Steven DewallElectro-hip-hop trio Champagne Champagne has been one of Seattle’s favorite rap

Steven DewallElectro-hip-hop trio Champagne Champagne has been one of Seattle’s favorite rap acts since bursting on the scene in 2008. Since then they’ve put their hype put to good use with multiple festival appearances (Bumbershoot, South by Southwest, Sasquatch!), collaborations with Pacific Northwest groups (Thee Satisfaction, STRFKR), even a nod from Spin. We recently caught up with Champ Champ’s producer Mark Gajadhar, aka DJ Gajamagic, who waxed a bit about the Seattle music scene, their forthcoming 7″ split EP with STRFKR, and the closing of Sonic Boom in Capitol Hill. Seattle Weekly: You guys have played Bumbershoot in the past. What, if anything, do you expect or hope to be different this year?Mark Gajadhar: Last year we got to play inside the EMP, which was totally awesome. People were super-into the show, and Pearl “walked” on top of the crowd at the end of our set. Not sure what to expect this year, but I’m excited that we get to play an outdoor stage where people that would usually not see Champagne will kind of be forced to hear what we do. I think that will be a lot of fun. Plus we are playing near Flatstock, and that is one of my favorite parts about Bumbershoot. SW: What’s the difference between playing a festival in your hometown and international one like South by Southwest, where you’ve also performed?MG: Bumbershoot and SXSW feel like two completely different worlds to me. SXSW has thousands of bands playing in venues all over the city. People are everywhere and I get to see a lot of friends that play in bands that are from cities I don’t get to often. SXSW has a lot of later after-parties and hotel parties, so bands are in the area for a week or so. With Bumbershoot I feel like there are a lot of bands, but for the most part everyone plays their set and then heads out. You don’t really see bands walking around Bumbershoot hanging out. But I love playing festivals in Seattle ’cause it’s normally walking distance from my apartment. It’s always good to have a home base. SW: What’s your favorite venue to play in Seattle?MG: I like Neumos cause it’s the perfect size, the staff is awesome, the sound system is perfect, and it’s super-close to all of our apartments. SW: You’ve rocked a Sonic Boom T-shirt at shows. What are your thoughts as the record store on Capitol Hill closes for good? MG: I’m really bummed for the guys! I worked at the Fremont store for a few years and I loved that job. Everyone was super-cool, we got to listen to and talk about music all day. It’s too bad they couldn’t keep the Capitol Hill store ope,n but it seems like it makes sense to just keep the one store in Ballard. I hope they are able to keep that store open. Sonic Boom is one of my favorite record stores. SW: What excites Champagne Champagne the most about the hip-hop scene in Seattle? Elsewhere on the planet?MG: I like that we have more of a hip-hop scene going now. A few years back I felt like hip-hop wasn’t really present in Seattle, but over the last few years Thee Satisfaction, Mad Rad, Mash Hall, Macklemore, and many more have all sprouted up and are all doing really cool things. SW: How did your forthcoming split 7″ with STRFKR come about?MG: We just got back from doing a U.S. tour with those boys, and we had way too much fun. During STRFKR’s set we would all go up and play a song with them. We figured the mix was pretty awesome, so we thought it would be fun to do a record together. STRFKR’s label [Polyvinyl] came to our show in Chicago and we ran the idea by them and they thought it was a solid, so a few months later the Champagne/STRFKR split was born. So stoked we got to do that with them. SW: CC was the only Seattle band mentioned to watch at CMJ’s 2010 Music Marathon, even though the band wasn’t slated to play the fest. What’s the story behind the mix-up?MG: I have no idea what happened there. We weren’t playing CMJ and we had no shows booked. I actually never saw what was written, but it was a total mix-up. SW: What’s currently rotating on your iPod/stereo right now?MG: To be completely honest I haven’t listened to any music in a while. Wu Tang, the Beatles, Clipse, Built to Spill are all favorites but, yeah, haven’t put anything new on. SW: Do any of you have any side projects going on? If so, details?MG: Not sure if Pearl has a name for it yet, but he and some friends are working on some more singer/songwriter-style stuff where he plays guitar and sings. I don’t have any other main projects, but I’m always writing just in case I run into someone I want to work with. I probably have over 100 or so tracks that Champagne isn’t using that I’m just waiting to see if someone else works well over them. I have been toying around with the idea of playing drums in a band again [Gajadhar previously played drums with the Blood Brothers] but the idea hasn’t gone past just thinking about it. SW: When can we expect the next album?MG: As soon as someone wants to put it out. The record is done and basically ready to go. If we can’t get someone to put it out, I guess we will just self-release it. But I’m going to hold off ’cause there has to be some label that is a good fit for Champagne. SW: Top three goals for the band?MG: #1: rock shows. #2: get someone to put out our record. #3: tour the world.Champagne Champagne play Bumbershoot’s Fisher Green Stage Saturday, September 3 at 2:15 p.m.Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.