For Chelou, it’s been a steady yet unhurried build up to his first album. The result, an intoxicating set of folk-blues, beats and Chelou’s hauntingly vocal, is now set for release on his own label Concrete Dog via AWAL on April 26. Chelou’s beautifully blurry, hypnotic sound isn’t reflective of his earliest influences - Neil Young, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, Nick Cave – but when it came to songwriting, “morose acoustic music,” won out. “I’m hopeless at parties,” he concedes. “I want to put Leonard Cohen on! I like anything in the A minor key and I love a good melody.”
If the Chelou sound is a blissful brand of melancholy it’s rooted as much in the 21st century. Dance music was a staple when he was younger with its electronics and ballad-esque vocals having its own impact on this musical output.
Fittingly producer / DJ Maya Jane Coles has been a key mentor – Chelou featured on two of her tracks ‘Believe’ and ‘Darkside’ and she was the main collaborator in shaping and making Out Of Sight along with Cam Blackwood (George Ezra, London Grammar, Florence & The Machine) and LOXE.
“If the album has a theme, it stems from a place of frustration” he explains. “Like, how can I be a musician when I’m bartending forty hours a week, or digging holes?” I realised, after we finished the album, that many songs had similar words and concepts, like going home and trying to get back to a good place.”
Chelou translates to ‘shady’ or ‘hidden’ in French and the man born Adam Gray has “spent a long time not revealing much, but it wasn’t exactly intentional,” he says. “I originally wanted to be a songwriter and not a stage performer, or even a singer. I began to create a world outside of my everyday existence, starting with the name Chelou, and once it all started happening, it fit my natural personality.”
MAY 3rd - London, Jazz Cafe
MAY 25th - Bristol, Love Saves The Day