Air Chrysalis members Stanley Chase and Michael Powell operate under very precise sonic aesthetic, and “Beyond My God” is a song that exemplifies this perfectly. It’s a song that not only walks the “tightrope between experimentation and accessibility,” but also has an interesting intent.
“I watched the movie ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it,” said Chase. “Then I went down a path online reading about an outlaw gang called the Reno Gang. It turned into a week or two of reflecting on the movie, reading about the Reno Gang and things I was dealing with in my personal life, and I started writing the song from all three perspectives as they intertwined. All were flowing into a narrative of revenge and impending doom. I kept thinking about the thoughts that would go through someone’s head the minute before they die. We always think it’s this sort of life-passing-before-your-eyes kind of thing, but maybe there’s another side of that.”
“Beyond My God” is a mid-tempo electro-pop number that evokes a lo-fi ‘80s aura complete with new-wave drum machines, atmospheric synths and a rousing chorus. Wrapped tightly in a melancholic air, exacerbated by Chase’s quiet, yet raw vocals that melt into the chorus’ effects-laden timbre, the song is as much a feeling or vibe as it is something easily dissected.
“The early demos were hard to piece together, but the bass line always drove the song,” said Stanley. “Michael and I worked on that original idea, and just kept expanding where it was going. We really wanted it to be dark and illuminating at the same time, which felt pretty natural from a creative space as we continued working through it.”
Powell’s approach was more cinematic: “I asked myself, ‘How would someone like Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins approach an Ennio Morricone score?’ The goal was to create a desolate, repetitive riff that sounded like it was bouncing off canyon walls that lead up to a bombastic crescendo. I wanted to capture that huge booming Johnny Marr vibe in the chorus. I think we were successful, although someone recently remarked that the riffs reminded them of U2, which is deeply concerning to me.”
Both Powell and Chase set out to make Air Chrysalis a “multi-sensory” act, and, to this end, strive to bring the same amount of passion to the visual side of things as well, creating a video for the song when the pandemic began.
“You can see we’re very distant from each other,” said Stanley. “At the time, we were both terrified of the virus and felt it was risky to be making it. When you watch it, you would assume there’s a camera crew filming the thing, but we made it in my company’s warehouse, just tripods and the two of us filming each other. There was a lot of editing and back-and-forth filming single camera shots. It was really fun.”
The song has also helped Air Chrysalis make a name for themselves, a fact that was a surprise to the duo.
“I honestly thought this was going to be a deep cut,” Powell said. “It’s almost five minutes long and it’s kinda strange. But people who’ve checked out our music really gravitated toward this one. When I shared the EP with Kyle Meredith, that’s the song he picked immediately, and WFPK had us in rotation for almost a year. We were pretty blown away. I certainly don’t mind that surprise — and it’s still the most fun song to play live.”
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