Cris Cab is proof that persistence, hard work, and a little bit of luck pay off.
Six years ago, when he was 15, Cab met Pharrell Williams through mutual family friends. “This friend was nice enough to bring me into the studio.” Cab played Williams music he’d produced in his bedroom. “He gave me some great advice,” Cab recalls. He put what Williams taught him to good use and began recording again.
A few years later, “Pharrell heard I was making music again and he brought me back into the studio and taught me about recording and writing and producing,” Cab says. “It’s all been amazing.”
Indeed, while it may seem in the United States like Cab is an overnight sensation, his video for “Liar, Liar,” a song co-written and produced, by Williams, has already hit 30 million views on YouTube and the song landed on the iTunes top 10 in more than 30 countries. “Liar Liar” is featured on “Where I Belong,” Cab’s debut full-length album, out Sept. 2 on Island Records.
The international acclaim happened serendipitously. Williams suggests that they make a music video together for “Liar, Liar,” and then see what happened. “We decided to put it out, and wherever we see smoke, let’s start there. That’s what we did,” Cab says. “After three months, it we started seeing it chart in the Netherlands, then Romania,” and it kept spreading. Now, Cab hopes the U.S. catches on.
The lilting sound in Cab’s music comes from the Cuban influence. He grew up in Miami, the son of Cuban immigrants. “The Cuban culture is very warm and sunny, full of love,” he says. “That’s what I try to bring into my music, positivity and love.”
That sunny feeling also comes from summers spent in the Bahamas, starting when he was 9 and he heard reggae music in bars. “They had a ring toss there, it was weird. It was a bar with games,” he laughs. “I didn’t really understand any of the lyrics, but I understood that it made me feel good.”
Add in his father’s love of acts like Bee Gees, Barry White, Lou Rawls and Marvin Gaye, and it’s easy to see how Cab developed his R&B-influenced sound.
Cab released an EP on his own in 2011. That helped lead to his record deal with Island, which he signed during his senior year of high school. Since signing with Island, he’s released a mix tape and another EP, “just to engage the fans,” he says. “You’ve got to keep it going.”
To that end, Cab will open for Williams in Europe this fall and learn more by osmosis. “Just from watching him and watching people like Wyclef and other producers, there’s no substitution for hard work,” Cab says. “You have to be recording, writing all the time. You have to really live for the music.”