Today we’d like to introduce you to Alfi Lucero Canaan.
Alfi, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My fascination with music came later in my life. I knew I enjoyed music tremendously but it didn’t occur to me to pick it up as a serious passion until near the end of high school. I picked up the classical guitar when I was around 10 or 11 but wasn’t really into it. Then I moved up to electric and it was the same result.
At the time, I was fascinated by Jimi Hendrix and wanted nothing but to sound like him. However, I didn’t have the discipline or the genuine interest to take it seriously. After a few years, I picked up the electric bass, then I fell in love with music deeply. Somehow the change to electric bass put everything into perspective. I far more enjoyed playing bass than guitar, it felt it had more possibilities. Since then, I started performing with different local bands and projects for fun, studying and practicing as much as I could. The two main projects during that time were a local punk band, No Right Answers, and a local hardcore/metal band, Drop the Gloves.
Both projects performed in and around San Diego, and successfully recorded their own respective albums. I focused on learning theory and reading on my own, and just fell in love with the whole process of performing and practicing music. After a couple of years of attending San Diego City College, I moved to Los Angeles to continue my musical education at the prestigious Musicians Institute of California, where I developed my performance skills and experience further. Not long after graduating MI with a Bachelor in Music Performance, I was hired as a Teacher’s Assistant which provided more opportunities and real-world experience. During my time at Musicians Institute, I focused on the performance of many contemporary styles including jazz, R&B, funk, rock, Latin, country, reggae, etc.
In addition, to performance, I also learned to arrange and compose within those styles. Following the time working as a TA at MI, I continued my education by attending California State University, Los Angeles to pursue a Masters of Music emphasizing in Commercial Music. My attention spread from just performing into producing, recording and arranging. I have performed with a variety of artists and projects including my own bands like Coat Check Girl and Scenic Underground. In addition, I also performed and recorded as a sideman for many other projects like All Follows Eve, Zaryah, Kia, only on Tuesdays, and many others.
I have accumulated a vast amount of experience composing, arranging, transcribing, and producing in Los Angeles. Currently, I am still working with All Follows Eve. We had a few gigs including opening for Oingo Boingo recently and more exciting stuff in the works. In addition, Scenic Underground is currently recording a new album. Coat Check Girl has gone into production mode and we are focusing on finishing the new singles. Kia is focusing on writing new music to perform and might have future dates. Besides those main projects, I also gig locally for whoever needs my expertise. For instance, jazz gigs, cover bands, composing film scores, recording bass for projects, and musical productions. I’m a bass player, performer, arranger and transcriber residing in LA.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been easy at all, I would say that’s a good thing. I sucked for many years but I kept at it. I struggled with many things, both professionally and personally. My strongest belief about becoming a better person is to go out there and be better. I struggled with sight-reading, so I threw myself into situations that required me to read music properly. I struggled with Afro-Cuban music, then I joined the Afro-Latin Ensemble in CSULA and was absolute garbage for weeks. But I started to get it, how to groove and how to feel the music. And there are many similar examples being humbled by music.
My point is that through struggle and through pain, one can really appreciate art. I practice every day, and I always push myself to be better. I just want to be the best possible version of myself. And there’s no magic pill or amount of money that can grant me that. In fact, I had bad days in music, which is something musicians don’t particularly like to talk about. But I embrace it. Days where I didn’t prepare enough, studied enough, knew enough. Moments that humble you in the hardest deepest possible way. Moments that make you go home defeated and battered, but you pick up that instrument and you grind it out. I’m from Mexico and I miss my family every day. I have to deal with all kinds of people, good and bad.
I always put insane pressure on myself. All of those things make me who I am. I’m fighting and hustling every day. And I am deeply grateful for that. Grateful for my colleagues, friends, and family that have done nothing but support me. I am grateful for what I have achieved and will continue to achieve. Coming from a different country and not being able to see my family every day demanded me to adjust and that has never been easy. I also deal with depression, anxiety, and insomnia, so all of that with the additional pressure of being in the music industry pushed me to overcome any obstacles in my way. So in short, it has not been a smooth road, and that’s okay. It wouldn’t be as gratifying if it wasn’t.
Can you give our readers some background on your music?
I am a professional musician. I focus on performance and arranging. My main instrument is the electric bass, but I have experience playing upright bass as well. In addition, I have a basic knowledge of the guitar, piano, and drums. I am well versed in multiple styles including jazz, Latin, rock, country, blues, metal, etc. All of which are influential in my style. I can arrange, transcribe and compose. I am very detail-oriented and very professional. I always do my best to deliver the best possible performance or product. I am best known for playing to the music, and not over embellishing. I play the song and deliver what the song requires to be complete. I have studied greats musicians like James Jamerson and Paul McCartney, and I am very confident in exploring both extremes of bass playing as well as musicianship.
Tell us about your business/company. What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of as a company? What sets you apart from others?
I have many things in the works. Currently focusing on being a lecturer at CSULA, and a T.A. at MI, and gigging and hustling around town as much as possible. In addition, I’m organizing a small collection of bass instructional videos; still in the planning phase but I am very excited about it. As I mentioned prior, Scenic Underground will have a finished full-length album soon; Coat Check Girl has other plans in the works; All Follows Eve has some promising performances to be set and announced. Kia has more of her music to be released. All of these projects I am involved in have more stuff for the future. Check out my Instagram for updates!
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Cirilio Rios Beatriz Bustamante