Artist Spotlight: Cuco
In the busyness of university life, Cuco is the artist I turn to to escape.
A friend had introduced me to his music during the summer, and so I will always associate Cuco with that carefree cusp between childhood and adulthood - the summer before university. It was inevitable that I would love his music. Before writing this article, I put a poll on Instagram asking for recommendations on what singers to put a spotlight on; my friend Ryu suggested Cuco, so here I am writing about this artist. In the busyness of university life, Cuco is the artist I turn to to escape.
With over 1.5 million monthly listeners on Spotify, 20-year old Cuco (born Omar Banos) is one of the singers riding the electropop-lofi-dreampop wave, alongside other musicians such as Clairo and Boy Pablo. Cuco’s sound is distinctly dreamy, and hypnotic; his words and voice tender and sensitive as they float over a cosmic background of synth chords, soft drumming, and a mellow bassline.
His two albums, Wannabewithu (2016) and Songs4u (2017) feature songs in English, Spanish, and Spanglish, reflecting his Mexican-American background. In an interview with Teal Magazine in 2017, he highlighted the impact his background has on his music, saying: ‘I definitely want to bring up that representation from the Chicano (Mexican-American) community because that definitely isn't there.’ His words translate into actions: earlier in 2017, he used his fame to shed light on immigrants’ rights by headlining the first ‘Solidarity for Sanctuary’ concert series, which aimed to raise funds for immigrant families risking deportation.
Although his sound is undeniably modern, the themes he explores in his songs are timeless and innately human: they are to do with human emotion. In ‘Lover Is A Day’ - the song that catapulted him to fame - he sings about romantic, emotional dependency and self-image; in ‘One and Only’, the focus turns to desire and love; in ‘Summer Time High Time’, he transports listeners to a problem-free place where everyone is relaxed.
His predominant focus, however, is love. One of his biggest hits, ‘Lo Que Siento’, or ‘What I feel’ summarises his sound as an artist completely. Its chilled-out beat reflects his Californian upbringing, the bilingual lyrics his background, and the lyrics his focus on candid emotions.
“I promise that I don't see nothin’ better / than to lay here witchu / and I hope you know I miss you / from my head I can't dismiss you."
In my words, Cuco is an artist you need to watch. His sound is encapsulating, his words are relatable. But in his words: ‘I feel like people think I do a lot of really fun stuff, but I'm really boring. I spend all my money on instruments.’ (Cuco for Redbull, 2018)