When I talked to L.A dance artist Channel Tres, he was calm, collected and chilling in the studio, yet he had all the reason to panic. His debut self-titled EP was scheduled to drop the next day, and he had recently announced that he was doing a run of headline shows in Australia; marking his first time off of American soil. I know if I was in his position, I would be freaking the hell out. Anxiety, nausea and an overall sense of impending doom would send me into a nervous frenzy. From Channel Tres’ eyes, however, this was an opportunity. After years of lurking in the background, producing and writing for other artists, his artistry was finally being recognised.
How are you doing today?
Good man! Just chilling. I’ve been in the studio.
Your debut EP is finally out. How do you feel?
I feel good man. It feels like it was a big hump in my life; getting something out and having people gravitate to it slowly. I feel like I’ve shown a lot of growth as an artist and I’m just proud that I got myself here; I’ve worked really hard.
Listening to the EP, there seems to be a lot of G-Funk vibes. How did growing up in L.A affect your love of music?
I love Nate Dogg man, he’s like the hip-hop opera. G-Funk is what I grew up on and it naturally surges through me.
There also seems to be a lot of house influence in your sound. Do you think House and G-Funk share many similarities?
I think so. G-Funk is a little slower and laid back; House music is faster and more straightforward. But I do feel like they share a little bit in common.
I saw that you first got into music through church, but what was it that turned you to the type of music you’re making?
I used to transcribe songs from people like Kirk Franklin. I really loved that four-on-the-floor, groovy shit.
I also hear a lot of soul in your sound; and soul is a genre that has withstood the tests of time in the music industry. What is it about soul do you think that resonates throughout generations?
Because it’s real; it’s struggle music. It’s real people music. I think everybody, no matter what race you are, I think everybody can resonate with struggle. Because that’s a part of the human experience. One of the fundamentals of soul is struggle.
We live in tough social and political times, but your music seems to ooze fun. Does knowing what’s going on in the world around you make it hard to make these songs? Or does it drive you more?
It drives me more. We can turn on the news and hear bad shit; it’s in front of us all day. I like to spread awareness when you have a conversation with me, but I love to make music that makes you want to work out; or get up and go dance. I want my songs to inspire people to do something positive for themselves. When you come to my show, I want people to leave feeling satisfied and have the confidence to face the things in their private lives. Life can be a lot, man, there’s a lot of distractions in the world. We have our phones, which I like to call ‘slave boxes’. There’s so much information out here, and I feel as if I don’t need to add anything to it. I’d rather be the guy who takes you away from that.
I saw in a previous interview that where you’re from, people have trouble thinking past their block. Why do you think that is?
Systematic oppression. Where I grew up, we had liquor stores, fast food and homeless people. I feel like when you’re growing up in that type of environment, your mental state can be damaged at an early age. Then you can drive maybe 30 minutes out and see nicer stores, nicer food and cleanliness. You’ve got kids that are like 5 years old ready to gangbang. My little brothers in jail; he idolized gang bangers; he idolized going to jail; he thought that shit was fucking cool. I think it’s important that we lead the kids on the right path because this life can fuck you up.
I know you’ve worked in the past producing and writing for others, but you’ve only recently started releasing music as a lead artist. How has that transition been?
It’s fun. I’m starting to realise how valuable time really is. Producing for others, you’ll often get really excited just for them not to use it. As a producer, it’s very hard sometimes to navigate. Your career is based off other people using your shit and guiding you. I’m grateful that I’m in a position now where I can fucking make my own decisions; I can fucking use my own shit. I used to spend hours on other artist’s writing sessions where they would take my beats. I don’t like being in that spot.
Do you get nervous being the face of your craft opposed to being the backbone of others?
I get a little nervous. But not because I’m scared, but just because I hope people like it. Other than that, not really. I’m a confident guy. I love attention. I love entertaining people. I love playing instruments. I’m not nervous, but I’m thankful because not everybody gets this chance.
You’re heading down to Australia this November. What are you most excited to do and see?
I’ve never fully been out of the country before, so I’m excited to be in a different part of the world; surrounded by different cultures. I’m excited to meet the people that have been listening. I love Australia, you guys have helped me see myself in a better light because you were the first to really hop on my records. I really think that is so cool. I can make something in L.A, and have people like it down in Australia.
What can fans expect from a Channel Tres show?
Expect to be entertained, and dance. Expect to take a break and enjoy yourself. I hope people come and meet people they haven’t met before. I just want people to be cool, happy, and have a good time!
Lastly, what do you want people to take away from the EP?
really want people to focus on the sonics because I really took the time to make it sound good. Pay attention to the little stuff as well. I have a song that I put a lowrider sound in. I haven’t heard anyone before putting a lowrider sound in dance music. There’s a lot of little things I do and say on the EP people can find. I really took my time with it, and I hope people enjoy it.
Stream Channel Tres’ debut, self-titled EP below. For info on his Australian tour this November, click here.