Conversations: Breaking down the author behind the music with cøzybøy

Welcome to Conversations, a series focused on conversations with your favorite new creators. They may be a musician, artist, entrepreneur, but no matter the title, these are some incredible human beings who believe in the process of creation and are here to share a glimpse into their world.

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Meet cøzybøy, LA-based independent singer, rapper, and producer. We talk about what inspires him, the influence that music has on him and others, and why it all matters to him.

Heads up, the interview contains some explicit language and topics around mental health including depression and suicide that may not be suitable for all audiences.

Interviewed on February 13, 2019

Photography by cøzybøy

Tell us a little bit about yourself.  I make emotional music that centers on love, heartbreak, loneliness, mental health, depression, and suicide. All of the music focuses on how love and mental health can really affect relationships and vice versa.

I write all my songs in my bedroom, record on my desk, and produce most of the beats. I do my own mixing and mastering. Overall, I care about the art and the brand, and how it connects to people and to me. I want my music to be able to help somebody who is in need. Sort of like for people to be able to say “I was going through this really tough time and I was listening to cøzybøy, and he really helped me get through that time period.”

 

I want my music to be able to help somebody who is in need. Sort of like for people to be able to say “I was going through this really tough time and I was listening to cøzybøy, and he really helped me get through that time period.”

 

I also think a lot about frame programming. I listen to a lot of music, especially on repeat, and music on repeat can really change how you think and your thought process. So that’s why I try to make music that can, maybe not change but update your thinking process.

Can you tell us a recent project that you’ve done that you’re really proud of? I just dropped a single. It’s called “yøu løøked sø beautiful last night (falling før yøu again).”

 

 

I start by making a few beats, and then something will hit. I might write it down, but I’ll keep moving. Then, I’ll come back to it. I’ll remember “oh yeah, that beat was really good” and I’ll start freestyling or singing over it, straight from the heart.

Lil Wayne, who is one of my favorite writers, said something along the lines of “You never have to think about what to write, you only have to locate what to write about because all the words are already inside your head, so you never have to think it up.” So I think about what I am going through at the moment and I write about exactly that, as honestly as possible.

To me, cøzybøy is a very Freudian project. Freudian psychology is embedded in how humans are driven by sex and how that all relates to the relationship between the id, ego, and superego. So the id side of my brain is where the really dark, visceral moments in my music comes from.  It’s my uncensored thoughts.

I think that’s where a lot of people misunderstand my music specifically. People might see my song titles or hear my lyrics and interpret it as “oh, this guy is super vulgar, super explicit.” But I think most people have explicit thoughts all the time and they just don’t put it out there, so I do.

 

Photography by cøzybøy

 

So, to me, cøzybøy is a war between the id and the superego. For me, Conner, that’s my name, is stuck in between there, and you might hear [in my music] really high, angelic singing but I’m saying something very ugly. At the same time, you’ll hear low rapping where I’m saying something uglier or something that’s actually heartfelt. It depends on how you want to break it down where [the listener] might go “oh damn, did he really just say that?” But [what I sing/rap] is actually nice. Like if I rap “I just wanna cuddle, fuck, and fall in love”, it might sound harsh initially, but when you break it down it’s actually a really nice, heartfelt sentiment.

I also try to include the crazy hard thing I’ve been thinking about, along with the lovey-dovey shit on my mind and put them together to create some sort of juxtaposition that is going to make the listener think.

 

I also try to include the crazy hard thing I’ve been thinking about, along with the lovey-dovey shit on my mind and put them together to create some sort of juxtaposition that is going to make the listener think.

 

You really turn all of these ideas of what people have in their minds of a particular thing and turn it on its head. Yes, exactly. And you do this not just through your music, but also visually as well too. Can you talk a little bit about how you approach creating your music videos? I have a couple of videos out that accentuate what I feel a cøzybøy music video is.

The most notable one is for “all øur bønes.”  I decorated my room with flowers, lights, and fog to make my room look like a beautiful fantasy land. At the same time, there are also two strippers on a stripper pole being sexy, throwing around money, and making out. The shallow, misogynistic visuals surround the actual centerpiece of the video, which is the relationship between me and my “girlfriend”. 

 

 

In the next scene, my “girlfriend” and I walk up to my room and have all this craziness going on. We are then both watching the strippers together. [The scene] could be interpreted as a distraction from or catalyst to our problems.

From that point, my “girlfriend” and I are cuddling, the strippers are dancing around us, and, it looks as though we’re on the floor, tied up to the pole. Then, it evolves to a beautiful piano outro—something you’d hear in classical music. To me, that’s really an ending of falling energy. We just went through the craziness, we’re now walking down this alleyway at night, holding hands, essentially saving the relationship.

