Hanging Out With... Channel Tres
It’s 6pm on a Sunday night and Channel Tres is sitting in a plush armchair at London’s Soho House enjoying a well-earned margarita. Fresh from the Field Day festival stage, he’s also just released his smash hit new single “Sexy Black Timberlake” and is now prepping to DJ the Browns X GQ Style party before embarking on a world tour.
Growing up in a musical household in Compton, Channel already counts Elton John amongst his many fans. He describes his music as “made to put a little pep in your step,” a vibe he’ll be bringing to the party where he’s set to DJ in the “Naughty Room.” Relaxing before the event, Channel chats to us about his signature style (spoiler alert: it involves crop tops and cardigans).
Where are you from and how did you get into making music?
I’m from Compton, California. I grew up in church - my grandparents play music and they bought me a drum set when I was little. I was always beating on pots and pans.
What were your musical influences?
Gospel music. I was really into Kanye West growing up and I love Pharrell. I love new jack swing, Prince and James Brown.
How do you want people to feel when they listen to your music?
I want people to feel the confidence in themselves. It’s like “upper music,” so it’s made to put a little pep in your step, just because sometimes everybody gets so slow and people don’t move any more. We’re kinda lazy because we’ve got TV, we’ve got our phones.
Everyone just stands around stroking their chins, they don’t actually dance. How important is it for you to see people dancing at your show?
It’s important because we travel so much to get to these places and we’ve got to be away from our families, you know? So it’s just fun when you do your job and people are giving you that response. I just want to inspire people to move.
Do you have a style of dance that you’d love to master?
New jack swing. I love those old Bobby Brown videos.
You toured with Robyn earlier this year - how was that experience?
Robyn’s a queen. I learned a lot. Some of the nicest people I’ve ever been around. I got a little teary eyed when it was over, because it was just a great experience, and her fans give her a lot at the shows. Every night I’d watch the set, because there were so many things I learned from her. That was a really special time for me and something I will always remember.
Let’s talk about your style. How would you describe it?
Just how I feel. Simple and comfortable. I like crop tops!
Why crop tops?
When I started dancing it just feels better. Also, I’m getting more comfortable with my body and the way I look. I used to always think I had to be this massive buff guy, but since I’ve been dancing, I’ve just been looking more athletic anyway. And when you dance and when I’m rehearsing it also makes me more comfortable with my body, because I can’t be anybody else, and that’s fine.
In what sense do you think your style has evolved since you began your musical career?
I’m more comfortable, I’m less shy, and I don’t care what people think of me.
Do you think that’s because you feel empowered by the response of your audience, or you just feel more actualised as an artist?
Both of those. I’m 28, so I’m an adult now, so I can’t be overthinking too much. I’m a grown man, so I just have to own myself. I’ve got to play a show, so I just have to be confident in myself - love myself.
Is there a particular person whose style you look up to?
I’ve always looked up to Pharrell. I like Childish Gambino’s style - he’s just so simple. I think Steve Lacy has really cool style. I don’t really look at people’s clothes any more though…although I did just get my first pair of Balenciagas today.
Nice! The Triple S?
I think so…the moon shoes!
Do you have any pieces that you gravitate towards style-wise?
I’m big on cardigans and sweaters, and I like chef pants.
The styling in your new video is impeccable. Who took control of it?
I just woke up and got dressed! I had a turtleneck which was sitting in the closet, so I was like: “Okay, I’m gonna wear a turtleneck today.” And then I had a teacher shirt - it’s like a librarian shirt. That was just me on a regular day. It wasn’t overthought.
Your new song is called “Sexy Black Timberlake”. Have you ever met Justin Timberlake?
No! He hit me up. He contacted me like two days ago.
Can you tell us what he said?
No - I don’t want to jinx it! But he loves the song.
He’s probably a bit jealous…
He ain’t got nothing to be jealous about! He’s Justin Timberlake! I’m trying to get to where he’s at. He’s got Grammys and all that - he’s famous and I’m trying to get famous! (laughs)
What would people be most surprised to find out about you?
That I have 12 cavities in my teeth and I don't believe in root canals. So I’m having a debate with myself right now. But yeah, my teeth hurt!
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Genuine. Organised. Chaos.
Any dream collaborators?
Pharrell and Childish Gambino and Kanye West. That would just put the icing on the cake…Those are the gods you know? It’d be like: “Okay, cool. I’m a god now, too.”