Chip Merlot talks bars, travelling & the perfect night out
What have you been up to lately?
– Enjoying spring to the fullest! I’ve been working with JYT and SANO on their new stuff. We've got some beautiful tracks coming up and I think I have been close to even discovering my own sound.
Spring is coming, right?
You mentioned having been close to finding your own sound. What kind of material are we talking about?
– Basically, while working on JYT’s debut album I've noticed what kind of sounds I like to go for and how I like these kind of really rough beats. We did this super-mega-banger called St. Eric for his new album. Now, this track is something I am very proud to have been a part of, and I think I'd like to continue working on something like that. At the same time working with SANO on his new stuff has been super easy. We both seem to have the same idea on the sounds of each track. So to say the least, rough future bass is very close to my heart. Then again coming from the festive house background, there is a special place in my heart for that 128bpm festival house, you know the kind that makes Seb Ingrosso turn up extra hard.
Let's kill the speculation, right here, right now: who makes bigger beats – SANO or JYT?
– Pshhh, I make the biggest tracks. [dabs] No, but it is hard to compare – it feels like both of them are upping their game each time they produce something so it's hard to say exactly.
Roger that. Last time we had a talk you had just been to Ibiza. Have you been travelling lately?
– I actually just got back from Paris. Me and my mates partied for a week and also went to see Porter Robinson and Madeon’s live performance. Probably the greatest concert I’ve ever been to. I’m going to Stockholm in the end of April for a brief visit so there is that. I’ve been planning to go to either Tokyo, where I used to live, or maybe make a legendary boss trip: first hit up Malaga and Puerto Banus and then from there fly to Ibiza or maybe take a boat.
Did you hit up any dope bars or clubs in Paris?
– Hahah, no. We went clubbing with the guys, but I wouldn’t exactly call the joints nice, you know what I mean? We went to the clubs and bars that we knew were favored by students of the area so that we would have extra fun partying. Also I think some Parisian told me that a classic rookie mistake would've been going out blackout drunk on Champs-Élysées as a foreigner and get robbed at gunpoint, so we opted not to do that.
You're known as a regular in a few high-profile bars in Helsinki. Any favorites as a guest?
– I would have to say as for right now, Pastor. Super cool place with amazing staff, great drinks, beautiful and happy people. Although I think that’s because most of them are finlandssvensk. Also there seems to always be great DJ’s, but the best nights are definitely when WHYNOT is playing. So all around great space for a great night out. If you're going, try to holla at Teemu Samuli, top dude. Then again like I said spring is coming and so inevitably also summer, so I’m looking forward to the terraces at Löyly and Grotesk. Can’t go wrong with those.
What do you think makes the perfect bar, from a guest's perspective?
– Oh man, that’s a tough one. First of all, my attention is on what I see outside and how the bouncer is. Obviously, the place needs to look nice and the bouncer needs to know how to handle his business. Then comes the interior. Since we are talking bars, it can’t be a fucking hall. It needs to be intimate, but not too intimate, since you don’t want to be packed with no air to breathe. The interior designers and architects need to have an eye out for natural crowd movement: think where to set up a few tables for those who like to chat with friends. What's a good spot for who I call "the standers" and partiers. It's a very delicate game. The DJ booth needs love too – it needs to be in the right spot, not in way of people but not tucked away in, like, under some stairs or whatever.
Other essentials for me are warm colours, warm lights and other elements that bring the bar together. I think Pastor has the most successful interior design by far It's a great example of using Scandinavian design with a touch of Brooklyn – fucking golden.
The holy grail for me – and I cannot stress this enough – is a good fucking sound system. Do some sound engineering on the place – you know, acoustics and shit – and only book DJs that know what the fuck they are doing. Now, the sound is everything, so it cannot be uneven, cracking or shaky. It needs to be clear. Also rich in bass, but not over the top. Since the DJ is the one in charge of the system, I would love it if they didn’t just go out and blast their shit so that every single speaker is busted by the end of the night.
And then we come back to the core of the bar: the drinks and the bartenders. Now, it's crucial to have capable bartenders with social skills. And then the drinks. I love it when the bar has everything for everyone: beers, wines, vodkas, whiskeys, rums, classic cocktails and long drinks and so on, so that everyone can have their preferable drink. Who wants the night to get buzzkilled because a bartender didn't want to serve a long drink? No one. Again, Pastor excels.
How's your perfect night out?
– Saturday night. Me and the boys get together for drinks. Usually there's someone we haven’t seen in ages so everybody's chatty. Then we grab a taxi and head downtown to meet up with the girls. Down a couple of bottles of wine with the gang and then head to a club. To sum it up: a booze-filled night with amazing people all around me who I care about. Light hearted conversation and epic plans for the future.
Finally: what's your drink of choice for the perfect night?
– Alcohol, heheh. It's different every night: sometimes wine, sometimes cider, and of course with JYT it's always straight up vodka. I don't really care as long as it tastes good and gets me drunk.