In the world we live in, we are inundated with negativity and tragedy at every turn. Just scroll Twitter for two minutes and it won't take long to find. Fortunately, every once in a while, we are also reminded of the beauty that can be seen — also easy to find if we are paying attention. When we find it, we feel fulfilled. We feel inspired to lend a helping hand. We know everything is going to be okay. Here to sing us through the tough times and to teach us to appreciate the quiet moments of peaceful reflection are Chonny & Clyde.
The fusion of two of the best creative forces has birthed a three-song EP called Celisti. Husband and wife, Claudio (Coheed And Cambria) and Chondra Echert Sanchez, are best known for their powerful collaborations in writing with their comics series The Amory Wars, Translucid, and Key of Z. Now, the pair have travelled into the world of music together and the results are a combination of beauty and feeling at ease.
The material was originally not intended for release yet, but the couple were spurred to take action after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico. Celisti was released on Bandcamp as a “Name Your Price” initiative and raised more than $12,000, 100% of which was given to Unidos For Puerto Rico. It was an incredible success, due to the overwhelming support of the fans (Children of the Fence, I’m looking at you.).
Chonny & Clyde: Partners In Art And Life
While at New York Comic Con, I had the chance to talk to Claudio and Chondra about Chonny & Clyde, their impact on pop culture, and the power of gathering together to help people, no matter how near or far.
PopWrapped: You two have created so much incredible art, from storytelling to music. How did your new project Chonny & Clyde come about? Did you kind of wake up one day and decide to write songs together?
Claudio: Yeah, Chondra has sung on a few Coheed songs and we've fooled around with a couple of ideas before we decided to do Chonny & Clyde. We just liked the way each other's voices sounded together. We slowly started focusing on it and that's where the three songs kind of came from. The idea to try and make a record. That's what we were working on, but there are so many other things in the periphery with the comic books and with Coheed that it wasn't a super priority. So, it was a slow-moving project. Since we collaborate on these other things, it just made sense to maybe try and focus on something musical.
Chondra: I think we dabbled with those Prize Fighter songs, too. That was fun. And we thought, rather than infringing upon something that already existed, let's do do something that's its own thing.
PW: That's awesome, and you do sound great together. Your performance of "2's My Favorite 1" together a few years ago was really impressive and really added to the meaning of the song. I listened to "A-Ok" from your new EP and I really love it! How does the process differ, when writing together, as opposed to what usually goes on in your process for Coheed, Claudio?
Claudio: Sometimes, for me, I'll work on the music and I'll give it to Chonny with a melody in mind. Or with no melody, and we'll play off of it like that. We'll sit at the kitchen table at breakfast and fool around with songs, with Atlas hanging out eating waffles and peanut butter. [Laughs]
PW: And how about you, Chondra? I’ve heard you in some of the Coheed songs. Now, you have even more of a focus and role in the songwriting.
Chondra: It's sort of the way we work on books together. Maybe there's an idea in place, maybe there isn't. It becomes about finding where our strengths are and we collaborate. It's really organic and we just seem to work well together on things.
PW: When Hurricane Maria happened, what were you thinking? What drove you to the decision to release these songs at that time?
Chondra: We had been sitting on these songs and dabbling with a few more that we've been working on and we asked ourselves, "What do we do with these? What is the project? Is it a full-length album, an EP?" And then this event happened on the end of all of these horrible events. We had the earthquake in Mexico, the impending storms in Houston and Florida, all of these things. It just felt like people had been financially tapped out from trying to help these disasters because there were so many. These things happened at a time when Puerto Rico needed as much relief as they could possibly get. For us, there's a heritage piece — Claudio's father is from Bayamón and has family down there. Bigger than that, we wanted to figure out how to help a cause that desperately needs help.
Claudio: We wanted to give people kind of an incentive and to give something in return.
Chondra: Maybe you're not going to send $5 in a text, but maybe if you had the opportunity to get something, then there may be more motivation to donate.
PW: And times are rough, for sure. Did you think the response was going to be the way it has been? I mean, you raised $12,000. That's incredibly significant!
Chondra: Yeah, it's amazing just to see that people are not only donating at the lowest end, but going above and beyond. It's really awesome. From an entertainment standpoint, right, you're in all of these places. Puerto Rico, Mexico. These aren't just a place on a map. You've been to these places and have this loving response from people on such a personal level that you feel really connected to all of these things that are happening. I think the fans have really felt that, too, this personal connection. Coheed, I think for the most part really brings people together. The Children of the Fence are all over the place and really care about each other, even if they don't live right next door.
PW: Yes, and it is such a loving community to be a part of. I love it. With regards to a full-length release. I know it may be too early to tell, but do you have a tentative date in place for Chonny & Clyde?
Chondra: I think that you can put something on a calendar, and then it so happens that inspiration strikes in a different part of the Universe. So, we are fortunate that we can write and work on songs at any point during the day, whenever we have a free couple of hours. It's not something that has to be scheduled as much as a Coheed venture. I'd say that 2018 would not be an unreasonable guess. [Laughs]
PW: [Laughs] Well, yeah. I mean you have 365 days. You have plenty of time! One of those days could work! So, let's touch on your other projects. Are there any brand new story arcs coming into play for The Amory Wars?
Claudio: Oh, yeah absolutely. That's what I'm working on at the moment. Writing the new Coheed record and where that falls in the timeline of The Amory Wars. When I created No World For Tomorrow, that was the end, and certainly the end for Coheed and Cambria. When I created Afterman and with the time off from the story for The Color Before The Sun, I came up with ideas to make it all bridge together and still work within the same story. I think what I'm coming up with right now for the next album, and for the next — what might be five stories — I think a lot of people are going to be excited about. It is a new story arc, but it won't feel super foreign. There will be a lot of things that connect to the preexisting story and it doesn't feel disconnected. It is very much a part of the lore and mythology that's there right now. It's coming together.
PW: It really has over the years. I know I can't wait to see what the next chapter brings. I'm looking forward to a new Coheed record and a full-length from Chonny & Clyde! If the album is anything like those first three songs, I know it will be incredible! Thank you so much for sharing your time and talking with me about everything.
Claudio and Chondra: Thank you!
Celisti: A Taste Of The Good Life
Celisti is a sunny drive under a canopy of trees, the flickering of sunlight bouncing off of the dashboard with a fresh breeze of comfort and feeling carefree. Claudio Sanchez's brand of acoustic accompaniment is the soundtrack to a brand new life and lyrically feels like being consoled by an old friend. Echert's vocals blend effortlessly with Sanchez's lead, intertwining and reflecting the love and warmth they embody, sharing with the listener a lifetime of experience and joy. The EP is empowering to listen to, and heightens the senses that we tend to ignore in a hyperactive world. Take the time to stop and smell the roses, they say.
Chonny & Clyde's debut drops today, November 3, courtesy of Sanchez's label Evil Ink Records. Buy it on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and stream it in full on Spotify below. We know you'll love this EP!