Known as the ‘cradle of liberty’ and the first independent city of Peru, Trujillo lays on the north-western coast of the country, riddled with religious and colonial architecture, standing as somewhat of a cultural icon. Consciously or not, the contemporary embodiment of such a proud heritage is channelled through the art of Peruvian-born, Trujillo-raised singer/songwriter, Alejandro Chal.
Though the profound impact his identity would later have on his musical expression was perhaps anonymous, his interest and talent were not. After moving to the US at a young age, A.CHAL developed a relationship with music as a result of his inability to relate with others. Citing DMX, Ma$e, Foo Fighters and Aliyah as just some of his early influences, it’s clear to see the divergent cultural exposure that would prove to be fundamental to his own development.
Now, with a third project under his belt, ‘EXOTIGAZ’, the Peruvian superstar-to-be is about to elevate to his highest level yet. “Even though I made music, I never saw it as like… I wanna be a famous artist, I just made music because I loved it, I can’t live without it…” A.CHAL begins, as we reflect on the initial steps into his musical journey. “I was working with a lot a people, trying to write and produce, and by my sophomore year, I had three artists I was working with. I’m a very lowkey dude, so I wasn’t necessarily all in the mix like that, but after a while, my talent would take me to different places. Every time it was the obvious thing for me to do. Even now, I still appreciate where I’m at and what I do, I don’t take it for granted. It just came to me, and I just pretty much took on the role. I still manage to live my life and be an artist at the same time, because I don’t ever wanna be too consumed by keeping up with this facade of someone you’re not, you know.”
Whilst 2016 played host to his soul-stirring R&B infused debut project, ‘Welcome To Gazi’, home to the industry-rousing single ‘Round Whippin’, it was the release of his previous work, 2017’s ‘On Gaz’, that portrayed his growth and artistic maturity. The project hosts a more established, entrenched voice of A.CHAL, cavorting his way through a sense of elevated debauchery whilst indulging deeper into his heritage. Moreover, the commercial success of the single, ‘Love N Hennessy’ was there for all to witness.
“As I move forward, I take the role of being a voice a lot more serious than before…” A.CHAL explains with a relaxed, near-nonchalant tone. “Before it was not just a voice, it was like, you know, making sure the production has to be this way, making sure it looks cool… but now all that stuff just comes natural. After releasing ‘Love N Hennessy’, I got to travel a lot, especially to Spanish communities, and going to clubs out there. So I got inspired to make music that could play there, but also… that was me though, without me trying to be a Reggaeton artist, but something rhythmically that could live there. That was what inspired this project.”
Thus, our conversation swiftly progresses to the project at hand, ‘EXOTIGAZ’. A sonically versatile 6-track EP, showcasing A.CHAL’s malleable presence, from the soulfully-radiant melodic vocals and bi-lingual charm on the self-produced ‘000000’, to the inky Hispanic-infused ‘TYPE’. It’s sexy, it’s serious, it’s spiritual and it’s tropical. “My main focus now is like, giving people something they can keep playing, giving them honesty, and also try and do something I haven’t done before. On this project, unlike the other ones, my main focus was…women. It’s all about girls. On the other ones, it was more so about me. The first one was more so about me as a person, more introverted, the second was more so about me as Alejandro, trying to get my career up and going through the obstacles, more extroverted. And then three, this one, this is more so about the girls, because there’s been a lot of girls in my life in this past year so, it’s the main thing I really talk about.”
Though still digesting ‘EXOTIGAZ’, it’s evident where A.CHAL’s focuses lie as our conversation switches to the topic of a studio album. “I made about 50 songs in the last year and a half. We’re putting together the album…” his excitement is no longer contained in his tone. “The album isn’t that far from being done. I gave people three sides of me, like I said, with these three projects but as far as the music, for the album, it’s definitely pushing the needle. Like, I’ve been wanting to make an album that really pushes the needle, and I feel like that’s what the album will be. I don’t feel like people are ready for that yet, but this project will get people ready for that.”
With all generation-defining artists, barriers were broken in the pursuit of greatness, and as someone citing Kanye West, Bob Marley and Prince as his main inspirations; A.CHAL is of no exception. Both his ambition and passion are made clear during our conversation, as is his understanding and respect for those most innovative of our time. “Kanye to me, regardless of where he’s at now, he’s probably the most innovative artist of our time…” A.CHAL explains. “He just did things that you didn’t see before. It was risky, but he got to the point that he could do it. But before he got there he had to do a lot of shit, like ‘Gold Digger’, you know stuff that pleased everybody. And I think that’s where I’m at in my career, but I wanna’ get to the place where I can really push the needle. I happen to be someone that’s Spanish, someone that was born in Peru but grew up in the US, and I understand both sides. Not only do I understand the culture difference but I also understand the difference in people from different classes, people from different sort of tastes of things. I have a good diverse group of people that I’m cool with, that I’m friends with, that I share and that I talk to. It’s given me the outlook that I need in life to be the kind of artist that I want to be, where I can talk to everybody.”
I wanna be someone who talks to all of them, and to talk to all of them I kinda have to understand all of them, you know what I mean?
Take the recent infiltration of latin-infleunced music over the past few years. Paying homage to the path that the still relatively juvenile trap music wave paved out, A.CHAL considers this newly concerted Hispanic inspiration to be a natural progression. “It makes sense. It’s good because there’s a whole lot of more exciting stuff going on now, and I think because of the internet, its accessible, and it doesn’t feel as foreign as before. Like before it would feel like super foreign compared to now. Now you feel as though you could relate to the song, the only thing you don’t know is exactly what they’re saying.”
A.CHAL expands, as we began to discuss the contrasting cultural experiences that construct our generation’s experiences. A global generation, birthed from an ever-shrinking geographical world, with access to more cultural influence than ever before. “It’s not easy because you know, a lot of heritage is very old school, very traditional. In my traditional cultures, respect is a big thing… I have a strong relationship with my parents and heritage. I was brought up strictly and I can’t sit here and pretend like, even though I was raised in an environment where there was a lot of street culture shit going on, I still had to respect that. I never want to let go of that. And I feel like there’s a lot of people that can relate to that. It’s hard for them to see someone they can relate to in that sense.”
Whilst ‘EXOTIGAZ’ maybe somewhat of a stepping-stone towards the album, it’s a milestone for A.CHAL’s extremely potent artistry. With his talent, taste and understanding, its simply matter of time and consistency for A.CHAL to reach a pinnacle and define himself as a generational star, or perhaps even, a cultural icon.
‘EXOTIGAZ’ from A.CHAL is out now to stream or download.