We talked to Axel Tosca Laugart – a 34 years old Cuban pianist and composer, one of the most dynamic young pianists on the scene. Laugart’s family (his father, stepfather, and mother) influenced his musical interests at an early age. He began playing guitar around the age of four and piano at the age of seven, accompanying his parents. Laugart’s mother, Xiomara Laugart, is a world-famous singer, whom he still performs with today.
Laugart played different styles and music directions and collaborated with such musicians and groups like the Afro Cuban All Stars, Teresa Garcia Caturla, Sexteto Sendito, El Greco, Latin Jazz group called the Bobby Carcases Group, also The Roots while they were in Cuba.
1. You are successful in Cuba, and your parents are very popular musicians there. Why you decided to come to America and how your mentors influenced this decision?
ATL: On my teenth, I received advice from various musicians that are already being around the world. They know that there is limited access to music of information in my country in Cuba. We are very rich in heritage, but the information is not allowed too much. So in that time of 2005, I took the decision to immigrate and get a little more knowledge to implement all my musicianship. I didn’t see a future of being in Cuba, knowing that my father was so famous. I should have taken that option, and I don’t regret it. That what I was supposed to do. And that’s what I’m willing to do now with my age – to go back to Cuba, share all my adventures with my fellow musicians. But it is a blessing to be around the world, meeting different musicians, different cultures. I continue to enhance the legacy of my father to music.
2. What is the language of music that you have learned from working with different bands and musicians?
ATL: For me, first of all, being a classical musician, graduating at 16 years old and practicing classical music, along with living in Cuba, you receive all these music directions, like son montuno, cha-cha-cha, Cuban music, even Latin jazz. I am going to quote the master, Lenny White. He is talking a lot about music, how to interpret the music, and how to feel it, how to be a musician and apply the technique, the theory, you know. I need to be in different situations. For me, it is important to get that rush, that light if inspiration because if not, I get bored. I need to be completely entertained, I get to my brain different readings, different music, different dialects, a different way of living. For me, it is very important because it makes me play differently. My language is growing as an individual, so I’m not imitating anyone. I’m trying to get experience to apply it to my plateau and bring it to you, guys.
3. What are you the proudest of during your career?
ATL: I’m proud of my attitude. I’ve been learning a lot from my mother and my father. They always warned me, “Being in the industry, probably, being your own character and having your own attitude sometimes can work against you”. But I’m very proud to be me. I’m very proud to have my falls and my wins. I’m very proud and conscious of everything in life. And I think that I’m a good human being. I keep working, but I’m a good human being.
4. At your teenage, you immersed yourself in the revolutionary Timba and the Hip Hop music scenes of Havana. Did hip-hop collaborations receive continuation in the US?
ATL: Yeah, I definitely work with a bunch of artists good artists, like Jesse Boykins the 3d, who is an R&B upcoming Indie songwriter. I had the opportunity to share the stage with a rapper from Chilli, a lady rapper, I love her, she’s amazing, conscious rapper. I continue searching in the world between Hip-Hop, American pop culture and Cuba. I do love Rap, I do love Hip-Hop, I even love Trap-Rap. I’m taking from every single source for me. But yes, I continue doing Hip-Hop.
5. What is your dream artist to play with?
ATL: I would like to get to that level and just play with me. And there is nothing selfish. For me, it’s getting a little bit difficult to deal with the world around me, and I think that I’m going to be more secure hanging out with myself. I don’t want just people around me, but I do want people that allow me to be myself. The ideal artist that I want to play is with myself.
6. Do you aim for the never-ending pursuit of perfection, or is it better to strive for completion?
ATL: I’m a perfectionist, I’m Aquarius. So naturally I’m looking for perfection, but I don’t practice enough, neither I don’t like to practice. I prefer to complete myself as an artist. On that situation, you are going to see perfection too. You are going to see and say “Oh, his craft is solid”. So I’m looking for more being complete.
7. When was the last time you listened to something new and what did you listen?
ATL: I want to be honest, David Bowie, cause I have never been into his music and, all of a sudden, I have the opportunity to hang out with my father-in-law, Carlos Alomar, he was a guitar player of David Bowie for 39 years plus. And I am discovering a new world, like a rock-n-roll world, an intellectual, and musical. It is old, but it is the new music that I’m playing now. I even have plans to play his music too. So, I’m very glad.
8. What are the upcoming plans with your musicianship?
ATL: I’m about to drop my second album as a solo artist. I’m writing a lot of music and a lot of songwriting. Now I want to have lyrics, I want to have a lot of doors open.
9. What is your food for the soul?
ATL: I do really like to be lonely sometimes. I love to be alone sometimes because it makes me reflect and organize a little more my head. I’m always thinking, so the food for my soul for me is a good album, walk by the sea, sitting down. I don’t want to say that, but for me, food for the soul is something that brings me peace. I love to meditate, but my own meditation.
10. What is your motto?
ATL: My mother-in-law told me to continue doing good and be yourself. I keep being myself, and I continue doing good.