Queens Our City Radio is proud to interview recording artist Amrick Channa who comes courtesy of us from Barbara Sobel of Sobel Promotions (www.sobelpromotions.com). Anrick has topped the charts and toured around the world and recently appeared on UK’s The Voice TV show. This artists does it all from eating hot dogs to writing his own material. Marching to the beat of his own drum and taking no hostages we are proud to present Amrick Channa.
Dj Buddy Beaverhausen: Thank you for doing this Q&A with me for Queens Our City Radio. First off, could you generally describe your musical style for us?
Amrick Channa: Thank you so much for considering me for this interview! It is my pleasure. OK, with regards to my musical style, I would describe it as a mix of House music/EDM genres. As I work with many different labels and producers, it depends on which release you’re listening to. So it can be funky house, soulful house, progressive, deep, tech, EDM, etc. However, one thing you can be assured about is that irrelevant of the genre, you will always get powerful soulful vocals and catchy hooks with my tracks.
What vocalists influenced you? Who are the recording artists out there right now — the singers — that you admire the most?
Initially, the vocalists who influenced me were the big belting soul divas! Although I grew up in the era of Whitney Houston, Prince, Madonna and Michael Jackson, it was when I heard the glorious belting soul drenched powerhouse diva vocals of Jocelyn Brown on Snap’s ‘I’ve got the power’ and Loleatta Holloway on ‘Ride on Time’ by Black Box and Martha Wash on C&C Music Factory’s ‘Everybody Dance Now!’ was when I decided I wanted to command crowds with my voice! I then looked into the history of house and went back to disco: Chaka Khan, Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor etc. Then, as I progressed as a singer and learnt about it as an art form, I fell in love with Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross, George Benson, etc. These days its rare that a singer makes me sit up and take notice; I tend to look more into the work of the backing vocalists of these legends such as Lisa Fischer who’s worked with Rolling Stone and Luther Vandross, Chaka’s backing singers, Mariah’s backing singers etc. I find Adele, Amy Winehouse, Emeli Sandi, Katy Perry, Gaga, etc. very nauseating and boring. They’re good at what they do but not gutsy enough to grab Amrick’s attention!
When you were growing up in London, what music did you listen to? What first inspired you to perform?
I grew up surrounded by pop radio and soul music of Luther Vandross, Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan but also the greats such as Whitney Houston, Madonna, Prince and, of course, Michael Jackson! I remember the flamboyancy of Boy George and Culture Club and then George Michael, Gloria Estafan, Paula Abdul, etc. But the voices which inspired me were through the sampling on Black Box, Snap and C&C music Factory: of my favorite divas Martha Wash; Jocelyn Brown, Loleatta Holloway and Chaka Khan!
You compose many of your own songs (“Revolution,” “Freedom,” “Can’t Hold Back”). Can you share your musical background with us?
I was into the underground House sounds of the late 80′s and remember Inner City and Jungle Bros and Marshall Jefferson being in the top 40 charts. Then, in the UK, there was a huge explosion almost a movement of youth called the Second Summer of Love and this was Acid House and the Rave scene took a hold! Yes, people I know the USA had raves now but we were 25 years ahead of you guys! [Laughs.] My influences in music come from the legendary DJs who educated me on the house music sounds and the soulful vocals I have come to love. Todd Terry, Masters At Work, David Morales, Frankie Knuckles and Tony Humphries. And then labels such as Defected and Subliminal. My early work was very much soulful house such as ‘Can’t Hold Back’ but then the young European producers love tougher pumping sounds hence ‘Revolution’ and ‘Give It Up,’ etc.
What’s headed our way from Amrick Channa now that you’ve signed on with Sobel Promotions/Sobel Nation?
The amazing support and love I have received from Sobel Nation/Promotions, I almost feel I can achieve anything and conquer the world! Barbara and the Sobel family do a fantastic job of taking care and promoting their artists worldwide. So, with this experience and knowledge, I feel I can really do anything! I have some exciting projects which are ready for release this year and as always I will ensure Sobel Nation are the first people to get to know of these! (Even though sometimes, being forgetful, I get told off by Barbara!) [Laughs.]
How do you feel, generally, about being an independent artist whose music is released on indie labels? How does it suit you and how do you perceive the indie marketplace today as opposed to music coming from the major labels?
I have mixed feelings about the two. On one hand, I love working with indie labels as I feel I have more control over my work and what I do, whereas with the big labels, you are beholden to what their ideas are and plans for you and your music. However, I’ve not been happy recently with the fact that some indie labels cannot be bothered to give me the credit I deserve as a singer and writer of the songs. And I absolutely HATE HAVING MY NAME IN A SMALLER FONT COMPARED TO EVERYONE ELSE’S!
You’ve toured internationally. What’s your view of the global club scene right now?
