Cimafunk. Foto: Cortesía de la artista.
Cimafunk. Foto: Cortesía de la artista.

Song by song: Cun-Cun-Prá, by Cimafunk

15 minutos / Gladys M. Quesada

11.12.2020 / Interviews

Ask yourself for a moment if you have seen Cimafunk motionless. Answer that, surely, no. Witnessing its stillness is a rare sighting, a privilege of close friends, family, band ... and this servant. One afternoon in November I could see him sitting, cup of tea in hand and very willing to be interviewed, but then I learned something: when Cimafunk keeps his feet and hands calm, it is his words that get messy, they go at their own pace . He talks like he dances and thinks like he sings. I had to recompose ideas, align facts, put aside my stubbornness and fight from you to you to find a plot and foundation for Cun-Cun-Prá, his most recent production, his first EP.

Towards the definition of EP and other twists and turns

If Cimafunk is clear about one thing, it is that to reach music heaven, in his case, he needs to be a Cuban artist. For this reason, and although he must abide by forms of the market that do not conform to the reality of the Cuban music industry, he thinks first of his audience here as a measure of what will happen to those there.

“We are adapted to tell that demo. What we're really going to do with this EP is promote it with a single. It is very difficult to have a budget in this historical moment to move four or five songs at the same time, and even people who have a real budget do not do it, everything moves to the beat of singles. What is it, you need a material that has more than one song to be able to move seriously in the press, because with a single not all the media pay attention to you, especially artists like me who are just starting out, I don't have a fan such a large base and not so much prestige outside of Cuba. The EP is called Cun Cun Prá and its most important single is the one that gives it its title and the one that is going to be promoted full time ”.

“We are adapted to tell that demo. What we're really going to do with this EP is promote it with a single. It is very difficult to have a budget in this historical moment to move four or five songs at the same time, and even people who have a real budget do not do it, everything moves to the beat of singles. What is it, you need a material that has more than one song to be able to move seriously in the press, because with a single not all the media pay attention to you, especially artists like me who are just starting out, I don't have a fan such a large base and not so much prestige outside of Cuba. The EP is called Cun Cun Prá and its most important single is the one that gives it its title and the one that is going to be promoted full time ”.

The Pottage: how and why to build a legacy

Perhaps what many have not yet understood is that Cimafunk is not moved by the fleeting merriment of empty fame. The cornerstone of him is the nostalgia for the music that he was, for sounds of times that he did not live. He talks about Bola, Chucho Valdés and Omara as someone who found a jug in the courtyard of his house and wants to go out and distribute it.

His wakefulness is the desire for a future for Cuban music on the world scene, where the popular prevails over the vulgar. He shows his pride in the Cuban essence, that which goes beyond the easy archetypes of the moment.

“For me that is a very important song. I feel that in Cuba we have a need to know who certain people were, and what they did for the culture. Those people are there, making music, and they are even willing to collaborate. I never thought I was going to achieve something like that, but I did.

"That is a very important song for me. I feel that in Cuba we have a need to know who certain people were, and what they did for the culture. Those people are there, making music, and they are even willing to collaborate. I never thought I was going to achieve something like that, but I did.

“It is a theme that I will always carry with me as one of the most special. It includes people whom I admire and who have done a lot for Cuban culture, for us; people who have put identity to sound, when nobody was there for that. What Chucho did with Irakere was another type of movement, sound, it was totally different. What Pancho Amat did is enormous, always supporting young people who are trying to make his art, with the inclusion of tres in music schools in Cuba. People like Omara, like the musicians of Aragon, are a gift. Then El Potaje is going to stay. We decided to do a master's degree and we put it there; so he will continue giving timba ”. El Potaje se va a quedar. Decidimos hacerle un máster y lo pusimos ahí; así va a seguir dando timba”.

La Papa and Parar el tiempo: music that mutates

La Papa and Parar el tiempo are not incidentally included in Cun-Cun-Prá. The first is a piece where a very confident Diana Fuentes returns with her elegant sensuality. It is also a song that, whoever heard it at La Tropical on January 18 of this year, knows that it has changed and for the better. The same happens with Parar el tiempo, a song that serves as an intermission so as not to exhaust the listener, give the dancer a minute and show the other Cimafunk. It is also a cut to which the intentions have grown, with a Salma that, although little known, is splendid.

