Cody Lovaas has been making waves with his music blending the genres of pop, acoustic, and electronic music creating a truly unique sound. With lyrics from experiences in his life arranged into beautiful melodies you feel like you know the singer from listening. His new single ‘Talk Slow’ is no different. The single is the first release of an EP to be released in May. Of the new music Lovaas said it came after a “turning point” in what he describes as a revelatory experience during it’s creation. This experience caused him to zoom in a bit more into his life and is tell these stories with his songs.
” I realized that I was writing about things in my life but I wasn’t writing about the important things of my life in the most honest way that I could.” Lovaas said “And when I made that turn of making it so undeniably real and specific that’s when I knew that no matter what anyone thought, these songs meant so much to me that I couldn’t possibly not like them.”
It’s this approach that makes it no surprise the ‘Talk Slow’ singer to have written hundreds of songs and been recording since his teenage years. At 14 Cody was discovered at an open mic night by Jason Mraz who helped develop him as a protege helping him to become the songwriter he is today. Of their meeting Lovaas described it as “The stars kind of aligned for me that night.” Read about this experience with Jason Mraz, Cody Lovaas’ perfect burger meal, his creation process in his new music, being able to see music in shapes and colors, and more in the full interview below.
Hey Hey! I’m here with Cody Lovaas.
Cody Lovaas: Yoooo!
My first question – you’re from California, from Carlsbad. I saw you have mentioned John Mayer as one of your influences and I don’t know if you saw his Instagram story the other day but he did an In-n-Out versus Shake Shack challenge…
CL: Oh yeah! I can already – I know exactly. I thought it was funny because I am like John Mayer like he is my guy. I follow every Current Mood live stream, everything ever dude. He’s my guy! So I saw it and I thought it was so funny that a few days after he kind of ripped on Shake Shack he is kind of doing this “Shake Shack is catering my party” thing. I’m like What’s going on? So yes, I can speak to Shake Shack versus In-n-Out. I believe that In-n-Out is superior on everything except for the shakes.
Oh really? Even the fries?
CL: Well Shake Shacks fries could be good if they were like three times as hot, they serve them cold. Okay I am going to bring a third tangent in. If I had a perfect burger meal from the three main fast food restaurants I would get a burger from In-n-Out, my fries from Five Guys, and then a shake from Shake Shack.
(laughs) I love it. I’m excited to be here. You have your first show in New York City tonight and how does that feel?
CL: It feels great. I’ve been here enough times I don’t know why I haven’t performed here already. But I’m excited. I’m always excited to share my music. It’s the biggest gift, it’s the celebration of the song. You know? Writing it is like you creating something out of what you’ve been through in your life experience and is creating a piece of art. Then playing it live for people is like lets all celebrate that we can all relate to this. That part is really cool.
You mentioned creating from experiences and you have your new EP coming out in April, as well as your new single coming out this month are a lot of those songs going to be drawn from those personal experiences?
CL: Oh yeah! I can tell you the color shoe laces I was wearing when all of these things happened to me. The first single just got pushed so it is on March 22nd. And then the rest of the EP will be dropped the first week of May. Then I have a lot more music even after that that I’m already working on and recording right now that I’m excited about. But yeah, this EP was really the turning point for how real it is to me. I’ve written hundreds of songs and these groups of songs is when I was like “Yo lets fucking get zoomed in on my life here.” So that’s what we did and we captured the last nine months – year of my life and how that’s gone down.
And so where did the shift come from as you said you’ve written hundred of songs. You said you zoomed in but is there anything particular from that that changed things?
CL: Yeah I had a revelation. I had a breakdown man, I was like “oh my musics not good enough. What is it? I had a couple songs that I was like I’ll believe in these forever, these are good enough. But why aren’t these other ones? They’re great songs and everything.” Then I realized that I was writing about things in my life but I wasn’t writing about the important things of my life in the most honest way that I could. And when I made that turn of making it so undeniably real and specific that’s when I knew that no matter what anyone thought, these songs meant so much to me that I couldn’t possibly not like them. Because being an artist you have thousands of people yelling in your ear what they think and everyone has a different opinion. It’s hard if you don’t really know what you want or who you are as an artist or who you are as a person, who you want to be, where you’re going, where you’ve been. Those are the really important questions and they’re hard questions to ask, but they must be asked. So right when I started answering those questions is when I made that turn and I’m so glad I did. I won’t ever turn back.
