Analogue Music | Chapel


By Matt Conner

Carter Hardin describes it as a "vulnerable dance party." That works for us.

The music of Chapel is an intriguing (and intoxicating) alt-pop mix that works on playlists both pensive and playful. Hardin and his bandmate Kortney Grinwis say the hooks come quickly, but they work hard to marry them with honest lyrics that reflect their own stories that emerge with the music.

While making music in "heavier" bands on their own, the duo met at a party at Hardin's house and struck up a friendship. After some time, those projects faded and Chapel was born. The early, synth-heavy returns have us excited about the band's future, so we wanted to ask them about their origins, their songwriting process, and their own favorite hooks.

Analogue: Before you were in Chapel, I'd love to hear more about your own musical paths and how they converged here.

Carter Hardin: Kortney and I were kind of in the same spot. We started four years ago in heavier projects.

Kortney Grinwis: Yeah, we were both in different bands under the same label, so we met through mutual friends in that whole scene and industry. The day we clicked, I came over to Carter's house for this party and we instantly meshed and had this cool chemistry. As soon as our past projects ended, he reached out and it all worked out to start something.

Carter: Yeah, we were both at a point where we wanted to do music and we finally had projects that were doing pretty well in that world. But we both weren't happy. We were young when we started so we didn't have any goal or direction. Once we started touring those projects, we realized, 'I'd rather be doing something else.' Then when both of our projects ended, we'd always been friends, so I flew her down to Georgia. I was writing songs for Chapel and she just killed it. I've never been in a band with someone like Kortney. It's crazy. We're very open and honest.

Kortney: There's such a mutual goal so it's worked really well.

Carter: Yeah, this works so well because of how much we talk.

Analogue: When you mention a mutual goal, what is that for the music?

Kortney: I don't know. It's not anything set in stone, but we've just always wanted to write music and play music that makes us feel good our entire lives. I don't know exactly what that looks like years from now, but I think it's being in a healthy relationship with your bandmates and just making good music for as long as we can.

Carter: I think it also comes down to us doing a lot of the work. If things go well for us or even if they don't, then it's on us. That was a common goal for both of us when we started was that we wanted to do everything ourselves, in terms of producing and stuff. That's still our goal today.

Analogue: For the sake of control?

Carter: I think so. It is a control thing for both of us, but we have a vision for what we want to be artistically. Collaborating is great because it leads to new things and it is healthy, but depending on who you are with, it can end up controlling what you do. You end up an hour or two later wondering, 'Why did I do that?' I think we've both been there in the past, so that's why it came with that. Are we still pretty open-minded about stuff? Of course. That's just something that was one of our goals when we first started.

Analogue: Do you feel like you couldn't be doing now what you are without those previous experiences?

Carter: A hundred percent. That's the only reason why we exist is from going through that. I'm glad we went through in an earlier stage, but it's incredibly influential for where we're at today.

Analogue: You mentioned music that makes you feel good. Why that emphasis?

Carter: I think it's a good juxtaposition to what we lyrically say. The music can be upbeat and it sounds nice and poppy, but lyrically sometimes there's some self-depracating or vulnerable stuff. That's our goal, to be a vulnerable dance party.

Kortney: [Laughs] The music takes its cues from who we are as people. We're kind of quirky and fun and try not to take anything too seriously. We're upbeat people, I guess.

Carter: We're a contradiction because we want to be carefree in our music but we're not at all. We're incredibly honest. It's a mess but that's just us.

Analogue: Does aiming for that juxtaposition mean the editing is pretty intense?

Carter: It's more dialed in now. Besides the two singles we've put out this year, we've only put out an EP and that was us hitting the ground running trying to figure stuff out. Now everything is pretty thought out. I think we're finding a rhythm for sure.

Analogue: Is that pretty easy for you guys to find that great pop hook or effect or is that something you really have to labor over?

Chapel 2
Chapel 2

Carter: What's worked out for us is that we've always been a band that's written songs in loops and then we break them apart. The hook was always the go-to start. So nowadays, they don't really take forever for us, which is nice. It's usually structuring and then lyrical storyboarding for us that takes the most time. Production is usually on the fly and the hook happens quick, but everything else takes a minute.

Analogue: Speaking of hooks, are there any hooks that come to mind if I ask about ones you wish you'd written?

Kortney: The first one that came to mind is "Don't Take the Money" by the Bleachers. That's such an anthemic hook, I think.

Carter: "Bartender" by T-Pain. It's a great hook! I love that hook! My music taste is spotty as hell and I'm a closeted T-Pain fan, but that hook is great. I wish I'd written it.

Analogue: Any plans for further singles this year? What does the road ahead look like?

Carter: It's weird. 2020 is something for everyone.

Kortney: Yeah, every day is something different and new.

Carter: Last October, we finished our album completely and we'd planned on everything being out by now. But with everything pushed back, it's hard to tell. Now that we're in quarantine, we've been writing a bunch of other songs also. Having songs right now is not the issue; it's figuring out what to do with them. Obviously content is important, so more songs are definitely coming out this year. Our body of work is kind of up in the air at this point just because you can't tour or do certain stuff, but songs are still coming out for sure.

VISIT: Chapel

*Photo Credit: Nolan Knight