Interview with Aladean Kheroufi (Sled Island 2024)

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Aladean Kheroufi at I Love You Coffee Shop on Thursday, June 20 2024.

Edmonton based artist Aladean Kheroufi chats with CJSW about his Sled Island 2024 performance at the #1 Legion on Wednesday June 19. He discusses his recent album release “Studies in a Dying Love”, and how performing at Sled has changed over the years since his first appearance in 2013.

Special thank you to Take Aim Media for organizing the Sled Island 2024 Interviews, and I Love You Coffee Shop for hosting us.


Kaamil Kareemi: First question, is this your first sled Island?

Aladean Kheroufi: This is not my first Sled Island. I think I’ve come to every single one since, like 2013 in some way, playing with some sort of some band.

Kaamil Kareemi: Nice. And your, your recent release came out at a perfect time, I think, for this festival where it was kind of a good lead up. Was that planned in any way to kind of drop it before Sled Island? Or was it just kind of a matter of timing working out?

Aladean Kheroufi: It kind of worked out that it just like, kind of came out, you know, like started June. I’ve had this record done for a long time, and just like- just everything takes longer than you think. So, I mean, it’s been basically done for almost two years at this point.

Kaamil Kareemi: Fair enough. And I think a lot of people at CJSW have been looking forward to that dropping as well. I was at your show last night. It was amazing. I wanted to ask a little bit about your kind of, your production process, your writing process, but also your stage presence was something that I noticed, which is something that I was kind of commenting with my friends, is really cool stage presence and the kind of performance that you put on. Is there any kind of inspirations that come behind that kind of presence that you’re putting out with that music?

Aladean Kheroufi: I mean, I think- you know, all like the old soul music that, like in the 60s and like, I love, just like this big stage presence of just like, you know, someone like James Brown, just like, absolutely commanding the stage. I think, like, I’m much more mellow, when I’m not when I’m not on stage, but I think it’s like you have to, I mean, it is a performance up there. People are coming there to pay to watch you. I think you shouldn’t make you should be yourself up there, but like, be yourself times ten.

Kaamil Kareemi: Fair enough. Yeah, you said you’ve been to a lot of Sled Islands before, and this is kind of your first sled island with that album released, how have things kind of differed in the years that you’ve been to Sled Island? How have they kind of progressed in terms of the fans and the kind of the audience receptions?

Aladean Kheroufi: Oh, I’ll say, like, for my own sets, like, this was definitely the one where, like, it’s the biggest show that I’ve played here for the festival, and seems like people just super into it, which felt really nice to me, and I got to talk to tons of people, and I did see a lot, like, I just made so many friends at this festival, like, from coming here every year. So just like, seeing so many buds out here that I usually see, you know, once or twice a year when I’m in town, is amazing.

Kaamil Kareemi: Yeah, fair enough. And in terms of the audience that’s going to kind of Sled Island, do you think that’s kind of, do you see that growing or kind of changing in any ways?

Aladean Kheroufi: I mean, there’s definitely a lot more younger people. I mean, I think when I started coming here, I was 18 to 19, and now it’s sweet just seeing a whole another generation like getting into it. I’m sure they’ll be coming every year as well.

Kaamil Kareemi: Yeah, fair enough. A little bit about your album and kind of the process of putting that together, you said it’s been ready for a while here. So was it kind of a matter of just kind of the mastering and making sure that it kind of sounded exactly how you wanted, or was it- what was the kind of delay in that rule, in that release?

Aladean Kheroufi: I mean, just finding the money to, like actually release something as takes a long time, and finding label support and all that. It was the real barrier, because I recorded all myself, and, you know, with a group of friends that all would come and play on it. So that part feels easier to me, of that like, that actual making the music. But, I mean, it took a long time too, because I never, like, sat down to be like, hey, this, I’m gonna finish this all in a week. It was over time at my little studio. So it was more so finding the logistics to actually put it out into the world and make sure- and hopefully have people listen to it, rather than just being, you know, just kind of like, gets lost to the ether. 

Kaamil Kareemi: Fair enough. I think that build, kind of, it really built the anticipation in some ways too.

Aladean Kheroufi: I think it kind of helped too. Everyone’s asking ‘where it was’, like, ‘Guys, it’s coming’. 

Kaamil Kareemi: No, that’s fair. So about the kind of process of creating those songs, your lyrics revolve a lot around love. I was listening to “Sleep Tight”, and there’s a moment where you’re talking about the kind of dreams and things that are happening in your dreams. One of the things you mention is, like all the songs on the radio are love songs, you know. So is that kind of where your music tastes kind of lie and like, what were your inspirations kind of growing up that kind of led you to create music that’s kind of revolving around love songs?

Aladean Kheroufi: I mean, I do think, like, love is the most important thing in the world, whether it’s like true love, or like a fling, or like, you know, and like lost love is still just as important as love that you have now, I really think. So I think it is just, I love listening to soul music from the 60s, and I love like, you know, old 45s. And it’s all those songs, I mean, they do rotate around love, which is, like, a very simple subject, but also it isn’t. There’s so much to unpack about it, I really think. And I know for a long time I was like, ‘oh is it cheesy doing this?’ I’m like, know what this is, how I really feel. It’s only cheesy if you don’t mean it, and I do mean it.

