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Track-by-Track: Chalk – Conditions II

Ahead of what looks primed to be a breakthrough year for the fast-rising electronic/noise rock Belfast trio, Chalk vocalist and producer Ross Cullen takes us on a track-by-track tour of the diverse influence and inspiration behind their brand new EP, Conditions II

The Gate

‘The Gate’ is all about pressure and the pressures of being in a band. It began with a drum and bass loop I found on Splice alongside some 1/16 notes from a preset called Demented Percussion on Logic. Combining those two sounds set up the energy of the track fairly quickly. There’s a heavy influence from Holy Fuck & Death Grips on this song & also several samples from construction work in Belfast City Centre and a looped sample from a random TikTok our drummer Luke was watching during the writing session which is the intro.


‘Claw’ is a track that was written shortly after the release of Conditions and was an important song for us to write. We wanted to lean more into the electronic side of things from the first EP. It was the first track we ever wrote without an electric bass guitar part in it. The opening scene from Victoria had an impact on this track, it’s just strobe lighting inside a nightclub or the first two minutes of the film. The lyrics are about falling in love inside of your nightmare – themes of loss and relief.


‘Kevlar’ is our first track with no drums. It’s drowned in an atmosphere of reverb and space – kind of how I felt Alice in Wonderland Syndrome would sound like. The challenge was to create a quieter and vulnerable moment for us in the set. Heavily inspired by Women’s ‘Can’t You See’ – I felt like they were blending the string distortion of a Velvet Underground track with a simple bass note progression.


‘Bliss’ is a track that took the longest to finish. The main chorus riff came from a jam to Broken Social Scene and the beat with a nod to acts like Special Interest who are doing cool things with industrial dance punk music. Also, heavy influence from New Order and Future Islands track with Debbie Harry called ‘Shadows’.

It’s a song about two people who once shared a love in the past and then seeing each other again for the first time. It was an idea for a short film I had when we were at Queens studying film – influenced by Brief Encounter and Her.

I loved the idea of a duet and said to our producer Chris Ryan that I wanted to make Ireland’s answer to ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’. He recommended Fears could do the counterpart vocal. I remember we all listened to the final mix of the track with Connie’s vocals on our headphones while driving to Reading and Leeds Festival just falling in love with it.

is the editor of The Thin Air. Talk to him about Philip Glass and/or follow him on Twitter @brianconey.