Take an oceanside ride with me as we get to know Chala; a culturally diverse reggae band with latin and R&B influences here to make their mark in the music community. They call Maui home, but their roots extend from the U.S. down to South America. Formed in 2012 by lead vocalist Benjamin Cerda, Chala has been creating positive, feel good music and touring multiple countries, spreading their love all around while building a solid discography in the process.
Chala has a big following in the 808 state where they reside; Hawaiian radio stations have given the band ample amounts of radio play, creating chart topping hits and even a most requested song on Q103 Maui Radio. The music is easy-listening, bursting with positivity and the strong island influence will have you thinking of sand and palm trees before you know it!
I was able to catch up with frontman Benjamin Cerda and ask a few questions in order for us to get to know Chala a little better:
I’d like to start with the name … it’s simple, smooth and practically falls off the tongue… What’s the story behind it?
- Benjamin Cerda: Chala is one of the longest coastlines in South America, when you walk this beach, it’s as if it never ends. I wanted to create a band with a name that has no ending, (infinity), and that everyone can share it. My message through Chala is to share and collaborate with the world.
Chala’s music has a very strong island flavor to it (for good reason!). Do you feel like living in Maui has a big influence on helping to create this vibe?
- Absolutely! The islands of Hawaii are a huge influence on our reggae island feel. Growing up on Maui is a unique way of life, surrounded by the most beautiful ocean and of course pure reggae music.
If you could go on tour with any artist(s), past or present, who would Chala share the stage with?
- This is a tough question, there are so many legendary bands we’d love to share the stage with, and we have had the pleasure to do so in the past. But, I think for Chala in this day and age, our best fit would be bands like Stick Figure, Rebelution, Stephen Marley, or the legendary Steel Pulse.
I see there’s been a string of singles dropped this year, any chance there’s a new album on the horizon?
- Yes indeed! We are so happy to announce the release of our new album Long Game. Scheduled to release 11/28/23 on all digital platforms. We will be submitting the album to the Hoku Awards, so keep your eye out for it!
Chala’s latest single, “Breeze”, is a light and airy love groove that’ll have you wanting to hold hands and dig your toes in the sand. Anybody in particular that inspired the creation of this song?
- “Breeze” is written for all lovers out there. True love between two people is easy like a breeze in the wind, anytime and anywhere. It’s funny how you say “it will have you wanting to hold hands and dig your toes in the sand”, that’s exactly what I was doing when I first wrote the song!
I got the opportunity to listen to “Breeze” ahead of its release, and I have to say, it’s truly become one of my favorite Chala tunes. It’s a first-class love song, and the vibe is so very soothing. I enjoy the strong bass line and the keys that dance around in the background while Cerda delivers an open letter to the world, and if this track had been around back when I was making mixtapes for my girlfriends (yes, I was one of those guys!), this melody would have definitely made the cut. The song is out today, so be sure and give it a listen!
I find that when people make music from their heart, it always has a little something extra you can feel when you listen to it, and Chala seems to have that locked down. Their ability to create songs that you can tell comes from a place of sincerity is one that will ensure the music will live long, and stand the test of time. “Breeze” is a wonderful example of a pure and to-the-point love song written to make you feel something.
Chala band includes: Benjamin Cerda on guitar and lead vocals, Jimmy Cui on drums, Kana Pikini on bass, Andrew Hubbard on keyboards, Natalie Robles on vocals, Jeff Hornbeck on lead guitar and Paul Bunaun on saxophone.
I’d like to thank Benjamin Cerda for taking the time to answer my questions, and I hope this article will generate some new fans for such an awesome collection of worldly musicians!
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.