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For Channel Seven, “Life Itself Is An Art Collective”

Written by on January 31, 2023

Channel Seven’s debut single “Steam” shows the bright promise in this new artistic collective, and found its way onto Vocalo’s on-air rotation. 

Channel Seven by Marz, courtesy of the collective.

Channel Seven is a Chicago-based artistic collective started by South Side artist Christian Johnson, AKA Coop, and formerly Minnesota-based Mari Poydras, AKA Marz. The two first met at an open mic in Logan Square, which quickly led to the birth of Channel Seven. Channel Seven intends to release more work involving art, fashion, and video production. 

The pair recently released “Steam,” their debut single under Channel Seven, exclusively on YouTube, and it was added to Vocalo’s on-air rotation for January. 

“[‘Steam’] was inspired by the heat from morning coffee, the slow burn of a leaf and the joy and peace they bring,” Coop said.

Coop and Marz also explained the meaning behind Channel Seven, how they work together as artists and their overarching aspirations with Channel Seven as an artistic collective.

How did the two of you meet, and what made you decide to start creating together?

Marz: We met at the Hairpin Arts Center’s open mic in Logan Square.

Coop: Oversized flannel, Baggy jeans, Nike Pixels and a cool sway to her song “Damn,” I needed to know her. We talked about working together almost immediately, but we didn’t write our first song together until a couple of months after.

[If you’re originally from the city,] what part of Chicago are each of you from, and how does that factor into your identity as artists?

Coop: I was born and raised in Englewood. Chicago is home to so many major music events that it’s literally around every corner. The Southside Gospel Fest in Ogden Park, Lollapalooza in Grant Park alongside Lake Shore, Oreo Fest, Silverroom Block Party in Hyde Park and even the Bud Billiken Parade down King Drive. Chicago is music. 

Marz: I’m from Saint Paul, Minnesota, but Chicago is home. I have an eye for arts of all sorts, from finding treasures in Village Discount, beauty in random upcycled art and peace in places like Caldwell Lily Pool by Lincoln Park Zoo.

Coop — we saw on your Instagram that you spent some time in Qatar. How do you feel that has influenced how you make music, if at all?

Coop: I heard some really cool music in Qatar. Even their prayer music is beautiful. I was in the military and in my downtime, music would always be playing. Music was the way I got through my deployments, and that’s a time where I started expanding my music taste.

Coop, photo courtesy of the artist.

Tell us a little bit about Channel Seven. What are you currently working on in terms of the art and fashion aspects [of the collective]?

Coop: Channel Seven is an art medium. We feel as though life itself is an art collective and art is everywhere if you look for it. Channel Seven is our life through art. We have a lot in common in regards to what we look for in aesthetics and visuals, that is something that drew us together in the first place. We have been able to explore the world through each other’s art and stories. You’ll have to stay tuned for the art and fashion ventures of Channel Seven.

What’s the meaning behind the name “Channel Seven”?

Coop: A “Channel” (of a person) serves as a medium and/or a band of frequencies and we will be the medium for radio, television and many more ventures. “Seven” is the number of completion, and us together is all you need.

What are each of your individual creative processes? How do your processes differ when you work together versus solo?

Coop: Headphones, natural sunlight, coffee, herbs and patience.That’s my creative process. “The Minding Business” took months to finish, vs. “Sofa Surfin” that barely took me an half hour, you just really don’t know.

Marz: I like to listen to beats for as long as possible until I find one that’s cooler than the others. I’ll listen to it over and over again and try to find an intro or a hook that I like. Working together usually consists of one of us presenting a song and letting the other fill in the missing pieces. 

Marz, courtesy of the artist.

Coop, what’s your favorite song that Marz has released? And Marz, what’s your favorite song that Coop has released?

Marz: I can’t pick just one. My favorite songs are probably “ThE MiNdinG BuSiNess” and “Cool Appearance.” “ThE MiNdinG BuSiNess” shows off his versatility and puts me in a smooth trance, while “Cool Appearance” instantly hypes me up.

Coop: Mine would have to be “You’re Killing Me,” you can feel the passion when she sings and it’s beautifully written.

What are you each more focused on right now, your solo careers or Channel Seven? Or are both one and the same right now?

Coop: We are definitely one [and] the same. Coop and Marz are Channel Seven. That’s our sole focus right now.

What inspired your new single “Steam”, which was featured on Vocalo’s ” In Rotation” playlist for January 2023? Can you tell us a little bit about the writing process behind it? 

Coop: “Steam” was inspired by the heat from morning coffee, the slow burn of a leaf and the joy and peace they bring. This song was written early in the morning. I had asked Marz if I could sing an unfinished version of “Steam” to her. I sang it and she responded, “This is for Channel Seven, right?” And I responded, “It is now.” We finished the song that morning. 

Why did you only release “Steam” on YouTube?

Coop: To build traction, so that every time you want to hear us you have to see us.

Marz, what’s your favorite song to perform?

Marz: My favorite song to perform is “Damn. I feel real groovy when I perform it and I get to have a little attitude with it. So many people have told me it feels like they’re driving down Lake Shore, windows down, flowers rolled, super smooth.

Coop, we saw you have a “Courage the Cowardly Dog” tattoo. Is that your favorite cartoon? If not, what is?

Coop: It’s more symbolic than my favorite cartoon, no matter how scared you are you can still do anything. “Rick and Morty” is my favorite cartoon, nothing’s better than “Rick and Morty.”

Marz, judging by your Instagram, you seem to like going to art museums. What’s your favorite museum in Chicago? What’s your favorite part [of the museum]?

Marz: I honestly haven’t been to many art museums here yet. The Museum of Science and Industry is amazing, though. I love the Palmisano Nature Park and Agora Big Feet Park, where they have these sick leg statues and a skate park.

Do you have any major goals you’re trying to achieve, as individuals or as a collective, this year?

Coop: Our major goals are to expand our listener radius past Chicago, Illinois and even the U.S. and to get on the radar of some valuable connections. Imagine Channel Seven under pgLang, Roc Nation, or TDE… limitless. 

Keep up with Channel Seven on Instagram, and stream Coop and Marz individually on Spotify below.

Interview by Omi Salisbury

Edited for length and clarity by Morgan Ciocca

Introduction written by Omi Salisbury

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