Liset Alea Talks Touring With Nouvelle Vague and Her Miami Music Festival Gigs

I could praise Liset Alea's talent forever. But until you listen to this songbird for yourself (or better yet, hear her live), you won't really understand.

This Cuban-born beauty has picked up a thing or two traversing the globe, from New York to Miami, Cuba to Costa Rica, and all over Europe. And the end result for someone like Alea, who quite literally lives music, is an eclectic approach to songwriting and a childlike curiosity.

Crossfade recently got a chance to catch up with the singer-songwriter, who finds herself in the middle of a European tour with Nouvelle Vague.

New Times: You've been very busy lately! How goes the life of a globetrotting songstress? How are you enjoying the European tour?

I'm very excited about being on tour! There's nothing like Europe for the wide-eyed musician! So many old countries smushed together within almost walking distance. So many spontaneous melodies recorded into my phone in a hotel room! Touring and being on the road is the thing that really makes my head explode with ideas. The next tour includes a couple of dates in Russia and the Ukraine, in December of all months! I am currently accepting serious winter clothes donations, although I may just tie some lambs around me with electrical tape and keep the vodka handy.

I imagine your rather nomadic upbringing makes touring a little easier on you? Or do you get just as homesick as anyone else?

Well, I definitely suffer from the rolling stone syndrome. I have always felt at home wherever I was able to do my work, because as cheesy as it sounds, music is my true home. Miami is a source of health and grounding for me, and Cuba (the motherland that I painfully ignored for years) is just down the stream. I like being under the sun, even if I refuse to sunbathe.  To be honest, I was very homesick for 10 years (seven of which I lived in Europe and three in New York). I found that coming home was cheaper than therapy, and if you stay away from your hometown long enough, you start seeing it as a new city! For the past three years I've been in Miami, I've rediscovered Cuba, made new friends that I couldn't imagine not having, I've had lots of cafecitos with my mom and learned to bake with my dad. I am now fueled up to get out and be a spacewoman again.

Touring with Nouvelle Vague seems very cool. How'd you guys link up?

I lived in Paris for a couple of years while I was working with Alexkid and I had met Marc Collin (creator of Nouvelle Vague) back then, but when Nouvelle Vague came to Miami and the Rhythm Foundation gave me the opportunity to open up for them, that really sealed the deal.

I know you were doing some recording a couple months back. What can you tell me about it?

I wrote and co-produced my first ever Spanish album called Sin Cera meaning without wax (or without bullshit) in Latin. It's about my experience returning to the source (returning to Cuba and reuniting with my family), returning to myself, my deepest fears, all the while attempting to untie the knots in my heart. It's about where I stand with my Latin-ness, my American upbringing and my international obsessions. It's cinematic, textured and brutally honest. It's my first album 100% indie, and I didn't have to pay attention to any control freak anti-creative label execs--it is a beautiful luxury--the creative process took its natural course. I collaborated with some amazing talent: Ahmed Barroso, Hector Castillo (worked with Bjork, David Bowie & Rufus Wainwright), Javier Garcia, Didi Gutman (Brazilian Girls) and Diogo Oliveira among others.  I plan to release the album in Spain and Mexico early 2011 before bringing it back to the USA.

You're a girl with eclectic tastes and varied talents, huh?

I've always been in love with electronic music. My first band was a drum and bass collective called Etro Anime. The album See the Sound is a great make-out album, although I personally don't make out to it, cause I sing on it so that would just be odd. But you should totally make out to it.

Anything else you're working on that we should know about?

Regardless of what my guitar and I want to do, I always like being involved in a couple of side-projects, just because I'm a fool for good programming. Last year, Alexkid, Rodriguez Jr and I started a band called Honeythieves and a song from that album got on Entourage and 90210! Then I was invited to do a song for Dubphonic, which is a tasteful Jamaican tinged dub band in Paris. The album "Relight" is essential listening if you're into dub, and it includes featurings by Ceu and Jean-Phillipe Rykiel among others.
I currently have a song in one of Jesse Eisenberg's latest films "Holy Rollers", a very cool film about Hassidic Jews smuggling ecstasy in the 90's. As usual, I was paid with ecstasy.

You can actually catch Liset Alea back stateside this Friday, as she performs in just one MMF gig at Bardot, where she'll share the stage with Jorge Moreno, Fancy Yet Me, Selby and Locos Por Juana.

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Christopher Lopez