Continuing our FEEL ____ series of stories that inspire us, Channel Tres is a DJ, producer, and dancer from Compton, CA. Boldly redefining house music through the lens of Blackness, his unique sound and personal style are quickly making him one of the most buzz-worthy talents in modern music. Wearing the new Neumel Snapback and Classic Mini, meet Channel Tres.
Introduce yourself and the space.
My name is Channel Tres. I’m from Lynwood slash Compton, California. I’m a DJ, producer, dancer, and whatever you want me to be depending on the day. I am dancing and hanging out with UGG today.
Describe a day in the life of Channel Tres.
It depends on the day. Maybe waking up praying, giving thanks for the day, then figuring out what’s on my schedule. I might have to do some stuff or call family, then it consists of me ending up in the studio somewhere, making something, dancing, or doing something creative.
Both you and UGG share California roots. How has Los Angeles helped shape who you are?
California is a melting pot. You meet a lot of people here, and I think Los Angeles is the most creative city in the world. Having access to certain musicians and studio sessions growing up, being able to just drop in and meet people really played a big part of my musical journey. I’m very inspired by West Coast music. I grew up by the Compton Swap Meet, where Tupac and Dr. Dre filmed “California Love,” and that’s something I saw every day growing up. Of course, Kendrick Lamar is one of the best and one of my favorite rappers, Nipsey Hussle, and you have so many more musicians like Sirah, Taz Arnold, and Tyler, the Creator, that really influenced me a lot. I’m grateful to be from Los Angeles.
I think Compton specifically informed my sound because of my great grandparents who I grew up with, then my mom’s around the corner and my grandma’s around the corner. So, if I went to my mom’s house, I’m listening to like D’Angelo, Ice Cube, or something really hardcore. If I go to my other grandma’s house, she’s a big fan of Frank Sinatra, Herbie Hancock, and different things like that. At my great grandmother’s house, it was all gospel music. All those influenced my sound, just having a well-rounded ear. I like all kinds of music, everything.
When and how did music enter your life?
I remember music entering my life when I was young. It was maybe when I was five years-old, and my grandparents bought me a drum set. And then I was forced to make trumpet class in first grade. Those are my earliest musical memories.
Along with many others, your recent tour was canceled. How do you and your team FEEL?
I got much closer to my team. At first, it was kinda hurtful, but I try to be positive about everything. Instead of looking at tragedy as a negative thing, I have the mindset of looking at it as an opportunity to do something. You know, maybe I needed to grow in different areas; maybe some things needed to happen in my life to get where I am now, ’cause I feel like I’m in a better mental state than when the quarantine started. I definitely miss my fans and I miss the thrill and the energy of the stage, but I’m definitely into my mental health and physical wellbeing more, which I think makes me a better person and a better artists when it’s all said and done.
Your sound is signature – boldly redefining house music through the lens of Blackness. How did you develop it?
I found house music specifically when I went to music school in Oklahoma. I took a class called Music and World Cultures, and house music was one of the things I kinda got into and studied. Once I got into it, I just started making it. House music really stuck out to me because it came from Chicago and was a way for minorities – the LGBT community, Brown people, Black people – it was a way for us to create our own party. And that’s what they did in Chicago.
Where do you draw inspiration, and what motivates you to get up every day and create?
My inspiration comes from everything – what I read, my voice memos, conversations, and melodies. I’ve been reading a book called The Listening Book, which is about challenging my ear to listen to everything: everything is a sound, everything is music if you really listen. So yeah, my expression is continuously growing and I’m finding it in different ways all the time.
How do you FEEL when you make music?
It varies. Sometimes when I get that itch and I’m really in it, it kinda feels like something takes over you. Sometimes I’ll be in my room by myself when I’m making something, and it feels like somebody’s standing behind me but nobody’s there. It’s just weird. Other times, I don’t feel anything – sometimes I’m just kinda going on autopilot, but I try to set myself up for success by keeping regiments of practice, learning different songs on the piano, watching different production videos, and studying all the greats.
When I do get to my workstation, you never know what’s going to come out. I love the times where it just feels good and flows, but a lot of times you have to force yourself to work, keep going, and stay consistent in your craft because you never know when the magic will strike. It’s just a consistent thing of doing it over and over, even when you don’t feel like it.
How does it FEEL to know your music resonates with listeners?
You don’t know who’s listening to this art, and you don’t know who it’s helping. So, I’ve had moments where people would tell me they were inspired, and for Black and Brown kids, I always want to let them know that they don’t have to be the status quo for anybody. The world is so big, and you can really choose what you want to do. It’s all about just finding that passion, something that feels like it’s what you’re supposed to do.
How do you hope your work makes listeners FEEL?
My goal is for you to be yourself and find your way. I make music so other people can find their passion and what they want to do, because I feel like, if you’re living with no passion, then it’s hard to really navigate through this life. ‘Cause it’s pretty crazy, you know?
What does your style say about you?
I dress like how I want to, how I feel that day. I’m a Gemini, so I’m like a shapeshifter. I know how to be the bummiest person in the room, but I can also be the cutest person in the room, depending on what I want to do that day. I’m not as famous as I want to be, so people don’t really stop me. My style kinda varies depending on what i’m doing. Channel Tres is like my other personality, a whole other person. Sheldon is my government name, and that’s the regular guy who likes to be at home, plays video games, just those regular things.
Any new music?
I don’t want to say too much because it’s not out yet, and I’m still working on it, but it’s been a trip to work on this because a lot of it was made inside, and I’m used to traveling a lot. It has brought me back to my roots as a bedroom producer. I’ve always made a point to try to beat my old stuff and get better. So, I think having the opportunity to be in solitude with no guilt, since it was forced upon us, made me dive into my mind more.