Patience is as patience does and when it comes to the fine art of waiting till the time is right no artist does it better than Sydney’s own Soul provider , Mike Champion.Nu Soul singer/ songwriter Mike Champion has been perfecting his craft for well over a decade, learning his steps in the urban music industry and never faltering his focus or persistence. A lesson that has been greatly rewarded with the long awaited release of his debut album “ Young Boy, Old Soul”, a collection of smoothly penned and soulfully crafted songs that highlight Champions depth and understanding of the soul of man regardless of age. The aptly titled album is a perfect homage to a young man who is indeed an old soul when it comes to his music and the way he wants the listener to feel. It’s all about purity with Mike , in his writing, music production , even down to the creation of his widely acclaimed music videos, produced by his own Bizniz in Bed company, this journey is and always will be 100% Mike.
Since his albums release in November 2012, Australia has embraced their beloved Soul sage and shown their love with growing sales of YBOS on ITunes, supporting Mike as he dots the country doing live performances and promotion tours and it appears his grind has caught the attention of the Japanese urban music market with his album now being sold in HMV Japan! Not bad for a boy from Sydney’s Western suburbs, of proud South African heritage and a strong supportive family as his backbone! The sky is indeed the limit for Champion as he realizes his dream and takes Australia with him as he gets ready to conquer the world with his talent, undeniable charm and most importantly, a down to earth humility that will undoubtedly be remembered along with contribution to the soul music community.
He may be Young, but this Old Soul has more up his musical sleeve than you know!
What’s up Mike – been a long time between conversations ;o) I hear you been doing some big things with that mighty voice of yours… Congrats on the release of your debut album “Young Boy, Old Soul”. How does it feel?
Yo Ms Hennessey! It has been too long Soul Sista. So great to finally catch up with you again. Honestly, it feels incredible to finally have my debut album “Young Boy Old Soul” out in the atmosphere. I know it has been a long time coming for me, so I am definitely super excited to have it out and circulating. It’s great to be able to have my music enjoyed by some and critiqued by others. For me it’s all about showing growth, honesty and always doing what I know and truly love, so its feels good to have had the opportunity, to put out a debut album that is a true reflection of the reasons why I chose music as a career.
Luv Mathematics Music Video
This album has been quite a cathartic process for you in that it was not merely an album you wrote and put together but pieces of your soul that has been on this musical journey for the past decade to get to this point. What has the process been like for you from writing your tracks to shooting your amazing music videos?
Wow! What a ride it has been so far. The process of making an independent album is never easy. Just because at times, it can be like a circus, juggling the life of maintaining and still giving your all to the experience and process. There are no wads of cash thrown at you to get in the studio and produce an independent album, so you really go into hustle mode to get it done. For me the 3 years spent making the album entailed developing my sound and getting it as close as possible to where I could see myself sitting comfortably. To then working on an album that was crafted to be more than just a bunch of songs thrown together, but much rather like a good book, where each page flows together to create a great story. To then branding myself so that I could be seen in the public eye, the way I felt was most honest and true to my art. From production (Sergio Selim) to mastering (Viking Lounge) to artwork (Lala W) it’s all a process you learn along the way.
Writing and producing with the ever so talented Sergio “Don Dolla” Selim was a phenomenal experience. He is one of the most underrated and at the same time unmatched producers in the game, so to have had the opportunity to work on an entire record with him at the reigns of the production is something I am grateful for and look forward to doing again in the near future.
In regards to the videos, I work with a team called Bizniz In Bed Filmz. I most of the time, know what I want with my videos, so I work with them because they truly are genius at bringing my music to life visually. Always keeping that honesty in showing who I am is very evident, & is the most important to me. They are just the perfect team to make sure this reflects on camera.
This process and experience really has been life changing for me. Producing a full album independently without any help from labels or investors is really a colourful experience. It is a great test of character a real stepping stone towards a higher ground.
“Young Boy, Old Soul” ….. Catchy title, but so very suited to you Mike and your spirit. Why that title and what does it mean to you?
Young Boy Old Soul is the best way I can sum up what I am as a person in my day to day life, and as an Artist. I feel it is a true description of the things that influence me and the type of music and image I naturally aim to portray. From a young age I have known and loved grown folk soul music. Though I may appear to be a Young Boy my heart lies with the Old School mentality. We need to continue to be gentlemen and open doors for our women. We need to learn to respect and learn from our elders. We need to stop, listen and appreciate the roots. To me the old school is the strongest, unbreakable foundation. We need to continue to build on it!!
These are just some of my personal values. I named my album “Young Boy Old Soul” so people could instantly have a personal connection to me and my approach to my life, love, and music.
One could describe your album as a sophisticated blend of R&B / soul and neo soul infused with funky jazz …..Touching on all those genres to deliver something truly pleasurable to the ears ;o) How involved were you in creating your sound Mike and what producers have you worked with to make this album so hot?
