A.CHAL RISING ON HIS OWN TERMS
The Peruvian-born artist talks about his experience as an immigrant kid in the states, an album that changed his musical experience, and his favorite dish from his homeland. With the debut of his mixtape, ON GAZ, on June 2nd, A.CHAL gives us a bit of insight on what to expect on his latest project.
What can you tell us about your experience as an immigrant kid growing up in the United States?
A.CHAL: My family first moved to Queens, New York [from Perú]. I went to P.S. 18; it was a bilingual school, which was easy. But from there, I went to a Greek-Jewish school, which was really hard. Not only did I not speak the same language, but also I was culturally and religiously different. From there I went to Chelsea, Massachusetts. I spent a lot of time there, and it was [Latino] populated. It was cool but all the Caribbean kids, the Puerto Ricans and Dominicans hated on other South American or Central American kids. [They would call us] wet back immigrants, like that sort of animosity between us then. So that was weird to me.
From there I went to another city that was close by, which was more suburbs. And it was like bunch of Italian and Irish kids, so I was back to being the only Hispanic period. And they will just categorize me as black. They would tell me, “You and black people are the same thing.” And all my friends were black so I wouldn’t take it as an offense, but it was also digesting that information. Going home, to a Peruvian household where your mom is like, “don’t hang out with these kids, hang out with those good white kids.” But I would say they don’t really mess with me, they don’t even respect me. It was hard. Your moral compass was based on you. It wasn’t just based on what your family brought you up on; it was your friends at school. Neither world understood each other, I was somewhere in the middle. I think it built a lot of character; it built a lot of maturity in me pretty fast because of that. It’s helped me be the person I am. A lot of people say I am humble person. I feel like it has to do with that, just really like seeing how nasty it can get, based on something you can’t even control.
Name an album, artist, or an experience that changed your experience in music.
A.CHAL: DMX, It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot. For me trying to fit in the American society, it was a very dark time for me. His aggression, and how he was feeling about, “fuck the world.” I was feeling that too. It made my anger feel welcoming. I liked the music as well.
Tell us about your latest projects.
A.CHAL: I just finished wrapping up my mixtape, ON GAZ, dropping this Friday. There are three bilingual songs. I had hinted that a bit in my previous work with one song, but this time I am doing three. “Love and Hennessy,” “Perdóname,” and “Cuanto.” I think overall, the vibe of it is this Latin beach boy in Malibu. That’s the vibe. I’m not based in Malibu, but I love it there. I go to the beach often, as much as possible. I like the ocean, the palm trees, just chilling by the sand at night. It’s a moment of decompressing I like those moments when you have a time to reflect, with nature surrounding you. I think that is the vibe my music gives off.
What is the best thing that has happened to you to date?
A.CHAL: I would say forming our company, GAZI World Records, LLC.; everyone in there being family. Being able to create jobs and make money with people I grew up with, my friends. And blood family no matter how much success I make, that overrides everything. So that’s the best thing that happened to me.
Is there anything outside of music that you are super-passionate about?
A.CHAL: I am passionate about design and creation. Using that tool to bring people together whether it’s physically or with a message that brings awareness. I am seeing that happening a lot through different mediums whether it’s sports, food, and music. I like the sense of community. I am big fan of that.
What is your favorite Peruvian dish?
A.CHAL: It is either ceviche or lomo saltado. These are common ones, but I love them.
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