Alex Cuba on music, identity: “It’s important to reach beyond language”

Video by Alessandra Hickson and Barbara Corbellini Duarte

Alex Cuba is Afro-Latino, Cuban and Canadian; inspired by neo-soul, jazz and Latin rock, he’s a bilingual musician that defies stereotypes effortlessly.

“I don’t try – it’s just the way it happens,” says Cuba, who’s currently on a nationwide tour. “What I do speaks a lot about my identity and the way I see the world. It’s always been very important to me to do music in a way that lets you send it out into the universe and reach beyond language.”

Born in  Artemisa, Cuba, the singer/guitarist moved to Smithers, British Columbia with his Canadian sweetheart. Smithers can be a cold, snowy place, but it’s now home; a restful place where Cuba resides with his wife and children.

“Canada is a beautiful country, but very cold,” admits Cuba. “For me, it’s been an incredible experience. I think when you emigrate for a reason like love, you can adjust to living anywhere. And it’s inspired me from the beginning. I love the snow; I love driving down the highway and seeing a bear.”

And being inspired – even by a place as remote from Cuba as Smithers – has allowed the fro-haired Cuba to develop his signature blend of funk, jazz and acoustic sounds. But his music, showcased in albums like 2012’s “Ruido En El Sistema,” doesn’t necessarily fulfill expectations of what Latino artists should sound like – and that’s “ok,” says Cuba.

“I believe I have something to say in terms of writing songs, poetry and music,” says Cuba, who has earned Latin Grammy awards for both his music and songwriting. “I really embrace the idea that what I do is universal and my hope is that it gets to everyone. I don’t care where you’re from or what you look like.”

And that’s because he can’t imagine doing anything else. His own father was a musician and by 4, Cuba was wholly immersed in the world of music. A BMI Latin and Juno award winner, Cuba says that accolades don’t matter, as he wants to be remembered “as somebody who didn’t put any conditions to the thing he loved the most in life.”

“What I mean is that I’m doing what I love,” shares Cuba. And there’s a lesson there for his children, he says.

“My father practically gave up touring because he wanted to raise me and my brother,” recalls Cuba. “I don’t think I could live any other way, although it does keep me away from my family a bit. But my kids know that daddy’s happy when he’s home – and I’m happy because I’m doing what I love. I think I’m teaching them to believe in themselves and I want them to know that whatever they choose to do, daddy supports them.”

Watch Cuba share his thoughts on creating music and learn what type of legacy he hopes to make on the world of music.

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