INTERVIEW: ALEX CUBA REFLECTS ON HIS THREE NEW SINGLES, ADVICE FOR CREATORS, THE BEAUTY BEHIND CAPTURING THE SOUL + MORE

Photo by: Eduardo Rawdriguez
Hailing from Smithers, British Columbia, this Artemisa-born indie singer-songwriter proudly embraces his roots with added inspiration drawn from a wide array of musical influences including acoustic, funk, and pop.

Alex Cuba has been sharing his radiant and uplifting tunes with the world since the early 2000s with an impressive career spanning nearly 20 years. Cuba's talent has not gone unnoticed – with multiple Grammy nominations, two Juno Awards and four Latin Grammy wins, he continues to unify listeners from all walks of life with Spanish and English verses and a growing collection of feel-good Afro-Cuban jazz tracks. From his multiple accolades to collaborations with fellow Canadians Ron Sexsmith and Nelly Furtado, Cuba remains one of the most notable names in Latin music in Canada and beyond.

Most recently, Cuba wrapped up a Canadian tour in January – in support of his seventh studio album Sublime. Though Cuba's plans to tour the US and perform at numerous Summer festivals were interrupted by COVID-19, he is not letting the pandemic slow him down. The talented multi-instrumentalist shifted his focus and energy into writing and recording material from his home, including a trio of brand new songs.

Cuba reflects on the first of his three new singles:

“Written during the pause in time that we have been living in, without a doubt had stopped us thinking, 'Diablo De Un Segundo' was created out of a melancholy that the title embodies; one of solitude and yet optimism. I have been able to find creativity in this uncertainty and the release of the song along with two more is to seed that hope in others.”


Album after album, Cuba consistently delivers honest and hopeful lyrics paired with a one-of-a-kind blend of world music. Cuba breaks down language and cultural barriers with sounds as diverse as the contrast between his birthplace and current hometown and continues to captivate the hearts and ears of fans across the map.

Now more than ever, it is important to celebrate authenticity, courage, unity and optimism. Cuba's music exudes all of these characteristics and more and his three new tracks "Diablo De Un Segundo", "Just The Two Of Us" and "Concéntrica Canción" are the dose of positivity we all need right now.

"Pandemics come and go but humans will always feel hope, love, despair and everything in between."

Q: What's the inspiration behind the creation of your first new single “Diablo De Un Segundo?” 


Well, [Diablo De Un Segundo] definitely came from a moment of self reflection in which I was questioning the fragility of faith. It is melancholic and optimistic throughout. It actually is a song I wrote a while back that resonated with what was going on with everyone in isolation. Artists often find themselves isolated emotionally and have to dig deep in moments of  reflection. I think I needed the right time to share something that vulnerable.

Q: What can you tell us – musically and thematically, from your other two singles?


The second single is my version of the classic tune “Just The Two Of Us” by Bill Withers. It’s actually the first time I've covered somebody else’s music. I recorded it at the request of the CBC Vancouver show “Hot Air” in honour of Bill Withers. I loved the way it came out and decided to release it along with the two originals. Just guitar and vocals that were recorded in the living room set up I did for the interview requests I was getting while at home.

The third single is a song I wrote about a month ago, and wrote it in my favorite way of writing music, when you least expect it, like if somebody was dictating it in your ear. A very melodic tune, with a bossa sort of feel to it, very breezy and uplifting. As it’s title says “Concéntrica Canción” – “Concentric Song,” it talks about  the concentric circles of life that are the repeating patterns of our actions that we go through each day and experience as time. How everything is related to each other in a way that would be difficult to predict but also harmonious at a distance.

Q: You have been keeping busy at home, recording these songs in your living room. How important is it to stay motivated and dedicated to your art during these times?


It has been super important to find motivation and to keep believing that a song can change the life of a human being. Looking at it from that point of view, I find a huge responsibility as an artist and that responsibility I believe keeps me going, it makes me feel that I can play a part to help maintain hope in this world.

Q: Any advice for artists or other creatives in regards to thriving during this pandemic?


Find inspiration because there is a lot to say during this time, but please take this into consideration. Whatever you create during this time of a pandemic might be more meaningful, more valuable to humanity if it is done from an open artistic point of view, rather than choosing to sing or put into lyrics whatever the news is saying. I think singing the newspaper puts a limit, an expiration time to the creation. We can choose to use the tension, the feelings and even the fear we are all feeling at this moment, and turn that into something magical and bigger than the very pandemic. Something that hopefully 10 years from now will still have a relevant message. Pandemics come and go but humans will always feel hope, love, despair and everything in between.

Q: You sing mostly in Spanish, yet still manage to captivate a major audience despite language barriers. What is it about your artistry that you think captures the souls of listeners?


I think melodies have an incredible amount of information in them, and in my opinion they can create a language and an identity. I focus a lot on my melodies and the honesty and passion I sing them with. If a melody is beautiful and comforting, the human brain easily understands the sentiment in it regardless of the language in which the song is delivered. I think that has been in a big way the secret to my music finding audiences in Canada above language and culture.

Q: You have received so many awards and nominations, to what can you credit your success and the longevity of your career?


I think one thing that is easily recognizable in my music, is the classic/timeless vibes in it, and that can be created when there is a higher purpose to it than being hip or aiming at fame. The most important thing in what I do is to always find my own sound. It's easy for an artist to think that if you don’t have “today’s sound” in your song people are not going to like it, but if a song is melodically strong and well written, it will always sound relevant and that “one” could even be creating a “new” sound. I think some awards encourage and I appreciate that, and so does the public. It is a much smaller piece of the pie but comes without the hassle of the "game" or the hustle.