Alexis Puentes, otherwise known as “Alex Cuba,” is a Cuban-American singer-songwriter who’s been enjoying his sweet success. Not only did he win a Latin Grammy back in 2010 for “Best New Artist,” he also collaborated with numerous hit makers, including Nelly Furtado, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Jason Mraz. What’s next for the humble artist? He took a break from his busy schedule before touring to speak with nocheLatina about his prestigious award, how Ray Charles influenced him to become a songwriter, and whether he’ll reunite with his twin brother.
nocheLatina: Congratulations on your Latin Grammy! When did you find out that you wanted a career in making music?
Alex Cuba: Very often I think about this because I don't remember if I ever made a conscious decision about making music for a living. I just kept doing what I always did in my life from when I was a kid. It just became my profession.
nocheLatina: If you weren’t pursuing music, then what would you be doing?
Alex Cuba: I think I would be a doctor concentrating on alternative medicine.
nocheLatina: Most would describe your music as Latin jazz. How would you describe it?
Alex Cuba: I have never seen my music as Latin jazz. In fact, I was nominated in both Grammys (Latin and American) for Latin pop, but I call my music Latin-soul-rock.
nocheLatina: Who are some of your music icons?
Alex Cuba: I was a bassist for a long time, which means that I was listening to more bassists than songwriters. However, after moving to Canada I discovered the voice of Ray Charles. What I heard from him had, in my opinion, the same amount of soul that a great bassist would put into every note when doing a solo. I guess he influenced me right then and there to use my voice as an instrument. Slowly I became a singer/songwriter.
nocheLatina: Do you continue to write music with your twin brother Adonis?
Alex Cuba: Not very often, but it still happens.
nocheLatina: When can we expect to hear your next album?
Alex Cuba: I'll be in the studio for my fourth in May. I am very excited about these songs. It‘s probably too early to tell you how they will sound like, but believe me, the songs are good!
nocheLatina: Did you have a moment when you truly felt like you made it in music?
Alex Cuba: I am a very down to earth kind of guy. I probably had a moment or two like that in my career, but I've managed to keep it real. It feels like, yeah you're doing something right, I guess.
nocheLatina: You will be touring Germany, Spain, and the UK soon. What do you love and hate most about touring?
Alex Cuba: I don't hate anything about it. It is obvious that if you want to be popular because you believe you have something to say, then you tour as much as you can. I am lucky to have very professional people working with me. When the tour comes, almost, if not everything, is already planned. Because of that, I am able to focus on what I do best-delivering my best shows every night.
nocheLatina:What words do you live by?
Alex Cuba: Stand on your own two feet. If the mountain doesn't come to you, you go to the mountain. I'd rather be the head of the mouse than the tail of the lion.
nocheLatina: Where do you hope to see your music going in the future?
Alex Cuba: I think that in my last three albums, I’ve already shown listeners that we don't have to limit ourselves in terms of genres or sounds. There is obviously an identity already created in my music, but I think that identity comes from the freedom of mixing up styles and then doing whatever feels right. Because of this, we are going to keep the same attitude, always follow our hearts, open doors, and follow paths for others to become inspired.
Don't forget to read our interview with Alex Cuba's friend and collaborator Nelly Furtado here.