Step inside a weekend at Coachella with Channel Tres, where he brought the funk to the desert for two vibrant live performances. It is clearer than ever that the mark Channel Tres is leaving on dance music is impossible to go unnoticed.
Words by Oli Spencer
“It definitely felt like a new chapter in my career, and just life in general. It was beautiful.” he tells me, reflecting on the weekend. I’ll admit, I was not fortunate enough to actually be at Coachella… Instead, I was fortunate enough to be at home with covid, so the live stream absolutely did the trick. The energy Channel Tres brought to the stage radiated through the screen the moment he stepped out, with his suave dance crew alongside. He had the crowd in the palm of his hands, grooving and moving them to the sounds of his entrancing blend of funk, jazz, rap and house music.
It makes sense for such a boundary breaking artist to be swimming in the same creative circles as other true pioneers. From bringing out special guest Ty Dolla $ign to perform an unreleased track, to the cheekily sexy track ‘fuego’ with Tyler, the Creator - the vibrant groove of ‘Recap’ with VanJess and Kito, and of course the latest funk fuelled feature on Mura Masa’s brand new single ‘hollaback bitch’.
When talking to Channel, he ties everything back to his family, going from being the self proclaimed ‘weird kid’ growing up at his family backyard parties, to shredding up the stage at one of the biggest music festivals in the US. He grew up surrounded in the sounds of George Clinton, Dr. Dre, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder to name a few. There was also the infectious sounds of Westcoast & Motown, and his grandma who loves Ice Cube. “My family love to party and dance, they inspire a lot of my dancing and a lot of my personality” he says, reminiscing on always wanting to be dancing in the front as a kid, wearing bright colours and different outfits, “It’s cool they get to see it evolve, and now they get it more.” Seeing his family ecstatic for the places he’s heading with his music keeps him grounded.
These stellar performances are just the beginning of a new chapter for Channel Tres, who is excited to be moving forward and taking on his next steps at full speed - keeping us anticipating his next body of work. We caught up with Channel Tres to chat about his time at Coachella, the importance of family, his dream sample, and the feeling of a new chapter on the horizon.
"I learnt to take myself and ideas more seriously. I have something special to say, my art matters."
How was Coachella?
Coachella was beautiful, and definitely a dream come true. It definitely felt like a new chapter in my career, and just life in general. It was beautiful.
What’s the energy like just as you’re about to walk on stage?
I’m usually taking a nap, and staying very calm. I rally up everybody together and tell them I'm proud, just real positive energy going on, and real calm energy.
Your track ‘Unfinished Business’ was about missing that connection with fans again, and with performances like Coachella happening again, is that starting to feel like a full circle moment?
Yeah, definitely feels full circle. Feels even better you know, just for people ready to be out and definitely not taking it for granted that it was outside… 2020 was a crazy year.
How have your shows evolved over the years of performing?
I’ve gotten better at dancing because I’ve been practicing and I started singing more, and my interactions with the crowds are a bit better now, I can kind of feel the pulse and energy of a crowd better now. Just the flow of how I flow into songs. And I know how to rest at certain points. Certain songs I give my all, and just learning how to perform the songs better is a big thing that really has grown for me.
Can you give me the first three words that come to mind when you think of the dance floor?
Good. Music. Sexy
How do you make sure you stay true to yourself as an artist?
It’s really family – I talk to my mom a lot. I’m always around family, I make time for family and I have some friends I’ve grown up with and just staying humble and making sure I’m taking care of myself and creating new memories with my family. I took my mom, cousins and stepdad to Coachella and lots of people that meant a lot to me. It was beautiful to be in that space and have a great time - we went to see Erykah Badu afterwards, and my family were around some famous people and they were just excited. Seeing them be excited for some of the places I’m going really keeps me grounded.
"My family love to party and dance, they inspire a lot of my dancing and a lot of my personality. We always had backyard parties and things like that."
Are your family fans of your music?
Yeah yeah, they weren’t really big house music fans at first, but they listen to my DJ sets now. They listen to my music, it shows them there’s a whole world out here you know!
What kind of music did they play around the house when you were younger?
Like George Clinton, Dr Dre, Eminem, Marvin Gaye, a lot of Motown, Westcoast music, Ice cube – my grandma loves Ice cube! A lot of gospel music, smooth jazz – Herbie Hancock, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway - a lot of oldies, stuff like that. My family love to party and dance, they inspire a lot of my dancing and a lot of my personality. We always had backyard parties and things like that.
Do you think they can see that connection when you’re performing?
Yeah, I mean I was the weird kid growing up, so yeah they can see it. I was always dancing and wanted to be in the front and doing things like that. And I’ve always dressed weird, like different colours and different things – it’s cool they get to see it evolve and now they get it more.
Would your younger self believe you where you’re at now?
Hell no… hell no.
What’s it like working with Tyler?
Tyler is a really… well first off he’s funny, but he’s really about his craft – has a lot of attention to detail and takes music very very seriously, he’s a nerd about it. I really appreciated that, being around him.
What kind of things did you learn from that time?
I learnt that I can do this shit and be sober, I don’t have to drink, don’t have to smoke weed, I can be clearer minded and do this career. I’ve learned that there’s money to be made in this career and I learnt to take myself and ideas more seriously. I have something special to say, my art matters.
What was the process like putting ‘Acid in My Blood’ and ‘Ganzfeld Experiment’ out?
‘Acid in My Blood’, I made during a time I was still doing drugs and things, I used to be in these really dangerous situations, it’s just about acid in my blood… I might get packed out – Compton, people jumping you. If I’m not aware of my surroundings, or if I’m too fucked up I could get fucked up. It’s also a shoutout to Acid house and the 303 bass line. A mixture of those two concepts. With Ganzfeld… I went through this crazy break up situation and I was just kind of redefining myself and looking at things that caused the break up, looking at what I did wrong, and trying to really heal from that. The Ganzfeld science experiment is an experiment that they did on some people I guess where you develop a sixth sense or something like that - they knew all your senses and shit, and they wanted to see how people act or what happens to you if you knew all your senses long enough. I kind of took it on myself like I was doing a science experiment cause I had to go back to my past and see what the fuck was triggering me to act a certain way when I was in the relationship, and to just kind of reflect on it and bury that time of my life.
If you could give a texture to the general music you’ve been working on recently what would it be?
I’d say funk, fun, sexy - you know.
What would your dream sample be?
Marvin Gaye, ‘Come with me Angel’. It's just a sexy song. I’m a big fan of that album and when I’m entertaining a love interest I like to play that album. It’s just sexy and when that song comes on I feel everything I wanna feel with love. It’s so vulnerable, his voice is so soft, I’d love to pick apart that song and get certain things out of it.
What are you most excited for this year, personally and artistically?
Personally, I'm excited to start a new journey with my family. I’ve grown up in a lot of ways, taking myself seriously, so I’m excited to see what that feels like in the new chapter. Artistically, I’m working on my first album so I’m just excited to piece that together and show more of my story. And I have a fall tour coming up, I have some dates in Europe and Australia and they’re all pretty long dates so I’m excited to travel, see some different fans and keep building my brand. Just getting better at dancing and performing.
Listen to the latest music from Channel Tres - 'Acid in My Blood' and 'Ganzfeld Experiment' below: