Canadian Musician - May/June 2023 - Page 37

to function as an active musician in Canada going beyond language and beyond culture . The melody is what sticks to your mind ; it ’ s what makes you feel happy or sad .”
Throughout his career , Cuba as collaborated with artists as diverse as Nelly Furtado , Ron Sexsmith , Corinne Bailey Rae and on Mendó , Cimafunk and Raul Midon , works that he feels enrich the organic , creative process . “ I ’ ve learned that if you really look at [ collaborations ] in the right way , they will empower you , they will broaden , they will make your musical universe even bigger . Because the other person doesn ’ t necessarily think like you , right ? So I actually like it , I like collaborating , I like doing something I would not normally do . And you walk away with new tricks , new things that you learn . And the same thing goes with the other person . It ’ s a beautiful thing .”
Cuba also was eager to show Canadian Musician his home studio where Mendó and more recent tracks like his jubilant collaboration with Rwandan singer Butera Knowless , “ Agüita de Coco ” were recorded . “ It ’ s very minimal ,” he confesses . I use the [ Apogee ] Duet 2 Audio Interface and a preamp from Great River . And I have a Neumann TLM 49 microphone , that ’ s all I have . I use one microphone for everything I do . I record with the same microphone . I love the TLM microphone it sounds good on everything . I put it in front . And the rest is just capturing a good performance which throughout the pandemic I was able to do because I was able to record late at night . I was able to record just when I was feeling it . It never felt like I was working . It felt like I was having fun , you know ?”
He ’ s also been having fun on tour performing solo with only his guitar which he says is not only an evolution in his career but also for Latin music in Canada as well . “ I always write songs from the guitar . And I always knew that ’ s my true expression when I ’ m performing on my own , you know , spontaneously , like I do at coffee shops here in Smithers . And there is a place here that they keep a guitar on the wall . And I used to go there for coffee , if I feel like singing , I grabbed the guitar and I was singing and people start gathering around and listening to me . And I just enjoyed it immensely . That is my true expression .”
“ I ’ m breaking the stereotype in expanding the knowledge of Latin music in Canada ,” he continues . “ I feel very proud about that because I have broken through the wall , [ in that ] I can now communicate to whoever doesn ’ t speak the language and I ’ m kind of
funny on the stage . You know , I tell stories because I live in Smithers , I feel completely integrated to the Canadian society .”
Besides the Grammy for Mendó , another recent distinction bestowed to Cuba is an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws from Queens University . Currently working three different projects , an EP due out later this spring which he says will fuse his music with a more electronic backdrop and producing two solo acts , Alex Cuba remains as vital as ever .
“ I ’ ve just got to say something with a little bit of a twinkle in my eye ,” he confesses before signing off zoom . “ It ’ s a wonderful thing
to be a musician in Canada , so let ’ s embrace music as a dignified kind of job . I ’ m saying that because when I moved to Smithers 20 years ago , and this still happens in many communities — music was looked down on as a job . Everybody would ask , ‘ what is your real world job ?’ I ’ m a musician . ‘ No what do you really do for a living ?’ I ’ m glad that I ’ m inspiring people to take music seriously .”
Matt Bauer is the Editor of Canadian Musician . He can be reached at mbauer @ nwcworld . com .