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Aksel Finds Magic In Sharing Stories Through Music

Written by on April 17, 2023

Inspired by the sounds and rhythms of reggaeton, Chicago-based Latin artist Aksel is not afraid to share how he feels. He crafts stories of love and heartbreak through his music: sounds that are beach-ready complete with stories that are rooted in reality. 

After being in Chicago for 10 years and beginning his career making “perreo” music (also known as Sandungueo) — high-energy party music derived from reggaeton — Latin artist Aksel takes his career to the next level by making music with a story to tell. While creating high-energy music is still important to him, he is also determined to create love songs rooted in reality.

“I love reggaeton … but I wanted to go more into the commercial [route],” Aksel explained. “[So I thought,] let me do a song that talks about more realistic stuff.” 

Chicago artist Aksel sits with Vocalo afternoon host Nudia Hernandez in the studio to discuss the making of his single “Sin Perdon.” Morgan Ciocca/Vocalo Radio

After his song “Sin Perdon” was featured in Vocalo’s March “In Rotation” playlist, he sat down with Vocalo afternoons host Nudia Hernandez to break down the story behind the track. Working as a barber in Chicago, he said he was inspired to write the song after a customer shared a story of going through a horrible breakup.

“I asked him, personally, like, ‘Hey, can I write about it?’” Aksel recalled. “When the guy listened to the music, he actually cried … It’s amazing. I love the art of music and what we do.”

Creating music to be both heard and felt is what Aksel does best. Recently he released another song titled “O Arrepentimiento” as he prepares for the release of an album on an unspecified date in July. This month, he stopped by Vocalo to chat with Nudia about his music-making process and about using storytelling to share fresh perspectives. 

Aksel and Nudia Hernandez outside of the Vocalo studios. Morgan Ciocca/Vocalo Radio

Nudia Hernandez: Hey it’s Nudia in the Afternoon, here on Vocalo Radio, Chicago’s urban alternative. You know we have our lists, we have our “Poised To Break Through,” we have our “In Rotation” artists. And we always like to bring you Chicago artists that are really doing the thing. They’re making good music. We love to hear it, we’re playing them. And today is no exception. We have someone in the studio with us, a very special guest! We have Aksel in here, hello!

Aksel: Hello, hello, hello, what’s good, people? This is Aksel.

NH: We are really excited. I’m excited to see you again! I want to talk about a little bit behind the curtain of what happens here at Vocalo. So basically, you know, to be on “In Rotation” and the “Poised to Break Through,” you have to have a good song. That’s where you get started, right? A lot of people submit their music to get played here. And so I actually was DJing an event, and you were performing at it. And so we ran into each other at a Latin nightclub.

I saw you perform and I was like, “Oh my gosh, these songs are great. These are such good songs.” And we had a little chat, I told you to submit. And guess what, he did the work! He submitted himself. And basically, to get approved, to have your song on Vocalo, the whole team has to give it the green light, right? Everyone has to, all Team Vocalo. We’re a small team, but we all have to agree that the song is good to get played on the air. Everyone agreed. I was really happy to see that! And then now, we are playing your song! It’s “In Rotation,” “Sin Perdon.” And I want you to talk a little bit about the song.

A: Okay, “Sin Perdon” was right last year. I was working, like, I’m a barber, I was working at the barber shop. Actually, “Sin Perdon” is kind of like a true story of one of my customers, who went through a really, really bad breakup, that he was kind of feeling depressed about … And I asked him, personally, like, “Hey, can I write about it? You know I do music. I can write your story in the music. And then I can create something really nice about it.” He actually said yes.

NH: That’s nice that you asked permission! 

A: Yes. Yes, I did. And the magic came out. And then, when the guy listened to the music, he actually cried. And I was like … “Bro, you don’t have to.” It’s like, it’s a lot into the song, and what the song is, the structure of the song. And it’s amazing. I love the art of music and what we do, what we write, we’re, like you say Vocalo is a more small team, that’s what we are right now. A small team, but a really powerful team.

NH: But putting out good stuff, good content, good music. And so, for all of our English, non-Spanish speakers, what does “Sin Perdon” mean? I mean, it means “without forgiveness” if you Google it, but what is the story of the song, for people who might not understand?

