Iconic French producer Tchami may have dropped his album Year Zero in October last year — amid the COVID-19 pandemic — but he hasn’t slowed down since then. Despite having to drastically scale back his projects and cut the cord on live shows, he’s still managed to bring music to his fans, even into this year. Among the 16-track album is one of Tchami’s most impressive songs to date, “Praise.” In a collab with Georgia-based rapper Gunna, the track also comes with a video-game-style video created by animator and director Steve Cutts. Both Tchami and Gunna show up as cartoons in this video that will tug at all your nostalgic feelings.
We caught up with this talented musician to see what he’s planning for when live music comes back, how it felt to put out Year Zero, his thoughts on collabs, and more. Check it out.
I know the weirdness of 2020 affected all artists differently — for you it seems like you were still incredibly productive. Can you tell me a little about your 2020 and how COVID/quarantines/no live music was for you?
The pandemic hit me at the worst moment. I was in the middle of the promotion tour for my album Year Zero. The first two weeks were tough but I realized that a lot could be done without touring as well. so my team and I really focused on what could be done to give my listeners the best experience possible considering the limited tools we had. The album came out great and I am thankful for all the love I received, it was incredible to be honest. Then what to do next? I started to have more and more conversations with my fellow producers about how we could keep things interesting. I guess everybody is trying to stay creative from home and since no one is busy on the road, there is time and space for more collaborations. This is also a way to keep in touch with people you usually come across on tour.
And despite actual live events not happening, you’ve still been able to do some streaming shows — how have those been?
I haven’t done a lot of them as I try to be very intentional in everything that I put out. My focus is only quality at this point as I really wanted to deliver something special in the livestreams. We figured out some really sick locations, especially for the “Elevation Sunrise Set.”
To me, ‘Year Zero’ felt like a culmination of your work and felt like such an incredibly huge and awesome release — how did it feel bringing that album out?
There is nothing that can compare as the release of a first album. There is also a feeling of emptiness that comes right after. I kept asking myself “what am I going to do next?” The good thing is there was plenty of time to recharge and so I did.
I also feel like it put you on another level with drawing in so many new fans — what’s the response been like for you?
It was incredible and it still is to this day. Every project that I’m working on is about change, morphing into something else so there is always a risk people won’t follow. I like to think it’s a risk worth taking. I have no other choice in fact.
You also just dropped yet another new track — can you tell us a little bit about “Make Amends”?
“Make Amends” is a collaboration between Curbi and I, with Kyan Palmer on vocals. It has a strong pop accent, which I always like in a song, then it goes into this super energetic drop. I remember he was in Asia when he sent me the idea and it didn’t take too long for us to finish it.
So what are you working on now? What’s on the horizon for 2021?
I enjoy working on collaborations for now. I have a few in the works and others that I would like to start as well. There is also a remix album for Year Zero coming up with tons of talented artists on it.
Hopefully we’ll have live shows back by the end of this year — have you started thinking about what you might want to do for a show when you can? With dance music especially, it’s so much more special when it’s live — I’m sure you can’t wait to get back to it, yeah?
I just want to go back to it. Not with specifically a crazy production but just to be in a club or venue playing music in front of an audience would feel great. I’m not sure when but expect to see me on the road whenever we can have shows again.
You’ve obviously done some sick collabs — are there any upcoming you can tease? Or is there anyone on your dream collab list?
It’s not the right time to announce anything yet but I confess that I’m in a really good place creative wise. Don’t expect me to go quiet just because there are no shows. Although I have no dream collab, I can’t wait to get into studios again with other creatives — famous or not.