The Making of Chester Watson & Kent Loon’s “Spring Mirage”

POW Recordings 002: Chester Watson & Kent Loon - "Spring Mirage." Runnit.
By    May 24, 2016
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Photo: Pablo Vasquez

It seems like 40 years, but it’s only been 40 months since Chester Watson tweeted me the video to “Phantom,” alongside the message, “you won’t regret this.” If you’re keeping track, that may be the only time in music history that Twitter spam has actually worked. It sets a terrible precedent, but the effectiveness is undeniable. “Phantom” had 6,000 views when I wrote about it; it’s now angling towards 600,000.

At the time, he was a 15 year-old high school student in St. Petersburg, who had just discovered rap through GZA, Earl, and DOOM. His musical tastes went much deeper, but all l I knew then was that he had a classic style without fake nostalgia for the Phat Farm past. In our ensuing e-mail correspondences, Chester told me that he named his song “Albatross” because he was “really fucking with Samuel Taylor Coleridge poems.” He was into drum and bass, Black Moth Super Rainbow, and “Victorian shit.” He was an original, ultimately, what I value most in friends or artists.

I sent his music to a few labels. Everyone liked it, but no one wanted to release it. So we decided to start a POW Recordings imprint because I’ve been doing this for enough time to understand that few artists are as gifted as Chester Watson. I am biased but I am also right. Past Cloaks was the early wardrobe, recollected as “19 narcotic hexes, written and recorded while he was 15, 16, and 17, created with cheap equipment, powerful weed, and a restless mind. Early work culled from his first mixtape, Phantom (2012), Tin Wooki (2014), and Soundcloud loosies.”

Spring Mirage is the next vision, in accompaniment with his Nu Age brethren, Kent Loon. If you’re looking for 90s nostalgia, go listen to a Showbiz & AG album. Or as Chester said, “go to Pro Era. We ain’t on that in Nü Age. We get drunk and do copious amounts of drugs.” You can hear a trap influence because they’re from the South. What do you expect from a 19-year old that spent half his teen years in Atlanta? But to me, this sounds like an acid trap hallucination made for soundtracking witch burnings, and the after-party rave. Winter Mirage comes out in October on POW and figures to merge all these styles, plus inventing some others. #ListenToMoreWitchJazz

If you’re so inclined, you can purchase it on Bandcamp, or stream it on Spotify, Soundcloud, Apple, and Tidal (yes, Tidal). Physical copies coming soon. The video of “I Get It” is below. So is the story of Spring Mirage, in the words of Chester and Kent. – Jeff Weiss

Chester Watson:

I was really tired of the old-school stuff, and I wanted to go back to what I listened to before I rapped: rave music and techno music. The idea was to combine it with pop music and the Atlanta sound. I’m living that sound out because I grew up with it, that tempo is embedded into me.

I wanted to do it with Kent because that’s my fam and I want to see him making more music and being happy. When he makes music, he gets lit, he’s piped up. I wanted to give him some energy and life and he returned the favor to me.

Kent Loon:

I started making music when I was in middle school. I didn’t take it seriously, just took it for fun, posting songs on Myspace, just like how anyone else would start off. Later on in high school, I met Chester,

At first, we weren’t friends, but I knew who he was. I knew he stood out because his swag is so unique and different. Then then we were just chilling and talking and  vibed. From there, we just cliqued up, and then all just started hanging out, chilling, burning. When I realized that he made music, I was stunned how different his sound is. It’s different. No one has that same sauce as him

He asked me if I wanted to be in Nu Age and I was like runnit. From there, we’d hang out at school and mob out and formed that whole movement. We formed Nu Age from the ground up. I started making more music. Chester would just show me crazy ass beats. Once I heard that, it really opened up my thoughts and way of thinking. I really started expanding and taking it seriously.

Chester Watson “I Get It” (prod. by Bzkt & Chester)

CW: I heard Bzkt’s version on Soundcloud and it was raw. He sent me the beat and we got it re-mastered and I added some horns and more bass. I started freestyling over it and then wrote it.

We shot the video was at the hotel goth party we threw with Pablo Vasquez directing it. It was mainly just like a celebration for me and Nu Age. I had been traveling the world and listening to all types of shit. We had never been in a hotel getting drunk and fucked up and it was very momentous that we were finally all here in one room, having fun. Some girls came and it was a nice party. Very chill. Very piped up.