I think I may have got ahead of myself and answered this in my response to the first question haha. But let me just re-iterate my respect for Sergio “Don Dolla” Selim who truly helped to bring my vision to life. I always knew the type of music I wanted to make and I have worked with a lot of producers in my time, so to finally work with a musician who understands your vision as an artist is just like a breath of fresh air. Some of the songs on my debut release (I.L.O.V.E.Y.O.U, Smokin N Drinkin) are the songs I wrote years before getting the chance to actually bring them to life in the studio (properly), and others (Allie Kat, Young Boy) were created off the vibe we felt the all-round project needed to flow better. My lead single LUV Mathematics was a beat that wasn’t intended for me but somehow ended up on my iPod…From Don Dolla’s Studio to my Note-Pad, Back to the Studio then Into the Booth and that was that. It was such an exciting project to work on and mound. I really wish I had filmed it every step of the way. From working with great musicians(“Mark ‘Rammy’ Ramac”, Mark ‘Millionair’ Sedicol, Robert ‘Bobby K’ Kirkpatrick, Mathias Heise) to great artists (Earthquake, Kato Sage, Natalie Conway) , developing the sound of ‘Young Boy Old Soul’ really allowed the creative juices to flow.
You have been on this road for quite some time now Mike and have grown up with your eye never far off that prize of achieving your goal …..you have achieved a portion of that goal as I know you got so much more up your sleeve ……how have you managed to stay consistent and true to yourself with so many naysayers out there at times?
For me it’s an approach of simplicity and honesty as well a can do, go get it attitude. I feel like doing music as a career for me is simple because it’s the one thing that I naturally understand. I am a big believer that in order to be truly happy, we are meant to do what we love in life. Find what makes us happy and do it to the fullest. I feel like this approach has kept me grounded and focused on doing my music to the best of my ability. If there is something I want to achieve, I always tell myself, “I can do that, it’s easy” and then put the wheels in motion.
I also owe a lot of my consistency to my family, and those that have supported me through my journey. I am forever grateful to everybody that has and continue to push me to excel in my music career.
What would you say is your biggest influence / muse when it comes to writing and creating your sound?
It’s so hard, there are so many. “The people” in general I’d say. When I write, I always try to think of how people will interpret my music, and try to relay my writing to suit a broad audience. From young to old and everyone in between. I feel like music is something that is made to comfort, excite, console and connect with people from all walks of life. I try to keep my sound universal in that it is not something that just soul and r&b lovers will connect with. But more so a sound, that lovers of all genres of music can feel and relate to. I learnt that from the old school because I feel like back then artists where received more openly for their art rather than the style of music they made.
Allie Kat Music Video
Your thoughts on the position you currently stand in Australia’s urban music community and why? Are we making progress for artists of the nu soul / neo soul movement in your opinion?
That’s an interesting topic Ms Hennessey haha. If I can be honest, for me Australia is probably one of the toughest markets in the world. I try not to assess where I stand here in Australia because my goal for my music is international success. Don’t get me wrong, I work hard to stay at the forefront of Australian urban scene, but in regards to working with labels and record execs here, it is something that I feel is almost non-existent in my genre. They seem a little too scared to take chances and try something new, so would rather stick to a formula in Australia. Which is understandable because at the end of the day it’s only about figures for them. So I say, “You do you”, and unless you let me be the boss of my music “Imma do me” =). I feel if rock and country artists can keep the creative control in their work, then R&B/Hip Hop should be allowed to do the same. When you’re an indie artist that has the support of the people, then there’s so need to change the artist, just market what he or she has already created. Arrrgh I can talk all day about this topic.
I aim to show the world what I have to offer as an Artist. If that can help to boost Australia’s standing on the international soul scale, and shake up our industry execs a lil.. then that would be a huge step forward for our developing nation. I love Australia. It is my home. But I feel there is only so far you can go here in my genre. Music is made for the masses, so I aim to stretch my work as far across the globe as possible.
Where do see yourself in 5 years from now Mike?
There are so many things I want to achieve in the next 5 years. I definitely will aim to release a project every year. So 5 Albums in 5 Years is the goal. I see myself touring between the US, Europe, South Africa and Japan with my band and rocking all types of stages. I see myself collaborating with likeminded Artists & Producers from all over the world to. Fashion Line. Endorsements. Build An Empire!! haha. My main goal over the next 5 years is to remain consistent and grow in all aspects of my art.
What next for Mike Champion? Any international collaborations in play?
=) You know it. Each day it gets more interesting. My Album has just been licensed in Japan and is due for release on the 10th of March with two exclusive bonus tracks. So I’m looking forward to getting to Japan for a tour in the coming months. I have also been offered 3 shows in the US at prominent Soul Venues. So I’ll be heading to New York in July to fulfill my calling. Super excited for that. Hoping to get over to the UK for a few shows somewhere in the tour as well.
On the music tip, I am currently (by way of Ms Hennessey herself) working with the well-known music producer ‘J Rawls’, on some real Soulful FYAH. As well as a few pioneering local producers. The new record entitled “Mike Champion – Sweet Talk & Metaphors” will be out later this year.
Your mission statement in life?
Love what you do and do what you love.
For information on Mike Champion visit: http://www.mikechampion.com
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