Interview: Calle 13's Eduardo Cabra, Producing Diana Fuentes

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Eduardo José Cabra Martínez is no stranger to the production studio. As one half of Calle 13—as El Visitante—he’s been responsible for composing and producing the group’s tracks since day one. It shouldn’t be surprising to his fans to learn that he’s developed an interest for producing and working with other artists besides his own group.

What his fans may find surprising, however, is the next project he’s tackling: the second album of Cuban singer Diana Fuentes, Planeta Planetario. The album won’t be out until early next year but we have the exclusive on the first single, “Será Sol.” It’s a lovely, idyllic folk cover of Carlos Varela’s acoustic classic, whom she worked with for four years in her native Cuba.

We spoke with Eduardo, who was at his home in San Juan, by phone and chatted briefly about making the album with Diana Fuentes and why there won’t be any head banging to Planeta Planetario.

How long ago did you finish working on Planeta Planetario?

We finished it earlier this year. I think it’s an album that, independent of what we were doing musically, has its strength in her ability to perform in many styles and sounds and how she’s able to interpret these songs in various ways. The process of recording the album went by very quickly, having to get to know each other and work on the music at the same time, having to learn about each other on every level. It was a process of getting to know one another beyond just music. What we’d do is, we’d go to a movie or we’d go to the studio. The approach to making the album was very casual. I think it was a lot more difficult dealing with a label and all that than it was to record the album.

Was there any difference producing an album with someone you just met versus working with someone like your step-brother René Pérez Joglar, whom you’ve known much of your life?

In the end, it’s all about the music. Music is music and work is work. It’s all about communicating with an artist. Communication is very important because, working as a producer, it’s a collaboration but not an interchangeable one. It’s necessary to work together in order to get as close to the artist’s original intention.

Honestly, I don’t think there’s much of a difference between producing my work or hers. The question is always about the particular style. The main difference is that in this production, it’s not my style or sound, it’s Diana’s, but I have a part in creating it. With Diana, I was experimenting with sounds that are more, I guess, friendly or pleasing for the general public. With Calle 13, it’s always something more alternative, something more crude. No one should expect to do any headbanging to this album.

“Será Sol” is a beautiful folk song. Will the other songs on Planeta Planetario be in the same genre or will there be a mix of sounds?

Yeah, “Será Sol” is a very bright and tranquil song. It’s a very white theme…white, yellow, very evocative of those colors. It’s the type of song that makes you want to go out for a walk. As I said before, each song is different. The main difference is how Diana interprets them. There are some classical songs, some that are similar to “Será Sol,” the title track, which, I think, is a little darker.