Less than four months after quitting his job as a janitor to pursue a career as a videographer, Seattle native Chase Fade finds himself at the current epicenter of rap.
In the days leading up to the making of Dreamville's compilation album Revenge of the Dreamers III, a plan was hatched to document the experience, and Fade's work as a photographer and videographer on Bas' Milky Way Tour earned him a golden ticket. Without hesitation, he headed to Atlanta and arrived on the second evening of the 10-day experiment.
Describing the scene he encountered when he arrived, Fade says, "There's different energy in all of these different rooms, with a bunch of producers coming in, a bunch of rappers coming in, singers, managers, you name it." He adds, "If you pop in one room and they're making trap music, you pop in another room and they're making some R&B, pop in another room and they're making some soulful stuff. You never know."
Fade describes the atmosphere as "focused" and says he watched J. Cole write to a single beat for six hours on the first day he was there. The work never stops. Returning to the studio late on Wednesday after getting locked out of his Airbnb, Fade says, "There were still a couple people working until like 8 or 9 a.m."
After a short night of sleep in the studio, Chase Fade spoke with Complex about his experience in Atlanta and how he "went from mopping floors to working with Dreamville." The interview, lightly edited and condensed for clarity, is below.
What was the scene like when you showed up in Atlanta?
It's a big studio. There are like 13 or 14 different studio rooms inside. There's different energy in all of these different rooms, with a bunch of producers coming in, a bunch of rappers coming in, singers, managers, you name it. Everyone's here just trying to create some good music.
How has the energy changed over the course of the first four days? From the outside, it seems like it's taken on a life of its own with all the golden ticket invites.
Yeah, definitely. Everyone is realizing that it's a moment, and you just kind of see it happening. Certain people will roll through, or you'll just see the quality of the music being made. You kind of just see, man, this is one of a kind. I don't think it's ever been done like this before.
It's definitely a focused vibe. Everyone's just working. There hasn't really been too big of a party vibe.
With so much going on in so many rooms, how do you go about capturing all of this?
It pretty crazy. We have three for four guys doing video and a photographer as well. So I'm just running around trying to capture any moment I can. If someone's rapping, that's cool. But we really want to build a story around this moment. It's not just about the people making the music; it's more about those moments in between.
But yeah, if you pop in one room they're making trap music, you pop in another room they're making some R&B, pop in another room they're making some soulful stuff. You never know. You walk around and you're hearing all these trap drums and people just making bangers. We're mostly in the big studio, Studio A. It's the biggest room. And that's where a lot of people go just because there's a lot of space. But I feel like everyone's got their own little sections that they just keep going back to.
You have posted two photos of J. Cole on your Instagram page. In both of them, he's crouched over and seems intensely focused. Can you kind of tell the story behind those photos?
Yeah. That was the first night I was here. J. Cole was writing to a beat for like six hours, on the same beat, just focused on writing the best verse. Every once in a while he'd write in his book, write some lines down. He's just focused as heck.
[T.I.] bounced over to Cole's studio section and they were chopping it up. You just get so much free game from all these people.
Has that been the vibe everyone has? Is it a party atmosphere, or is everyone focused?
It's definitely a focused vibe. Everyone's just working. There hasn't really been too big of a party vibe. I guess for the food breaks it's more of a chill atmosphere. But it doesn't feel forced, like, "You have to write this, you have to write that." Everyone's just working.
You also took a photo of T.I. and Rick Ross. Can you talk about that one?
Yeah. T.I., Rick Ross and Wale pulled up the other day. They just came in to listen to some music. T.I. just pulled up like right now, too.
Oh shit, awesome.
Yeah. They were just all in the same room.
Are you planning on being in Atlanta with them for all 10 days? I know Bas has a tour coming up soon.
I leave on the 16th to Vancouver to start again on the Milky Way Tour.
Oh, so the same day this ends. Damn, you're going to be busy.
Yeah, I'm going to be on the road for like four months [Laughs].
I went from mopping floors to working with Dreamville, it's pretty crazy.
How did you first get connected with Bas and Dreamville?
What I realized is if you hit up the openers of these big shows, you can do their content for free, and they love to have you. Everybody wins. You get experience and they get free content. I did probably 50 concert recaps just in Seattle, before I met Bas.
In Seattle, they have this festival called Bumbershoot. Bas, J. Cole, and Cozz were performing. I shot videos for all of them. I hit up a local guy and said, "Hey man, I'll do your videos for free if you just give me a wristband." He was performing right before Bas, so I just stayed around. They give you three songs with the press pass, so I shot video and shot some photos.
I sent the video over to Bas' DJ. He loved it and he said he called Bas in the room. They were actually in the Dominican Republic, they flew out the next day. Bas loved it, he posted it, and it went crazy on his page. All his fans were loving it, so they invited me out.
Bas' manager Derick Okolie hit me up and said, "Hey, would you be interested in coming on the road?" I said, "Definitely." Two months later, we started the Milky Way Tour. So I quit my job. I was a janitor for seven years. I went from mopping floors to working with Dreamville, it's pretty crazy.
That's nuts. When did you quit?
I quit in October. I was making enough from music videos and gigs around Seattle, but that tour really made me make the leap. I was probably not going to quit my job for a while, just because it's consistent money, but I wanted to make it full time. And you can't keep a job when you're on the road.
I saw that you've dabbled in some music production at one point, too. Being around all these producers this week, have you learned anything? What's that like?
Yeah, every producer here is amazing. Just walking around, you hear the craziest music. It's mind-blowing. These are literally the best producers in the word all under one roof, and you can get contact with these guys. Like, Tay Keith was here. You'd never be able to get a beat from him, but if you run into him in the hallway, you might be able to get his beat. It's crazy.
Is everything segmented by styles? Or is everyone working with each other?
No, everyone's definitely working with each other. If you want to go make a soulful record, you go upstairs. Or [someone will say] hey, they're making something like that over here. Then people will bounce around to different rooms. Like when T.I. was here, he was in the big room and they were doing some rapping with Wale and Reason from TDE. Then he bounced over to Cole's studio section and they were chopping it up. You just get so much free game from all these people. You can learn so much and hear so many different sounds just by walking across the hall.