INTERVIEW: Gabriel Alcala

INTERVIEW: Gabriel Alcala

Here at Slowdown Studio we love collaborating with emerging and established artists from across the globe. We recently had the opportunity to chat with musician and artist, Gabriel Alcala. Gabe lives in Miami and is known for his colorful and slightly spooky illustrations. Have a read of our interview with Gabe for creating a personal visual language, sleeping over in a haunted lodge and how writing songs and making art is similar and also different.

1. It was through your music with Jacuzzi Boys that I first discovered your work as a visual artist. Is there a word that can simultaneously describe both your music and your art?


Poster for Jacuzzi Boys Show at Gramps

2. How does the creative process differ between writing a song and creating an illustration? Is one more free-flowing than the other?

Writing songs in a band is different in that it’s a collaborative process with other people. Illustration work is more solitary & quiet, haha. Both start off pretty free-flowing though, when trying out sketches & ideas.

Black Light Poster for Summerland (2017)

3. A lot of your illustration work seems to exist in a saturated fictional world, featuring a humorous cast of kooky and spooky characters. Is there a Gabriel Alcala universe that you dip into to come up with new ideas? Or am I just describing your brain?

Yeah, there’s sort of a universe… there’s a visual language & a few reoccurring characters, but nothing is set in stone. Nothing is too thought or defined. It would be cool approach it with that intention though, to really define a universe with a set of characters & a story etc.

Album cover for Labrinth, SIA, and Diplo

4. Speaking of spooky, do you have any good ghost stories from your time on the road?

One night after a show we stayed at this big old abandoned Masonic lodge that a friend bought & was turning into a recording studio. We smoked a little weed & explored the whole place at like 3AM. There were some pretty freaky rooms in there. Rooms with huge thrones in the in the center of the floor & closets filled with long red robes. Before we went to bed the drummer & I did some interpretative chanting in this big echoey, pitch black room. We didn’t see any ghosts, but you totally felt weird vibes coming from that place.

5. Your color palette always makes me think of Miami. How else does living in Miami influence your work?

Definitely the colors. There are some really unique building color combos here that I get inspired by. Also, Miami has incredible sunsets. Swirling pinks, oranges & purples!

Illustration for New York Times; Business section (2021)

6. As the charitable component of our collaboration, you chose Seva as the organization to donate to. How did you find out about them, and is there any backstory there?

I first learned about them through Ram Dass who was a co-founder. It’s an amazing charity that performs eye sight-saving procedures in underserved communities for very little money. 

7. You’ve worked with everyone from Nike to Freddie Gibbs to the New York Times. Who is your dream collab partner? Side note: I’d love to see your world come to life as an Adult Swim show.

Yeah, an animated show on Adult Swim would be awesome. As for a collaboration, I’d love to work on something with Seymour Chwast. He’s the best.

 Artwork for the new Freddie Gibbs song “Gang Signs”


 8. What are you listening to at the moment?

Grateful Dead - Wake of the Flood

9. Lastly, how do you like to slow down?

Get up at sunrise & meditate. Then enjoy some coffee in the garden.