It’s sad as a majority of club promoters are not seeing the value of having a live singer in their club. Its a culture that’s being lost but I do believe it will come back. The economy means there’s not much money, but you have to invest to make money! And no clubs are doing that right now. However, in general, I feel the club scene is at its peak at the moment as it has gone crazy in the USA and places such as India and Australia! So it’s truly a global phenomenon!
Any chance New York City clubgoers can catch you any time in the near future?
It would be a dream come true to be able to perform in New York! And if anyone can help make it happen it’s the lovely Barbara Sobel!
What do you think sets you apart from other singers on the contemporary dance/club circuit? And what really energizes you about a crowd?
I’m not into being ‘safe’ when I sing. I like to belt it out and have fun with my vocals. Also, I’m extremely talented when it comes to jamming live on the mic and a great deal of huge DJ’s have told me they love it as I have such a vast knowledge of disco, soul and house vocals that its almost like they’re playing with acapellas in their mix except its me doing it live on the fly! Also, what sets me apart is that there’s no one else doing what I do and looking the way I do as I’m a British born Indian with a Turban who doesn’t fit the traditional mould!
A very unusual look for a dance artist! Do you design your look based on your religion or fashion?
I’ve been brought up as a Sikh which is an Indian religion. However, I’m not a traditional or religious guy for that matter. But this is how I was brought up by my parents and whereas many Sikh’s these days cut their hair etc to try and fit in, I decided to go the other way and fight stereotypes and show people that I might look one way but don’t make assumptions because I’m gonna shock the hell out of you! Especially when I start belting out with my voice which can be pretty loud! Also, I love creative people; I love the New York Club Kids from back in the day and people like Leigh Bowery, Boy George, Madonna, Andy Warhol, etc., all the creative crazy types! So I try and utilize their philosophies in my look. It’s not about copying them, but rather to be inspired by them and to be creative with one’s own look. I love Jean Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood. Anything a bit wild and crazy, I’ll wear it! I have absolutely no hesitation! Also, recently, I was told by A-list celebrities on The Voice such as Will.I.Am, Kylie Minogue and Ricky from The Kaiser Chiefs that they loved my amazing look! So why should I care what anyone else thinks! [Laughs.]
What was it like auditioning for The Voice?
It was amazing! It took over two months to get to the Blind auditions part on TV. I found out I beat 50,000 entrants from Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England to be in the top 150 finalists who made it to the TV part. There were about four stages you have to pass before you can make it to the TV! The BBC crew were wonderful and it was a fantastic experience. Since being on the show, it has helped generate a huge amount of interest in me and I’m hoping to sign with a reputable management agency who can help push and promote me in the the right direction. Obviously Sobel nation is doing that with my music, but this is more about getting more exposure to the general public as opposed to staying within the realms of clubland.
Just before our Q&A, I was listening to last year’s “Can I Get Some Love” by PlayOne. Very strong vocals by you and Sandra (Berkovic). Could you tell me a little about your involvement in that? How did you hook up with DJ Fresh Jay & Darko Juranovic who, correct me if I’m wrong, are based in Croatia?
Darko and DJ Fresh Jay I have known for a few years now. One of my songs with Slovenian DJ Angel Anx was featured on a compilation CD they compile for the Croatian beach parties in the summer. Kind of like spring break in the USA. They then approached me to work with them but we never found the right track. However, [for] ‘Can I Get Some Love,’ they asked if I could redo the vocals but they only gave me 24 hours and the key was too high. So I only ad libbed around it and told them to do whatever they wanted with those. And few months later, I find that it has over 253,000 hits on YouTube! And clubs around Europe are loving the track. It’s now been signed to a bigger record label with remixes and a video forthcoming! So I’m looking forward to working on new projects with them. They are based in Croatia but tour around Europe and also have base in Las Vegas. They’re gonna be huge!
Amrick, thank you so much for taking out this time to do this Q&A with us. I like to wrap up, generally, by asking if there’s anything you’d like to add that, perhaps, we haven’t covered, or if there are any shout-outs to the very international readership at my blog, Leave It to Beaverhausen, and at Queens Our City Internet Radio?
It’s been my pleasure so thank you! I feel I’ve got my message across about who I am and hopefully people feel they know me a bit better. I’m on a mission to be the face of dance music on a global scale and I want to do it on my terms. I also want to show people that I might look this way but don’t stereotype me! Also, I love shocking people as I do have a twisted sense of humor! I’d like to give a big shout out to the Sobel Nation family of amazing artists and DJ’s and most of all the fabulous Barbara Sobel who works tirelessly to promote us all and who gives so much of her time to all of us. Also she’s fiercely protective of us and she has an equally twisted sense of humor like me! Haha! I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say how much she is appreciated!