Gone are the days of artists fitting neatly into genres like pieces of a puzzle. Instead, they’re piecing together sounds and influences from all over with a do-it-yourself approach that’s changing music. Each week, we’re profiling a rising artist who works across mediums with a DIY spirit that is shaping our present and future. We’ll share one song you need to hear, one video you need to see, and finish off with a few questions for the artist.
Name: Channel Tres
Hometown: Compton, California
Current Location: Los Angeles, California
Reference Points: House music, Jazz, Gospel, Funk, Meditation music, Standup comedy like Patrice O’Neal
Latest Project: I Can’t Go Outside mixtape
On any given Channel Tres song, you’ll hear as much disco, funk, and soul, as you will elements of house and hip-hop. His music is a collage of the warmest pieces of almost any genre that you can think of, wrapped into a growing collection of memory-making manifestos—the kind that rumble through car stereos on Friday nights. No matter what you’re doing when a Channel Tres song starts playing, you stop and stare out of the nearest window, longing for the celebrations and dancefloor connections that occurred during the before time. It makes sense for a creative who is inspired not only by dance music, but also by dance and choreography, as he explained in this 2019 guest editorial.
Before breaking out as a solo artist in 2018, Channel Tres worked as a songwriter and producer for others, and his list of collaborators as an artist spans the gamut from Tinashe and Tyler, The Creator to JPEGMAFIA and James Blake. His latest release is I Can’t Go Outside—a collection of genreless music that was made during lockdown. Fragmented narratives about old memories are painted in sepia tones with nostalgic touches, creating a woozy, broadcast for listeners to tune into. With a DIY spirit and boundless creativity, Channel Tres will be here for the long-haul.
A SONG YOU HAVE TO HEAR – “SKATE DEPOT”
“Skate Depot” is old school funk wrapped in a hip-hop package thanks to Channel Tres’ rippling register that mumbles out words that become part of the beat. It’s perfect for an ‘80s roller rink party or a cruise down palm tree-lined streets with windows down.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a happier journey through Channel Tres’ old memories. The song is dedicated to a skating rink in Cerritos, CA where the performer had his first job. He was fired two weeks after starting because he didn’t know how to roller skate, and alhough it might be a harsh memory, Channel Tres’ wraps up the lemon in a peach and gifts it to the listener. You have no choice but to marvel in its sweet taste.
A VIDEO YOU HAVE TO WATCH – “TOPDOWN”
Taking pride in all aspects of his creative output, Channel Tres always brings you into his world in his music videos, which are often filled with dance. “Topdown,” one of the most popular songs from his 2018 self-titled EP, feels like a long summer afternoon spent with friends, cruising in a convertible with the top down (of course) and dancing in the backyard.
You never know what Channel Tres is going to do next, what sounds he’ll experiment, or what his videos will include. And that’s what makes him so intriguing to tune into. He finds ways to take expectations and flip them on their heads with his DIY approach and heartfelt creativity.
A FEW QUESTIONS FOR CHANNEL TRES
What genres and influences do you piece together in your music? How do they shape the sound that you create?
I listen to a lot of music based on feelings that I have. I use it to heal, to gain inspiration, fall asleep or meditate. Most of these genres that I listen to influence everything I do musically, but lately stand up comedy and spoken audio have been a big inspiration as I work on my lyricism and song writing. Artists like Thelonius Monk, Prince, Sa-Ra, Pharrell, and Moodymann will always be an inspiration to me.
How does a DIY approach influence the outcome of your music and creative work?
It’s not easy but what I gain from this approach is the amount of self love it requires. I find myself having to be nice to myself and learn how to be with myself in a more healthy way. Self loathing and negative self talk can really take a toll on your mental health, and doing things from a DIY approach I have to address those issues.
Also [because of] the time spent with the music or whatever creative piece I’m working on, I’m much closer to it and my attention to detail begins to shape in different ways. When you collaborate with other artists you have the chance to work off of each other and use each other’s energy and that can make it easier, but working in a DIY approach on my own means I have to face my own problems and make sure I don’t psyche myself out.
What are you listening to this year that inspires you?
Prince’s Piano & A Microphone 1983 Version is a constant inspiration to me, as is anything from Kerri Chandler, but generally speaking my listening history this year is all over the place. I’m experimenting with different sounds each and every day and it’s being influenced by my mood as well.
What can we expect from you in 2021?
For me to continue to grow, bring new ideas, and be a better version of myself.