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Interview with Bill Champlin

Bill's been in the game for almost 60 years and still releasing. There's a thing or two you can learn from this San Francisco legend.

Give an introduction to yourself, how you got into music, where you are today and where you'd like to be

My name is Bill Champlin and I've been a professional musician since age 14. I've been involved in many bands and recording projects since 1968. I've played with a few bands: The Sons Of Champlin, Chicago, Wunderground and a few other fun jam things. I have a new album out on Imagen Records, available on all streaming platforms and the CD version is available at billchamplin.com/shop.

I'm a multi instrumental player and singer/songwriter and have been since my mid teens. My Mother was a musician and her parents were musicians, seemed pre-destined. I've done nothing but music and I plan on keeping it up. Of course I'd LIKE to be richer and more well known but so far that just hasn't been in the cards. I've learned to do what I do anyway.

Tell us about your latest release, what's it about?

My new album, "Livin' For Love" was mostly written and recorded during the Covid 19 lockdowns and I had a handful of handpicked players appearing on the CD. It's a bit deeper than my last album, lyrically, but still grooves like a dog.

Bill Champlin leaning against wall

How did you record it?

I started with computer drums and overdubbed all the Keys bass, Keys, guitars and portable B-3 at my home "Work Station", I can't really call it a studio but I get a lotta' music recorded here. I then replaced machine drums with real guys and I re-recorded B-3 with the real deal. Certain things I had to send out to guest artists to record at their homes but it all worked out pretty well.

How did you distribute it?

Imagen records is distributing it digitally worldwide through WMG/ADA. I will be releasing the album in Japan on Sony Records.

How did you promote it?

For "Livin' For Love", my new album, Imagen Records, the record company responsible for the digital release, has hired a publicist and a social media person to promote the CD. I think the company has "Boosted" visibility on Facebook and they've done numerous things in the social media realm and the publicist has had me jumpin' and doing interviews for the last month or more. Zooms and phone interviews. It's all given my new album more visibility then just throwing it at the wall, which I've pretty much done with past albums.

The music industry is in a state of flux right now, where do you see it heading?

I think you'd have to be a magician to see where the music business is heading. The record business isn't even close to what it was when I started making records. I can't say where it's going except streaming is becoming the "Thing". Probably more convenient but hard to make much money what way. A lotta' artists are refusing to allow streaming companies to use their music. I can't say where this argument will end up. Musicians are having trouble making a living at it and everyone talks about having to come up with a new model that allows the creators of the music to make $$. No easy answers to the problem.

I hear lotsa' crying about it but the people making albums are making great music; you just gotta' search a little to find it. There are some young artists that are kickin' so I'm optimistic about the future. It's changed a lot but, hey, there's still a top ten and there're ten artist in

Bill Champlin on keys

Which artist do you look up to the most and why?

I look up to any artist who is driven by music. Stevie Wonder comes to mind. That guy has always been great and seems tio just get better and better.

What artist tools/services can't you live without?

The only tools you need, aside from the obvious recording gear:, Mics, Preamps, Pro-Tools, Logic, etc, are talent, hard work, honing your craft so when you DO get a chance you're ready; kinda' lIke athletes training for a marathon, there's no crowd cheering when you run every morning. Same thing for players and singers. Networking is important but the old "P" word comes to mind: "practice"

Bill Champlin on stage

What is your advice to other indie artists to help fund their work/produce music?

We all used to wait for the BIG opportunities but they are few and far between. I think if you wanna' "hang" you have to start grabbing the small opportunities and try to make 'em bigger. It's not an easy business to make work but you see people having success a lot so it's all possible but harder to access the train to success.

Anything else you'd like to plug?

I think right now my whole focus is to stay healthy and promote "Livin' For Love".