticed friends and family members, including myself, all change over time, and it's just me wondering, "Why do they change? Who or what made them change? And is it for the better?" That's the first track.
And tell me about “What’s Not to Love?”
C: That's about the music industry or the entertainment industry. It's almost ironic. I could say, what's not to love? It's never an easy ride. You work countless hours and make barely any money doing what you love, so it's ironic to say something like, “Oh yeah, what's not to love?”
I’m very familiar. But, the reward for that is that you’ll never “work” a day in your life.
C: Very true.
Let’s talk about your first music video for the song “Bored.” How did that video come about?
C: Yeah, when I wrote "Bored," I thought it was such a cool song. It has a very Smashing Pumpkins grunge vibe. I thought it would be really cool to shoot for that song. I asked my friend Sean Carlo Martini for help. Then the next thing I know, he hits me up at about 5:00 am, and he's like, “Yo, let's shoot this video.” So we went down in the middle of the street on Riverside, and there were no cars, so we were just doing the entire video with my guitar on and walking through the streets. We did some skateboarding as well. It was a lot of fun. That was definitely a life-changing experience. It was the first official music video for one of my own songs. Hopefully just the first of many.
That’s amazing, Chase. It’s inspiring to see how far you’ve come in such a short period of time. There’s no dream too big. The sky's the limit. In the closing of our interview, I always like to ask artists a handful of rapid fire questions. No hesitation. Just say the first thing that comes to your mind.
C: Got it.
C: Smashing Pumpkins
Favorite concert experience?
C: When I went to go see R40. Rush. That was the last time they ever performed, and I got to see Neil Peart, which was amazing.
C: “1979” by Smashing Pumpkins. It’s just such a classic song.
Most influential artist in your life right now?
C: Right now, Mac Demarco.
Chase Mangum's music is available on all streaming platforms. Follow Chase on Instagram and Spotify to support his amazing journey.
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Interview by Chris Vazquez, Founding Partner of SoundLife Music Academy and a professional session musician in Los Angeles, CA.
At SoundLife Music Academy, we make it our mission to continuously bring valuable, exciting, and helpful information to our community. This interview is part of our ongoing interview series with Student Artists, where they share stories of their personal journeys in music. These interviews aim to give emerging artists a platform to share their art and inspire others.