Chelou digs up his roots on his masterful second album Real, and as the title demonstrates it's his most personal work to date. A mesmerising showcase of the man born Adam Gray’s growth as a writer, and a homage to the love he has for the gritty live sounds and scenes that were instrumental in shaping the soundtrack of his youth. It's more personal and less abstract, channelling Adam’s feelings of emotion, anger, frustration, love, joy, and escapism, tied together with a hopeful melancholy which embodies the true character of Chelou.
“I’m at my happiest when the songs are simple and straight to the point” describing ‘Black Hole’ his favourite song on the album, which is about loss and the feeling of the absence of loved ones who’ve come and gone, the black hole they leave that is so hard to fill.
The Londoner’s first guitar was an Airline. “Inspired by Jack White. Back then it was just me and my drummer smashing the shit out of it.” Adam fondly remembers, which is abundant on the album's ode to his love of grunge; ‘Come Around’. “I’d been listening to a lot of Smashing Pumpkins and Pixies again. 'Come Around' is Chelou’s grunge moment. A complete fuck you attitude in a guitar riff. I was so happy to bring something a little heavier into the album.”
The writing process of ‘Real’ was at times a raw experience. “I’d come to that point in my life, the latter end of my 20’s and there was a lot of self-reflection everywhere I looked. I was accomplishing but still saturated in old ways and not moving as forward as I’d wanted.”
Adam moved to Wales to explore his surfer dream and reside in a cabin by the sea with the simple pleasures of coffee, a loaf of bread, cigarettes and a surfboard. Despite being a city boy, born and bred in Camden where he grew up to post punk scene parents, he’s always been drawn to nature, and at a transitional point in his life was ready to go within and explore what exposed itself.
For the collaborative side of the album, there was a much more idyllic setting on the horizon as Adam found himself based in the Hollywood hills in a writing camp at Beachwood Canyon with Amp Fiddler and his uni friends Louis Greenwood and Lawrence Gale Hayes who make up UK duo Wayward who have written and produced for the likes of Park Hye Jin and Skrillex. Louis and Lawrence became prominent collaborators in the production process of ‘Real’ from this point onwards. Unknowingly and completely unrelated Adam had already started to write a track called 'Wayward', which acts as the album's central point from which the rest of the music started to blossom. “We all came together and applied this crazy Hollywood energy into the track” which finishes on a soul shaking piano solo from Amp Fiddler. “Nobody oozes raw emotion like Amp Fiddler. This song not only takes me back to the memories of creating music together in this house with a strong foundation of intelligent musicians. It reminds me that life can be so simple. Let it go, have a beer and chill. I feel better every time I listen to it ”
released November 20, 2020
All music written and vocals performed by Adam R S Gray except Track 6 written by Adam R S Gray & Wayward (Louis Greenwood & Lawrence Gale Hayes), Track 8 written by Adam R S Gray & Milo Craig and Track 10 written by Adam R S Gray Oliver ‘Longbody’ Norman.
Tracks 1,2,3 & 9 produced by Subculture.
Tracks 4,5,7,10 produced by Louis Greenwood.
Track 6,8 produced by ‘Wayward’ (Louis Greenwood & Lawrence Gale Hayes).
Bass on all tracks by Milo Craig except Track 6
Mixed by Lavar Bullard & Prash 'Engine-Earz' Mistry at Forwa3DStudios, London
Mastered by Prash 'Engine-Earz' Mistry at Forwa3DStudios, London
Not gonna lie, I've listened to this album more than 100 times in the past 6 months (early 2021). Pretty much have in on repeat all the time. Very rarely do I encounter an production that resonates so well with me. I love the "album listening experience". The overdrive tones and studio production are next level. Post-punk vibes are insane. Love the wailing vibrato. I'm not big on the singing, but the juxtaposition over the heavy soundscape is classic. Taker is a great track. Highly recommend. adam_z