In Tête-à-Tête, L'Officiel USA gets into the celebrity psyche by asking stars to tell us what's on their minds right now.
Peru is nearly 4,000 miles away from the United States, but music artist Alejandro Chal—better known as A.CHAL—has brought the inimitable spirit of the Andean region stateside, with a sound that is quintessential R&B infused with glorious Latin sabor. Before becoming a professional, A.CHAL first dipped his toe into making music while growing up in Queens, NY (which he moved to at age 4). He then started making beats with a friend at the Boys & Girls Club when he was 12 years old and the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, A.CHAL has near-perfected his craft. As an emerging artist, he's worked with the likes of 2 Chainz, French Montana, A$AP Rocky, and A$AP Nast. He brings ancient Peruvian magic to today's contemporary sound, which is why we decided to sit down an have ourselves a Tête-à-Tête with him. Ahead, read how he's inspired by nature—specifically the Amazon.
[My first memories of the Amazon were] in school—Geography class. I was trying to convince the teacher that the Amazon is in Peru, but she said, “No, it's in Brazil.” Which goes to show you making school is. I remember we had a little fight about it. I got to actually go to the Amazon two years ago, I went to Iquitos which is close to the Amazon but you take a boat through there to the Amazon. I spent about four days [there] with my family. It's so big, you can get lost in it. We stayed in a hut, your walls are nets. It's just one of the most surreal experiences. It's like going into Avatar the movie. It was hard to sleep at night because you hear these sounds that you'll never hear again—sounds that you can’t even imagine from insects, animals, lizards. It was scary at first.
One of the most striking things about it was the vegetation, obviously. There are trees that are thousands of years old and you get to experience communication with plants. It's weird. Here [in the States], you look at a tree and it's just fucking brown, but there, you feel like it’s alive. You feel it sharing wisdom with you in a weird way. It definitely humbles you.
In a city, you’re worried about all this shit that doesn't matter. When you go [to the Amazon], it's like, "Dude, I've been tripping." At night, there's no light or pollution out there. The stars and the moon are super powerful—you look blue because it's shining on you. It was crazy because [only] two huts had electricity, and there would be just one light bulb. One was green, which is crazy because green is my color. The other was blue. Chicha music—which is music from the Amazon—would be playing [under] a lightbulb and flies around it, just walking by it with the moonlight and the stars shining on you. It's just such a vibe. Then the plants, the plants look purple in the blue and green. They move, bro. It's crazy. If you look at [my] EP cover, it's blue, but that's how it feels. It's also aesthetically stimulating to see that. It has a dark element to it. When I was making the music, I would think about that moment in this pitch black.
Being under the moon and stars in the jungle, feeling alive, sweating. There's spiritual shit going on, too. In the Amazon, the vegetation and plants [are] controlling the environment. They [are] the ones up top. The Amazon just poked my brain on[to] a bigger conversation. What's going on, on this Earth? We're just pretty much the orange peel of an orange—what's going on deep inside? It made me think about that. Maybe that's why I'm obsessed with it. Also, I'm from Peru, it's part of my culture.
[In the Amazon], you see snakes, you see reptiles, monkeys, you see creatures that you couldn't even imagine. It's hot. There's a sexual energy that thrives there, but it's a different kind of sexual energy—more animalistic because you're around all these animals. I remember this guy talking about how he saw an animal that looked like a dog but it wasn't. He had a third eye here, in the middle. He looked into it and he had bad dreams for a month. He would see it in his dreams every night. It's mythical, mystical, and alluring. I feel like [my] EP has that. It's pretty witchy, but it doesn't feel dark.
I've been wanting to go back [to the Amazon], but I feel like I should wait until I’m done with this phase in my life. It changes your way of thinking, so it's hard to come back and get back in the groove. I feel like the purpose of being an artist is to sort of enlighten people with my culture. Maybe it's showing them visual aspects of it and then go have them explore. I put hints of things, whether from the Amazon or the Andes, Mexican or Dominican culture that are very grounded to Native roots. In the future, I would like to get more into that and where I show what the philosophies behind that are. It goes back to nature, treating Mother Earth right. That’s how I'm trying to do it.
My philosophy is to treat everything the way you want to be treated. Even a chair. If you were a chair, how would you like to be sat on? It sounds cheesy, but it's true. You treat yourself how you treat everything else. Treating yourself right is hard in the first place. I'm trying to treat myself right, but treating Mother Earth and everything as good as you would treat yourself I think is essentially what can make us all better.