Chael - "My biggest goal is to grow as an artist. I’m trying my best to take in as much as I can through books, people, relationships, anything that I can use to nurture my craft." - Stereo Stickman

Chael “My biggest goal is to grow as an artist. I’m trying my best to take in as much as I can through books, people, relationships, anything that I can use to nurture my craft.”


Armed with the uplifting EP Senti, recently released, Melbourne-based songwriter and artist Chael kindly stopped by to talk all things creativity, performance, influence and inspiration. Here’s the conversation in full.

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Chael – a real pleasure, thanks for the interview! To introduce things, where are you right now, and what have you been busy with this past week?

I’m currently living in Melbourne, Australia! This week, I’ve been busy wrapping up things in uni since summer break’s just around the corner. Other than that, it’s just the usual finding a new coffee shop to try or trying to layer enough clothes for the cold.

You’re a producer and artist with a uniquely hopeful tone – who or what first inspired you to make music in this way?

I’ve been writing songs for years, starting at the age of 15. I don’t think I really had any inspirations for it or any concrete dreams. I was just writing songs for myself with the occasional daydream of putting them out one day. Then, it started with a song called 2AM Love. In 2018, I wrote and released this song as if the universe pushed me towards it. All the signs, feelings, moments led to that and some unknown force has just kept pushing me to put out the music I make till this day.

Let’s talk about the Senti EP – What was the creative process like, and what does the project represent?

I guess this all started during lockdown. I remember always reminiscing about the times before we were all told to stay home. I felt like I was getting so far away from that – that we may never reach that kind of normal again. So I started writing songs that memorialized memories that struck me in the past.

Senti is short for sentimental – a phrase we often say back home in Manila when we feel like we’re missing something or someone. The idea of the EP just struck me then and the process of what to write, the sound, the look, they all just started flooding in my head.

Now that the EP is out, it feels I’m putting out a storybook of cherished memories out into the world. Definitely feeling senti about it.

Was the title-track the first to emerge, and are there themes that connect all six tracks?

The first song to come out was Amaretto Sour. It’s also why I put it first in the EP’s order of songs. Amaretto Sour was a song I wrote after a really fun night out with friends, the kind that makes you say “wow, I’ll forever remember this.” And the hallmark to that night was a drink called an Amaretto Sour – since I always teased that it was a “girly” drink, but ended up trying it and having one of the best nights ever.

I definitely wrote all 6 songs with the intention of putting them in Senti. Rather than writing several and choosing from them, I felt that intentional writing was more natural for this record. If one were to deep-dive into each song, the lyrics all have common themes and even mention the song titles amongst each other. It was a little play I did to help solidify the connection between songs. So you’ll find the lyric “Amaretto” or “Senti” sprinkled around the songs. Just one of many many internal connections I did. But of course, the overarching theme was still about the past. 

Are you musically trained or self-taught as a producer and musician?

I have not gone through any formal training in music. My family often teases me that I’m an outlier since I’m the only one musically-inclined. If you heard my voice memos back then, you’d think I was a crying dog or something.

When it comes to producing or more technical music stuff, I usually play it by ear (and heart). Whatever feels right was my guiding light, though I do try now to learn more about the technical side of things, which is why I just keep asking a ton of questions whenever I meet someone who does music.

Does your writing take place at the helm of the software, or do you play unplugged instruments?

Oh definitely unplugged. I haven’t tried writing to pre-made music yet (though definitely want to try). It’s always been just me and my guitar (and my voice memo app). Though I guess that’s the adventure in music. It’s never always the same.

What’s the live scene like in Melbourne lately, and do you get to perform much?

Everyone here is super talented. I feel like I’ve been dropped off at a large-scale music camp where everyone just knows how to do stuff. It’s incredibly inspiring (and daunting). I haven’t been able to do a performance yet, but it’s definitely in my list to do so.

In what ways did growing up in the Philippines impact your creative approach?

I guess when I first started writing music at 15, not really much. I didn’t grow up in an environment that was musically nurturing. I grew up drawing inspiration from anywhere I could. Fast forward to when I released my first song in 2018, the music scene back home was slowly budding into the colorful, fast-paced, vibrant scene that it is today.

If you were offered the chance to perform at somewhere like the Marvel Stadium tomorrow, would you accept, and how would you rise to the challenge?

Oh hell yea!! 1 day’s notice is very, very sudden, but I think I can pull it off! The late-night bedroom concerts have given me enough practice to try out a stadium performance haha! But seriously, that would be an amazing opportunity and I’d definitely want a band with me to play my songs, so I guess that’s the biggest hurdle. But if anything, a guitar and a microphone are all I need to get my songs across, so solo is fine either way.

What’s your biggest ambition right now, and do you have a plan of action for 2024?

Right now, my biggest goal is to grow as an artist. I’m trying my best to take in as much as I can through books, people, relationships, anything that I can use to nurture my craft. I’m also trying my best to just enjoy the ride. Back then, I think I used to overthink every single thing, but now I’m just trying to stop and enjoy the scene. Who knows right? It might not be the same a few years down the road.

What’s your biggest challenge right now as an independent artist?

I think it’s the one-man team setup that a lot of us are in. We do our own everything basically. It’s both great and sometimes scary because there are so many things we can only do, plus only so much we know about a certain topic. Let’s say marketing a song or music documents and such.

It’d definitely be great to work with a trusted team for everything, but there’s just too many things that get in the way of actually making music when that happens. You hear so many horror stories from labels, distributors, managers, I think I’m trying to enjoy this solo journey while it’s here y’know?

What’s something about you that might surprise your listeners?

That I once performed to an empty room (unless you count the wait staff). I booked a gig one time without even checking the details as I was desperate for experience. I had hoped that I would walk out a better performer that night, but I guess I walked out with a little bit of tears. It’s definitely something when you sing in front of an empty room. Looking back, I’m still glad I pushed through with a set even if I knew nobody was listening cause who knows, that room might be full one day.

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Find Chael on Instagram.

Rebecca Cullen

Founder & Editor

Founder, Editor, Musician & MA Songwriter

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