A chat with Cory Champion - Sound Artist in Residence

Cory Champion, a jazz and sonic arts/composition graduate, is the Toi Pōneke Arts Centre/ New Zealand School of Music Sound Artist in Residence this summer. His exhibition Time/Tone is on now. We asked him a few questions about his approaches to music, daily routines, and advice for music students.

Cory Champion

You studied jazz drumming, but are now well-known as a producer of electronic music and DJ too. How much do you still play the drums?

Playing the drums is my favourite thing and I try to play every day. I still play lots of acoustic music with different groups around Wellington at bars like The Rogue and Vagabond and Havana Bar. I also play with Louis Baker, Grayson Gilmour, Mara TK, and others depending on who’s working at the time.

What does a normal week look like for you (when you’re not doing the Sound Art Residency)?

It depends what projects I have on, but usually I have at least a couple of gigs - either DJ sets or playing drums. Either way I’ll spend time preparing by rehearsing or practicing for a band gig or listening to and selecting music for a DJ set.

As well as my daily practice routine I like to try and write something every day too, whether it’s programming something on a drum machine or working on some chords on piano or vibraphone. Listening, learning and writing all are closely related and I like to quickly work on things often.

Once the residency is over I look forward to getting back to my routine.

What has been your favourite gig to play recently?

On New Years Eve I played percussion with Avantdale Bowling Club at Wondergarden festival in Auckland. Later that night I played percussion over Julien Dyne's DJ set. Both were a good vibe!

What’s your favourite band/act in Wellington right now?

Orchestra of Spheres, Womb, Mongo Skato, Lisa Tomlins, whatever Mike Fabulous or Riki Gooch are working on.

How have you found the Sound Art Residency, and has it influenced your approach to performance/composition at all?

Beyond the resulting work, the residency has been valuable to me in lots of ways. I have exercised a methodical approach to the composition and design of the exhibition over an extended time, which is a new and rewarding process of working. I have also spent a lot of time reflecting on the spatial and visual composition of the exhibition too, and this has offered me a larger scope that I will take into future performances, for sure.

What’s on the horizon for you after the residency?

Wonderful Noise Productions is a record label from Japan which I signed a Borrowed cs release with them. The 12" will be coming out in the next couple of months alongside a music video that is directed by Ash Smith. I’ve got some more tutoring opportunities lined up and hope to write some music for a larger jazz ensemble and travel some more.

What was your favourite thing about studying at NZSM?

Having the time to practice - a lot. It seems obvious but it is a really unique and amazing opportunity to just have to time to focus on practicing your instrument and bettering your craft over a number of years.

I was also extremely fortunate to have learnt a lot from Roger Sellers and I’m still studying concepts and practicing exercises that we covered in my lessons.

What’s your advice to new music students?

Record yourself. Listen more, always. Work hard and take yourself seriously.

Time/Tone by Cory Champion

Exhibition: 11 January – 2 February 2019
Live performance: 5.30pm Thursday 31 January 2019
Artist talk: 1pm Friday 1 February 2019