A: So I tweaked the story a little bit. So, when you listen to the song, you’re listening to a breakup, you’re listening to, okay, this guy didn’t focus himself and to love his wife more, his girl more. So the girl got tired, and now she don’t want to know nothing about him. This is the breakup, but if you see the video, in the video we went a little deeper. And we talk about the person who’s in the video, the wife. She’s not in the video, but she’s calling all the time, consistent to the guy, because we need to talk. But at the end of the day, the guy is so busy doing music or doing whatever he do, that he cannot answer the phone. At the end of the video, the wife died. So he was not there to the last breath of his wife. So it’s deeper … The song is super, super deep. It’s like, the story behind it is just crazy.

NH: And so I love that we get to bring in artists especially, for me, getting to play Spanish songs now, on the radio is one of my favorite things. And getting to go to the club, or go somewhere and hear Spanish music and people that are maybe not Latino singing it, it’s really an amazing feeling. So I know for you, making all-Spanish songs, was that important to you? Or did you feel the need to make English music?

A: So I’ve only been in Chicago for 10 years. So the English that I know is what you guys are hearing right now. Some people say that it’s good. For me, I believe that I can improve it a little more. 

NH: No, it’s great!

A: So in the English part, I can write, but sometimes I have to Google a lot of things because I don’t like to talk about the same thing. So like, if you listen to the rest of my music, not all the music says the same. And might got, kind of like the same topic, but in a different way. So not saying the same thing. So I had to kind of like, go through the whole … I had to write in Spanish, and then translate everything in English to be able to create a whole project.

NH: Yeah, it would be a lot of work!

A: Yeah, it would be a lot of work. A lot of work. 

Aksel and Nudia actually met at an event where they were both on the bill. Seeing him perform after her DJ set, Nudia was blown away and recommended he submit music for consideration to be played on Vocalo. Morgan Ciocca/Vocalo Radio

NH: No, I love that. And I love the fact that you could actually just make the songs you want to make. And I wanted to talk about this, because I’ve heard you say it before, but you know, we are in this Latin music era where it’s the perreo, you know? Things like that. But I know you said that it’s important for you to make love songs, as well. 

A: Yes. 

NH: As opposed to, you know, we’re seeing a lot of the dancing, the reggaeton, things like that. So what exactly was your inspiration to lean it more that way?

A: So I do a lot. In my first four songs is reggaeton. And I love reggaeton. It’s like, I love reggaeton, but I just wanted to go a little bit more into the commercial part. So I was like, let me do a song … to talk about more realistic stuff, and then we’ll go more so there. Like, if you go back to my songs, like I got some perreo in there. Like, I got some perreo. Even that one is the song that … it don’t sound sad, and then you pay attention to the lyrics, but you still can dance it.

NH: I mean, even, I love the love songs, too, because you could still dance to those, as well. Like, your song that we play, “Sin Perdon,” like you could, like, you could vibe to it. Like, you could move, if you’re in your car, wherever you are, it’s a vibe. And so I love that, it makes you want to be on a beach, on a boat somewhere drinking a mimosa. So what else, what is coming up for you next? What do our listeners have to look out for?

A: So right now I got another song that just came out, it’s called “O Arrepentimiento.” That song is going to be part of my new album that is coming out in the summer. And we’re working really hard. That’s why I came out — with the team that I got, I created a little bit bigger, because now creating an album, this is going to be my first album that I’m throwing out there. So I want to give the people the best of me. And it’s gonna be great. It’s gonna be great.

NH: Do we have a date? Or like, around when you want to…?

A: Around my birthday. That’s the only thing I can say.

NH: When’s your birthday?

A: July 6.

NH: Okay, are you a Cancer? You’re a Cancer. 

A: Yes, I’m a Cancer.

NH: Okay. Cancer season, be looking out for more!

Aksel tells listeners a new album is on its way, likely to be released this July. Morgan Ciocca/Vocalo Radio

Keep up with Aksel on Instagram, and listen to his music on Spotify below.

Interview and audio editing by Nudia Hernandez

Written introduction by Joshua X. Miller

Photography, transcription and editing for length and clarity by Morgan Ciocca

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