I learned a few things about Lupe Fiasco’s venture into Electro Rock, otherwise known as Hey Champ! over the last week. They hail from Rockford, IL, they eat a lot of Sultan’s Market, and they’re damn good at photo shoot ideas. You can also learn about the Chicago-based trio currently burning up Chicago’s underground in this new edition of RH First Look…Check it out below.
RubyHornet: Hey Champ! Is the group’s name an eternal pep talk? Please share the origins.
Hey Champ!: Yes it is a pep talk, if by pep you mean “sad” and if by talk you mean “story”. The actual origins are very dark and gloomy, we’d rather not talk about it for fear of alienating your readers.
RubyHornet: It seems like a lot of your movement has come in the last 6 months. Where were you guys March 3, 2008? What’s been the biggest change since
Hey Champ!: Hmm..that would be 12 months ago. At that time we had just finished recording a song called Cold Dust Girl and with no money we packed a Honda CRV and went to New York to play some shows for about 12 people, 11 of which were related to Pete.
RubyHornet: You guys seem poised to be the 3rd greatest thing to come out of Rockford. Any chance you could become #1 or at least #2? Where do you place The Rockford Thunder in all this?
Hey Champ!: Absolutely not. Have you seen Blossom Season 3? It’s like watching a young Alec Baldwin. Rockford Thunder? We haven’t heard of them, is that bad? We remember the Rockford Lightning, who were a basketball team in the now defunct CBA league.
RubyHornet: Hey Champ’s tracks are being remixed heavily and played in clubs around the world, do you guys have a favorite reworking of a Hey Champ joint? Are there any that you just think are terrible?
Hey Champ!: We’ve been honored by having many awesome remixes from Chicago DJs, two Japanese bands, and we have one coming from DVNO in Paris. They’re all really amazing.
RubyHornet: You signed to 1st and 15th, which is run by Lupe Fiasco, and at the time of your signing was primarily a Hip Hop label. Why did you decide to sign with them, and were there any musical “language barriers” so to speak in terms of the approach you wanted to take and how they were used to doing things?
Hey Champ!: Lupe is an artist first and foremost. He liked what we were doing and gave us freedom and leeway to record our album the way we wanted. We have a great working relationship with him. It was really a no-
brainer, he’s a superstar who wanted to endorse us.
RubyHornet: I’ve heard your sound compared to Depeche Mode, how do you guys feel about that comparison? Who are some of your musical influences?
Hey Champ!: Depeche Mode helped bridged the worlds of electronic pop and guitar rock, so we definitely see why people make that comparison. Our influences are many: Zeppelin, Giorgio Moroder, Beatles, Daft Punk, Claudio Simonetti, Queen, Human League, Jean-Michel Jarre. But we’re not out to recreate anyone’s sound, we’re just trying to makes songs that we’d want to listen and dance to.
RubyHornet: You guys have a track “Face Control”…True or False, if you make a bad face it will get stuck that way forever?
Hey Champ!: Tralse.
RubyHornet: Can you tell us a bit about “In The White City”. The track is obviously about Chicago, is it also inspired by the book “Devil In The White City”?
Hey Champ!: It was one of our first forays into the more electro-house genre. And we had to represent Chi!
RubyHornet: You are going to SXSW this year. What would you say is the importance in going to such festivals for a group in your position?
Hey Champ: Exposure. Exposure. Exposure. We’re still building our fan base around the country.
RubyHornet: For some of our readers, this is their first introduction to the band. What are three things you’d like them to know before going out and getting more music?
1) We were born as members of the three different major religions. But now we all worship Sultan’s Market. It’s…divine.
2) We all learned as much as possible before becoming a band. Don’t drop out of school! That just makes it easier for people to take advantage of you.
3) Jonathan and our manager Brandon are in the midst of a decathalon of events because they both talk so much s**t to one another. Right now Brandon is 1-0 for winning in NBA 2K9, but Jonathan will probably kick his ass in ping-pong because Brandon is so out of shape.
Photography by: Virgil Solis