“For me Diana is a complete artist. I remember that before I started making music, she had a record where she sang "I love you more than me, I love you more than me"; When I heard that I said: "I don't know who she is, but she has a tremendous swing." After that she started doing other things but I have always seen that, in all that she has intervened in, she has a unique sound. And that, for me, is the most relevant thing: having a sound. When you have that, it doesn't even matter that you make this type of music or another, it's already you, wherever they put you, you will sound like you and people will know that it is your voice. He will know that it is your sign. When I made this song, I thought of it to sing by myself. The live potato lasts seven or eight minutes, and even ends with a chorus that says "the potato helps ... the potato"; so obviously, by including it in a material with other songs, I modified it a bit. By taking that topic to a shorter time, I had to do it practically again in terms of composition and order of the texts. We even put new texts on it.

Cover of the EP Cun Cun Prá, by Cimafunk.

Cover of the EP Cun Cun Prá, by Cimafunk.

"There is a part - that of the falsetto that Diana sings: 'I only want the best for you' - that when I wrote it I said: 'that would be lethal for a woman to sing.' So I got to see who could have no more or less voice, but the swing to make this natural. When I called her, she of course said yes; we recorded the song and she was super rich.

With Parar el tiempo what happened was that I commented to producer Alfredo González: ‘I have this song that sounds like me, but I did it by experimenting and I would love to do a different version’. He did that version for her and we started looking for a female artist for the featuring. There were a couple of proposals but Salma also has the total swing, she has a beautiful voice. Plus she wanted the song, she really wanted it. And that is more important - even if you think not - than thinking of another artist who can give you or generate more followers or views, but who really doesn't care if he does the song or not. That leads to another magical result, the flow of the song that makes it different. If you start thinking about the best strategy, of course there are many. Even for me, to make other types of music or to merge my music. But sometimes you can't get carried away by what would be better for numbers, because that's where you get lost and start making croquettes. If the thing is to take it with soul, it is in size; but it is also a long road when you pursue a result and you get tired of that.

“I love how the song turned out. It was a story that really happened to me and I did it in just 20 minutes; then the musical arrangement came out at dawn. When you start to fix it, it had the original sound stale. As much as I wanted to, it was very hard to adapt because I knew Stop time with another mood, but in the end when I listened to it with a cool head I thought ‘no, how beautiful’. When the song came out, I sent it to a friend and her message back from her was "I think I just got pregnant." I think that if you listen to it at the right time and situation, it will surely work ”.

Isaac Newton said that chance is God's way of making himself present. The funk gods were delighted when they brought Cimafunk, Tank and The Bangas and The Soul Rebels together. As the culmination of that moment, it was Hot.

Dijo Isaac Newton que la casualidad es la forma que tiene Dios de hacerse presente. Los dioses del funk estaban de plácemes cuando hicieron coincidir a Cimafunk, Tank and The Bangas y The Soul Rebels. Como culmen de ese momento quedó Caliente.

“We came to New Orleans for the first time and we tried to find people to share. That's where The Soul Rebels appeared. We went with them to a house that had been abandoned since Katrina and where Maceo Parker's engineer did a super lethal study. There we unloaded very hard and, later, we went to our concert at the Tipitina’s and they went up. As a result of that the idea arose that we had to do something together and something serious. Then, when we returned, we did coordinate the study and began to experiment, without being clear that we would do a feat. We were so relaxed that they thought they were only going to record the brass in one song on the record.

“I had a tumbao in mind, the one from the beginning, and a discharge formed over it that, when we finished recording, lasted about 11 minutes. Later I sent it to Tarriona and said, "It would be nice if you could do something here." She accepted and did the spoken word, super poet, super killer. The song also has Hilaria's super horny solo at the end; has rap, New Orleans grass. In the end we leave it in four minutes. That's how Caliente came out, like so many things, unexpectedly, without a plan. "Are we going to do it?" Well, we do.

“Certainly the project that Caliente gave birth was beautiful. Being lucky enough to be able to do the tour, to play at the Blue Note - where Ray Charles and Nina Simone passed - was very shocking. Each group has its own sound, each culture has its sound, its flavor. We have a very marked and strong one, hence the acceptance; because it is a Cuban sound that people are adapted to listen to. Cuban music is breaking the planet, and the respect it has is incredible. I am nobody, I have not studied music, but people look at me with enormous respect and it is not for me, as an artist, but for Cuban music and culture. That was what made us go viral with all the madness of Ponte pa ’lo tuyo and El Potaje.

“When you look at the food you have in the gao, culturally and soundly, if you really start looking for it, it's great. That is the support to throw it anywhere. We got to do funk in New Orleans. You can't go dancing at the top, but the funk we do is something else: it's Afro-Cuban music, and we didn't know that there was a sound behind all that that isn't the same as theirs, at least they hadn't. heard like that and that's what always hits. We have the sound in our heads and in the street ”.

