All of Latin America knows his name.
He has a career in music that spans over 20 years. He is a rock star, an actor, a writer and director. But at the core of his heart, he is an artist to his very soul. From painting onto a canvas to winning the Grammy Award, you know talent when you see it.
His name is B e t o C u e v a s .
He is an artist that is constantly evolving.
As the frontman of one of Chile’s most well-known rock bands La Ley, or "The Law" in English, is considered by some to be the most influential Spanish language rock band of all-time, releasing 10 albums, winning a U.S. Grammy, two Latin Grammys and several MTV awards. Cuevas' rise to fame has taken him to perform for venues where 10,000 to 15,000 fans have chanted his name like rolling thunder.
In Chile, he is rock star royalty. In Mexico, Mr. Cuevas is so well known that he was named a judge on the second season of their version of the The Voice, called "La Voz Mexico".
Beto Cuevas knows that music is a universal language.
He is multilingual. Fluent in the French, English and Spanish languages. He sings and composes in all three, which has positioned him as a true international rock artist.
You can be sure that when Beto enters onto the stage, people are compelled to take notice. He always gives a powerful performance that is both visually and sonically dynamic.
Cuevas' music has even won over some of the highest caliber of celebrities, with compliments from U2 Frontman Bono, to uniting with world renowned musician Sting for an important charity concert, to collaborating and composing a song with actress Sharon Stone. Even legendary director Quentin Tarantino is a fan.
Let's face it, when you're good, you're good.
The singer-songwriter even got to fulfill some of his early acting aspirations, when he got the chance to appear in the films La Mujer de Mi Hermano (My Brother's Wife) where he played the role of a priest, to an even more substantial role in the American film Borderland as drug lord/high priest "Santillan."
Mr. Cuevas even published a book in 2012 titled, El Arte de Ser Beto Cuevas (The Art of Being Beto Cuevas) about his life, including his fine-art aspirations.
The man doesn't stop. He even makes time for charitable causes.
Working side by side, Beto has joined actress Eva Longoria, of Desperate Housewives fame, as spokesperson for the charitable organization known as PADRES Contra El Cancer ( Parents Against Cancer ) where they both continue to devote countless hours and raise thousands of dollars to help children in need.
In addition to his career with La Ley, Beto is also an award winning solo artist as well, with two album credits to his name. 2008's Miedo Escenico
(Stage Fright) and 2012's Latin Grammy winning album, Transformacion which was recorded at Frank Zappa's Crystal Ship Studio.
As an artist, Beto has even achieved his art exhibit debut in New York City in 2013, where he collaborated with International Mexican-American artist Ray Smith at the Pinta, which is a Latin American Contemporary Art Fair where artists are featured from galleries of Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil , Chile, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and some of Miami and New York.
In addition to all of that, he recently received the "Conqueror Award" from the Latin Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 2015, and the man even survived the massive 8.8 magnitude Earthquake in Chile back in 2010.
The list can go on and on.
Cool Magazine recently had the privilege of being able to chat with Beto Cuevas and ask him some questions about his art, his music and what he thinks is cool. As always, Beto had some interesting stories to tell us.
Beto, you clearly have a natural ability for creating all kinds of art. How did you first get into sketching and drawing? Was it someone or something that inspired you?
"I was a very good introverted kid and found sketching and drawing more appealing than going out to play sports with my friends. That obviously got me deep into developing my drawing skills and once I started liking what I was creating, I started spending more time doing it. Without a doubt my biggest influence were my super hero comic books and the Hanna Barbera television cartoons."
We have seen so much of your artwork throughout the years. We absolutely love the brilliant imagination and heart that your pour into your creations. Each piece is distinctively original and captivating in it's own way. You have displayed a multitude of abstract paintings, character portraits, and your new period of digital art videos. What is the message that you would like to communicate to the world with your art?
"I'd like to let the world know that anything is possible if we are crazy enough to believe it. I never thought I was gonna be a singer songwriter, but when I had my chance to do it, I went for it without a personal prejudice to it. 'Fake it till you make it' ".
Many musicians have such unique stories about what it was like the first time they ever went on the stage. Could you tell us your story of your first ever performance? And do you still get nervous before a show?
"I still do sometimes, but I guess it's not the same nerves I had when I first performed in front of a crowd. Today it's a mix between anxiety ( the good kind ) and the restless longing for perfection. My first time on stage was in Chile at a beach club ( this was a year prior to my integration to the band who I'm known for ) and I remember that it was terrible. My brother in law who got there late heard some people coming out of the club saying how bad we were."
You are known for your tremendous stage presence and audience connection. How important do you feel it is for a singer to have that special bond with the audience while playing live and why?
