I did 4 months of lockdown in Cape Town with my family, and then I came back to London. I was definitely more productive in Cape Town because I only left the house like 4 times, you know to like walk the dogs or something. All there was to do was make music, so I basically created this massive catalogue of songs, of which I’ve managed to record around 4 albums worth of content. In London there’s always a lot going on, especially when I went back the lockdown had eased up a bit, so distractions came easier, but I mean even then I still am being pretty productive up North.


INTERVIEW:
ZACH LEES

PHOTOGRAPHY:
ALEX ZONO


Tell me about what’s happening with Cool Boy now?

So we’ve released 4 singles so far, in anticipation for the Quiet Confidence album launch. It’s my second full album which is very exciting, so far the singles have performed really well. The third (Cynthia) got added to a Spotify playlist which is great, that basically doubled my monthly listeners! And actually COVID sort of helped, because before COVID I was talking to a lot of labels but maybe I was too eager then and might’ve made a bad decision and possibly rushed things unnecessarily but with the downtime we were able to slow down and put out quality pieces. Now I’ve agreed on a distribution deal through AWOL.

And in regards to creativity, how has lockdown been? 

Yes, so I did 4 months of lockdown in Cape Town with my family, and then I came back to London. I was definitely more productive in Cape Town because I only left the house like 4 times, you know to like walk the dogs or something. All there was to do was make music, so I basically created this massive catalogue of songs, of which I’ve managed to record around 4 albums worth of content. In London there’s always a lot going on, especially when I went back the lockdown had eased up a bit, so distractions came easier, but I mean even then I still am being pretty productive up North. 

How have you been recording the album (and of course the other 3)? 

So basically I do all the instrumentation you hear on the album recorded either at home in London or Cape Town or I’ve had access to my friend’s studio up here once a week so I try and get as much recorded there as possible. The album has been co-produced by Josh Berry (of Honeymoan and Twin Weaver) back in Cape Town, who is a fucking great producer, it’s been brilliant working with him. 

How has it been working with Josh cross continents? 

So the way we work is that I pretty much record and produce everything to the best of my abilities here and then I send him a ‘finished product’ which he then takes up and really polishes it properly and makes it like really really finished, you know? Like I said before we’ve backlogged another 3 albums basically which actually annoys Josh a bit because I send him too much, but at least we’re ready for a lot of Cool Boy going forward.

Musically who has inspired you for Quiet Confidence? 

I’m pretty bad at listening to a lot of music when I make my own stuff, basically I try minimize my chances of subconsciously ‘borrowing’ chords, or lyrics or progressions and things like that. So I can’t really say this album specifically has been inspired by anyone directly. It’s pretty genre bending, from pop to zero rhythm acoustics with some really cool interludes to tie all together. 

I suppose to an extent I like how Beck sort of does what he wants, I guess that might be the inspiration to some degree. I took inspiration writing wise from a host of different instruments whereas before I used to write with a guitar and then fill the rest in, and I really like how sometimes putting down the guitar forces a different perspective in my writing where I sort of realized that every song doesn’t have to be a 3 chorus ballad. 

Tell me about Cool Boy’s aesthetic turn, you’ve moved away from the orange beanie…

So we (the Cool Boy team) wanted to mature Cool Boy as I grow, so we needed to mature the project. I was still a teenager when it started, so the bright orange beanie made sense. Now though, Cool Boy is slicker so it needs to look slicker, and we took a colour change to red and blue and made a new logo and website. I think each project or album will evolve the Cool Boy aesthetic, again and again, to keep it fresh and growing, and representative of where I am in life.  Aesthetic is important these days, you know for people to connect to. Music alone isn’t enough anymore. People have to have something to see to connect to now, look at how Spotify is evolving into a social media kind of thing.

On that note what is more important aesthetic or music? 

I mean obviously, both are very important, but nowadays if you’re aesthetic is tight, then the music is going to do better, and you have to go with the times. Right now, I think the aesthetic is essential, but your music still needs to be at a level that is going to draw fans in. 

Where does your aesthetic come from?

So we have a Cool Boy team with a creative director of the project, and then I have the initial say of where we go next. It’s a team job. The more budget we get the more the aesthetic grows. 

Alright let’s have some quick-fire questions: Is cool boy an extension of Zach Zono, or it’s own persona?

Definitely an extension of me, it’s more just that you can get away with more from a name than using your own name. 

Do you have any dream collabs? 

Kevin Parker, James Blake, maybe Rick Rubin – just to say I’ve made an album with him. And also Nick Murphy (Chet Faker). 

What are your original influences?

When I was a teen I was definitely into indie rock, only when my brother started showing me Daft Punk and synthy stuff did I start expanding my knowledge base. 


COOL BOY
@zachzono
cb.thisiscoolboy.com/QC
www.facebook.com/thisiscoolboy/

Zack Lees
@zachlees

Alex Zono
@alexzono