Listening to Alejandro Zalaquett's new album feels as good as getting up on a Sunday moring in a cosy bedroom filled with morning sun, and a nice hot cup of coffee. Desperté was entirely made by the Chilean-born self-taught musician, from the writing, composing, recording and production. The result is a fresh, positive and soothing music... So, press play, lay back and get to know the artist though this interview.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit more about you?
Hi to all friends at Jamendo!
My story ... Well, my name is Alejandro Zalaquett. I was born in Santiago, Chile, in a home where music was another member of the family. My father used to listen to music of the most varied genres 16 hours a day, so very young I developed a sensitivity and deep love for it.
How did you start making music? What is your fondest musical memory?
Well, I've never had any formal training in music. According to my parents I started singing at an early age. When I was six years old, my dad gave me a beautiful red rudimentary nylon string guitar that I still keep at home for my kids to play. It all started there.
At first, an uncle of mine showed me my first chords, which I used for doing covers of The Beatles and Silvio Rodriguez songs. I used to have a lot of acceptance when singing at home or at school festivals. Probably getting that energy from "the audience" at that early age inspired me to go on developing my skills. Eventually the old red guitar became a beautiful electric Gibson that my father gave me. Then I started to get interested in piano and synthesizers which I learned to play reasonably well as to enrich my "show". Then the bass guitar and drums came, and I was almost ready for my “one man show”.
Initially I started making cassette recordings and trying to do overdubs with multiple recorders at once. Then the computer era came and a world of possibilities opened. I could now record in a decent quality and play all the instruments I had learned to get pretty compelling covers. But something did not quite convince me… I felt it was pointless to invest time and effort in replicating other people’s music. I HAD to let the music that was inside of me out. So I started writing my first songs a couple of years ago. Now, I just can’t stop!
Do you write all of the lyrics and the music yourself or do you have other people working with you?
I write and play all the lyrics and music on my albums. It has been a very challenging work finding the words to go along the music that flows naturally out of me. It has also meant a challenge to expose myself to the outside world in a way I had not experienced before, but I've had a very good reception.
I have also had to develop more technical skills of music production, which have allowed me to have complete control of my production aspects. I feel very comfortable working this way because I can manage my own time, and I have been able to develop my art without neglecting my "official job" and my family.
This album contains songs written in Spanish. For our readers who are not familiar with this language, can you tell us what’s the theme of your lyrics?
I write the lyrics in my native language. Surely that is not the best idea from a commercial point of view, but it is allowing me to express my ideas and feelings more clearly.
The theme of my lyrics is quite varied. In fact in my creation process, usually music is the first thing that pops up, and then I babble words over it to get the song structure. From those babbling keywords is that magically the themes of the songs appear. The most recurring themes so far have been love, loneliness, loss and hope.
Tell us more about your new album, Desperté. What is its story, what does it tell and what was its creative process ?
Desperté (I woke up) began while I was promoting my first album Aeropuerto (also available at Jamendo.com). In fact a couple of songs were composed while I was rehearsing for some live performances I did for Aeropuerto. At that time I was using some “loopers” to play the songs with my guitar only, and that influenced a lot in my way of making songs.
Most of the songs in Desperté, as the title says, have to do with a sense of new life that appears when you start creating; with the miracle that occurs when a small musical idea becomes a song and excites me and others.
There are also some slightly darker themes, which speak of the awakening that happens when you manage to overcome a loss, and you are free from pain.
I never let go love as a subject, and having in mind how an environment full of love helps you to move forward in the most difficult moments.
Is there one song on this album that you prefer? Why?
Honestly I have affection for each one of the songs on the album, but if I had to choose one it would be Desperté, because I think it pretty much sums up what I wanted to achieve musically on the album, and because it has an positive message that anyone can relate to.
I´ve also received good feedback for "La Fuga” (The escape) and "Tu cama permanence ahí” (Your bed remains there), but I enjoy listening to all of them.
If you had to describe your music in just 5 words, what would they be ?
Created for listening, not dancing. LOL.
What are your future musical plans?
Well I still have lots of songs and musical ideas to develop, so my goal for now is to continue writing and recording more songs.
Also I am now preparing to perform Desperté live with a new band.
Rest assured that there is a lot of music to come ... Stay tuned!