Coda Chroma on the journey to their debut album

“Can you guys please play away from the telephone? I'm trying to do an interview, and I can't hear what the man is asking.”

Damien Charles is many things – an expat Kiwi, a multi-instrumentalist, a producer, an engineer and one half of Castlemaine duo Coda Chroma. Right now, however, he's a father of two – and he's got to lay down the law in order to continue with the former. “I've got a four-year-old and a two-year-old,” he says breathlessly down the line from his home. He adds, laughing, “It can be pretty brutal – and I'm already busy enough.”
With the kids quiet, Charles is back to focusing on Coda Chroma, who released their debut self-titled album just two weeks ago. It's a relatively new project for both Charles and for singer/songwriter Kate Lucas, who met only a matter of years prior while Lucas was playing bass in an Irish folk-punk band. “The band was called Wilderbeast, and I was recording them for a session,” says Charles.
“Everyone kept telling me to get Kate to sing on the track, and I thought she sounded really great. I went along to see her play at a pub to about five drunken Irish guys, and I couldn't believe that there weren't more people there. I thought her songs were amazing, and her sense of pitch with her vocals was perfect. It might have been the five pints of Guinness, but I knew then and there that I wanted to work with her. I envisioned everything – the sound, the production, the whole thing.”
Since that drunken evening, Charles and Lucas have always had the end goal of making a full-length album. Given the commitments of both individuals to their other projects, however, it's only now that Coda Chroma is finally seeing the light of day. For Charles – who has also worked with acts such as Gotye, Hiatus Kaiyote and The Red Eyes – it's been an arduous process, but an entirely worthwhile one. “It's definitely been a labor of love,” he says.
“We've had to piece this record together for a good few years now – I've toured the world twice since we first started working on it. Even when I've been working on albums for other people, we've been chipping away at this the whole time. The fact that it's finally out is pretty exciting to us.
“This originally started out as being a solo album for Kate. We ended up picking a band name for it and changing it to that – essentially, it went from being a project I was working on to a band that I joined, all because I liked the music so much.”
Charles and Lucas have since assembled a full band to go with their live shows. “The guys we've got playing with us are all absolutely brilliant,” says Charles. “They're all guys that play in a band called Human Face, and I used to play in a band with all of them years ago.
“They make up the core of the backing band that we've assembled – Luke Collins on drums, Rowan Sherlock on bass and Dan Marsh on keys and synthesizers. They're absolutely incredible musicians – the kind of guys who you can show a song to once and they've immediately got it. For the launch, we've also beefed it up by adding a baritone sax player and two backing vocalists. We're so excited to see how it sounds.”
By David James Young

Coda Chroma will launch their self-titled album at Northcote Social Club on Sunday April 23. The album is out now.