“Cun Cun Prá came out of quarantine. I originally started writing that song for another artist, because his manager contacted me saying that he was missing a song on the album, that he wanted a dance song. I had been experimenting a bit more with the Afro thing for a while and I started doing that song, however when I finished it the artist found it too acoustic. We have this disease of playing and playing and playing — even me, I play too much sometimes and the song doesn't need it. I am also very jealous to give songs away, along with that all the musicians of mine told me: ‘that song is very hard, let's do it ourselves’, and in the end I decided to release it as the next single. As a result of that, the idea of ​​the EP came.

“Cun Cun Prá salió de la cuarentena. Esa canción originalmente la empecé a escribir para otro artista, porque su manager me contactó diciéndome que le faltaba una canción en el álbum, que quería una canción bailable. Yo llevaba un tiempo experimentando un poco más con la cosa afro y me puse a hacer esa canción, sin embargo cuando la terminé al artista le pareció demasiado acústica. Nosotros tenemos esa enfermedad de poner y poner y poner —aun yo, pongo demasiado a veces y la canción no lo necesita. También soy muy celoso para regalar canciones, a la par de eso todos los músicos míos me decían: ‘ese tema está durísimo, hagámoslo nosotros’, y al final me decidí a soltarlo como el próximo single. A raíz de eso, llega la idea del EP.

“I really like the flow that the song has, and even the phrases. ‘Cun Cun Prá’ is a phrase that exists. I have always heard from all percussionists every time they imitate a rhythm, like Bobby Carcassés, that when he goes to do a series he says cuncuncunprá, cuntincunprá, priprá, cun-prá. From there I got the idea of synthesizing how we interpret the sounds of leathers. That is why Cun-Cun-Prá is a state of mind, it is a slogan that says where we are, a cultural place. Normally when you are in an environment where that sound is heard —cuncunprá, prá, kinkinprá— there is music, party, gozadera, conga and leather. Hence the name, hence the expression ”.

Encore: Cimafunk se explica

Do you think Cun-Cun-Prá will get where Me voy?

"I dont know. Me voy has not arrived yet, he had a promotion but the songs stay for a long time. You do them and over time things happen with them. Me Voy caused a lot of sensation in one part; but my most listened to song on streaming platforms like Spotify or iTunes is not that, but Stop time. Me Voy has the Afro-Cuban rhythm with its pylon and its mechanics; It has the allegorical phrase to when you leave a place - "hey, I'm leaving" - and there comes a point where you get bored of the song because of that, although it is also rich. I Go created an effect on people, Stop time another, and Patient another. Suddenly you find Paciente fans or those who prefer Alabao, but they don't know Me voy, as has happened to us on many tours. In the end that varies all the time.

In that possible world that artists create, cohesion and coherence (the style at last) is evidenced in the sound and the discourse. In your case, there are recurring reasons for what is popular: lycra, bajichupa, guara and other related terms. Is that speech intentional?

En ese mundo posible que crean los artistas, la cohesión y coherencia (el estilo al fin) se evidencia en la sonoridad y el discurso. En tu caso, hay motivos recurrentes de lo popular: la licra, el bajichupa, la guara y otros términos afines. ¿Es intencional ese discurso?

“I am always talking about the same thing but in different contexts and with the words that I normally use when talking to people. But there is a problem: sometimes when I write a song, I start to calculate a lot how I am going to say things. When I enter there I already lose the spontaneity to say it and that's it. That's why I always try to make sure the songs stay the same as I'm talking to you, with the same composition of the words. In Me Voy: ‘oh what is the guara if you are not going to do anything…’; the same in Cun Cun Prá: "we are going to rip off the beauty of life." I try, on the other hand, to tell the truth and the truth about how I see things, how I communicate. That is why words are repeated and there are reasons that I always turn to. Well at least it is very difficult for me to connect to say something and to put a kind of language in the song to tell lies. It's something I wouldn't do. I say it my way, whether it's a ballad or a bolero, whether it's a conversation, an argument or a party. There are people who can put poetry into it, not me, I throw it out the way it comes out ”.

Gladys M. Quesada

Gladys M. Quesada

Licenciada en Filología Española, Locutora, Guionista. Máster en Ciencias de la Comunicación. Convencida de que existe vida fuera de la Tierra y de la vida. Crespa por convicción, Filóloga por vocación. Consumidora voraz de series y música. Eternamente, niña guajira.

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