Music Producer: Khalid's success puts El Paso in the spotlight

Khalid making waves

EL PASO, Texas - El Paso artist Khalid is making waves around the country and on Billboard charts.

The 19-year-old singer and songwriter spent his childhood moving from state to state and country to country.

Khalid lived in Heidelberg, Germany, New York. During his senior year in high school, his family was relocated to Ft. Bliss. While living in El Paso, Khalid attended Americas High School.

It was in the Sun city where Khalid recorded his album's breakout hit "Location." The song generated more than 26.5 million Spotify streams and 4 million Youtube views. He also landed a major label deal with Right Hand Music Group/RCA Records.

“From beginning to end, it’s the story of your average teenager going through a typical day in high school. In this day and age, young people face a lot of hardships, whether they’re mental problems, relationship problems, or problems with simply facing reality. I wanted to address that in a language someone younger than me can relate to, but that can also translate to somebody a bit older. High school was the same situation every day, but with a slightly different story,” Khalid said.

His album, "American Teen" was released March 3rd and continues to climb the music charts. "Location" sits at No. 38 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 34 on Pandora's Top Spins chart. Khalid also made an appearance on the "Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" Wednesday night, performing "Location."

On social media, in interviews and even in his music, Khalid shows his love for the Sun City.

In his hit "American Teen," Khalid sings "I'm from the city of the 9-1-5, where all the girls are pretty and they're down for the hype."

"I think El Paso allowed me to just tap into the sense of loneliness that I have when it comes to writing music and focusing on the fact that loneliness isn’t a bad thing," he said. "El Paso is in the middle of nowhere. A lot of people don’t know too much about the city, so I feel I tapped into the sounds of just ... alone," Khalid said in an interview with Forbes.

Khalid recorded his hit "Location" at Beacon Hill Recording Studios in El Paso. Alfredo Gonzalez, the general manager and in-house music producer, tells ABC-7 it's exciting to see Khalid's success.

"It's definitely exciting and I think what's awesome about this particular project is not the just the fact that he's a major label artist, but we were able to see his development and we've seen this project develop from a kid from high school that had this ability to write but who's starting really in this journey and it's been a bout a year since Location, we were sitting in this room, with a couple of producers and Khalid, myself and Orlando, and it's amazing to see what's happened in a year's time," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez tells ABC-7 El Paso can become a hub for artists in the future. Gonzalez says artists stick to a strict production schedule and work from the road and their hotel rooms. Since many musicians travel from the west coast to the east coast, Gonzalez says they stop in El Paso to record music.

"I think just being here between Phoenix and San Antonio or Austin or some of the other bigger markets does kind of create a special opportunity for El Paso to have some of these artists come in," Gonzalez said.

He says with Khalid's success, it may help artists and producers from L.A or New York consider working in El Paso. He says Khalid's team flew in from places like New York and Atlanta and were impressed by the talent, the amount of work done and the 'vibe.'

"They got so much done in so little time, it was so efficient and creativity just seemed to flow because there weren't that many distractions. They started thinking, maybe we should do a writing camp here in El Paso," Gonzalez said.

He adds in order for that to happen, El Paso needs the support of the community and businesses to help create and grow talent in an industry that can be competitive and expensive.

"It has the potential of turning heads, I think really for El Paso to grow, at the next level, we need the involvement of the community. The truth is as excited as we are about Khalid, what that does is people may be say there's talent in El Paso, but I think it's our responsibility in El Paso to foster that talent and also provide a place where talented people can work," Gonzalez said.

Khalid has a performance at Neon Desert Music Festival in May.

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