PAUZA: Cuba’s First Female Electronic Music Duo

A report by Kenny Ngo for One EDM.

PAUZA are a Cuban electronic music duo that comprised of Paula Fernandez and Zahira Sánchez.PAUZA are also Cuba’s first female DJ duo. The artists began their careers in 2012 after they attended a workshop that was held at the Laboratorio Nacional de Música Electroacústica, an educational music institution in Havana. The producers began their careers play in various underground parties throughout Havana and fast-forward to the present-day, they have gained great experiences performing at some of the world’s most-exciting music festivals. Before the COVID-19 pandemicbegan, the duo recently performed at EDC Mexico, Bahidora and Live Out.

On August 24, 2020, PAUZA released their newest single, “Bembé” featuring Machiran, on Mexican DJ duo Tom & Collins’ imprint, Terms & Conditions. Alongside Machiran’s vocals, “Bembé” incorporates many influences from traditional Cuban music and other diverse aspects from Cuban culture. “Bembé” is a track with a beautiful backstory that can serve as an amazing introduction to the ever-growing Cuban electronic music scene. Here is One EDM’s exclusive interview with PAUZA, the talented producers from Havana whose unique music style merges energetic tech-house beats with traditional Cuban rhythms. Also, download and stream “Bembé” on various streaming platforms now.

Kenny Ngo: Zahira and Paula, how did you start your electronic music career?

PAUZA: Zahi and I (Paula) were in the first and only female DJ workshop that has been held in Cuba,where we began our first mixing and production classes and until that moment we were not PAUZA. As time went on we realised we had similar tastes in terms of genres and artists, so we decided to create PAUZA which is the union of our names – “PAU” and “ZAHI”.

What did your friends and families think about your decisions back then?

Our friends and family saw it as a crazy idea, but also as a healthy one. They didn’t really get too involved into anything at first, but once they saw that we were serious with this project,  they supported us in every way and it felt like a warm hug for us to have the support of the people we love.

Who were the producers/artists that influenced you the most?

We admire the work of many artists, but one of the great names that has been the most influential for PAUZA’s music profile is Pablo Fierro, Melé, Chus & Ceballos. We also love the material that Stereo Productions and Defected Records release. Those are record labels and artists that have marked us a lot.

You will release your newest single, “Bembé” featuring Machiran, on Mexican DJ duo Tom & Collins’ record label, Terms & Conditions. What are the things that people should look out for when listening to the song?

“Bembé” has very exotic vocals provided by Machiran. We think of it as the way people spoke at religious festivals, a really peculiar grammatically form of speech. The percussion also gives it a unique vibe, which has a nice groove that you can dance to.

Is there a background or a story behind “Bembé”?

“Bembé” talks about a Cuban girl who, while dancing, obtains the attention of a boy and falls in love. Describing the dance and the girl immerses you in a Havana story that perhaps some of you may have lived. This story along with the groove of the song, will make you dance and fall in love as she did.

Before the pandemic began, you performed at EDC Mexico, Bahidora, and Live Out. Did you have any favorite memories from those festivals?

In all the festivals we have been to we have had an incredible time. However, Bahidora had something special. Maybe because it was inside the forest and that was the perfect spot to suit our type of music.

If the pandemic ends today, which festivals or events would you like to perform at and/or attend?

Our goal since Day One has been to share our music with the world. We are looking to new horizons, more towards Europe, to share our flavour with all of you.

You will release a new EP titled, Get Physical, later this year. What should we look forward to in terms of the music on the EP?

We are working on creating a PAUZA label. We refer to a type of music that you listen to and say, “This sounds like PAUZA”. In one way or another, our tracks have a Cuban style, either because of the percussion, because of the vocals or because there is a story and concept behind it.

What should the music world anticipate next from the Pauza duo?

We will be releasing a lot of new music, practically every month, so stay tuned on our social media, @pauzamusic.

Are there any other Cuban DJs and producers that music fans worldwide should check out next?

There is a lot of talent in Cuba. Here names of musicians that we admire, not only DJ´s but also musicians or vocalists: Wichy de Vedado, Bosito, Flor de Loto, Machiran, Telmary, La Real.

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