By DJ Pierce
A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview two members of the band, Chouch, a local alt-metal band based in Scotts Valley, California. During the interview, I spoke with Zélee Sharnée, an 18-year-old vocalist who had previous experience performing at the Catalyst multiple times with her last band, and lead guitarist Jadon Ulrich, who is also the mastermind behind writing all their songs. Chouch has recently caught the local spotlight in the Santa Cruz Music scene by performing recently at the ever-growing Felton Music Hall, sharing the venue with the likes of other big names such as Summer Salt (coming June 15) and Durand Jone & the Indications. (coming April 5) Only seniors in high school, these young musicians have banded together and created a name for themselves in the local Santa Cruz music scene performing for several gigs across the county.
What is Chouch, What kind of genre does the band fall into?
Jadon: Since our band is only about two months old, we are still experimenting and trying to figure out and piece together our sound, but it kind of falls into a mix between Alternative Metal, and Alternative Rock. It is definitely more of a sad vibe. Chouch, I think, is different from other alt-metal bands because we have more melodic vocals from Zélee rather than your typical intense hard rock vocals.
What are some big inspirations for the direction of Chouch in terms of sound?
Probably our biggest inspiration and favorite is the band Deftones. Tool and Elder also kind of inspire our heavy rock sound, but we like to put our own twist to it.
How did you guys find each other and create Chouch?
Zélee: In the beginning of Junior Year, I started a band with three of my other friends in my grade, playing gigs all the way up until August of last year until me and my bassist kind of branched off. My bassist was friends with Jadon, a guitarist, and then they got together with a drummer and started playing as an instrumental trio. After I saw them play their first gig I was ‘like oh my god! They are so good!’ I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Then, we all kind of talked about it and started practicing together and Chouch was formed.
What is the process of writing music, what do you write your songs/lyrics about?
Jadon: We first start out with a guitar riff and then expand on it. Usually I will pretty much write the whole song on guitar, then record some sampled drums to give some structure for how the song will go, and lastly record the bassline.
Zélee: Jadon is pretty much the powerhouse behind writing all the songs. He has practically written all four of our songs. I come in afterwards and write the lyrics and the melody pretty much after everything is done. I am really a poetic person and try to make my lyrics really deep and meaningful, so my lyrics won’t make any sense on surface level. I really enjoy having people trying to figure it out on their own and to create their own personal meanings from them. Sometimes I create several layers of meanings for each song. For example, the second song that we wrote, I layered three different meanings onto the song.
How did you get the opportunities to play for big venues like the Felton Music Hall or the Catalyst at such a young age?
Zelee: We actually had a random booking agent from New York reach out to us because they saw our Instagram. For my previous band, they reached out to us and asked if we wanted to play for this venue with some other bands if we can sell a certain amount of tickets. Of course we said yes. They set us up with tickets and told us “sell this amount, and we will give you a portion of it back.” My band actually ended up selling the most tickets for the first show at the Catalyst, and because of that we were able to play a second show there. After my last band broke up, the booking agency reconnected with me and asked if we wanted to play another show. I told them about Chouch, the new band I was in, and they let us play for the Felton Music Hall. Funny enough, we ended up selling the most tickets there as well.
What’s the hardest part about starting a band?
Zelee: Starting out on a clean slate is definitely really difficult because you can’t just be an average band. You have to be better than average and impress people to be recognized so you can get yourself out there. You definitely have to be a little out of the ordinary. It really depends how you present yourself.
Any future releases or plugs?
Our goal is to release an EP, hopefully in the next couple months. It is a work in progress and we do not have a title yet but it will hopefully come out soon. You can find us on instagram @chouch.band