Afro-Cuban salsa ensemble, Chukale have constantly been on the move, giving Australian audiences a feel for authentic South American music and culture. Frontman Gustavo Cereijo checks in from far north Queensland.
How would you describe your sound to new listeners?
Our music is a combination of African derived rhythms mixed with Spanish melodies, influenced also by jazz and funk. Our repertoire consists of traditional Afro-Cuban music, salsa, timba, cha cha cha, Colombian and New York salsa and popular music.
What encouraged the decision to record some of the tracks on your new album in Cuba?
On my past trips to Cuba I have been lucky to meet and work with some of the best singers and musicians from Cuba's golden era of music. I thought it would be a unique idea to record and perform with these people with Chukale. It is something that has never been done in Australia by any Latin band.
What initially drove you to create the group?
Before I arrived in Brisbane, I was running bands like Chukale in Sydney. Sydney already had a thriving Latin scene as did Melbourne. My objective always has been to keep the Latin music scene alive. Brisbane was in need for a stronger Latin scene. I formed Chukale for this reason.
Your authentic sound is justified by the combination of all 11 musicians. How important is each member’s role in the group?
Well, obviously the rhythm section is a very important part of our ensemble. As Latin music is very rhythmical in general the rhythm section must be strong and consist of musicians who understand how these rhythms and grooves are put together. Chukale is also lucky to have some of the finest brass players and singers of this music in Brisbane as part of our horn section and vocal section.
I notice each Thursday you conduct dance lessons as well as giving a performance at Cloudland. Is dancing important to your style?
And have the lessons been popular amongst patrons? Dancing is a very important part of our music. I've always believed that every musician should know how to dance this music, and every dancer should understand the music they're dancing to. The dance classes at Cloudland have been successful for this reason.
What has influenced your style? What sort of influences does the ensemble have?
Chukale influences come from Cuban, New York and Colombian salsa, timba, Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz and some funk elements.
What do you want to achieve with your music? Do you think Australia is exposed enough to Latin American music and culture?
Basically Chukale is trying to achieve our goal in getting our Latin scene in Brisbane and Australia in general to the standard it is in New York and Latin America. I truly believe that Australia needs more exposure to this music and culture.
How has the band developed over time?
As any band, we started from humble beginnings, but I was fortunate to have musicians that believed in me and my ideas for the music and scene, and helped me get Chukale where it is today. Chukale is not only a Latin music institution in Brisbane, we are a family.
What do you like most about your music and being a part of Chukale?
Chukale has been together now for 8 years with 80 percent of the band still being the original members. What I love about us is the connection we have on stage. We have played together for so long that each of us can anticipate each others moves. Not many bands have that quality these days and that is what amazes our audiences, our chemistry.
What future plans are in store for the group? What would you like to achieve next?
The two things we look forward to in Chukale is touring and recording. Spreading our music as far as it can travel, so more and more people can be exposed to our music and Latin music in general.
Are you looking forward to your performance alongside J Balvin?
Of course. Chukale looks forward to any support performance for an international artist. Chukale has done numerous support performances for international artists and is very appreciative to have had those experiences.
Chukale supports J. Balvin at the Arena Friday November 15.