With having a lot of people in your ear how do you identify where you have hundreds of songs you’ve written, like hey this ones good this is one I want to roll with? And are there times where you have a song that you show people and they love but you might not feel the same way?
CL: Oh there is always going to be people that love your least favorite songs… um there is a few things I think to it. I’ve thought about it a lot. Like I see music. So when I write or think about a song, when I hear a song, whatever it is I can see a shape and a color. Um so most of the time the songs that I love and believe in the most are the same shape and color. They have variations each one but mainly it is just this… I can’t even explain it. But I do this – like this is the shape and it’s like a dark purple, dark blue thing, red at the top. It’s weird but… that kind of helps me. It’s weird but it’s just got to be honest and true man and that is so important. Then like “do I want to share this with people? Or is this one just for me?” Separating those but noticing that whenever you send a song out to someone you’re asking and believing in what they send back. If i was like “yo man I wrote this song I want you to hear it. Tell me what you think” I’m already invested in what you have to say back. So it is really about sending it to less people, sending it to more only important people that you respect musically and with their taste and maybe that you can align with.
That is really interesting and I love that approach. I know it can be a hard thing to explain in terms of seeing music in shapes and colors but I think it is so fascinating. Can you tell me a little bit more what that’s like? Because I want to understand it.
CL: It’s Crazy! It’s weird. I actually grew up believing that everyone did. Like if you grew up colorblind and you didn’t talk about it you would think everyone is colorblind. You’d think you’re normal. So I was just listening to music and then people would notice that I would look around you know in my head. Then they would ask me what I’m doing and i’d be like “I’m looking at it.” What do you mean? “Oh I’m looking at the song right now.” I’ve talked to a lot of other people that see music and it’s not really the same for everyone, it’s weird. Maybe we just haven’t found out the right way to explain it. But everyone explains it differently and for me it’s just this color and this energy. I see an energy and view it and it’s immediate.
Sometimes in a writing session if I start writing and i’m like super excited about all six of these lines and I start to write the seventh line and I write a bad line the shape can go away. And i’m like “Oh shit okay erase it play it again” and the shapes back. So sometimes it’s like you’ve got to keep the shape, you’ve got to keep the colors there. It’s another compass for a writing session.
Then also, I want to finish an answer for the last question. I just thought of something else. For me what’s been most important about getting peoples feedback is waiting. Get your own opinion and make sure you voice it to people before you ask for theirs. So if i’m like “okay I wrote this great song, I think it’s amazing.” I’m not just going to send it. I used to do that, i’d send it right when I wrote it and now I’m like “okay sit with it for two weeks, tell your best friend you either hate it or love it or am in between about it. Then send it to people.” So you have your own opinion and you’ve established it. That’s really important.
Okay cool. I apologize if this is a dumb question it just popped into my head as you’ve been talking. Is their a song visually for you that is just a super cool experience by you, or maybe another artist?
CL: Um not really. It’s really a category thing for me. Some songs are boxy and flat, some are wide and big, or circular and ovalish and it kind of just puts songs into categories.
Does it change different times you listen to it?
CL: Yeah! Absolutely, if I get sick of a song it will turn boxy and flat. Yeah.
We talked about how big of John Mayer fans we both are. Do you have a favorite song by him? This is a question I’m asking purely selfishly.
CL: Oh yeah, ‘Stop This Train’. It makes me cry, almost every time I listen to it. That’s a special one for me. What would yours be?
Oh such a good one! Right now I am stuck on ‘Walt Grace Submarine Test, January 1967.’ I bought like a shirt from someone on Etsy that had a really cool design from the song because I love it so much.
CL: No way! That’s so cool.
It is man I like it. (laughs) So you’re performing tonight at Rockwood Music Hall and what can people expect from a live show with Cody Lovaas?
CL: I’d like to say it’s an experience. It’s a very deep look into my life. Obviously when I am putting out records I can’t tell you “Hey this song is so important to me because of this. Or hey like I was wearing this colored shirt when this went down.” You know whatever it is I can’t explain it further than my lyrics and that’s a choice I could put out song like “I’m wearing a blue shirt” but that’s not important. So um there is always more to tell from these stories and I love to be able to do that live and to give you even more a look into my life. But yeah tonight it’s just going to be me and my guitar. I wish I could bring the band out but it’s too expensive. But the full band is a fucking time. We are going to make you I don’t know its very emotion packed. Like I have fun i’m going to make you dance, i’m going to make you cry, i’m going to make you sing, i’m going to make you feel as much as you can and i’m going to feel it with you. It’s an experience for me too.
