Although Chapis technically started off as Temo Molina’s bedroom recording project, he’s hoping that it’s on its way to becoming a full-fledged band. “[Chapis is] a nickname that my dad and my mom gave me when I was a baby. It just means like chapparo, which is like ‘shorty.’ They thought I was going to be short and fat as a baby,” explains the Long Beach-based songwriter. “I figured it sounded ambiguous enough to make it feel like it’s a band as opposed to just one guy. And that’s always been the goal for me. … It’s actually becoming more of a band than ever before.”
Earlier this year, Chapis released their first EP, titled La Boca. Although it’s relatively short, it serves as a proper introduction to the group and their overall sound, which bears some similarities to the laid back tunes of artists like Homeshake, Los Retros and Connan Mockasin. The three songs on the EP were written and recorded almost entirely by Molina, but the band seems to be quickly evolving into a more collaborative effort. “We just recorded some new songs at Jazzcats Studio in Long Beach as an actual band, all five of us,” says Molina. “So yeah, hopefully we can keep it interesting enough for them to want to stay and contribute.”
The band is expecting to release that new material by the end of the summer. In the meantime, they’ve been working on a new music video to accompany their song “The First Day” from the La Boca EP. Check out the premiere of the video below!
“Lyrically, it’s a pretty simple concept. It’s about a relationship where you constantly tell each other you love each other, but you don’t really show it in your actions,” explains Molina. “That’s basically the idea behind the song. It’s like, ‘You say we’re in love, but where’s the love?’ In that sense, it’s a sad song.”
Molina originally wanted the music video to be somewhat lighthearted, in order to balance out the otherwise melancholy nature of the song. Incidentally, director Giselle Bonilla shared this vision from the start. “The song itself was just such a post-breakup, depressive kind of poem and I wanted to do something that didn’t take itself too seriously kind of the way everyone does after a breakup,” she explains.
Bonilla and the band have had this chemistry since they first crossed paths. Chapis was opening up for the Santa Ana hip-hop group Apollo Bebop when Bonilla first discovered them. “I immediately knew that I was going to listen to all their music, so I just started recording their show instinctively,” she says. “I met them afterwards and they were really, really friendly, so I already knew that I wanted to collaborate with them in some capacity.”
The two exchanged information and Molina eventually asked to see some of Bonilla’s work. “She emailed me a private link to her short film that she did in school,” he explains, “And it’s fucking amazing. It’s so funny and I was blown away by how good it was; just the dialogue and the shots. I saw that and I was pretty much sold then and there.”
The music video for “The First Day” could have only been born out of such a connection. While part of its peculiar tone comes from the fact that it was shot entirely on film, it is primarily the product of a deliberate conceptual contrast. “I really wanted to shoot on film, just because I wanted it to be cinematically serious, but it is ridiculous how dramatic everything is after a breakup,” she says. “So I wanted to have that same kind of attitude and that juxtaposition because it’s kind of nerve-racking. I wanted to shoot it in a way that was like, people don’t know why they’re laughing or if they should be laughing or if they should take it seriously.”
This seems to only be the start for Chapis. They’ll be playing at at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts OC Center Stage event this Saturday, Aug. 24. “Whoever wins gets a thousand bucks and if we win, we’re going to put that toward recording,” says Molina.
Meanwhile, Bonilla is already looking forward to directing more videos for the band. “We definitely want to work together more,” she says. “I really want to do an animated film with them for their next one, so hopefully that will happen. I just don’t like to be grounded in reality; it gets boring.”