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Alex Ferreira Talks Fatherhood and New Music

Alex Ferreira Talks Fatherhood and New Music

In our Q&A /feature series Tell Me Más, we ask some of our favorite Latine artists to share some inside info about their lives and habits, revealing everything from their most recent read to the songs that get them hyped. This month, we trekked out to Joe’s Pub in the historic East Village to see Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Alex Ferreira take the stage and chatted with him about his latest project, fatherhood, and how he’s balancing the two.

Alex Ferreira’s dressing room at Joe’s Pub is small and sparse, without much in the way of personal belongings or even instruments. There’s a guitar case to one side, a knapsack nearby on a leather chair, and the singer himself sitting sideways in front of the lighted vanity — his trademark curls falling in front of his face. It’s a stripped environment, a fitting one given that later in the evening Ferreira will hit the stage with just a guitar and a soundboard and take the crowd on a full spectrum journey of love, heartbreak, and everything in between. But right now, he’s smiling, seemingly in his element: in a back room, in a big city, while on the road.

“I love touring. I love going to different countries, meeting different people. It’s such an inspiration for me,” the artist tells PS.

As a completely independent artist, Ferreira understands that he’s incredibly fortunate to be able to live off his music. But that often comes with long stretches far away from home, so it’s good that he loves to tour. This current tour has seen him on the go since last year. He’s performed all over Spain and has upcoming stops in Mexico. His two-night stint in New York caps the US section that had him in Miami and Puerto Rico. However, having recently become a father, Ferreira admits that he doesn’t have much time to hang out in these places like he once did.

“I want to be with my daughter. I feel like this is a very important time in her life, her first year . . . the responsibility I have as a father is much greater than that of my artistic life,” he says.

This is especially true since, in his artistic life, Ferreira is pretty well-established. Having made waves since 2010 with a singer-songwriter style that incorporates a healthy dose of experimentation and genre-bending, he knows who he is as an artist. And his fans do too.

Later on in the night, the crowd will swell in unison, singing along with the crooner in such a natural way that it seems rehearsed. That’s the kind of musician Ferreira is known for. It’s music that can make the room small. He’s cracking jokes one minute and, the next, singing with such vulnerability that it’s hard not to be moved.

Yet, at home, he is still adjusting to his role as a father.

“Everything is new. Every stage of the process brings a new challenge. Every stage is a learning process and there’s no manual, no university to tell you these things. You learn on the fly,” Ferreira muses.

One such challenge? Finding the time to write and work on his upcoming album while being a full-time dad.

“Before, I could — and I hate this word but — I could procrastinate a little. Now I can’t,” he says. “If I have one hour to work, I can’t waste time. So now my creative process is much more efficient.”

He now views composing, like going to the gym. To get it done he needs a little bit of consistency, dedicating a few hours out of the day to play, write, and practice before he can put pen to paper and come up with a song.

But that doesn’t mean that making music has become just another exercise for the veteran artist. Talking about his upcoming project, “Versiones Para El Tiempo Y La Distancia Vol. 2,” Ferreira shares that he wants to continue to refine the sound he’s been crafting over the last decade while also experimenting further with blending elements of rock, bachata, and other genres into a unique experience. We can expect more of this from his upcoming album.

“In a similar way to how fatherhood is a process of change, I think my career and my discography can also be seen in that light. I like to have a little doubt, to not know what I’m going to do,” he says.”I’ve also realized that my fans don’t come with that prejudice of, ‘Oh, he’s a singer-songwriter, everything is going to sound the same.’ The people who come to see me know that I’m not committed to any one genre. The common denominator is my voice. My lyrics.”

Ferreira possesses an uncanny ability to peer into the connections we all share and transpose them into poetry. In “Me La Saludan” he uses sarcasm to express the weight of wounds that have yet to heal. On his new track, “De Verdad” he pleads for love in all its complexity. Love “as a decision,” the artist muses.

The official version of the song is a jazzy, upbeat fusion. But on stage, in Joe’s Pub’s small theater, Ferreira turns it into a touching, acoustic ode to the long run — a relationship measured not in days or months, but in the moments that make up a life together. Even if you’ve listened to his music for years, hearing him perform live is an experience. His voice takes on a quality that doesn’t translate through speakers, it’s more vulnerable, more dimensional, and able to not only touch but bring the audience closer.

It’s this ability to tap into emotion, to expose life’s raw nerves with tenderness, while at the same time cracking jokes on stage, that has led to Ferreira’s enduring success and relevance, even as the industry experiences an indie boom. Silvana Estrada, Daniél, Me Estás Matando, Guitarricadelafuente — these are today’s Latin music indie darlings. Ferreira has worked with many of them. The members of Daniél, Me Estás Matando were a part of his band at one point. But when asked about his role or standing in the current scene, Ferreira, despite his legacy and achievements, maintains his humility.

“I’ve never thought of it in terms of a role . . . for me [Latin music] is like a chain and I think that I’m just another link in that chain,” he says.”I think it’s so cool that this music can connect with not just first-gen Latinos, but second and third-gen as well, Latinos that don’t even speak Spanish, people that don’t even speak Spanish. For me, it’s a pleasure to be a part of that, like a little grain of sand.”

It gives Ferreira joy seeing his friends and the artists that have come after him find so much success. But he is also wary of the direction of the industry as a whole with everything moving towards songs created in minutes to achieve virality rather than expression.

That’s not to say that he’s anti-electronic. Ferreira has often added electronic elements to his music and is a fan of experimentally-minded artists like James Blake and Bjork. He’s more concerned about the use of things like autotune and AI as a shortcut to artistry rather than as a means to enhance it.

“When everything starts to sound the same, when the beats are all the same, with the same musical structure, with the same effects, and the same melody, I feel like that’s when the machine wins,” he says.

But until then, he has faith in the process of making “imperfect art” and has some sage advice for those looking to make it in music in the current climate.

“Everyone always wants more than they have. Don’t fall into that dynamic. Make music because it’s your passion, because you love it, [and] because you can’t live without it. Because, as a business model, there are better ones out there,” Ferreira says with a wink and a smile.

Read on to find out about Ferreira’s morning ritual, who his favorite artist of the moment is, and his secret to finding peace.

PS: What is your morning ritual?

Ferreira: Coffee and music. If I don’t have my coffee I’ll have a stroke.

PS: If you had to choose just one place to spend the rest of your days, where would it be?

Ferreira: Madrid

PS: Who is your favorite artist at the moment?

Ferreira: Adrianne Lenker.

PS: You have a song called “Sonrisa Valiente.” Who in your life would you say has the most valiant smile?

Ferreira: My daughter.

PS: What’s your method for finding peace?

Ferreira: Music. Singing it, playing it, listening to it, whatever it happens to be, is therapeutic for me.

PS: The best part of being a father?

Ferreira: Connecting with my inner child again. Tapping into that childishness that we lose in life.

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