Kaamil Kareemi: It comes through, it comes across that you do mean it. And you mentioned the 45s, right? Old 45s. So you decided to release this album in a few different ways. You got the vinyl, 45s as well. So I think you mentioned last night, there’s, actually, is there a secret song on that 45 as well? 

Aladean Kheroufi: Oh, no, no. That was just, that was a joke. Of just saying, like, you know the songs on one side, and like, if you flip the record, you won’t believe it. Got a whole nother song. 

Kaamil Kareemi: Fair enough. But, yeah, no, why did you decide to kind of release it that way? Was it kind of back into that old soul? 

Aladean Kheroufi: Yeah, I mean, and so like, the 45s released on a label called Kimberlite. I mean, there’s such a community of DJs that, only DJ 45s. I’m DJing at Dandy on Friday and that will be all 45s. So it’s just that kind of music really lends itself to that format I find. And also, I mean, to release the two 45s that came out before the album, it’s like, at least there is something out there. And I mean, I like to have a physical product as well. You know, it’s fine if it’s just on online, on Spotify or Bandcamp or whatever, but I don’t know something about holding it really feels right to me.

Kaamil Kareemi: Yeah, it’s making a bit of a comeback, as we say with all these vinyls sitting next to us. 

Aladean Kheroufi: Yeah, absolutely.

Kaamil Kareemi: So about that album, and one thing I love about your album is the artwork. I love that esthetic that you get with that because it again, you going back to that old soul, 60s vibe. It really throws me back to a lot of old school like Marvin Gaye covers that kind of existed 

Aladean Kheroufi: Absolutely. 

Kaamil Kareemi: So is that, is that your design? Those are the main questions I wanted to ask. But I was just kind of wanted to dive a little bit deeper into the performance last night. How do you feel it went?

Aladean Kheroufi: I do not design it. That’s my buddy, Salty, did it. He’s in Edmonton. He’s a tattoo artist too. Yeah, he- I’m very particular with how I want it to look. So, you know, we talked about it a lot, but you know that it was him, who made the cover.  Oh. It went, great, man. It was, it was awesome. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. And like to be on a bill with W.I.T.C.H., like, I love that band so much. Like, when I saw they announced the festival, that was like, the one thing I was like, oh, I need to see that show. And then, luckily, they put me on the bill, so I had no choice.

Kaamil Kareemi: I chatted with Sergeant X Comrade yesterday, and Yolanda mentioned the same thing. She’s like, it’s really nice being able to go be put on the bill for a show that I want to see. 

Aladean Kheroufi: Exactly. Yeah. 

Kaamil Kareemi: So are there any other shows that you’re looking forward to potentially catching while you’re at Sled Island? 

Aladean Kheroufi: Yeah, I’m stoked to see Irreversible Entanglements tonight. I think that’ll be really sweet. I like those two records they put out on International Anthem a lot. And Big Evil Rat from Edmonton. I think that’s an awesome show that people check out and check them out. There’s no recordings yet, but that’s what makes it even cooler. Yeah, yeah. They’re playing the Palomino. I think 

Kaamil Kareemi: Cool, yeah, I think they’re performing on CJSW at some point this week. 

Aladean Kheroufi: They are, yeah. I think tomorrow, yeah. I think they are, yes, 

Kaamil Kareemi: Yeah. So, I mean, I love this festival. I love being involved with CJSW, to be here down for this and it was an absolute pleasure seeing you last night. 

Aladean Kheroufi: Thanks so much. 

Kaamil Kareemi: Is there anything you wanted to add before we close out this interview?

Aladean Kheroufi: I think I’m good, yeah. 

Kaamil Kareemi: Well, thank you so much for taking the time out today and chatting with us, and I hope to, I’m sure we’ll see you around the station and Calgary in the future. 

Aladean Kheroufi: Absolutely. 

Kaamil Kareemi: Just one kind of last question that I forgot to ask about was just thoughts on Calgary’s music scene. Do you have any kind of, like, opinions on Edmonton and Calgary and the kind of connection between those?

Aladean Kheroufi: I mean, I think there’s a lot of similarities in between them. I mean, there’s certainly no rivalry. I can tell you this. I mean, whenever I come here, like I said, like, I love, just like seeing, like my friends bands here, and I just it feels, you know, like a reunion kind of thing, and like when they come up to Edmonton, and if they want to stay with me, it’s all good, yeah? I mean, I’m staying with friends all week. I’m not paying for a hotel. 

Kaamil Kareemi: That’s awesome. I love that there’s that connection there, and it’s important to foster that. Thank you so much for chatting with me Aladean.

Aladean Kheroufi: Thank you. 

Kaamil Kareemi: Yeah, we’ll see you around.