Interview with Canadian-Cuban singer-songwriter Alex Cuba
Today on What On What’s Good with Host Jovin Tardif, I am here with Cuban-Canadian musician Alex Cuba. Cuba has received two Latin Grammy nominations “Best Singer-Songwriter Album” and “Best Engineered Album” alongside veteran Canadian recording engineer John “Beetle” Bailey for the album, “Sublime“. Alex’s seventh studio album, “Sublime” features numerous collaborations with both legendary and up-and-coming Latin American artists, such as Pablo Milanés, one of the founders of the Nueva Trova sound, Omara Portuondo (Buena Vista Social Club), Leonel Garcia, and Silvana Estrada. “Sublime” contains 12 tracks in total. In our interview, we discuss musical instruments, his sound, collaborating with others, his single and video “Esta Situación” and much more.
1. Can you tell us about the different instruments that you can play? When did you learn them growing up?
I can play guitar, upright and electric bass, most hand percussion instruments, and a little piano. My first instrument was playing a Cuban instrument called cIave. I played alongside my father, keeping time for the band. Formally I took lessons on guitar, then bass as a teenager, everything else happened along the way.
2. How would you describe your sound to others?
I usually describe it as the Alex Cuba sound. Its a mix of afrolatin, soul and folk.
3. In your latest album, “Sublime” you collaborated with Pablo Milanés, Omara Portuondo, Leonel Garcia, and Silvana Estrada. What was it like working with them?
It was an absolutely fantastic experience as they are all very different, From each of them, I feel like I learned something unique. On a writing trip to Mexico City, I met some of the artists and ended up recording the songs we wrote together. I always wanted the song to match the artist and these duets worked out so well. I worked with three Cuban singers for the first time and it was emotional. When I was able to talk to Pablo Milanés, I was starstruck. He was a huge influence in Cuba and throughout Latin America when I was young. This is also the first album I have produced 100% and I am so happy with the results.
4. Your new single and video is “Esta Situación” What can you tell us about the song and what was it like making the video?
The song is one of my favorites on the album, as I think it has one of the most beautiful melodies. Making the video was fun, I got to work on it with an amazing artist from Argentina that lives in Smithers, his name is Facundo Gastiazaro. We filmed it in one day and two of my kids, Rose and Owen helped with the production.
5. Before the COVID-19 pandemic you had plans for a US tour. I noticed you have plans for live and virtual performances coming soon. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
I’ve been doing a lot of virtual stuff. I’m actually proud of myself for adapting to this type of stuff. In April and May, I wasn’t too interested in performing. Tours were cancelled so I just started writing and recording. I turned my living room into a studio of sorts. I already had some good recording equipment for demos and as I was making audio for interviews I realized the quality was high enough to mix professionally.
My online performances were mostly to support fans that were all at home in isolation. I sang a song each night on Instagram and encouraged people to be hopeful. Since August I have been doing shows with limited audiences and with social distancing protocols as well as virtual appearances, usually one song, which seems to work better for the online attention span.
When I found out the album was nominated and was asked to perform, I immediately searched if it would be possible to travel to the US. The AFM in Canada said I could still apply for a work visa. On November 19th, I will be performing at the Latin Grammys for the first time.
6. You are currently recording music as we speak including three brand new singles this summer. What can we expect?
More Alex Cuba beautiful music. I did release three singles in May and I am planning to release singles in 2021 starting in January.
Alex Cuba – Esta Situación
Solo Mía – Alex Cuba & Leonel García
21st Annual Latin Grammy Awards
The 21st Annual Latin Grammy Awards telecast will take place on November 19 2020 at 8PM EST from Miami.
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