Factor Chandelier approaches production like a painter approaches their canvas: with an eye on the finest details while still serving the vision of the work as a whole.
On the morning of May 7, 2020, Saskatoon-based producer Factor Chandelier woke up to find his studio flooded and a good portion of his gear and equipment trashed. He posted a photo of the damage to his Facebook page with a caption asking, “Is 2020 over yet?” I don’t blame him for feeling dejected given the circumstances, but if I were Chandelier, I wouldn’t give up on 2020 just yet. First Storm, the record he dropped mere weeks before the flood, is a drop-dead gorgeous full-length awash in dynamic, detailed beats that is destined to reverse Chandelier’s fortunes and raise his profile.
With its often ominous tone and dystopian futuristic vibes, you’d never guess that First Storm is an album dedicated to Chandelier’s young son, born during the record’s genesis. Chandelier’s sound and style, crafted over two decades of making beats and producing music, is a distinctive blend of live instruments, a keen ear for melody, and a killer cast of featured MCs to flesh out his sound. “Better Way”, featuring frequent collaborator Ceschi, is colossal and anthemic. Through foreboding strings and industrial doom and gloom, Chandelier and Ceschi find the heart and humanity at the song’s core. “Make up your mind / Do you want money / or freedom / or stability? / I don’t even know!,” Ceschi says before launching into a rapid-fire flow that ebbs into the chorus, a plea for finding one’s way when adulthood and responsibility are thrust upon you. “UNDERGROUND” is a subterranean hip-hop delight popping with percolating synths, minimalist beats, and the symbiotic blending of Chandelier and the aesthetics of featured MC Cadence Weapon.
It’s on First Storm’s instrumental tracks that Chandelier’s production work shines brightest. The polished beats of “New View” and the jazzy cool of “ZaapZ” best encapsulate Factor Chandelier’s sound: it’s a kind of interstitial rap living between genres and influences. For all the trip-hop vibes of “Long Game” and R&B grooves on “Hurricane Ex”, there are unclassifiable cool moments like on the title track when Myka 9’s spoken-word-poetry performance is combined with a plinking piano that’s straight out of a horror movie. “Black NASA” is thick with bass and bursting with dynamics delivered with the honesty and authenticity of an artist who instinctively knows they are playing to their strengths and have discovered a voice that’s truly their own.
Chandelier approaches production like a painter approaches their canvas: with an eye on the finest details while still serving the vision of the work as a whole. Lesser artists would get swallowed by this level of sophistication, but Chandelier thrives in it, finding the right balance between substance and style. If there’s any justice, then by the time 2020 is over, the only flood Factor Chandelier is going to remember is the rush of accolades and compliments coming his way in the wake of First Storm.