Cuci Amador is the effervescent frontwoman of Afrobeta, a Miami favorite who's currently finishing up a new studio album. Crossfade caught up with her recently to ask her about her musical background, new projects, and that recent almost-Grammy.
New Times: Let's get some things out of the way first. Where do you come from, what is your name and more importantly, if you had to choose between rescuing an Atari 2600 or Taylor Dane from a burning building, who would you rescue?
Cuci Amador: My family hails from Cuba. My nickname is Cuci Amador. Cuci is pronounced Coo-SEE and comes from "cosita" which means "little thing." Amador is my grandmother's maiden name, translated in English as "lover." I guess Cuci Amador means "Little Lover." I think if I had to save an Atari 2600 or Taylor Dayne from a burning building, I would save Taylor Dayne. ColecoVision was a superior system.
Okay, you've established a pretty solid pedigree locally and a fan base through your work in Afrobeta and with Jose el Rey and the Miami Bass Warriors. What can you tell us about those projects, and is it true the City of Miami is planning on taxing Smurphio's hair?
Afrobeta is developing nicely! It started as a beta project and we are happy to be working on our debut album! We've teamed up with a local indie label started by two of the Ultra Music Festival co-founders, Russell and Charlie Faibisch. You can look forward to a release party announcement soon! Yes, the City of Miami has approached us about taxing Smurphio's head space. It's a roving piece of real estate that has been valued at over $1.2 million. Our lawyers are looking into it.
How did you hook up with Calle 13 and what in Sam Hell is "alt-reggaeton," exactly? Will there be more New Wave -nfluenced reggaeton in the future?
Calle 13 had a beat ready for their new album that was kinda a freestyle throwback. A mutual friend showed Residente, of Calle 13, the video for "Nighttime." He liked it and thought I would be a good fit for the beat. That became the song "Electro Movimiento."
I guess "alt-reggaeton" would mean reaching outside of the traditional derivative of Jamaican dancehall. I know that Visitante, the musical mind of Calle13, is a big fan of folkloric music. I mean, they did a song with Ruben Blades on the new album! That's classy. I'd like to see a Missing Persons "What Are Words For" reggaeton remix. "Pa' que son la' palabra, cuando nadie sabe como usarlas."
Everybody knows you're an accomplished concert violinist and martial artist. Do you have any other hidden skills? Do you like being represented as an "electro-funk" singer? Clearly you have great vocal range; are there any other styles of music that interest you? Any people you'd like to work with?
Thanks for asking! I trained for many years for my Olympic figure skating aspirations. I made it to the 2002 semi-finals at the Scott Rakow skating rink with my solo routine to "Conga" by Miami Sound Machine. Now I coach the Little Havana girls' hockey team. It's a far cry from my Olympic dream but it keeps me on the ice! I'd like to work with Björk on a concept album. It is comprised of songs written for animals in frequencies only they can hear. PETA has expressed interest in funding it.
So you have a Grammy -- any chance of getting an Independent Spirit Award for your work on Aiden Dillard's Death Print?
Technically, the song I wrote and sang on, "Electro Movimiento," is on an album that won many Grammys. That's amazing, but it's not a Grammy I consider my own. However you can continue to perpetuate that rumor if you like! I believe the Academy looked over Death Print in the "for your consideration" bin. The theme song was sick. Totally-Oscar (said in Spanish) worthy.