Latin Artist on the Rise: Meet Nicola Cruz

Hanna Quevedo
Nicola Cruz

Cruz sways through Andean beats, ancestral world sounds, a pallette of instruments and the freedom to use them.

Nicola Cruz answers the phone with a serene voice that carries throughout the interview, perhaps characteristic of his current residence in Quito, Ecuador, which sits high in the Andean foothills where, for the most part, people are joyful and generous, and everything moves at a slower pace. Although Cruz was born in Limoges, France, to Ecuadorian parents, he arrived at the Incan city over 28 years ago.

Cruz is an electronic musician, producer and DJ who has been making music since he was 12: a personal need to satiate his curiosities. He has developed a keen interest in ancestral Latin American cosmology, in the idea of incorporating folk instrumentation with electronica, and the use of inherited sounds, which he sensibly selects always based on vibrations.

“I don’t feel that I am making a cultural appropriation. Perhaps what I do is celebrate it, in my own way, to my own interpretation and with enough heart, if you will,” he adds.

His connection with electronic music is a means of modern musical manifestation that helps create a bridge that makes these melodious amalgams of tradition with modernity a little more digestible.

Prender el Alma, his album debut (2015), was a space for burgeoning Andean sounds and South American and Ecuadorian stories. Siku, his sophomore release (ZZK Records), out Friday (Jan. 25), has a slightly more global vision. In the album’s first single, “Siete,” which is fixated on the number 7 -- “the number of wisdom and consciousness” -- music becomes a contrapuntal morass of sounds and vibrations with the timbre of the Indian sitar spiraling throughout the song. The album overall is teeming with global rhythms; an intricately harmonious instrumentation in which experimental beats clash with ancestral instruments like the sikú (zampoña; pan flute) and the bombo.

About Siku, Cruz emphasizes its inclusion -- of musicians, of coming together “unlike in parts of the western world where music could be more elitist, where one has to be educated to use an instrument,” he states. The album alludes to an Andean tradition of playing in pairs -- or together -- and makes an invitation to participate.

Learn more about Cruz below:

His Biggest Accomplishment

"Being able to perform with people who I deeply admire, without being a fan nor an idol. To suddenly find myself playing with musicians who always caught my attention is important because that space becomes a valuable avenue where ideas are exchanged. This is an ongoing achievement: from a DIY show to really being able to put on a show on different locations and through those experiences continue the narrative, the story telling which people then absorb in a positive vibe. That, without a doubt, makes me truly happy."

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What’s next?

"What just finished, I would say, which is that my album is finally out. Really what follows for me is the enjoyment of a finished project. I don’t see things as plans or goals. Rather, I see how I flow through a day, as hippie as it sounds. A lot of shows follow: a bit of the usual process when you release an album and proceed to defend it live. The next immediate thing would be the live presentation of the album next weekend, here in Quito."

See Nicola Cruz’s upcoming tour dates:
5/9/19 - Miami, FL - The Ground 
5/10/19 - Brooklyn, NY - Knockdown Center 
5/15/19 - Seattle, WA - Nectar Lounge 
5/17/19 - San Francisco, CA - Public Works
5/18/19 - Los Angeles, CA - Echoplex

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