If you’re looking for a new artist with a unique sound that is easy to listen to, look no further. John Cozz let us know how he became an artist, explained his latest release and its “genre,” and his goal of eventually getting a band together.
Where are you from?
Nutley, New Jersey, where the pasta’s fresh and my mudda’s meatballs are better than your mudda’s meatballs.
How long have you been an artist and how did you get started?
I’ve been writing songs in my head since 2007 when I first started walking to school, but it wasn’t until 2014 that I actually wrote something on paper, came up with a chord progression, and said, “Okay you’re a song!” I have always had this attraction to DIY—not just in music, but in everything—if you do it yourself, it will always be unique. Most of the artists I have admired long before I began writing music follow a DIY ethic (I guess that’s part of the genre?) I just wanted to at least say I did it once, make something that was entirely me. So, I wrote an album of songs that were written, recorded, and played all by myself. I burned every CD, I drew all of the artwork, I cut out every lyric book, and well, you get the point. I didn’t expect any of it to be well received, I did it in hopes that I could inspire others to realize you can be terrible at drawing, making music, and producing it, but you can still make an album. So, who cares? Just do it if you got something to say—there’s so many people doing it like this.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard you before?
It is very personal lyrically driven songs. They are written by someone whose fear of stagnation is repressed by drinking and hanging out with friends while simultaneously being hyperaware of the fact that this repression is furthering their stagnation. Or I guess we could say lo-fi bedroom rock.
What was your latest release of music and can you talk about that a bit?
I just came out with my second album, Salt Pepper Ketchup. I’m really happy with this album because it is all over the place, I hate to put genres to anything (it’s cool to say you’re not an artist and it’s cool to say your music has no genre) but there’s a lot going on here. There’s some emo sounding stuff, some folky sounding stuff, some noise stuff, and even some spoken word. I’m really excited about this album because, I taught myself how to play the drums for this album. I learned that doing it yourself doesn’t mean you have to do it alone, and for the first time I made a body of songs that I actually enjoy listening to. Along with that, in an attempt to give this album the highest potential for a New Jersey vibe, it contains a comedic story of “The Legend of Taylor Ham, and Why it is Only Available in the Good Ol’ Garden State.” This is a story I had come up with a long time ago and my friend, Jon Prokopwitz, drew it up, so thank you for that. And thanks to Max “The Power House” Rauch for all production work he did for the album.
What is your writing and recording process like?
I have a specific way of doing things but it’s all very spontaneous. I usually come up with a chord progression, record myself free styling over it for like 10 minutes, and then when I’m driving to school or work I’ll pick through it and find the phrases that stick out. In terms of recording, my set up is a USB microphone with a lampshade on top of it. I’ve recorded all my songs in my bedroom so my process is very sporadic. Sometimes I’ll do it at 5 a.m. before work, or sometimes at 3 p.m. when I get out of bed for the first time, it’s fun that way.
What are current projects you are working on?
Currently, I’m trying to work on organizing a group of friends I can have be a backing band for me. I have had some success (lightly using the word “success”) playing shows with a band. I’ve always enjoyed the idea of having a bunch of friends kind of know how my songs work and we just wing it. Within the friends I have found so far, the most consistent have been my two friends, Kevin Donnelly and Richie Wright; they’re calling themselves The Squirts. Sometime between April and May we hope to release a little four-track thing. I’m excited for that because we’re going to record it live in an actual studio, which is something I haven’t had the chance of doing yet.
What are your goals for the future as an artist?
I have two goals, the first being to set up a cross country tour, which after doing a month long backpacking trip across the country, I can see being possible within the next year or two. My second goal is to pull a Kanye. I love making music videos. I hope that for my next full-length I can make one continuous cohesive music video, but who knows when that will happen.
What music platforms can readers find your music?
Right now, I am on Bandcamp, SoundCloud, and YouTube. I’m going to figure out how to get on Spotify sooner than later, but if you search “John Cozz” on any of those other sites, you’ll find me.J