The inspiration behind his album, collaborations and the future of UK Funky – we had a chat with Champion [Interview]


Back at the start of October, one of UK underground music’s most talented artists and key figures, Champion, announced he was releasing his very first album. Off the back of this news and with the hype around his latest single, ‘Running It Red’ featuring MC Shantie, reaching fever pitch, we reached out for a quick chat about the forthcoming ‘Snapshot’.

After so many years in the game, why have you waited until now to release an album?

I think it was a mix of two things. At first, I didn’t feel like I was ready on a production level to do an album. Then when I felt I could possibly do one, I put it off for ages until I got given a nudge and just started one day.

Has a Champion full length always been on the cards?

Yeah, I’ve always known that I wanted to do one! I’d done quite a few EPs and remixes over the years and knew that eventually I’d want to put out a proper body of work even though I didn’t have a clue on any of the specifics.

Did you approach making a full body of work differently to how you would an EP or an individual track?

Kind of – usually for an EP I would just go through all of my demos and see what works together for a release. With the album, I had an idea of what I wanted to go on it and then went through all of my demos/sketches to see what I could use and then filled in the gaps over the last year.

What was the main inspiration or driving force behind ‘Snapshot’?

A few things; one was expecting and having my first child. Another was that I kind of wanted to put a body of work out that felt like it truly represented me at this current time. The driving force was a lengthy conversation with Four Tet at Radio 1 one time!

There’s some very sick collabs on the tracklist! How did the tune with Four Tet come about?

We’ve been cool and working together on things since I remixed his single ‘Kool FM’ in 2013. I’ve always liked how our collaborations came out and, with Four Tet being one of the key reasons why I started the album and him helping me put the album together, I just had to ask him if he would like to collab with me on a track for it!

Is there anyone you’d have loved to work with who isn’t already on the album?

Oh yeah, loads of people! If I could have had anyone on there that isn’t, it would probably be Wookie on a production one. One vocalist would probably be Donae’O.

Obviously ‘Running It Red’ has had an incredible response – did you know it would have such a big impact during production?

I kinda knew it would do well in a set when I was making it but I didn’t expect it to get so much support! It wasn’t even made for the album, I just made it randomly one day and played it to a couple heads and their responses were all positive. I still fought putting it on the album until maybe 1 or 2 months before sending the album off for submission but the tune kept getting bigger.

What other tracks from the album have been doing the most damage when you’ve been playing out?

I reckon its a tie between ‘Drill’ and ‘Millennium Dub’ with Royal-T!

You’ve been around UK Funky from early as a massively influential figure – what are your thoughts on the momentum it seems to be picking up recently?

I’m happy that its making a slight revival. I feel like it just needs that one flagship tune now to kick it into gear. I reckon for that to happen though, someone needs to come with something completely fresh to the sound, something that will completely set it apart from what we were doing back then.

As someone with a very distinctive sound, what advice would you give to new producers trying to make an impression?

The main advice I could give for that would be to trust your ears in a sense where if you honestly like what you hear, whether it be a snare, sample or some hats, work with it and don’t question yourself. Also it would be to make tunes that you would personally go nuts for if you heard it elsewhere!

Finally, what have you got coming after the release of Snapshot?

I’m working on some vocal projects at the moment that I wanna run at some point next year. I’ve also got quite a few interesting collabs that will start to surface after the album as well.

You can preorder ‘Snapshot’ here, and be sure to check out Champion’s promo mix ahead of the release of the album below:

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