The “She Loves Everybody” band was Pharrell’s pet project. Here’s what they’re up to now. Ten years ago, Kanye West had his heart set on signing two Harvard seniors to his Def Jam-distributed G.O.O.D Music imprint. Unfortunately for Mr. West, Jermaine Dupri had the same idea for his record label So So Def. Sadly for both of them, Pharrell Williams stepped in with an offer that gave the two students the one thing they couldn’t pass up: total artistic freedom. D.A. Wallach and Max Drummey, best known together as Chester French, were signed to Star Trak Records, a boutique imprint run by The Neptunes and distributed by Interscope Records.
Wallach and Drummey first met during their freshman year of college in Harvard’s dining hall. Wallach, an African American studies major from Milwaukee, and Drummey, an anthropology major from Boston soon built a bond over their shared love for music, and the pair began recording tracks in their dorm’s basement studio. Not long after that, Wallach and Drummey formed the band Chester French, named after Daniel Chester French, the sculptor responsible for the Lincoln Memorial. By their sophomore year, the pair had cut a demo that began to circulate on campus, creating some major buzz. They were signed to Star Trak by their senior year and their ascent into superstardom was imminent.
By Howie Kahn, photo by John Francis Peters. Though D.A. Wallach is a man of many worlds, transitioning from music to tech, his projects have one aim: to make an impact. IN LOS ANGELES’ Koreatown neighborhood, D.A. Wallach’s brain is all lit up. He’s been in the MRI machine in an office for nearly two hours, wearing a medical gown, meditating, trying to tune out the clang-clang-clang of the machine.
Technicians have already captured hundreds of images. As they work into the thousands, completing his full body scan, they have an axial view—illuminated lobes and cortices—up on their screen. “Good brain,” one tech says. Wallach, who turns 31 this month, isn’t here as a patient. After having lunch at a nearby Thai barbecue restaurant with the CEO of a start-up called Klarismo, he’s putting the company’s technology to the test and evaluating its potential for investment.
D.A. Wallach – Disaster (Live From Capitol Studio B) (2015)
D.A. Wallach – You & The Moon (Live From Capitol Studio B) (2015)
Singer-songwriter-composer D.A. Wallach, former front man of Chester French — an indie pop-rock duo that was initially the subject of a ferocious bidding war between Kanye West, Jermaine Dupri and Pharrell Williams — has finally stepped out on his own with his more than impressive first solo album, Time Machine.
Let’s hop right into this brand new debut solo LP, Time Machine — Conceptually, what does that title represent both to and for you?
The song “Time Machine” is about a relationship in time; how the passage through time changes everything, including the dynamics between people. And then, I had the realization that music itself is a sort of “time machine”; a way of capturing a slice of time forever and allowing one to revisit it. In the case of this album, each song is a dense layering of different moments since I recorded different parts at different times. Each song is a collage of moments, literally. And then, the cover of the album is what we imagined to be a timeless abstract location in which one could escape the pace of daily life and engage with the music. It is therefore a third sort of “Time Machine.”
How does Time Machine either differ or compare, sonically, to previous Chester French recordings?
It is much simpler. The focus is more on the pure songwriting than it is on production. I think Chester French was more about sound itself, whereas Time Machine attempts to present each song as cleanly as possible.
On it, you teamed up with Pharrell Williams, Diane Warren, Dan Wilson and David Campbell. How were you able to make some of these high-profile collaborations come to fruition?
Pharrell has always been a supporter and was so king in taking the time to add his touch to “Faded Blue,” a song I wrote the week before we worked on it together. Diane blessed me with two of her masterpieces, which I sing really as tributes to the quality and power of her compositions. Dan has been a great friend, and David Campbell accepted a cold email from me and liked the music enough that he was willing to get down together on it!
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