IN CONVERSATION WITH CHANNEL TRES

Words by Anano Shalamberidze

When he’s not busy hanging out with Erykah Badu, Thundercat and Ty Dolla $ign (as seen per one of his latest Instagram posts), he’s busy conquering the dancefloors around the world. Sheldon Young, professionally known as Channel Tres and originally from Compton, California, rose to international fame in 2018 with his incredibly rhythmic “Controller” and has been ascending ever since. Leading up to the anticipated release of his newest EP, Numéro got to chat with the artist, talking everything from musical influences to his morning routine. 

“Heard this song at a club. Spent the next 45 minutes trying to find out it’s name. Worth the hunt. Banger!”, states a YouTube comment under one of Channel Tres’ older tracks and it manages to encapsulate the secret behind his success – people seem to not be able to get enough from the minute they hear his sound.

During the short time we have for the online interview, while Channel is on a tour bus somewhere in the United States and me in my bedroom in Amsterdam, I try to find out how he ended up finding his own sound in a sea of artist newcomers. He says he remembers finding a CD of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below by The OutKast back in 2003, when he was 10 or 11, and being amazed by the variety of sounds he could hear simultaneously on the record. “I remember feeling really happy and just euphoric. I felt like I had found something. And then I just started to discover who André 3000 was and that became somebody who I studied a lot, who I really looked up to. That was kind of my introduction to music, funk, characters and costumes, and just dressing well… Different things like that.”

Known for his eclectic mix of collaborations with artists representing different sounds, Channel Tres ranks working together with his childhood idol George Clinton as his favorite project so far, while naming Stevie Wonder as his next dream alliance. With his latest single “6AM”, Channel Tres has once again blessed us with a genre-bending tune and a newfound tour identity that I got to discuss with him over Zoom.

A
Hi! Congrats on your new single and thank you for taking the time to chat with me, I know you’re busy on tour… So tell me about the new single “6AM”.

CH T
“6AM” is just a record where I allow myself to be happy. Definitely geared towards my live performances, festivals, and just like having a good time. This year, I just got into a lot of physical activity as far as working out and training and dancing again. So I just needed a track to kind of complement that part of my life, and also complement other people’s lives that are just into it, you know, who want to go out and have a good time. Whether it’s going to work, whether it’s waking up, going to the gym, or having stayed up the night before the exam, because you just had a great time… So it’s dedicated to those.

A
Is that the overall theme of the new EP as well? Is “6AM” a song that represents the new EP the most, would you say?

CH T
Yeah, I mean, I think all the songs have their own representation. But the theme of the EP is just, yeah, it’s just like, when you get together with a bunch of people, you guys develop your own type of culture, you know, you start to get lingo, you start to get accustomed to different things, because of the personalities in the group. And, you just develop your own culture. And that right there, it’s just real cultural shit.

A
What’s your writing process like? Do you start with the melody or the words? How do you build the world around the new album?

CH T
The process is different every time. Sometimes I start with a melody, sometimes I start with a voice memo, sometimes I have a good beat that I like and I’ll just start on that. Sometimes I start with the writing, when there’s no music at all. Sometimes there might be a thought or a feeling that I have to address and then it’ll start with that. So it’s all over the place.

A
Do you love doing collaborations? You do quite a lot of them.

CH T
I love collaborations, because you can just learn from different people. You have friendships with different people… collaborating is a lot like dating. Or being with somebody for a little second. You know, sometimes it clicks right away. And sometimes it takes a couple of times for it to click and for you guys to get acquainted with each other. So I really love collaboration, especially when you’re working with somebody that you really have a good vibe with, and you could pull from and they could pull from you. It’s just like, synergy.

A
That was a great comparison to dating [laughts]. Do you usually reach out or do they reach out to you?

CH T
It happens every way. Sometimes I reach out; sometimes people reach back to me; sometimes I might bump into somebody at a party or if I’m on tour. It just happens.

A
I wanted to talk a little bit about the tour outfits, because when I saw the visuals come out, I saw the change in your attitude and aesthetic, I love what you’re wearing! Do you think there’s a difference between your personal style and your stage presence?

CH T
In my personal style, I’m a very laid back individual. I love oversized clothes, and just being comfortable. And then my stage style is an extension of my personal taste style. I love leather. I love gloves. I love glitter. I love being very showy and very flamboyant with the clothing. So, yeah, usually when I’m on stage, I’m like, letting that side come out more – the flamboyant side. And then on a regular day, I’m just like, more chill. It really just depends on how I feel.

A
Is that also kind of connected? What you’re wearing on stage to your music?

CH T
Yes, it’s usually connected to the theme of the music and the theme of whatever I’m working on at that time. This thing came out because I was just, you know, I missed partying, I missed going out and I missed being outside. So I just, I wanted to give people that feeling and, you know, I wanted everything to look good and to dress well on stage, like get more presentable. You know, because it’s just that feeling right now…

A
When is the new EP coming out?

CH T
The EP should be out by the time I get to the European leg of the tour.

A
Cool, congrats! Are you already performing some of the new stuff?

CH T
Yeah, I like to work the tracks.

A
I had a few rapid fire questions. Okay, a hypothetical situation… You’re in a car with a bunch of cool people and you get the aux cord, what do you play?

CH T
Well, my play depends on how I’m feeling. I might play like some D’Angelo or something, you know, depends. It depends on where we’re going.

A
Okay so, think you have like 15 minutes to get ready and you want to feel good about yourself. What’s an outfit you put on?

CH T
Umm, you know, maybe some flare pants and a white t-shirt. I put on my jewelry. And then I just throw my loafers on and I’m gone.

A
That’s a cool look. What’s your morning routine like? What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Especially with tour and the crazy schedule that comes with it.

CH T
The first thing I do in the morning is wash my face, exfoliate, brush my teeth. And then I’ll make some oatmeal, some fruit and take my vitamins.

None of this shit matters if I don’t look good [Laughs]. So I stay on that health trip, working out and stuff, you know.

We of course also do fun things, we go to the movies on days off. You know, everyone in the team is pretty funny, so there’s always like laughter and things like that. It’s like a family. And then people hop on tour and hop off, friends and family, it’s always a fun time.

A
And then the last thing you do at night to wind down?

CH T
I probably watch a show, like just be regular you know? Just do regular stuff, just try to make it as normal as possible. Do the things I do at home. So just watch a show, read if I wanna read; if I want to make an idea real quick, I’ll do that.

A
Do you also write when you’re on tour?

CH T
I do. Yeah.

A
So it’s not a tour one year and then make music the next, it’s usually all connected?

CH T
Yes, I set the studio up in every room, everywhere I go.

A
At the end of every interview, I usually do a little question about what would be your advice to young people who are just starting up in the industry and want to make a place for themselves. What would be your piece of advice?

CH T
Find a group of people that are like-minded, that you can grow with; challenge each other, work hard, try to set goals and achieve them together.

A
Thank you very much! That would be my last question. Thank you for taking the time for us on your busy tour and see you in March in Amsterdam.

Start typing and press Enter to search