Rogét Chahayed goes from San Fernando Valley to the Grammys

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“One of my biggest inspirations for sound choices was going to Guitar Center as a kid, because there were all these keyboards that I couldn’t afford. But I would just love to go there, and every time I went there, I always came up with the best stuff,” shares Rogét Chahayed. Photo by Giuliana Mayo.

Rogét Chahayed’s winding path to the Grammys, where his work is up for six awards this year, started in the San Fernando Valley. He was born to immigrants — his mom is from Argentina, his father from Syria — and started taking piano lessons at age 7. After a childhood playing classical music, with a focus on Chopin, he left LA for the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. That’s where his focus changed.

Chahayed loved orchestration and piano, but he also loved The Neptunes, Doctor Dre, and the music his parents had exposed him to as a kid. “My dad sang a lot and exposed me to a lot of Arabic music. My mom showed me a lot of Argentinian folk music, tango, and stuff like that. So I had a very interesting sonic upbringing,” he shares.

With that mix of influences, and a music degree, he headed back to LA to live with his parents and to find his way into producing. He says he planned to give it a year, but he quickly started getting work, going from playing keys in studio sessions to being an in-demand producer who doesn’t live with his parents anymore. 

These days, his famous clients — J. Lo, Mary J. Blige, Doja Cat, and more — find him through word of mouth and Instagram. “I've definitely picked up some work because of Instagram messages. That's how I linked up with Jack Harlow, who sent me a DM on Instagram in May of 2021. And he was just like, ‘What's up fam? I want to work,’” Chahayed recalls. “I had been manifesting that collaboration in my mind. So I feel like it all really starts with what you want to do and putting it out there into the universe. And then when the right people reach out, you just get that feeling.” 

That feeling is taking him all the way to the Grammys for his work on Jack Harlow’s hit “First Class.”

Chahayed creates riffs and sounds for songs in his colorfully-lit keyboard and synthesizer-lined Valley studio. “I just sit at the piano, sit at one of my keyboards, and decide what soundscape we're gonna go with. And then I just start plugging away, playing some chords, playing some riffs, some things that will inspire a melody or a story. And when we have that locked in, it all kind of just goes from there.”

Producers like Chahayed can often not get the same recognition as the stars whose sounds they create, but he sees a positive in that too.

“Especially as producers and creators, you choose the path that you want to be on and the recognition that you want to have. For me, I do love that I can go into a studio and work with somebody like J. Lo or Mary or Jack or Doja, these people that are just massive artists and be able to tap into their world. And then I can go to Target or I can go to the mall and nobody really knows who I am. So I do like the fact that I can live a normal lifestyle but have a very abnormal work.”

On February 5, Rogét Chahayed will leave his San Fernando Valley home and walk the Grammy red carpet to see about those six nominations and maybe some recognition of his own.