C.H.A.Y. Finds His Voice on Hopeful EP, Your Interpretation
Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom | March 19
By Franz Hilberath
Music always seemed to come naturally to C.H.A.Y., but with less than 48 hours before his EP due date, he was forced into doing something he’d never done before: write, record, and sing over his whole project.
Ever since he could remember, Christopher Fratt was interested in everything about music. As a child, he picked up playing both the drums and piano with no formal training or lessons, and by 12 years old he began constructing full, thematic songs at home with every tool made available to him. By then, Fratt had long been afflicted with a love for electronic music, influenced by innovative techno acts who brought vividness into an otherwise emulated EDM world. Because music came so organically, he never had nerves about what he was sharing.
A specific source of this inspiration was Deadmau5, and when he started his C.H.A.Y. project in 2017, Fratt sought to create the similar lush sounds found on the techno legend’s label, mau5trap. Equipped with years of musical knowledge, he began releasing a string of quality tracks and remixes, which helped him quickly rise as a touring DJ across Florida. Getting the opportunity to play with acts like Mija, Louis The Child, Golf Clap, and Sage Armstrong did very little in terms of intimidating an otherwise introverted person from pursuing his passions. As long as the music was the focus, Fratt was able to block out everything else.
In June 2019 — without ever “trying to make it happen” — he released his debut EP, Travel Far, on mau5trap, of course. Soon after, the C.H.A.Y. project began receiving co-signs from blogs and outlets around the country (even Forbes) all touting Fratt as an EDM artist on the rise. Additionally, it helped him land a release with the well-known Dirtybird label, and earned him a spot on the first-ever joint project between Insomniac and mau5trap in the fall of 2019. While the early acceptance for his music hardly fazed him, quickly landing a release on labels he idolized is something that caught him off guard.
“It’s surreal,” said Fratt, who spoke with The Marquee in February, the night before the release of his latest EP, Your Interpretation. “It’s something I never really thought would have happened when I first started writing music.”
Following Travel Far, C.H.A.Y quickly began working on a new project for 2020. Whereas the first EP was his introduction to the techno label’s base, mau5trap was ready to frame this next release as a coming-out party for the 24-year-old. With much time to spare, Fratt finished writing and producing tracks for the Your Interpretation project. Via a virtual soundscape, Fratt intended to create a short project that inspired hope through minimalism, showing that one can find acceptance by figuring things out on their own terms.
“I originally wanted that message to be one that people can interpret on their own,” said Fratt. “People [should]come up with their own subjective meaning about life and be themselves.”
A month out from the release date, the Orlando-based producer had a finished project ready and sent into the label. Despite their pleasure with the production, the label sent the project back to Fratt with one request: write and add vocals to the tracks.
After hearing a vocal sample on a previous release (“Floxen”), the label convinced Fratt that the addition of his vocals would help C.H.A.Y. breakthrough in connecting with listeners and add to the overall dynamism of his sound. With production, the tracks always seemed to “write themselves”, but with vocals, Fratt was now forced to think out more concrete themes to tell his story and put that on display for others. As weeks went by, he started by humming melodies that seemed to resonate with the tracks (“Keychain,” “Virtual Landscape,” “Your Interpretation”), but as the due date inched closer, he didn’t have any finals done or anything he was set on.
“When a song doesn’t have vocals, it’s hard to convey that message,” said Fratt. “[The lyrics] gave me more of a chance to tell more of a story. I worked tirelessly every day to get it done and within 48 hours [of it being due], I somehow got all the tracks done on the same day.”
The result was a breakthrough on many levels for the young producer. On one hand, he had met the demands of his idols at mau5trap, who believed that the personal touch of vocals would make him even more appealing in the rapidly progressive EDM world. Perhaps even more important, however, was hurdling the anxiety of opening himself up to potentially millions of listeners. While he admits the process was a little nerve-racking at the time, it’s helped him grow and, he says, will make his next attempt at connecting with people even easier.
“I [was]a little nervous to put it out there for sure, but I’m letting that go now,” said Fratt. “I have to put the feelings of being nervous to the side and hope people like it.”
Fratt’s commitment to helping people find acceptance comes from his background as an introvert. The C.H.A.Y. project, which stands for Creator Has Accepted You, has long been his outlet to produce art that conveys acceptance to both himself and his audience. Whether or not people listen to it or like it, all that matters to Fratt is its ability to help other people overcome the same issues.
“Going into 2020 I feel like this is a good way to start,” he said. “I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and hope it helps someone.”
Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom | March 19
Go If You Dig:
- Will Clarke