Compton born artist and producer Channel Tres caught our attention last year with the drop of his self titled EP, an open invite into his culturally opulent world. In an era where so much of the music we consume sounds the same, the soulful depth of his voice mixed over Detroit and Chicago house influences, cuts through a sea of beige alternatives and serves much of the sauce for this summer’s playlist.
Now living "somewhere in Los Angeles", travel is something Channel Tres describes as a sign of success and "his music spreading". Finishing up his European tour and about to embark on another to Austria and New Zealand, it's a sure sign of his arrival on the global stage.
As his music travels across the world, being hailed by the likes of Elton John to Pete Tong, Channel pays homage to Compton and his neighbourhood, which has given him a type of street smart "that only you can get from being in the streets growing up. It's a certain way you gotta move", he tells us as we drive through London. "Just having that over me growing up has caused me to have a different type of etiquette with my approach to music."
As we head to the outskirts of the city we talk about travel, special moments performing in Paris, and his hometown Los Angeles.
What’s the most cherished memory you have from travelling?
I have this song called “Brilliant N****” That song’s about the problem we have with incarceration in America. My little brother got caught up in that. There’s a looming sadness over me, because he’s going to be gone for a long time so I wrote that song for him.
Last week I was in Paris performing and there were these 5 young black boys at the front just smiling and having a great time. After I finished the song I just teared up. I went off stage, got my shit together then invited them on stage for an encore. Everybody else came on stage afterwards and the whole shit was just jumping.
It was a great time. I never had that feeling before.
Yeah it’s great. Even better knowing you’re doing it abroad when you come from a small ass place.
From Compton to The World! Why do you travel right now? and what does it mean to you?
I travel mostly right now for work. Travelling is a sign that my music is spreading more from the area I grew up in. It represents a little bit of success to have people support me from places I’ve never been before.
What are your travel essentials?
CBD for my joints, water, a neck pillow, comfortable shoes, comfortable pants and my music.
What's the soundtrack to your travels right now?
I’ve only been listening to Prince the past couple days. I go through phases where I feel like he’s just talking to me or I notice him doing something weird re music that I need to learn from. He was a powerful artist so I still can feel his spirit. In the air, around the time I’m landing, I’ll have Mac Miller’s album “Swimming” playing. He’s got cool songs on there. I’ll listen to “College Dropout” too because that’s how I got into music.
Talk to me about College Dropout starting out your music journey
At that time, Kanye was the cleanest rapper out. My grandparents didn’t let me listen to hip hop or stuff with cursing in it, but because he had a song called “Jesus Walks” that was the first album they got for me and let me listen to.
Let's talk about your hometown, how would you describe Compton to someone who has never been?
It’s like a ghetto. Like any other place you see people you know. There’s a rich history there just with the music alone. I haven't been back for a while, but the energy for me growing up there was a lot of competition with my homies. Some of us made it rapping, some of us didn’t.
How has growing up in Compton influenced your music?
I have a street smart about me from growing up. Some people be doing dumb shit so my street smarts transcend into my music as well. You have to move with respect and be careful because you can say or do dumb shit and possibly lose your life. Having that over me growing up means I hold a different type of etiquette when it comes to music.
Finally... What’s next for you?
My project black Moses comes out in August + more shows. I'm off to Japan, Australia and New Zealand.