Hailing from the Isle of Wight, brothers Michael and David Champion make CHAMPS. The duo have supplied quite the spectacle recently, displaying their phenomenal talent to a large audience at The Great Escape festival earlier in May. Their music seems to be a result of colliding classic songwriting with todays use of diverse sonic sounds. With some effective trick up their sleeve, the brothers intriguingly create effective instrumental melodies alongside vocals that are delicately reminiscent of Robin Gibb.
With their newest release ‘The Garden Is Overgrown’ sees CHAMPS embark on a new sonic adventure since 2015’s Vamala. Taking a tougher, more loop-based sound, this duo have made a huge leap when regarding their own musical comfort.
I had the pleasure of meeting with both Michael and David before their Birmingham show to talk about their music, Isle of Wight, and The Great Escape
LIH: Firstly, you guys are from the Isle of Wight- How would you say living on the island influences your music?
David: It definitely does. I think the fact that you’re sort of isolated from any scene-as there isn’t really a scene- I like to think it makes it seem original, as you aren’t really copying any other bands in the same sort of area. It’s good to just be an outsider from cities and scenes and movements
It must cost a lot for touring
Michael: The ferries are really expensive. Our record label were quite shocked when we first sent the invoice!
David: Yeah, it’s good though with the space and the fact there is hardly anyone there. It’s got quite a melancholic feel to it as it’s primarily a tourist place and in the winter and off-season- as anyone that comes from a coastal resort will tell you- it’s really weird, which is quite cool and inspiring. It has definitely played a role, it’s hard to say how much because we have never known the alternative. Well Mike lived in London for a bit
Michael: Yeah, when I lived in London I definitely didn’t write as much as when I was on the Isle of Wight as it doesn’t give you the time and space
David: I think the other thing as well, when you’re not in a city it makes it feel more possible as you’re like cut off from it. If you grow up in a city, you must think there are so many bands, everyone is in a band this is impossible. When you’re on the Isle of Wight and you’re not involved in it, you sort of feel like it’s doable
Michael: That’s a good point
David: Yeah it’s weird. It sort of makes you feel as bit naiver which actually is probably quite helpful
LIH: Your newest single ‘The Garden Is Overgrown’ seems to be very well constructed, with lots of musical textures. What was it like to record?
Michael: It was actually recorded in two different segments. We started the first half in one studio where we got that crazy sound from at the start, and then it was about 6 months later we finished it off with a different producer in another studio
David: We have always wanted to make like fun and exciting music. That song feels quite fun, it was just a matter of knowing when to stop with that track as it’s pretty hectic. We got to the point where we were like we need to stop and start taking stuff away, making sure every sound actually serves a purpose
LIH: For the video, why did you choose Berlin as a location?
David: This is going to be a terrible answer but I think it’s just where the producers wanted it [laughs] Well I mean we actually love Berlin and we have been there quite a few times. It’s super creative, with loads of young creative people who like making careers within the creative industry, which is impossible to do in this country because of the government. It’s just inspiring with lots of young people making films and making music and writing stuff, it’s wicked. Berlin is a pretty fun place
LIH: What’s it like working alongside a sibling? Would you say that your music has evolved alongside your similar and shared interests?
David: Definitely! I think a lot of bands have problems because you always have different musical tastes when growing up and stuff. But when you grow up together and living in the same house, you basically don’t have different tastes. Mike has always introduced me to loads of bands all through my childhood and I had a way cooler taste than I should of had when I was young. That made my friends all have really good taste too [laughs] I think if you are coming from the same musical place, it makes it a lot easier as you are just always going to want to achieve the same sort of thing. We are always still recommending things to each other and our interests massively overlap so I think it has been really helpful actually
LIH: If I had never listened to your music, how would you describe it to me?
David: That’s a good question. I’d say vocals are a crucial part of it, so vocally led alternative pop
Michael: We always try to make it as colourful as possible
David: We are definitely not shy to be seen as being a pop band, I wouldn’t be insulted by that at all I think that’s cool. Colourful alternative pop!
LIH: ‘Forever Be Upstanding At The Door’ is a personal favourite of mine. How did this song come about?
Michael: I think I was watching a Bob Dylan documentary and I just had my guitar in my hand and started doing the normal Bob Dylan finger picking and that melody come along
David: That’s the only like full on duet. I can’t remember why that happened but it sort of came out like that
Michael: We both happened to be in the same room at the same time together so David just sang over the top. We would never normally really be in the same place
David: Again, that was a really nice one to record. I think that was first take of everything in that track which is always nice
Micheal: It was the first one we did for that album
David: Yeah it was! That’s the one we really like playing live too
Michael: It gives a nice breather in the set
LIH: Leading on from that, what would be your favourite song you have released and why?
Michael: Mine is actually probably the first track off the first album and ‘Down Like Gold’ is one of my favourites. When I hear ‘Down Like Gold’ I think now like what was I doing and how did I write that
David: One of one mine is weirdly a song called ‘Running’ which is an album track from the second album. I don’t know why, I just really enjoy it and like the rhythm
Michael: It terms of favourite and where I think I’ve written a good song, it would have to be Vamala as it has like a good pop melody. I remember getting that melody actually, it was kind of by accident really. There was something quite special about that
David: Yeah Vamala has got to be up there for me aswell
LIH: Favourite venue you have played so far?
Michael: Prinzenbar in Hamburg
David: AB (Ancienne Belgique) in Belgium was really big and cool
Michael: Prinzenbar was like this sort of old german cinema
David: It was one of the only ones that didn’t get bombed from a whole row of buildings, so it’s like this randomly old building in a street of new ones
Michael: We played this festival in Spain and it was on an island
David: We also played this massive train station in Brussels which was amazing
LIH: What was the first song you learnt to play on your instruments?
David: ‘What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor’ in E minor and D. I was actually thinking about that the other day
Michael: Yeah that was the same for me I think
David: We had the same teacher
LIH: How did you find The Great Escape?
Michael: I loved it! That was actually my favourite gig probably ever. I was expecting it to be empty and it was full
David: Everything about it was really good. Really nice weather, it was full, the stage sound was probably the best we have ever had. Personally for me, vocally if I can hear myself sing really clearly then I really enjoy the gig because then I know I’m not singing completely out of tune! It was really nice, not to sound cheesy but it felt like we had really good energy in the room and everyone seemed really into it
Michael: Our entire record label was there too and we rarely get to play to all of them so it was nice
David: It was a good one to have gone well for that reason
LIH: Will you be going to Isle of Wight festival?
David: We have asked for tickets! [laughs] We aren’t playing
Michael: Arcade Fire are one of my favourite bands and I’m not usually that interested in the festival but because Arcade Fire are playing, I really want to see them play
David: We played the festival two years ago and I had just split up with my longterm girlfriend two days before and I was absolutely hammered. I drank a bottle of vodka before we played and I just nearly fell off the stage [laughs]
Be sure to check these guys out: http://www.champschampschamps.com