cøzybøy: Open-Heart R&B for the Soul

By Isaac Fox

Edited and condensed for publication

cøzybøy is one of the most singular R&B artists I’ve ever stumbled across on Soundcloud. Mixing syrup-smooth vocals with hypnotic downtempo instrumentals, his music touches on lost love, emotional alienation, and momentary connections with casual relationships. And although his rapidly growing discography includes songs with titles such as, the best sex we ever had was øver facetime,” and, i put her pussy øn a pedestal and that shit fucked me up,” he is anything but a crooning lothario. Demo caught up with him recently to talk about his grounded approach to R&B, how he styles his soon-to-be infamous song titles, music’s role in destigmatizing vulnerability, and his upcoming projects.

How would you characterize your approach to R&B?  

I would say it’s a little bit more down to earth.  It’s the idea that most people are just wading through life and serendipity often times plays the matchmaker – some of those matches last a single night, some of those matches last years. I believe love is a spectrum, it’s not binary, and every instance of physical and emotional connection has a story tightly coupled with it – how you started, how you ended, and whether or not you still talk.  I think that narrative in particular is lost in a lot of modern R&B, which is often colder and too infatuated with stereotypical ideas of women and relationships. And that’s not a knock, because I love a lot of that music – I just want to offer alternative narratives that often go untold. I guess, what feels the most real to me right now is the lasting impressions that people leave on you and the lessons you learn through love, heartbreak, sadness, disillusionment, and dealing with loneliness. So I write about that.

So why the crazy – long song titles?

To me they aren’t crazy, they’re just the literal, unfiltered thoughts on my mind when I’m beginning a song.  Sometimes they come to me in the morning, sometimes when I’m taking a walk at night, sometimes when I’m driving in my car.  The best ones always come to me when I’m not actively thinking about it.

You stylize all your song titles with “ø”. Is there a reason behind that?

There are a few reasons.  For starters, I thought it was a unique way to brand myself, something that would be my “thing.”  I also saw the “ø” visually – because it’s a hole with a slash through it – as a symbol of emptiness, hollowness, nothingness, which are feelings that I explore in a lot of my music.  Bottom line, it just looks cool to me.

You’ve also been vocal on Twitter about how music is an important coping mechanism for many who struggle with depression. What role do you think music plays in destigmatizing vulnerability?

I think music has an incredibly important role in that it can put words to emotions and moods that might otherwise remain covered up. Sometimes just the sounds of a song itself is therapeutic. As a kid, I remember I listened to certain songs for hours on repeat whenever i was feeling really depressed or low, and I still do that now.

I think it’s important to try and identify what feels wrong so that you can understand yourself better.  And I know a lot of people struggle with being open about their mental health to themselves and others. You know something’s wrong, but you can’t pinpoint it because you don’t feel able to talk about it or you just don’t have the emotional vocabulary to talk about it.  And sometimes you don’t want to pinpoint it or talk about it because if you figure it out, you then have to try and fix it.  And it’s scary, because most mental health issues are really hard to actually fix, regardless of whether they’re clinical or situational.

I always feel honored when people tell me my music has helped them cope with mental health issues because I know how other people’s music has done the exact same for me – X’s music and Corbin’s music in particular have really helped me through some tough mental breakdowns.  I also think that the current wave of downtempo R&B/trap has been really important in breaking down interpersonal barriers, and opening up those key conversations that help people analyze themselves and start to heal.

What’s next for you?

I just want to keep doing what feels right.  Besides dropping songs and visuals, I really care about fostering personal relationships with the people who like my art.  I love helping people and talking to people about what’s going on in their lives; it makes me feel like I actually have a purpose and it actually helps me write too. So yea, that initial community of listeners is what’s most important to me.  My DM’s are always open.

@cozythakid‘s latest is the hypnotic slow-jam, “we made løve øn the first date.” Take a listen here

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