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Channel Tres Is Listening to Prince Demos, Kendrick Lamar, and Kali Uchis
This is “Add to Queue,” our attempt to sort through the cacophony of music floating in the algorithmic atmosphere by consulting the experts themselves. Our favorite musicians tell us about their favorite music—the sad, the happy, the dinner party-y, the songs they want played at their funeral. In this edition, we speak with the Compton-born genre-bending artist Channel Tres, who recently released his aptly-titled EP I Can’t Go Outside. The seven-track project features artists like Tyler, the Creator and Tinashe, and captures the feelings of pandemic isolation with jazz undertones and dewy melodies. On the occasion of its release, Tres spoke with Interview about his musical inspirations, his dream dinner party guests, and why “1999” by Prince perfectly captures the year 2020.
JULIANA UKIOMOGBE: What music did you listen to while making your latest project, I Can’t Go Outside?
CHANNEL TRES: I listened to Swimming by Mac Miller. I listened to this mixtape J Dilla has called Jay Stay Paid. I listened to Childish Gambino. I listened to Prince demos with just him on a piano. I listened to Igor by Tyler [the Creator]. That’s all I can think of off the top of my head.
UKIOMOGBE: Of all those people you just mentioned, who would you say is your biggest inspiration?
TRES: I would say Mac Miller mixed with J Dilla. On Swimming, [Mac] had a lot of outer loops. It would be strings and stuff like that in the intro, and I learned from that a little bit. But then the beat making part of it is really J Dilla and just really Detroit. Just real beat make-y.
UKIOMOGBE: What’s your favorite song of yours, if you have one?
TRES: “unfinished business.” It’s the outro on my last project and it’s just me talking about how I really feel about the current moment and how I miss my shows and my fans. Just how I miss it and I’m still working hard for when that day comes again, when we can see each other again.
UKIOMOGBE: Who’s your all-time dream collaborator?
TRES: Pharrell Williams.
UKIOMOGBE: Do you have a favorite Pharrell song?
TRES: “Number One.” It’s older. It features Kanye.
UKIOMOGBE: What was the last song you listened to?
TRES: Man, just pick any song off Kali Uchis‘s new album [Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios)].
UKIOMOGBE: It’s so good. I was listening to that earlier.
TRES: Yeah, I was riding around to that. It’s so good. I just press play on it and let it ride.
UKIOMOGBE: Who was the earliest musician to influence you?
TRES: Probably Sam Cooke. I grew up with my great-grandmother, so she used to listen to a lot of quartet music from Black gospel artists, but I would say Sam Cooke because that’s who I listened to a lot.
UKIOMOGBE: Do you remember the first CD you purchased?
TRES: Late Registration by Kanye.
UKIOMOGBE: What was your first concert?
TRES: My first concert was Toro y Moi. That was in 2014.
UKIOMOGBE: Do you have a favorite movie soundtrack?
TRES: The Pursuit of Happyness. I really loved that one. But for how I’m feeling right now, I would say Love Jones.
UKIOMOGBE: Do you have a song that puts you in a good mood any time you hear it?
TRES: Yeah, “Outstanding” by The Gap Band.
UKIOMOGBE: That’s such a good song.
TRES: It’s so fucking timeless.
UKIOMOGBE: What would you put on a road trip playlist if you had to drive cross-country?
TRES: What’s that song by Yeezus? “I Am A God.” That shit wakes me up while I’m driving. I’ll put that on there and I’ll put “Freaking Out” by Toro y Moi.
UKIOMOGBE: What would you play at a house party?
TRES: “Juicy” by Con Funk Shun.
UKIOMOGBE: How about for a dinner party?
TRES: A dinner party? I’m probably going to play Frank Sinatra.
TRES: Yeah, just some Frank Sinatra-ish type shit to be in the background. Classy shit.
UKIOMOGBE: If you could have dinner with any four artists, living or dead, who would they be?
UKIOMOGBE: Do you have a favorite music video of all time?
TRES: That’s hard to choose. I would say right now the only thing I can think of is “Thriller” by Michael Jackson.
UKIOMOGBE: What’s your go-to breakup song?
TRES: “Pink Matter” [by Frank Ocean].
UKIOMOGBE: What song would you use to describe yourself?
TRES: “Wanna Be Heard” by Kendrick Lamar. You making me go back. I’m going to have to listen to this shit.
UKIOMOGBE: That’s the goal. I don’t know if you smoke, but if you could compile a high playlist, what would be on it?
TRES: “Mary Jane” by Rick James, “I’d Rather Be With You” by Bootsy Collins, and “Sunshine” by Roy Ayers.
UKIOMOGBE: If you were to pick a couple of songs to play at your funeral what would you pick?
TRES: Fucking play my shit. Play all my shit.
UKIOMOGBE: Which song?
TRES: Every one, every song. Play my shit at my funeral. Shit, don’t play nobody else shit at my funeral.
UKIOMOGBE: Do you have a favorite karaoke song?
TRES: “Every Little Step” by Bobby Brown. I love doing that shit on karaoke.
UKIOMOGBE: If your life were a TV show, what would the theme song be?
TRES: The theme song by Friends.
UKIOMOGBE: Are you going to watch the reunion special they’re doing on HBO Max?
TRES: I’ve never watched Friends in my life.
UKIOMOGBE: That’s funny, okay.
TRES: It will always come on. I’ll listen to them sing and then turn it off. I never watched an episode of Friends in my life. I’m Black.
UKIOMOGBE: What song would you use to describe 2020?
TRES: “1999” by Prince.
UKIOMOGBE: Why that song, specifically?
TRES: Because he’s just talking about the future. Well, he’s speaking from the ’80s and talking about the future and how things are going to change and stuff like that. I feel like right now we’re in the same kind of tone as the ’80s when it was about to be the new millennium. I feel like we’re in a similar position. It’s very different, but it’s still the same kind of feeling. Things are just changing.
UKIOMOGBE: And what song do you hope will describe 2021?
TRES: “Me & My Homies” by 2Pac so I can see my friends again. I miss traveling and seeing my fans.
Listen to Channel Tres’s “Add To Queue” playlist below, and follow Interview on Spotify for more.