Meet Gianluca, Chile’s Trap Romántico Heartthrob

Photo by Matias Vial. Courtesy of Gianluca

Née: Gianluca Abarza
Raíces: Ciudad Satélite, Santiago de Chile
Sounds like: The zero gravity float tank of trap en español.
You should listen to Gianluca because: He’s smooth as hell and probably has several artistic evolutions in front of him.

Don’t check Gianluca for street credentials on his journey coming up through Santiago’s trap scene. The ex-art school student from Universidad Diego Portales makes detached, dreamy songs of lustful alienation, and has spent the last year winning fans over based more on his Internet pop culture imagery and sad boy flow than any assertion of hardness. Take “PK Me Odias?,” whose lyrics drive home the point; “Yo no soy traficante mami no soy un gangster/Tu novio no es un gangster por más que lo diga.” The song’s 1990s analog-style video clip shows the 21-year-old singer in a mock turtleneck, gesturing through his verses with a furry stuffed crocodile and a rosebud.

But trap romántico has long since morphed the face of the genre, and Gianluca has worked that evolution to his favor. His first live show took place courtesy of Chilean reggaeton breakout star Tomasa del Real, who he has said was already a fan of his single “Wanna Know” when he approached her about singing at one of her Neoperreo parties. (the video for “Wanna Know” has an iPhone-in-my-bedroom feel, similar to Tomasa’s own early clips; see “La Vampira” for proof). Soon enough, Gianluca was up on the Neoperreo stage. He recalls the crowd singing along to his songs at that first gig.

That night led to a 2017 spent putting out a rapid-fire line of singles, from the emo braggadocio of “Siempre Triste” to the TytoKush-produced “Avignon/4 AM.” Gianluca also put his talent for creating accessible, catchy music to work for other singers, producing for Princesa Alba, another young artist who is stretching Chile’s imagination when it comes to what makes a trapera. But Gianluca’s climax was in November, when his Vortex EP dropped. “I feel at ease in terms of the present,” he says. “Vortex was an important leap.”

The EP’s four tracks, produced by Chile’s Lil’ Shino, may have have certain moments of floating vocals that we’ve come to associate with the trap galaxy, particularly on the appropriately titled “Calma.” But they also possess an audio ribbing that could pertain to a variety of genres; pop and reggaeton, to name a few. It makes sense that Gianluca eschews the country’s considerable scene of trap collectives and artists to namecheck Chilean pop stars like Alex Anwandter, Javiera Mena, and Ases Falso when it comes to his major national influences. (If we’re talking about international musical role models, his list expands to include Yung Beef, Arca, Frank Ocean, and Pharrell.)

Gianluca says he’s even dabbled in electro house and experimental in the four years since he started making music. This is a man who is open to the possibilities of a global music industry that right now, seems driven by fusion. “The truth is, right now what I listen to most is trap, but I like psychedelic rock, alternative rock,” he tells Remezcla. “I like music that is influenced a little by everything, that surprises you.”

Gianluca’s Vortex EP is out now.