To the Light and Beyond

Alejandro Salazar, also known by his stage name, A.CHAL, says that there is no difference between who he is in real life and the presence that he establishes through his music. After being in the industry for four years writing for the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Rita Ora, the Peruvian-American, New York-raised musician has begun to garner major recognition for himself, while consciously maintaining his independence from major labels. Lately, it’s becoming hard for anyone to ignore A.CHAL’s fresh take on the heavily hip-hop-rooted R&B music he balances with authentic indigenous beats and lyrics thoughtfully coded in spirituality. There is a strong sense of self, and a personal ideology is seen throughout the themes of his music and in his stage presence on tour, “ON GAZ ,” which is named after the album that he released earlier this June. A glowing statue of the Virgin Mary in green flames is the main focal point with the overall message of Gaz, which A.CHAL defines as a sort of self-actualized heaven. “It’s freedom,” he says, “a place I can close my eyes and just focus to get there.” A.CHAL has somehow managed to find balance between maintaining his intelligent message while still being able to turn out memorable party hooks, like in his songs “Love and Hennesy” and “Matrix.” Towards the end of the ten-city North American tour, which started in Santa Ana and was a day away from ending at the Roxy in West Hollywood, we joined the “ON GAZ ” experience to learn more about A.CHAL.

When did you realize that you wanted to transition from writing and producing hits for other artists to focusing on your own career? Any specific event?

I started out professionally as a producer, but I was performing as well. I’ve always had my own songs. As far as making money, it was faster for me to make money selling beats. And if I knew if I wanted to do music for a living at that time, I had to sell beats. I got to a point where I was working with a lot of artists and I got overly inspired. I knew that what I wanted to do is so different, so I had to give it a try. That was when I released the first two songs I put out from my album, Welcome to Gazi. And now with the whole mentality that surrounded Gazi, since it did well, I have to just keep going.

What do you do to stay balanced and maintain your authenticity are while being in the music industry?

I think I’ve been through a lot in and out of the music industry. Especially right now where opinions and what other people want me to do (unless it’s family) really affect me. So, I maintain myself in the music industry by just staying true to my roots and my family and my team – who are family and people I’ve known all my life.

Is there any moment in particular that has inspired you musically, lyrically, or philosophically that has shaped you as an artist today?

When I was in school in Peru, they made you recite poems. It’s a thing they do there. And they are musical poems, they have melody in them. So, I remember we were all at my Grandma’s house, and I was reciting my poems with melodies standing on top of a stone to the whole family. I know it sounds epic – it kind of was. I was kind of an entertainer then as well. That’s my earliest memory of music I think, even though it doesn’t really have to do with a song.

How do you prepare for a studio experience versus a live show’s experience?

For a studio experience, like yesterday I recorded because I had gone through something that day so it’s not so much me preparing myself but it’s the studio preparing itself when I need to go! Thankfully, I have a team that has a great facility, Blackwood, where, if I need, I can be most of the time, I can go record there. So yesterday I was like, “I can make a great song tonight!” I know when I can make a great song. And then as far as performing, I’m still getting better at it. It’s practice, watching yourself, taking notes, engaging with the crowd. I think that song writing is more of my personal thing and performing is more of an interaction thing, and thankfully for me, I’m good with people, so – I know what they want.

What is next after the tour, the future of A.CHAL? I know you have been getting the attention of many designers and even fashion companies like Barney’s – will there be more with fashion in your future? Will you still be doing more producing and song writing for others as well?
I’m a big believer in doing something great or not doing it at all, so there’s definitely not gonna be like an “A.CHAL fashion line.” There might be collaborations. I am solely focused on being the best artist right now – that’s it. If there are dope business ventures that don’t take too much time away from that, I’m down, but I want to die perfecting my craft. I don’t want to die just trying to be the biggest…


Text Savannah Blum
Photographer Paul “Santana” Bellas