It's hard to believe Cody Simpson is only 18 years old. The Australian, teen pin-up has had a career in music since he was 12 years old. But Cody's career to this point has been entirely celebrity focused. Music, it seems, has taken a backseat to teen heart throb status. He has been a pretty face, accessorized with a guitar...something his previous record company went right along with.
But 2015 has marked a dramatic artistic and professional awaking for Cody the MUSICIAN (printed in big bold capital letters). He is finally free of his major label, he is independent, and I'm guessing he's not looking to discuss who he's dating anytime soon. Instead, Cody livens up when asked about his most recent album; the easy, breezy, batch of beach jams appropriately titled Free. And that's precisely what we talked about when we caught up with him in the offices of his midtown publicist.
"Yeah, finally I feel like I can breathe". Just being able to say that in an interview must feel like a weight has been lifted off of the young musician's shoulders. "I don't have anyone telling me what to do. I don't want that. I want to just be able to make the stuff that makes me happy and fulfilled and feel like I'm giving people my authentic self". That self is extremely well-versed in bluesy, sun-kissed, surf rock at the moment, as we saw firsthand when Cody and his band stopped by for a Garage Gig in Austin this past spring. Playing most of Free's 14 cuts (including singles "Flower" and "New Problem") live for the first time, it's a show that beautifully demonstrates Cody's contagious crop of guitar-driven beach rock. With one hand (let's call it the right hand) swinging to the soulful rhythm of Jack Johnson's acoustic folk and the other (that would be the left) skillfully noodling about the neck like a young John Mayer, it is an addictive performance. At the end of it, no one in attendance was talking about how cute he was on stage...just how exquisite his songs were.
So Cody's reached a (much needed) turning point in his career. He's no longer thinking about, "getting signed really young, being 15 and feeling like you need to have a certain level of success so quick(ly)...some teen heart throb overnight success thing." Instead, he can "shed that skin and be like, 'I don't need anything as long as I can play my music'". We have a feeling that's what Cody will be able to do for a long time to come.
Snag yourself a copy of FreeHERE. It's really good!
really young, being like 15, feeling like you need to have a certain level of success so quick, like some real teen heartthrob. Overnight successing. Like, you're feeling like you can shed that skin and be like, "I don't need anything as long as I can play my music. " Like, yeah. Who cares? You used to say That all it takes is a dollar and daydream But now you'd do You'd do anything To deflate me - I'll do an interview with some weird magazine like Gossip, like something like that. Do 12 questions about my music, and then one question about something stupid. And then the whole headline will be that one thing. You know? Like, they won't even touch on the stuff I did the interview for. Which is weird and frustrating. It's like a lot of what I don't like about a lot of the music industry. And that's part of why I went independent for a year or so there where I wasn't even...it wasn't even about my music or anything like that. It wasn't even about my musical growth. Like, I wasn't even practicing guitar, you know? It was like, I was just doing all these things that were in favor of me being some celebrity or something and I couldn't be more opposite than that, kind of thing. Like, yeah, I finally feel like I can breathe, kind of thing. And I don't have anyone telling me what to do, you know what I mean. And I don't want that, you know. I just want to be able to make the stuff that makes me happy and fulfilled and feel like I'm giving people my authentic self. ...you anymore I got new girls, new problems I won't waste no time talking about you anymore 'Cause I got new girls new problems I used to do things All it took was... - The first time I played the songs live was actually at the Baeble Showcase at Southwire. It was sick the first time playing Southwire, just real nervous. To be playing in front of a lot of different music people and stuff, especially because it was my first time playing these songs. Going up there was like a real learning experience for me really. You know all these things kind of shape you up, you know? It's weird, especially for me, at this age because I'm changing so much all the time. Like, every month I'm becoming a new person kind of thing, you know how that goes at like my age. So I made it and it's sort of that awkward period of between when you actually write the songs about how you feel there, and then the sort of three or four months before you actually get to put it up. So, yeah, it's just like, now I've discovered so much more music, you know. I hadn't even listened to punk like a year ago, you know what I mean? So, it's just like constantly broadening my musical knowledge and stuff. And I didn't pick up lead guitar until about... What's it now? July? The end of last year. blues until the end of last year. That's why, that's why, that's why I'm going, going, going home I got 99 problems, but you... - Andrew Watt basically put like a Strat in my hands last year and was like, "Your left hand is what you know, and your right hand is who you are. You know, learn your scales, learn your riffs and everything, but this hand is your identity. You know what I mean? Like, this is like, the way you're going to make yourself sound to..." So that was, yeah, you know what I mean? I'm usually a yes man... - The album's called "Free. " This is the kind of music I've been writing since I've been writing music basically, but never had the chance to really give it the light of day because it was always like, "Oh well, what's going to do well?" You know? For the next couple months or whatever get you by, kind of thing. And it was never a conversation of like, what do I actually believe in? Kind of thing, you know, it was sort of like getting caught in a cycle where people are telling you to put stuff out that's gonna maybe get on the radio or something like that, and I got to a point where I turned 18, I had this sudden realization of like, "What is happening? I'm being sort of stretched in every which direction, and I don't have any time to soul search much into myself, as a musician and stuff. " So this album is something that I've wanted to pursue for a while. So we can live it easy Livin' easy That feel-good feelin' Livin' easy - I made this at a time in my life where I felt this way, I may not feel this way in six months' time, but a lot of other people may feel that way. So it's like, once I put it out, it's like, it's not me anymore. It's everyone else who can relate to it, kind of thing. You know what I mean? Being like, this is this moment in my life, and if you want to apply it, if someone wants to listen to it in five years because they feel that way. The music you know, is a soundtrack to that moment in their lives, and that's awesome. But like, I might be making something totally different but at least it's out for them, you know? It's not mine anymore. It's everyone else's. Yeah. I don't mind bein' on my own but I would love it if you came along So we can live it easy Livin' easy - Hey, this is Cody Simpson and you're watching Baeble Music. That feel-good feelin' Livin' easy
Cody Simpson's third full-length album and first for his very own Coast House Records, Free, signals the start of something new.
"This is the beginning of a long musical journey for me," he declares. "Im sticking to my guitar. I know who I am. I know where Im headed, and thats all I have to say.
In 2014, the Australian-born Los Angeles-based singer and songwriter found himself independent for the first time as he thought this was the best path for him moving forward in his musical career. That independence invigorated and inspired a flurry of creativity as well as an insatiable desire to collaborate. Through a serendipitous introduction, he ended up in a Malibu studio overlooking the ocean with producer Cisco Adler. Within hours, Cody realized he had met his musical soul brother. They immediately began working on what would become Free.
The moment I finally felt I had the tools necessary to execute my vision was when I met Cisco in Malibu, he shares. I was looking at the ocean, and I felt home. It was the perfect environment with the perfect partner to make the album I had always wanted to make. The universe brought us together. I had so much peace, and I was able to move on from the frustrations of my prior situations. I was finally on the right path.
That path saw early morning surfing give way to late night studio sessions marked by laughter, smiles, and countless memories. Nodding to lifelong influences as diverse as Bob Dylan, Jack Johnson, John Mayer, and Sublime, Cody cooked up a sun-kissed sound of his own driven by sandy acoustic guitars, steel drums, soaring solos, and unforgettable hooks.
It sounds like me, he declares. I just wrote, and this is what came out. For the first time, I felt like I properly represented who I am as an artist. Being free from the pop world is the most incredible feeling. I dont have to conform to anything. I didnt think about anyone except for myself and the people who are going to be with me for a long time. I want to bring real music with live instruments back.