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Authors: Pandora Esperanza and Bariloche
Traducción de: Torera
Investigación de Medios: Fantasia
"Singer-songwriter Alex Cuba (Alexis Puentes) hails from Artemisa, Cuba (1 hour west of Havana) and resides in Smithers, B.C. (14 hours north of Vancouver). His trademark sugarcane-sweet melodies, pop-soul hooks and rock chords subtly subvert commonly held notions of what Cuban music is. Alex is on the vanguard, crafting a cross-cultural sound that mirrors his geographical journey. Forgoing conventional stereotypes that typify much of the Latin music landscape, Alex is instead defining his own “Latin Soul” genre. Like the handful of unique, genre-defying artists before him, Alex’ uncompromising “go your own road” approach was difficult and lonely at first, but is now beginning to pay dividends. He has won two JUNO Awards (2006 and 2008) and a SOCAN Award (2009) in Canada, a Latin Grammy Award (2010) for Best New Artist, a BMI Latin Award and was nominated for a 2011 Grammy Award in the Best Latin Pop Album category." To read more see the official Alex Cuba :: Bio
The first article that we published, "Alex Cuba, Some of the Best Latin Music You May Have Never Heard", was written around the time Pandora's Caja was gearing up to cover the 2011 Gammy nominees for the Latin category, and there was Alex's name and his picture. I didn't recognize his name or his face, but any man that could rock that always perfect signature afro deserved further exploration in my opinion.
I turned to my trusty iTunes and You Tube to listen to what this brother had to offer. The first song that I listened to was, If You Give Me Love, you know I'm language challenged, but the song the hooked me was, Ella; a Spanish mid tempo ballad with ...........let's just say listening to his voice is like taking a bath in warm chocolate. I've been an avid fan and admirer since that point.
Here we are a little over a year later, and Alex is getting ready to release his fourth album, Ruido en El Sistema (Static In The System). The first single to be released from the album is a song titled, Are You, a really funky song with serious rock overtones. In anticipation of the album release, I contacted Alex and his team to inquire about the possibility of Alex agreeing to an exclusive interview with Pandora's Caja and he very enthusiastically said yes! So let's get down to a little Alex Cuba Q&A.
1. Alex, first and foremost, Bariloche and I would like to that you for doing an exclusive interview with Pandora's Caja in preparation for your new album. What was the defining moment when you knew that this was what you wanted to do for the rest of your life?
AC: When I was 14 years old and saw somebody playing an electric bass for the first time. I became a bass player after that for a few years until I came to Canada.
2. When you were developing your musical skills, what was your method of study and practice?
AC: I did a lot of listening and then try to learn what I heard. Then I went on to practice technic and music theory for 6 to 8 hours every day.
3. You've said that your father was your first major musical influence. Are there other artists that have had an influence on you over the years?
4. When you listen to music, whose music do you like to listen to?
AC: Silvio Rodriguez, Pino Danielle, Ron Sexsmith, Tommy Torres, Juan Luis Guerra, Adonis Puentes, Nelly Furtado etc etc
5. How long had you been pursuing your career before you were signed to a record label?
AC: I've been in music my whole life pretty much, started it when I was 4. I have never been signed to a record label. I came in to the picture with a very strong and unique musical approach at a time when the industry was already collapsing. So no original unique artist were getting signed I guess. And I decided not to wait around. So I created my own label Caracol Records.
6. Has your label signed on any other unique talent such as yourself?
AC: for now my label Caracol Records has only been home to my music. We've been thinking from time to time to sign artists but we always go back to the same place, which is the need to grow a bit more before we sign any artist.
7. Your music has been described as "Latin Alternative Pop", "Funk Folk Rock Hybrid". How do you describe your music?
AC: The most important element of my music is the soul. So I usually call it World- Soul-Latin-Pop-Rock
8. You've told us that you have a new album that you're working on. Can you tell us about the concept for the project?
AC: The new album is once again Alex Cuba's take on World-Latin-Soul-Pop-Rock.
9. When is your new album going to be released?
AC: my new album “Ruido En El Sistema” (Static In The System) will be released in Europe Sept 18th, Canada October 2nd and the US probably the same date of Canada, but TBC.
10. We've seen the video for your most recent single "Are You". This video is so fun, how do you develop your ideas for your videos?
AC: I work with a very talented video guy here in Smithers where I live. His name is Taylor Fox and he usually brings most of the ideas. Taylor also works with another amazing guy from Toronto. Christian Bielz.
11. On all of your albums you have an incredible mix of dance music, rock, and ballads. With most of our readers being women, I'm sure the ladies would like to know what inspires you when you're writing ballads.
AC: I am a very romantic man. I love ballads and there is something in my voice that makes me enjoy singing this kind of music. I am 100% inspired by love and positivity.
12. Tell us, who is Alex Cuba the man, not the musician, or are they inseparable?
AC: Pretty much the same person all in one.
13. When you get home from a hectic touring schedule or from long hours in the recording studio, what do you do to relax?
AC: I don't usually have the time to relax when i get back home. I usually get off the plane and jump into your primary life which is the Dad and husband. I relax when i go for a walk with my kids and wife or when we are watching a movie or having a nice meal.
14. Tell our readers something about you that we haven't read before in an interview?
AC: I like tattoos
15. Do you have any tattoos? If so what are their significance?
AC: I have two tattoos and I am on my way to get a third one. The first one I got is a bass guitar with wings, and I guess it signifies the freedom of my art. The second one I got is a Cuban symbol against gossip. The third one hmmmm I'll tell you once I get it.
16. What do you believe is the key to your success?
17. Will you be touring?
AC: Yes, we'll be touring in support of the album.
It's human nature to want to put things into categories, especially music, we want to give it a label. Latin Soul, Cuban Folk, Funk, Rock, Cuban Soul, Pop, these are just a few of the ways that Alex's music has been categorized.....but for me, there is no category, no definition. When we look at the wonders of the world, such as the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio or Chichen Itza in Mexico, we don't try to define them. They just are just what.....world wonders. Alex Cuba is a wonder. His music has no definition, no boundaries....that's an adventure every time play is pressed.
Thank you Alex for interviewing with Pandora's Caja!
Listed below are the July and August concert dates and ticket information, please see AlexCuba.com for the complete listing. There will also be additional dates added after the album release.
July 1, 2012 – Vancouver - Canada Place , 05:00pm Tickets and Info Coming Soon
July 14, 2012 - Fort York, Toronto - Garrison Commons, 03:00pm Tickets and Info Coming Soon
July 20 2012 - Moncton, NB, Canada - Main Street Fair, 08:00pm Tickets and Info Coming Soon
August 4, 2012 - Hornby Island - Hornby Festival, 07:00pm Tickets and Info
August 10, 2012 - Trout Forest - Trout Fest, 08:00pm Tickets and Info
August 17 2012 - Salmon Arm - Roots and Blues Fest, 05:00pm Tickets and Info
August 24 2012 - Santa Monica Santa - Monica Pier, 06:00pm Tickets and Info
August 25 2012 - Los Angeles - H20 Festival, 08:00pm Tickets and Info
August 26 2012 - San Fransisco - Yoshi's, 08:00pm Tickets and Info
For additional tour dates and ticket information please see http://www.alexcuba.com/shows/