An Interview with Channel TresWritten by Dante Grossfeld by Sandra Myhrberg
Since arriving on the music scene in 2018, Channel Tres has developed a unique style, his own mixture of Chicago house and hip-hop from his hometown of Compton, dubbed “Compton house.” My first introduction to Channel Tres must have been his 2019 remix of “EARFQUAKE” by Tyler, the Creator, and their subsequent collab in the song “fuego,” from Channel’s 2020 EP, “i can’t go outside.” “skate depot,” the one and only single from said EP, became the soundtrack to my late fall and winter that year. Little did I know then that two years and a pandemic later I would be doing a Zoom interview with him.
What are you listening to nowadays?
I mean, it changes constantly, and it depends on what I'm doing. When I'm reading, I’m usually listening to Herbie Hancock. Listening, I've been listening to Thundercat.
You went on tour with Thundercat a few years ago. How was that?
Yeah, last year. It was beautiful. Great musicians.
You've collaborated with a lot of big names recently, like Thundercat and Tyler, the Creator.
Would you say that has changed how you view music in any way?
Not necessarily changed how I view music. Maybe changed my creative process a bit, but not really.
How would you say your process has changed?
It’s just become looser. I’m taking charge of my creative process with myself and just making a bunch of ideas and learning the process of finishing and growing with records and making things that I like.
You know? Trusting the feeling.
Has your process also changed because of COVID in some way?
No, not really. No, it didn't change with COVID. I mean, I made some different things because of COVID, but I was working the same. I'm a bedroom kind of producer from the start so it was just kind of going back to what I started doing or have always been doing. I was just home more so I wasn't on the road much.
Your latest EP, refresh, was completely instrumental. How did your experience creating that differ from your earlier work?
Well, I made that project while I was on tour with Thundercat. That was the first tour I got on. It was like two and a half months long. That was the first tour I was on since COVID so the first couple weeks I was kind of miserable because I was just drinking and trying to do what I usually do while I'm at home, but it was weird because you're on the tour bus, and we were playing shows every night, so I kind of had to go back to the basics within myself. I brought my laptop, but I didn't bring studio equipment. So I just went to Guitar Center. I think I was in Boston, and I just bought gear and then I just had my tour manager set it up in every green room, and then what I would do is just before the show, after the show or during that downtime, I just started making beats and then that's kind of how refresh came.
You've also been experimenting with a lot of different genres. Would you say there are any genres that you would like to explore more going forward?
I think eventually I want to do a jazz album. A full jazz album. And, you know I really have a love for country music in a weird way. I mean, it's not weird to me, but maybe to some people it might be. But you know, I want to experiment with country music and experiment with film scoring as well.
Are there any particular people you'd like to work with? Any directors for example?
No, not really. I don't really have a list of directors, I just would like to work with one whose project I'm excited to be on, and they're excited to have me a part of it.
In general, where do you think you see yourself in 10 years?
I’ll probably be like some sort of top star by then and have a grand story. And I see myself having children, and you know, investing into my community in different ways, through art programs and maybe I’ll end up writing for TV or write a book or something.
And you're going on tour soon again, right?
Yeah, I'm starting my North American tour in a week. What do you what do you hope to get out of that? Well, it's my first North American tour, so I'm excited to see who my fans are. I designed it hands on, so that was fun, and the show is just coming together. And now I’m with a new stage design. It's just trying to see how my creative things work and see how it affects people and what I have to learn and take back and change for next time.
Do you have any words of advice for up-and-coming artists? Because you you've had a pretty
quick rise to fame, right?
No, I wasn't quick. I mean, it seems quick. And I know I've been working on it since I was five, you know? Maybe things just happened a little back-to-back to back, but it wasn't quick. I had to go through a lot of stuff to get here. I would say be consistent. Look at yourself as a project. Look at yourself objectively and see what you want to ad and see what areas you lack in, and use vision boards to kind of craft because it comes in waves and it comes in moments and it takes years. So, you have to kind of look at it day by day. Maybe a month you want to spend working on this particular thing because you know it's going to advance you in this way. Right now, I'm working on song writing because I want to get better. So I'm writing words and reading lists. Learning how to write poetry. Poetry is not necessarily music, but it's something that'll help with me get familiar with more words and it'll help me craft songs better.
Are there any specific themes that you want to explore more in your song writing?
I have a hard time writing about myself and different things that I go through on a day-to-day. So, learning how to craft those things in a song in a certain way.
Channel Tres’ upcoming EP will be titled “Real Cultural Shit.”