 

Stills from all øur bønes music video
Stills from all øur bønes music video

 

Your work is really complicated. It’s different from how other people often embrace minimalism in their projects. Your approach is so layered that it breaks the idea that there’s either make things simple to complex or complex to simple but all of both views at once. Yes, and I think that’s how life comes at you.

For me, I love reading books and literature. I use literary devices like euphemisms, hyperboles, juxtaposition, and paradox to convey a message when I’m writing. I also use a lot of double entendres where I might have a word or phrase that can mean two or three different things in the context of a single line. Depending on how you’re feeling that day, it will determine how that line comes across. And I make sure that it all makes sense within the greater picture.

In addition to books, what else inspire you? Books inspire me, movies inspire me a lot. I love David Fincher movies. He’s the director of Fight Club which is one of my favorites. In the book version, Chuck Palahniuk, the author, wrote in his afterward that all critics said Fight Club was a thriller or horror, but nobody called it a romance novel. I relate to that because people will think my music is about all these other things, but it’s really just one long love story where I’m trying to find a good relationship that I can truly invest in.

And cøzybøy isn’t exactly like Fight Club, but I love the idea that Fight Club is this very masculine movie on the outside, but it carries this whole concept of people trying to feel alive and there’s also this whole romance unfolding throughout the entire [story] which is the [main character’s] only hold on reality.

And, of course, I’m inspired by music. I love Nicole Dollaganger, Corbin, The Weeknd, Sparklehorse, Drake, and Earl Sweatshirt.

 

Photography by cøzybøy

 

You seem to gravitate towards many ways that you can interpret this “thing.” Story! It’s this ambitious storytelling with an unreliable narrator. Those are the stories that I like. There is a book, which is also a movie, called “The Beach” by Alex Garland. It’s a psychological thriller that fucks you up through the way it takes yours through the storyline. At the same time, you think “dude, is this even really happening?” We can’t trust the narrator.

My favorite villain is Heath Ledger’s Joker. In the story, [the Joker] says “You know how I got these scars?” It’s different every time he tells it. That’s the unreliable narrator. Similar to how a friend could tell you a crazy sounding story, but then you hear the other side of the story and better understand why something happened. We’re basically all unreliable narrators in our own universes.

 

We’re basically all unreliable narrators in our own universes.

 

Even to me, cøzybøy is an unreliable narrator. I like to play around with that concept, even though it’s hard to tell since we don’t see the “other side” of it. We can see with Heath Ledger’s Joker, where we hear him tell multiple people different stories. For cøzybøy, it’s a little harder to tell that I’m an unreliable narrator, but I am. I tell my side of stories and make assumptions of other people.

 

 

I was recently writing a song about getting ghosted. Some people might write this song about being ghosted where they say, “that sucked, I got ghosted, but I come back.” For me, I’m trying to take a step back, even more, to think about why someone would ghost me and how it makes me feel hurt.

At the same time, I’m also asking “how do you ghost people?” When you ghost somebody, that fucks up your own closure. I have a line that asks “how do you get through that?” while, at the same time, I’m making all these assumptions of the “girl” in the song that she must have a lot of empty holes in her heart where if she’s ghosting me, she’s probably ghosting other people. Of course, I’m making all these assumptions when really, our interaction might have just been a hookup and I’m overthinking it.

It’s interesting that when we talk about stories, we tend to focus on the characters within the stories and what’s happening between them. However, you want to take a step back to question, “is the author legitimate?” Yes! “Are they even telling the truth?” Because at the end of the day, we can interpret the story how we want, but there is some sort of influence that this storyteller is giving us. Exactly, yes.

 

Photography by cøzybøy

 

Why is what you’re doing, important to you, specifically? It’s really cliche to say but music really saved my life when I was younger. Music changed the way I thought, and it gave me a lot of guidance where I felt I didn’t have.

The people I learned from were other artists, not the adults in my life. I always felt like music has given me so much. I feel like there’s so much more stuff I know now that I want to give back, so I put it back into my music. I want to be able to do that [with my music] for other people and what that gives me is the satisfaction that I’m really helping people, influencing people, inspiring people, and I’m making other people’s lives better. I derive a lot of meaning from that.

 

I want to be able to do that [with my music] for other people and what that gives me is the satisfaction that I’m really helping people, influencing people, inspiring people, and I’m making other people’s lives better. I derive a lot of meaning from that.

You’ve already mentioned some misconceptions of cøzybøy, would say the same about the genre of music you’re creating. What is your genre and are you breaking it? I usually tell people I’m indie, emo, and R&B. I have a lot of indie music influence especially since I used to make indie music. There’s also the emo influence where I write about really sad, self-deprecating topics. And, of course, the music is focused on love that’s influenced by R&B.

