Cris Cab was a 15-year-old troubadour who liked to chill on the beach, fish with friends, and do the general Miami teenager thing. But then Pharrell was passed his music by a mutual family friend and took note of the kid's talent.
Fast-forward six years and Cris is a 21-one-year old ready to break out. His latest cuts feature smooth guitar work infused with poppin' reggae beats. A new Pharell-produced single, "Liar Liar," already has over 12 million hits on YouTube and it's a full-blown European smash hit.
So, as Cab finishes his new album, Where I Belong, set to drop this summer, and preps for a European tour, we here at Crossfade caught up with him on the phone. He was sitting at a restaurant, ready to order a burger. But he changed his mind and decided to go with the fish to be healthy.
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Crossfade: Where did you grow up in Miami?
Cris Cab: I grew up all around. But mostly the Kendall area. I loved to do things on the water, go fishing and stuff like that.
What kind of music did you grow up listening to?
My dad liked to play me a lot of Bee Gees and reggae. So I got really into that.
Pharrell heard you at 15. Then he heard you again at 16 and recognized a change in your craft that made him decide to produce you. What do you think changed?
When I was 15, a mutual friend introduced me to Pharrell. He gave me some advice.
And what was that?
He taught me how to use chord changes. But mostly, he told me to tell a story with my music. Try to get a message out in every song.
What is the worst lie a girl has ever told you?
She said that I danced good.
And you didn't?
Eh... I was OK.
Where is your favorite place to take a girl on a date in Miami?
I really like this place, Ortanique on the Mile. It's got a really interesting fusion going on. I like to take people visiting from out of town as well.
How is it being a 21 year old hanging out with these legends, like Wyclef Jean and Pharrell?
I'm extremely fortunate and blessed. I couldn't ask for better mentors.
Your fashion sense is different than Pharrell's in that it seems less flamboyant. What do you think of Pharrell's hats?
I think it's cool. He's got everyone's attention. Everyone's doggin' him for the hats, but everyone's wearing them now too. So something's working. Why dog him?
I see you have a show in Miami on May 4. You also have an upcoming European tour. Can you talk about the differences in playing to both crowds?
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I love playing in Miami. It's like nowhere else. Everyone comes out with a lot of energy. European crowds are great too. Even if they don't know my lyrics, they try to learn them and sing along.
Growing up in Miami, did you do a lot of the open mic scene?
Sure, I did Bardot and I used to grab my guitar and go on stage at Churchill's. I love Bardot, there's great guys running that place.
Which of your work are you most proud of?
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Definitely the music video for "Liar Liar." It was so fun to do.
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Cris Cab. As part of Cinco at the Jungle. With DJ Irie, Robbie Hunter Band, Jared Dylan, La Linea, Aaron G Trio, DJ Danny Stern, DJ Drew, Retrokidd, and Javi C. Presented by Brickell Fest Events. Sunday, May 4. Jungle Island, 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami. The show starts at 4 p.m. and ends at 11. Tickets cost $58 and up plus fees via brickellfestival.com/cincodemayo/tickets. Call 305-400-7000 or visit jungleisland.com.