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LAist Interview: Torbitt Schwartz of Chin Chin

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Chin Chin, Brooklyn based funk band are touring the West Coast | Photos provided by the band

In marches Chin Chin, changing the dynamic of Def Jux records with this its first non-hiphop release. They are touring the west coast in late May/ June, and come through LA on Friday, June 6th @ Mint, and in Fullerton on Saturday, June 7th @ The Continental Room.

The dizzying jams and vivid bass lines of Chin Chin came out from under the origins of a monthly party; and probably explain why every show the band plays becomes one giant celebration. The spry, fuzzed-out jams on their new album well capture that feeling of unbridled revelry. Torbitt Schwartz (drums, vocals), Jeremy Wilms (guitar, vocals), and Wilder Zoby (vocals, keyboard) are the core trio of musicians that make up the Chin Chin.

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We called up Torbitt, and pestered him with a few questions.

LAist: If you could work with any musician alive or dead who would it be?

Torbitt: Man that’s a tough one, that’s a really-really tough one. James brown maybe… no not James Brown. I know Eddie Murphy. One of my dreams would definitely be to do Boogie in your Butt with Eddie Murphy.

Obama or Clinton, and why?

You know, I gotta say Barrack. Funny that you didn’t ask me about McCain, I guess there’s not a really big hippy republican funk scene. But I gotta say Barrack because on paper they look fairly similar, and I think that this country is really fucked up, and we’re so systematically disenfranchised that someone who has got the power to really energize people is really powerful. And you know, I’m scared because I’m a little bit of a conspiracy theorist. And I should say that Chin Chin is really an apolitical band, I am a political person though, and I am really fearful that McCain is going to be the guy. And I got to say that my girlfriend is a pretty big feminist, and she’s rooting for Barrack.

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Do you like Los Angeles?

Yeah I love LA. Chin Chin’s never played there though. But my favorite thing about LA is that in New York, well New York is such a supposedly progressive and financially driven place, and there’s been this insane gentrification that’s taken place in the last 10 years, and all the joints and the just funky spots are like gone. You know, they are all replaced with fancier new high-fi versions of what was there. And I think it really sucks a lot of the soul out of a city. And I like that in LA those spots are still there. You go into that one deli there on Fairfax…

Canter’s Deli?

Yeah! Go in there and they haven’t updated their decor. You know? It’s a joint, it’s a funky old spot. And I really like that aspect of it. There’s almost something kinda small-towny about it, but at the same time there’s all the cultural shit you would have in a big city. Plus the weather in LA doesn’t hurt.

And one more thing that I love about LA is the little bags of fruit that you can buy off the street. You know with the cyan pepper? I wish I one of those right about now.

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How would you describe Chin Chin to someone who has never heard it before?

I would say it’s essentially 21st century disco funk, it’s definitely coming out of dance classics, but trying to put our own stamp on it. It’s a super live, high-high energy show.

Is a fan missing the true Chin Chin experience if they never get to see the live show?

I think as of yet… Yes. I think so. There is something that happens live, and my brother who is the de facto front man, is just insane. He is like an amazing-amazing performer. And its not that we’re not great on record, but live everyone just feeds off the crowd.

What’s been the best place you’ve toured?

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Oh man, you know what honestly like last year we did a lot in Europe. And uh… France was pretty fucking insane. We had a record out in Europe already, on an old house label called Dialect. And we had a booking agent there who was really setting us up. Here in the states I do all of our booking.

What do you do when you’re not being a musician?

Oh man that’s very rare that I am not a musician. And I don’t like working a regular job, it’s been a long time since I did. I DJ, I run a recording studio, and I try to produce as many acts as possible. I do commercials and music work for film scoring, and stuff like that…

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So you’re pretty much always a musician, except for when you’re eating or sleeping.

Uhhh… yeah, exactly. But also these days we don’t have a manager, and I am kinda handling that role. And since about two weeks before the record dropped, I have been spending all my free time booking shows, and setting up tours.

What music would your fan-base be surprised to learn that you are a fan of yourself?

Oh well if you listened to our record you probably wouldn’t think that I love Black Sabbath, I love weird Indie-rock. Like we have a couple of moments that get pretty heavy, but our records are a little lighter fare than say, Slayer who I’ve seen probably ten times.

So what’s the future like for Chin Chin?

Welp, we are just wrapping up our next record, it’s almost done.

Will you bust out anything special for the upcoming LA or Fullerton shows?

You know what, probably so. I like to think that everything we are always busting out something special. But yeah, I’ve got some friends out there that are musicians, it will also be the end of out little 2-week tour, so we will have definitely worked something special out. Because you know on tour during sound checks we always mess around with some kind of cover, and play around with our stage act. So you will see a more orchestrated show with something special.

Come see Chin Chin in LA on Friday, June 6th @ Mint, and in Fullerton on Saturday, June 7th @ The Continental Room.