Chester Watson – “I Love Ugly” (prod. Chester Watson)

CW: The song was originally called “Zest,”  but when I re-did it, I was in the studio wearing all I Love Ugly, so that’s how it came to be. There’s not really a melody behind it, just drums and bass. I’d wanted to rap over some drum and bass type stuff and it came out tight. It was fun making those drums. I ran them through the 404 to get them lo-fi but still knocking.

As for the D&B thing, I kinda just wanted to rap over those sounds, but add more vocal layering, I first discovered that kind of music from playing video games, mostly stuff on Sega.

Kent Loon ft. Chester – “Midnight” (produced by Chester)

KL: When I listen to ‘Midnight,’ it puts me in a dark place, but one where I want ride around and smoke some doja and literally just chill. But at the same time, it gives that bounce. So there’s the darkness and chill vibe, along with the getting turnt up side.

Kent Loon – “James Bond” (prod. by Kanisono)

KL: We were in a Nu Age group text and my homie Kanisono sent the beat randomly. He didn’t know I was going to use it until weeks later and I was like I just made a banger to that beat you made. It was just crazy because he really fucked with it because it was my brother Kanisono, you feel me. Once I got the go from him, I re-recorded it – and from there, it was on.

I’m not really into James Bond, but it was more about recording this track knowing that I’m going to fuck this shit up. I wanted people to go apeshit. By that point, I already new Spring Mirage was gonna be that tape that was gonna catch fire.

Kent Loon – “Oaks” (prod. by Chester Watson)

KL: I was just fucking around in the studio. We had a 6-8 hour studio session and we knocked everything down. Chester was slumped out, and I just got in my vibe, started fooling around with auto-tune and just told the engineer to record. I laid down the ‘Oaks’ verse and it sounded gas. We just kept it and waited until Chester woke up to listen, and then he heard it and was like that shit sounds raw.

I initially had a different hook on it, but Chester told me he was going to put a different hook on it because he fucked with it so much. The next day, he came through and got in his groove and freestyled the hook and it literally sounded like a perfect song, so we just stuck with it.

Chester Watson – “Runnit” (prod. by Unknown)

That was definitely just true savage Florida shit. That’s how niggas get down here when you piss them off, they get super savage. In St Louis they act the same exact way. We just run it. If you say something, you gotta do it, you gotta back it up.

I freestyled over the beat at Low End Theory man, and the energy there gave me life and more motivation to actually finish the song. It wasn’t done, but I was like I can piece this together and make it so hype.

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Photo: Pablo Vasquez

Chester Watson – “Yellow Kawasaki” (prod. by Chester)

It was more techno-trap vibe. The bass is upbeat and fast, it makes sense, it’s definitely trap inspired. I wanted it to be hyper than my older stuff. I didn’t want to keep on the same monotone pace that I’ve been doing because I pretty much perfected that at this point and wanted to try something new. This is more Kent’s realm, the really turned up shit.

I’m from Atlanta, but never made that type of music. It was very Atlanta, now we did it and it came out sounding lit. Kent and I come from two different worlds of music.  I’m very jazz, very solemn. He’s very piped up. We come from different realms, but when we mesh it’s beautiful.

Chester Watson & Kent Loon – “Khaki Loafers” (prod. by Chester)

CW: That was the trial run.  I’d sent him the “Oaks” beat forever ago, but we never knew what to do with it because it was ahead of us. That’s the raviest beat on the album. I just did the chorus — the drums are so sporadic.

Kent: We were getting zooted one day and I was like you should make a raw beat. He asked me what kind of beat I wanted, and then I gave him the exact specifications and he was like alright, I made that shit. I started writing my verse and then he fucked with it and he wrote his verse and started just mumbling, “Khaki Loafers with the suede on the bottom.” And I was like, that’s raw. You should make that the hook, and that’s exactly what we did.

On Spring Mirage

Kent:  I just want people to enjoy the music and really feel the vibes we give off. We really did this shit naturally and basically just having fun, just showing the people what we do. It’s all second nature to us, we are really out here. I want people to get ready for what’s in store for the future and turn the fuck up to this music and have fun.

Chester: I want people to know that I’m not like Odd Future at all. I’m not like Doom. I just got my first influences from them, but was never like them. I liked rave music from the start. Those guys were like the training wheels of rap for me, but it’s like Chester is on his own now. He took off his training wheels. That’s Spring Mirage.