I wanted to ask about your song ‘Prove It’ that just got onto the Starbucks official playlist and so I’m curious, has Cody Lovaas ever gone and just sat in a Starbucks and sat to hear it come on their radio?
CL: (laughs) I have not. I’m a busy dude. But I have had a lot of people hit me up with Snapchat videos all the time like every day because we’re also in Zara, and Urban Outfitters, Victoria’s Secret, like a bunch of stores and it’s always a trip man. Everyone’s always so excited for me and I love it! But I have never gone into a store or a Starbucks and heard it, but I’m waiting for it. I think it would be cooler if I didn’t try to!
So you were playing in an open mic night when you were 14 years old and discovered by Jason Mraz, how did that happen? What was the open mic night? Why was he there?
CL: The stars kind of aligned for me that night. Um I was in middle school I think. Yeah I was in middle school, crazy. I didn’t drive obviously so I would go to all these open mic nights all the time and I loved them. I loved them so much. It was the highlight of my night every time I would go. So I remember telling my dad “lets go to the open mic tonight.” And he was like “No you have an exam tomorrow.” I was like “dude I’m going to have someone else drive me if you don’t” so he said “okay we will go in for three songs and then bolt out.” So we go in and Jason is sitting on stage with his full band playing four or five songs. He just went there to try out some new material and to hang out, he’s that guy. He played some songs and then I did…so he opened for me. (laughs) and then after I played some music he came back and told me he wants to bring me under his wing, and mentor me. So we did the most SoCal thing ever, a week later we went and surfed and then we went back to his Avocado Orchard recording studio and we tracked some songs with Ukulele’s and just hung out. I got to tour with him and he’s been an amazing mentor and we’re still good friends and always hang out.
At that time did you know you were wanting to pursue music in middle school?
CL: Yeah I had stopped paying attention in school already um I dropped out of high school basically and pursued it full time. I was coming to LA four times a week for writing sessions, went on tours, and went full throttle man.
And you mentioned going on tours. You’ve toured with him you’ve toured with Ziggy Marley, you’ve toured with Switchfoot. What have you learned about yourself touring with such big artists?
CL: Going with Jason that was my first tour and it was so lavish for a first tour man. I had a bus, I had a hotel room for myself, I would walk in and someone would set up my guitar everything, I had someone that would iron my clothes for me, free food everywhere. It was insane. I just learned how much I loved traveling and meeting new people. It’s my favorite thing to do. Just to go and meet people and hear their stories and tell them mine and interact. So being able to do that with all of his fans and get to know them and go out and go to the merch table and meet people, and shake hands and take photos. I just love it. I love meeting people. Um and it’s kind of interesting because hearing my music you kind of get to know a lot about me through my music so when people hear my songs they have less questions then they usually would. Which is great for me because I don’t like to talk about it, I like to sing about it and write about it, but not talk about it. So it becomes “okay tell me about you” and I get to learn a lot and its just this… I love it. I love traveling I love playing my music for people and I love meeting people and that’s what I learned.
So in my first three interviews I asked the same question and then kind of adopted it as a tradition now. So I’m always curious with people that have played on big stages if they like Karaoke? and what songs they play in a karaoke setting?
CL: Oh Karaoke! I think if I was in like a public karaoke setting i’d want it to be something funny. Because if I’m connecting my music I have a guitar with me so I’d try to find something like funny like Flight of the Conchords or something. But if it was in like an intimate setting, there are candles lit and it’s romantic I would sing ‘When I Was Your Man’ Bruno Mars. That is the one dude! I love that song.
I asked a little bit about it but I wanted to ask another question on your new single “Talk Slow” coming out March 22nd and what can we expect from it?
CL: You can expect to just be introduced to my life. In the most honest way I could possibly do it. I mean I am constantly building my story every day I live. Always creating more and more stories and then always creating songs out of those stories. Like I said I wrote the EP a few months ago and finished writing it and then more shit happened to me so I wrote another song, and another song, and another song. I’ve got music on music on music and there is going to be a lot to listen to.