After many years of living and working in Spain, singer-songwriter Alex Ferreira moved to Mexico City to make his career grow on a continent he knew to be the next frontier to conquer. Of Dominican origins, Ferreira’s voice has sung a lot about love and its losses in songs that didn’t usually fit the Latino stereotypes but often carried a Caribbean essence.
On his new record, Ferreira joined Astro’s songwriter and frontman Andrés Nusser in the studio to work on his new material, in an effort to focus more on synths and electronic beats than his usual guitar-centered work. Nusser was the producer of the record, and along with Ferreira, played all the instruments of the album (except for the saxophone in ‘Alguien como Tú’).
Cinema Tropical (out via No Shame) was developed in four cities and is already promising to be one of the most relevant albums of the year. The first single is appropriately called ‘Cambio’ and showcases the new musical direction Ferreira is taking.
In this exclusive interview Alex talks about the decision to leave Spain, the movies he loves, and his efforts to make a cohesive record sound wise and thematically.
Why did you decide to move to México?
I spent 9 years living in Europe and it was amazing. It definitely made me the person I am today. I met my best friends and some of my most cherished memories are from my time over there. But my idea was never to stay there forever.
I’m Latino, so I need disorder and chaos.
Also I’m Latino, so I need disorder and chaos. Mexico looked like the right place. I’ve always been moving around so it’s something natural in me, who knows where I’ll be in 5 years. I also have a bunch of great friends here and I’m closer to my country (Dominican Republic), my new label and this huge continent that speaks my language. In Europe, there wasn’t much else for me to tour besides Spain, no matter how much I enjoyed living there. In Latin America, I can visit so many more new places. It’s exciting. A change!
Even though Mexico is not the warmest or most tropical country of all, I believe your relocation there influenced on the record’s name, is that right? Mexico’s weather and people must be warmer than Spain’s.
I’m Dominican, and I try to visit the island as much as possible. The record’s title has more to do with my own “tropicalness,” which is something that has never escaped from me and never will. Whether it’s Spain, New York, Chile or México I’m always going to be that Caribbean dude, and I love that! I’m not known for bachata, merengue or none of those amazing tropical rhythms but I’m still Dominican. The record is fresh, colorful and full of wide soundscapes, that’s where the “Cinema” part comes in. The album is very visual and spacious.
Most of the [new] songs revolve around sex — less romantic and more sexual.
How did your collaboration with Andrés Nusser arise?
Andrés and I met in New York before the idea even came up, and we hit it off really quick. I remember him saying he dug my voice, and I was already an Astro fan. But we never thought about working together. It never even crossed our minds. Actually, the idea came from my manager Jeremy [Jeremy Da, from Reverbatim], who had also worked with Astro in the US and Europe. Anyways, when Jeremy brought it up it made total sense to me, I just never thought Andrés would also be so pumped about it!
Andrés and I had a long chat before committing to the idea. We were questioning each other on how we wanted to do this and it just clicked. It was the right time for both of us. I was looking to get out of my comfort zone and, most of all, move away from the acoustic guitar and other acoustic instruments. This idea of not knowing where I was going excited me, motivated me, and challenged me. I just needed someone to push me. That’s what Andrés does; he pushes you to new levels.
Is Andrés part of the reason this record uses more synths than the others you’ve made?
Believe it or not, it comes from both of us. I’ve always loved the synth world – in ‘El Afán’ you can hear a little bit of that. However, I must admit Andrés is the real expert here. Most people don’t know this, but he’s a genius when it comes to synths. I mean the guy reads about synths and musical production everyday. He’s hooked.
I’m not good at promoting my music off stage.
He had this idea of recording the whole album through an MPC [Midi Production Centre], which is really tedious and weird. We almost never used the computer. We just packed the studio with synths and made them all slaves to the MPC, which is a really old school way of working. It also forced me to confront the songs in a different way. It was perfect to get me out of my comfort zone.
In terms of song themes, can we expect some surprises too?
Most of the themes revolve around sex — less romantic and more sexual. Also I talk a lot about nature, especially tropical nature. Songs like ‘Cambio’, ‘Polaridad’ and ‘Sabiduría Barata’ talk more about existential subjects. Andrés and I made sure that the record had certain coherence soundwise, so I tried to capture that same coherence with the lyrics.
Was recording in four different cities (DF, Santo Domingo, Santiago, NYC) a conscious decision? How did you end up doing that?
It was not a conscious decision at all; it came more out of necessity. I mean I had no other option. These past 2 years have been crazy for me. I’ve been moving so much.
Which movie will go great along your new record?
That’s a good question. Haven’t thought about that yet. You’d probably have to re-shoot some sexy movie like Eyes Wide Shut, The Unbearable Lightness Of Being, Jamón Jamón or Lucia y el Sexo, but Caribbean-style! Needless to say, as a movie junkie, [I think] those movies are perfect as they are – no need for my record to be playing over them hahaha. I also think my album works well in real life, like on a road trip to some beach.
Any special plans to promote Cinema Tropical?
I’m not good at promoting my music off stage. What I love to do and comes naturally to me is playing live – that is the best way I know to connect with my fans. This record, thanks to its unique vibe and soundscape, gives me the opportunity change the format of my live show a bit, which is not only fun for me, it also makes it special for the audience. I’m looking forward to sharing the experience with a lot of people very soon!