“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.” - William Blake
by Christine Beaderstadt
- The Capitol Hill Times -
People like Champagne Champagne, and I’m not talking about the fizzy golden stuff we love drinking on New Year’s Eve. On a Thursday night, Barboza’s lounge was filled with people, mostly in their early to mid 20s, with a penchant for white short shorts and fanny packs, who were sliding PBR down their throats and reaching their arms in the air in the hopes of catching the band’s attention. It worked. Before the set even started, the band took to the stage, adjusted their microphones, fiddlesd with cords, and shook hands with people close enough to reach them.
Mark Gadjahar is the mastermind behind the Seattle trio, Champagne Champagne. He lays down beats, writes the music, plays the keys, and MCs. Pearl Dragon and Sir Thomas Gray pick up the rest.
Gadjahar does other projects apart from Champagne Champagne, sometimes with former members of his previous band, The Blood Brothers. This band was his first, a ten-year relationship in which he toured the world and ended when he was 23.
“When the band was still going I was writing a whole bunch of beats… but I was sitting there one day, and was like, I think I’m over… rock stuff.”
In between breaking it off with The Blood Brothers, Gadjahar started to reach out to local MCs with the hopes of collaboration. He met MC Pearl Dragon at a show, gave him a CD of beats he’d made, and Pearl soon rapped over it. The next day (and three takes later) they had a recorded version of the song “Soda and Pop Rocks.”
“It is one of our cooler songs,” Gadjahar reflected.
Part of Champagne Champagne’s appeal is their attitude about their work in general, and their energy on stage. Gadjahar said the band is not too concerned with how people feel about their music. “I really don’t care if people don’t like what we do. I still write what I want. We’re a very energetic band that really doesn’t care what people think… It works for us.”
But go to a show, and the band is anything but nonchalant and distant. On stage, they want the audience to feel their enthusiasm, and make noise. Pearl Dragon even goes so far as to throw himself into the audience (not quite bodysurfing) before the first song is finished.
“When I’m writing music I always think,” Gadjahar said, “If I were in space, trapped in a pod, traveling through the universe for the rest of my life, what would I want to listen to? And that’s what I try to do.”
The band heads to France (and selected shows in Belgium) in October, where there is a considerably larger market for them. With a video on French MTV, the group primarily releases their work overseas. So far, they have only completed EPs: Private Party, the self-titled Champagne Champagne, and their latest forthcoming project, which are all available only in France (and if they have leftovers, at shows here in the States).
Champagne Champagne has found a home in the Seattle music scene, yet struggles with finding a nation-wide American audience. Venues in Omaha and Phoenix fare well for the band, but Gadjahar said other cities are not quite so receptive to their music. But this doesn’t seem to bother him, or the band as a whole.
“If there [are] two people in the audience,” he said, “We’ll… still go hard.”