I first saw CHAI by accident. It was March 2018 and I was in Austin, Texas for the annual South by Southwest music convention. The accident came about because I got to a Mattiel show way too early and CHAI were on before Mattiel. This was to prove a happy accident.
The event was a showcase for a then popular garage rock label called Burger Records. Being unaware of the sordid revelations to come both CHAI and Mattiel had licensed their records to said label for release in the US.
I was on my own. The venue was like a college hall and the vibe was frat party. Not my vibe plus I was at least thirty years older than anyone else in the room. I went over to say hi to Sean from Burger and as CHAI came on (I won’t say ‘took the stage’ as there was no stage) Sean told me that I had to watch them, describing them as being totally fantastic. I hadn’t ever heard of them but I happily took his word for it and headed to the front. Due to the lack of stage plus the average height of the band members, to see anything, I had to go to the very front. On my own. Older guy. Pretty weird. Even weirder when the band kicked in and my face split wide open into a massive smile. And then I laughed. They were so great I couldn’t help it. Never before had I so wished for company. The kids around me looked as if they thought I was a crazy guy or did they need to hide their drugs.
I smiled the whole way through the show. I loved them so much and there was nobody I could share the moment with. I needed Danny badly. No Danny. I went back to Sean expressed my feelings and he in turn introduced me to CHAI’s manager, Nadeshiko. I told her about Heavenly and she told me that CHAI were playing again the following night. It was in the yard at the back of Hotel Vegas, a Panache party, the best SXSW parties at the best venue and the lightning struck again. This time I had friends. Soon after that we did a deal and put out a couple of albums (Pink and Punk).
I’ll never forget that weekend and none of us at Heavenly will ever forget CHAI or Nadeshiko or any of the management team. They are such lovely people and the band were really great. It was an absolute pleasure to work with them and we wish them all the best in whatever they choose do next.
– Jeff Barrett –
CHAI ‘PINK’ • Released in October 2018.
CHAI ‘PUNK’ • Released in March 2019.