Based in South Africa, Cubbi is an indie-electronic artist and producer. His debut EP ‘nothingspecial’ was just released on April 19th. Combining poetic lyricism and electronic sounds, he tackles difficult and personal topics including being a queer artist, mental illness, and drug abuse. The tracks are authentically creative and unapologetically honest.
Q: What is the story behind the name Cubbi?
A: I was obsessed with the animated version of ‘The Jungle Book’ as a kid. I think I would watch the movie several times a week and reenact the scenes for my parents and siblings even. It earned me the nickname “man cub”, what Baloo calls Mowgli. It got shortened to cub and over time it became Cubbi. I thought it was a cool name to use for the artistry cause I already identified with the name and my birth name is already taken up by a rather big artist, which kinda sucks.
Q: All of your songs are very personal. Will you tell me about your writing process?
A: I like to spend time off of social media and emails and away from my phone when writing. I ask myself how I’m feeling and why, and I take it from there. What I create in a session is usually reflective of my mood at the time.
Q: Your debut EP ‘nothingspecial’ was just released on April 19th. Why did you decide on that title?
A: It’s how I felt about my music for a long time, you know the classic self-deprecating-musician trope. I use it here rather ironically, cause my music is my life. It’s one of the most special things I have.
Q: “Rippling” was your debut single. Why did you choose to introduce yourself with that track?
A: At first glance it’s the most uplifting, feel-good song on the EP. I didn’t want to introduce myself as this “tortured” and “sarcastic” musician on the get go. The rest of the EP kinda eludes to that anyways.
Q: Did you learn anything about yourself in the process of creating ‘nothingspecial’?
A: I learnt how bitter I can be sometimes, and how I can make fun of that bitterness through the music I make. With “Buzzkill” for example, I took a frustrating situation and turned it into a lowkey diss track. I think it’s important to make fun of yourself and uncomfortable situations.
Q: Are there any lyrics from the EP that stand out to you? If so, what are they, and why?
A: All the lyrics on my EP are super personal and important to me. But if I had to pick out a line it would be in the second verse of “Fall Out Boy” where I whisper “peaches”. It cracks me up every time I hear it. I had so much fun creating that song.
Q: Will you tell me about some of the people you worked with on the ‘nothingspecial’? How did they contribute, and what was it like working with them?
A: There were four major helps I got with this EP. Firstly, my manager Kelly Sayer. I really need to give her a huge shout out cause without her this EP wouldn’t have existed in the way that it does now. She helped pull all the ends together to make sure the EP was a polished product. Bubele Booi was the first person I had reached out to to collab with on the EP. Working with him was so effortless and fun. We just get each other musically which is a dream when it comes to collaborations. Also David Balshaw, who I met through Bubs, was the polish that “Rippling” needed and he really brought up the songs production value. We have actually been in the studio working on a couple new songs but that’s TBA later this year. He’s a one in a generation talent and our styles mesh really well together. Lastly and probably most importantly the genius who mixed the EP, a close friend of mine Pedro Calloni.
Q: Do you think being from South Africa influences your music in any way? If so, how?
A: It has influenced the production of a couple of the songs on the EP. But mostly I think being from here has influenced my music tastes which then poured over into almost everything when making the EP.
Q: There are a lot of people out there dealing with the same or similar things you have struggled with (depression, drug abuse, etc.) and speak about on this EP. What would you say to those people?
A: Be open with how you are feeling. Speak about your mental health with people you trust, and seek out help if you need it. I have the habit of romanticizing my mental health through my music. I’m not sure if it’s good thing or a bad thing but I don’t want people to think that it’s something desirable in way. Not in the way that it should be seen as undesirable but in the way that you shouldn’t actively seek out situations or behaviors that lead to poor mental health. Work on yourself as much as you can.
Q: What message do you hope listeners gain from your music?
A: I hope listeners find solace in my music. Something they can listen to and be like this is how I feel. Listening to music can be such therapy for your soul. I want my music to help people relate to themselves.