Clive Davis sophomore Chris Tapper is the singer, rapper and producer you need to get behind. Known by his stage name, Johnny Champagne, the musician can be found behind the keyboard, in the studio or onstage projecting his friend’s sounds in his signature clean-cut fit.
Champagne’s mother forced him to start piano lessons at the age of seven, yet it took years for him to realize his love for the artform. Drawing from the radio, his parents’ playlists and downloaded tunes, Champagne found his passion for music through the likes of rhythm and blues legend Erykah Badu and rapper Drake.
To listen to Champagne’s Soundcloud content is to swim through a sea of sounds. And to peek behind the scenes one will find a substantial amount of grind.
“[My music] starts on the piano that is looking out of my window, even though it’s on the second floor, I get the vibes playing along,” Champagne said. “I just record ideas and chord progressions into my phone, then I play it into the digital audio workstation logic.”
His process follows the bones of chords, melodies and words and the emotional self-expression naturally intertwines itself. When it comes to production, Champagne hears and respects the beat of a song the most.
“I love chords that make people go ‘Oooh, that’s nasty,’” he said. “I want a listener to listen to my music and be transported into my world … [I want to] hypnotize them.”
And he does just that. Champagne has a habit of cooking up mesmerizing beats that fall into a repetition he has mastered.
“When you find a groove, you really don’t want it to end,” he replied. “I love fading out because when you fade out the song exists past where it actually existed.”
The Clive Davis Institute of Recording Music has provided a cultivating environment for Champagne’s art. There is always a friend to turn to that can help his process whenever inspiration strikes. Collaboration plays a large role in where Champagne is artistically. Making music with his peers opens up experiences that further his candor.
“The culture at Clive is very good at keeping you aware of your surroundings and growing together,” he said. “The people that I’m around are really helping me work on my weaknesses.”
When reflecting back on how far he has come, Champagne would let his younger self lay off with the constant comparing and figure out his own voice. He wants kids with visions to put all their energy into what they believe and release their music.
“I would give myself more credit yet work as if I was a lot worse than I was,” Champagne said.
Check out more from Johnny Champagne on his SoundCloud.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Oct. 1 print edition. Email Avani Jurakhan at [email protected]