Alex Cuba releases a trio of new singles from home

The idea behind Alex Cuba's latest homemade single was to recreate the vibe of laid back summer days. But Concéntrica Cancin can also be about "the concentric circles in life" that we all experience. Patterns of actions come and go, but they also keep coming back.

Over a smooth Bossa Nova-influenced acoustic riff, the Smithers-based musician muses on the consequences of love, desire and dreams with the signature style that has earned him Juno and Latin Grammy Awards and international praise.

article continues below

Most recently, the Cuban-Canadian artist was celebrated online for his spectacular cover of the late vocalist Bill Withers' classic hit Just the Two of Us. An instant hit online, the version was even shouted out online by Withers estate.

"When the pandemic hit, I lost a big tour of the United States and was left with a lot of questions and concerns," said Cuba. "Then I got a call from CBC's Hot Air show shortly after Bill Withers passed away to see if I wanted to participate in a tribute show they were putting together for him. I immediately knew I wanted to cover Just the Two of Us and set up my home studio right in my living room with instruments and interfaces and so on to record at home."

A perfectionist, whose albums usually feature him playing every instrument rendered in immaculate reproduction, Cuba found the whole experience of making music for public release this way unsettling, "weird even."

"I'm not used to this at all, having to manage people coming and going through the house while you are recording and so forth, but it went pretty good," he said. "Except for the fact that my neighbour was fixing an old diesel truck and kept on firing it up and letting it run for 40 minutes at a time, which was freaking me out. Incredibly, to my surprise, when I checked out the final result, it gave me an amazing feeling."

By his reckoning, Just the Two of Us is only the second song he has covered in his career.

"I did a cover of Blue Rodeo's Bad Timing (retitled Arrepentido), but it was completely in Spanish and I kind of made it my song," said Cuba. "For Just the Two of Us, I sang in both English and Spanish, and decided I had to do it solo to show the musical power, intimacy and honesty of the song. I loved the result, CBC were over the moon about it and it put me in an incredibly upbeat, joyful and creative mood that hasn't stopped since."

Filled with an overpowering need to create more music, Cuba has been in a writing frenzy since May. He estimates he has 10 new tunes that are some of his best and has decided to release a trilogy of singles -- Diablo De Un Segundo, Just the Two of Us and Concéntrica Cancin. They are all born from the same initial spark of inspiration to perform solo.

"These are simple, guitar and voice songs that people have just been loving, and I keep being surprised and super excited because I wasn't planning this" he said. "Concéntrica Cancin, in particular, is all about what we are going through now without stating it directly which is my way. I don't want to sing the news, but I find excitement in taking in what's happening and giving it a spin that is even bigger than what's happening but isn't trapped in a specific time and space."

In other words, the song isn't going to get trapped in the inevitable "pandemic songs" storage box that almost all of us are hoping to be filing away as soon as we can.

Cuba sees his latest work as a reflection on the larger picture of how life moves in cycles with love being the thread that carries through. It's certainly a sentiment that will pass the post-pandemic listening test. But he also wants to give his audience more than the music.

"A lot of people listen to music on YouTube and we typically put up the song without a fancy video," he said. "But we decided that Concéntrica Cancin needed an artistic video to go with it, so now my living room is also a film studio. We got a semi-professional photography light, and I performed the song in front of a camera a few different ways and then forwarded it to my video team in Guadalajara, Mexico, to make it super cool."

Admitting that he isn't used to "putting his face out there with his videos," Cuba sees the making of this new one as another creative shift coming out of his productive pandemic period. What fans will undoubtedly notice is that he has cut off his signature Afro.

"It was a reaction to the pandemic stress, I guess, and I cut it on my birthday on March 29," he said. "I've been joking that by the time I'm back on stage it will be as tall as ever. Although I hope I'm back before then."

In the meantime, Cuba is probably bringing back his White Sofa Sessions. This weekly web series was originally started in 2013 as a thank you to Argentinian fans who put pressure on a local radio station to play his music. When a song made the station playlist he shot an acoustic version of it playing on his namesake white sofa, which he dedicated to his fans. His goal at the time was to post a new video every Friday for a year, but that proved tricky after doing 16 episodes.

"But now that the internet is our only means of entertainment and the amount of traffic has multiplied so much, the goal is to keep expanding and be smart with your marketing because you aren't on the road," he said. "So I'm bringing back the White Sofa Sessions in the form of a podcast and being a lot more creative with it, using animation, expanding the content and so on. I'll sing a song, talk about it, teach people how to play it as a lot of people request that and more."

The singer is also looking at releasing more singles too.

Read Related Topics


NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

The Prince George Citizen welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. Comments that contain external links will not be permitted. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus
Sign Up For Our e-Newsletter!

Should Canada open border POLL

Should Canada set a date to open the border to non-essential traffic to and from the United States?

or  view results

Popular Citizen

Lowest Gas Prices in Prince George
Prince George Gas Prices provided by