Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Champagne Champagne - Far From Home
Champagne Champagne performs “Four Horsemen” and “Sonic Shorty” at Dot’s Cafe.
While the cooks at Dot’s Cafe are just getting their kitchen fired up, the velvet paintings never sleep. We’re loading our gear into the main room of the restaurant, setting up for the day’s first shoot. It takes a few minutes for things to sink into our sleep-deprived brains, but the general consensus eventually prevails: we’re stoked this thing actually worked out. It’s 10:00AM, and a hip-hop group from Seattle are about to get down in the classic Portland restaurant, Dot’s Cafe. Life is good.
Champagne Champagne is making its way down the coast with Mad Rad, spraying their eccentric, genre-defying rap music to the masses. Having played to a full room at Mississippi Studios the night before, the tour is off to a solid start. The group (Sir Thomas Gray, Pearl Dragon, and DJ Gajamagic) are in good spirits, sipping coffee and mocking the narcissistic absurdities of Kanye West’s 30 minute-long music video. They bust through a couple takes of new, unreleased songs that find Pearl Dragon standing up on a spinning bar stool as he rhymes, and Gajamagic shedding epileptic fits of notes out of his guitar amp. Not a bad way to wake up.
Sure, Seattle is home to plenty of hip-hop weirdos, but Champagne Champagne are perhaps among the most unsuspecting of the bunch. Growing up in the Eastside suburbs of Seattle, DJ Gajamagic (better known as Mark Gajadhar) started making songs in middle school, around the same time he played in a band with Gossip drummer Hannah Blilie. From high school on, he spent a decade as a member of post-hardcore legends the Blood Brothers (fronted by Hannah’s twin brother, Jordan Blilie). When the band broke up in ‘07, he finally had the chance to find someone to rap over the aggressive, guitar-ridden beats he’d been working on since he was a kid (while at the same time staying busy as the drummer for post-post-hardcore outfit Past Lives). He got in touch with Pearl Dragon and Sir Thomas Gray soon afterward, and the group was born. Seattle’s hip-hop landscape has never been the same.