"I believe that is a " must have " quality that any frontman should have if the intention is to make a career out of it. You see, singers and frontmen are the very flags of the band, all the attention goes through them and they have the difficult task to " entertain " and bring the crowd to fever like state ( meaning the pinnacle of fun ). Usually the bands that don't have someone like this never get to second base."
Being a songwriter for many years, what is the most unusual way you have ever received an idea for a song?
"It usually comes with a story, an anecdote or a very deep emotional feeling you may experience, but there was a time when I saw a movie called " The Sixth Sense " that inspired me tremendously and made me write a song called " Fuera de mi " ( Beyond myself ) that pretty much tells the experience of a person who loses his life and experiences the first moments living in that "after life" realizing that it's time to walk another path."
In the music business we are aware that the record companies usually have a lot of influence over which single will be released off an album. Was there ever a song that got overlooked that you believed deserved more attention and what did that song mean to you?
"Yes, that is true but it also depends on the contract that you may have as an artist, that's why it is fundamental that the artist never shows the company a song that he or she doesn't like., that way you never put up a song that you really don't like. In my case in a band I have to say that I always agreed with the record label, call it common sense, but as a solo artist there were some songs that I believed could have been great singles, but never made it there. It was a radio based business then, not so much now.
What song instantly puts you in a good mood?
"If you're asking me about one of my songs it's a little hard to know because I don't usually listen to my music for fun, only when I just finish an album and I've got to go on tour soon after the record release, it helps me get the lyrics in my immediate mind ( I'm not the teleprompter kind of artist ). "As for songs from my lifetime playlist, I would say any Elvis, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran and The Cure song would do ( among many other artists that I'm omitting."
We have to ask, Blackelbow is such a unique name for your own recording studio in Los Angeles. What is the meaning behind the name?
"When I was a kid, my sisters and cousins used to tease me because I had dry elbows, and after spending a summer doing lots of outdoor activities, they saw me coming with pretty dirty elbows one day, so they started calling me " Codo Negro " which directly translates into "Blackelbow." I gotta say though that in Chilean culture and idiosyncrasy, it is very common to give nick names and in all due honesty I consider myself an expert at it."
You have had so many amazing moments in the span of your musical career. Has there been one particular shining moment that you’re most proud of? One that tops them all.
"It's hard to pick one particular one, but we've had many as a band, and I had many as a solo artist as well. There was one moment though during an interview we were having in Chile, a day before a big show at the Viña Del Mar Festival where we were talking to the host ( a very good friend ), when a known journalist stormed into the studio screaming 'We won!!!!! We won!!!!'. I thought there was an important game that our country was playing that I had no clue about ( typical me ) but as he approached us he clearly said that " us, the band " had won an American Grammy, our first, but the first for a Chilean artist. After that our performance was mixed with the pride of the whole country and even the president that was then, invited us to " La Moneda " ( the equivalent of the White House here in the US ) to greet us."
What's next for Beto Cuevas? Any new projects or ideas in the works?
"Yes, I'm in the verge of releasing a couple of new singles before I drop my next full length studio album that I've been working on for quite some time. Good and fun times are lining ahead for the continuation of this musical and artistic career."
Beto, what is your definition of cool ?
"In my opinion something cool is something that is related to being well dressed, not elegant necessarily but it has to have black in it. It's something that makes me want to look like it. Musically it's related to New Wave in the whole definition of the early 80's term but it could also be rockabilly like those early Elvis songs or even Gene Vincent or even the Stray Cats and David Bowie. It goes from there to Jazz, Sinatra, Nina Simone's version of 'Feeling Good' has that 'cool factor '. In terms of movies it's hard to pick one but 'Atomic Blonde ' by David Leitch is most definitely one of the coolest films I've seen in a long time, along with any Quentin Tarantino film or even Martin Scorsese ( among others )."
And so you see,
there really is no doubt about it.
After all is said and done, Beto Cuevas has definitely got what it takes to keep his audience on the edge of their seats. He's got the talent. He's got the moves. The driving artist within him continues to create like he's on fire, always taking his music, his artwork, and his vision to the next level. You really never know what to expect and that is always exciting.
Still, you might ask, what about the man underneath it all? We all know that some celebrities check that smile at the door the minute the curtain closes.
But that's just not Beto.
The man is really a genuinely nice guy. When people meet him, they can't help but adore him. He's super friendly, makes time for his fans and actually takes the time to listen to what people have to say.
A very rare quality in this day and age of celebrity.
All of that, coupled with a smile that can light up any room and a terrific sense of humor that will have you laughing yourself silly. This guy has got it all and then some.
One thing you can sure of is that whatever Mr. Cuevas has planned next on the road ahead of him, take our advice and make sure you have your seat belt locked firmly into place.
Then get ready to feel that thrilling sensation that only Beto can deliver. Because you definitely don't want to miss any of the magic that's to come.
So, if you ask us what is cool?
Our definition is Beto Cuevas.
By J & M Shepherd