You mentioned 3 different genres. Right, that’s how it is these days. I could just call myself R&B but I wouldn’t fit perfectly in that genre. For example, if you were to compare me to Seal, we wouldn’t fit in the same category (laughing) so it takes a few genres to describe most artists now.

 

Photography by cøzybøy

 

Are there any other misconceptions about you, your music, or the industry you’re in that you want to touch on? The biggest misconception is when people read my song titles, they think I’m an ignorant trap artist but my songs are actually really soft and deeply emotional. Otherwise, another misconception my fans have of me is that I’m really heartbroken. It’s interesting because I think breaking hearts is much harder than being heartbroken.

I’m not saying I’m a heartbreaker, though I’ve had a few relationships where I have broken up with the girl. People think that as a heartbreaker, when you break up, you get over it and you’re not as hurt as the person you broke up with. However, I feel that when you break up with someone, you have to shoulder the pain of both individuals. You’re shouldering the pain of knowing you’ve hurt this person that you really cared about and loved. You’re, then, also shouldering your own pain where you almost can’t even talk about it because you’re the one who initiated the breakup.

That loneliness that you feel feels even lonelier because it’s by choice even if you were hoping that [the relationship] works out. So there’s this whole side of my writing that people are like “he’s heartbroken,” but I’m writing from both perspectives of being heartbroken and being the heartbreaker.

 

 

Do you think the misconception comes from people attaching you to your music, or are you that unreliable author, narrating a story or another perspective of an experience that might not be your own? It goes both ways. I only write about what I’ve been through. I really care about that type of authenticity—to me, every lyric has a story in it of itself. I might be writing a song, and that song is a story, but every line in that song has a story too.

But I will also “Frankenstein” a song. I might take one experience that happened with one person, and this other experience that happened with another person and mesh them into the same song. People wouldn’t know because there’s no way to know.

 

I really care about that type of authenticity—to me, every lyric has a story in it of itself. I might be writing a song, and that song is a story, but every line in that song has a story too.

 

I also draw inspiration from friends, the love I have for them, and things that might happen between friends. A friendship is a relationship to me. So even when I say the word “relationship,” to me, [the word] doesn’t specifically mean to be a relationship that’s like a boyfriend/girlfriend, or whatever. It could really just mean friendship.

 

gif from sex // døubt music video
still from sex // døubt music video

 

The words that keep popping up in my head as we speak is “layered complexity” where you are authentic in your music with real experiences that have happened. At the same time, you’re reframing it and providing a different way to look at the story or stories.

Yes. exactly. I make [my music] feel like out of body experiences a lot, and that comes from my own personal beliefs and philosophy. I often look at a concept and break it down to the point where none of it matters. If nothing matters, you can trick your brain having an out of body experience. I try to bring this into my writing.

 

Photography by cøzybøy

 

It’s also a great way to push yourself and your writing to figure out what’s more to this single story here.  Yes, it allows me to write more songs. For example, when I write about being ghosted, I can write four or five different songs that different people can relate to.

What advice would you give to yourself, cøzybøy, who just started this project? To stay consistent. It was really difficult to do in the beginning because I was working a full-time job and had so many things pulling my attention. I also felt lost when I first started as I tried to grow but it came down to being consistent. However, I do think a lot of genuine art comes from those hard moments.

 

Photography by cøzybøy

 

Give us a list of top 3 things you’d recommend.

Top 3 books I’d recommend because they opened my mind to think about things in different perspectives and changed the way I thought about life:

  • The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. Similar to Mission Impossible but based in old, fantasy times. It’s an amazing revenge story and I fuck with revenge stories so much because they’re so satisfying.
  • The Beach by Alex Garland.  It’s a psychological thriller that fucks you up in a good way.
  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. A post-apocalyptic novel where biotech companies have the ability to change your DNA, and it’s super normalized. The story follows how the world went to shit and as the reader, you have no idea why. The whole series is a trilogy that’s super dark, visceral but includes fun, uplighting moments. I remember reading the book and just being mind blown from the storytelling.

 

Favorite song of the moment?

(laughing) One of my own unreleased songs. Okay, but also Rabid and Angels of Porn by Nicole Dollanganger. She has this angelic voice but insane lyrics that make you stop and think.

 

Enjoyed the conversation with cøzybøy? Discover his music on Spotify and Soundcloud. Follow along with his process on Instagram @cozyboycries. cøzybøy also offers merch and donates 100% of the proceeds to Planned Parenthood.

 

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