A.CHAL On Writing, On Romance, 'ON GAZ'

Photos by Daniel Regan

Photos by Daniel Regan

See them when they come by / shadows in the night time / driving just to unwind / and fade into the sunlight

Essential Listens

Alejandro Chal, known more simply as A.CHAL, paints the night in neon detail. The above words, opening his album ON GAZ, make it immediately clear that The LA via Queens via Peru singer / producer is a writer, whose notes and words are equally vivid. With broad appeal but never a common denominator,  A.CHAL hits that dichotomy between between a late night ride and the internal dialogue riding with you.

 The music is a a blend of genre, and A.CHAL's voice drifts from bar to bar delivering distinct quotables that stick, ("blowin' through the matrix / red and blue pills / black shades, that's the basics").  The sing song delivery can go baritone to falsetto and back easy. It brings to mind the phrase "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee". Production wise, the beats bump, big bass and intricate sounds with guitar throughout. Strange little flourishes like high pitched frequencies add to a psychedelic effect. Add A.CHAL's knack for words, and he takes all this and gives it life. 

He doesn't do detached, and the bumps in his life he shows us emphasize reality versus reality tv. It's a principle and a stylistic preference, and he puts it simply that "there’s nothing I ever wrote that didn’t happen, that would be crazy. I think honesty cuts through more than anything, so I try to be just to the point and raw as possible. I try not to be too abstract about what I say because I don’t think it stands out as much."

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A.CHAL approaches relationship talk with directness. It's the same with all his writing. That isn't chest-puffing, the opposite. "Dame un poco love with some hennessy / you know I like it when you're mad at me." How he feels, his experiences, comes out in the music. The byproduct of that, vulnerability."If it doesn't click in the first ten minutes then I don't finish it. It usually has to do with what happened that day or the day before, it has to be something current. Usually it's stuff I gotta get out, that I have in my head, or situations that I haven't resolved. So it is really important, not just as a song writer but as a person."

His most recent project, ON GAZ, is the inside out of a car window at night, water drops distorting the lights on the other side. Far from sober but never sleepy. ON GAZ was a pick me up of an album, feeling good as a motivator. It draws from a period where A.CHAL couldn't get out of it,  "...a time I was very stressed out about some things that were going on in my personal life and I had to find a way out of it. Instead of sulking in the depression, I tried to make a soundtrack to getting you motivated, inspired, full of fire."

I found a way, to that light /
Ah, fuck the money, I found the li-ight /
I said I found a way, to that light /
To that light, I got it right

The way he addressed this came out in the imagery of the writing. His pen is layered with theme and awareness. With ON GAZ,  several images kept coming back to him - "the Virgin Mary, lit in Gazi green, neon green fire, in the dark. "  Addressing lows he had experienced, A.CHAL put the pen down. "The Virgin Mary, to me, represents purity. The first things I think about are my mom and grandmother. Essentially, purity and love are the biggest motivating factors when you’re getting out of a dark place...green for me represents life, and neon green? That’s life on a whole ‘nother dimension (laughs)." He lives free but is measured. His line that "it feels like the 80's" on ""strikes the perfect balance of looking for fun while questioning the validity of what he's in pursuit of.  

“Gazi” references Gazi World, the independent group started by A.CHAL, his brother and a close friend, the group emobodies A.CHAL's relatabe philosophy. "Independent, haven’t signed with anyone. We all come from a first generation vibe, where our parents weren’t born here, some of us weren’t born here. I think we all work hard, good people, humble. We try to be a voice for people who relate, and when you go to the shows you’ll see it.”

He has a show tomorrow (Thursday, August 31st) at Reggies where you can see this in action. He's confident in his abilities, with a loyal contingency of fans who consistently show up to see him perform. He's got a backing band, to bring those night scenes tonight, and I have to believe that voice sounds even better in person. “You’ll leave in a way better spirit than when you came in. Not just a little better, but way better...The vibes are good, people are very loving but it’s also high energy, it’s also sexy cuz there’s a lot of women there, it’s good!"

It's the honest answer. Be there!

 

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