“I find it hard to talk about my music. When people ask… I just wanna say: ‘it’s a soup’.”
For someone with one of the most relaxed personas you will ever encounter, 21-year-old Cuco, aka Omar Banos, leads an extremely hectic schedule. After several attempts to meet or chat over the phone while he’s playing shows in UK then Europe, we eventually manage to FaceTime him during a rare pitstop at his home in LA.
“It can be exhausting, yeah, but I am still loving touring,” he explains. “The shows can get really crazy with fans but I really enjoy seeing people who know my music… It’s also nice to come back to my bedroom though, because I can actually do some writing. I find it really hard to do anything on the road because there’s just no time.”
Despite the fact that his schedule has been fairly constant since being discovered in 2017, Cuco has still found time to complete his debut album, Para Mi, which he is now on the cusp of releasing. It’s a fact that he himself is even surprised about: “I’m just really proud that I actually finished my first album and I hope people will like it… I kinda suck at writing, I prefer just making music for other people.”
This type of reply is typical of Cuco, I slowly start to gather. Though he’s found a big audience quickly via his hazy love songs (see latest single, ‘Bosa No Se’ or the casually-catchy ‘Summer Time’), he is surprisingly humble when it comes to talking about his abilities or success: “To be honest, I find it hard to talk about my music. When people ask me how I’d describe it I just wanna say, ‘it’s a soup’.”
Cuco’s soup has a uniqueness to it that stems from his background as a Mexican-American, something that Cuco is proud of and keen to represent: “It’s definitely important to me. The fact that I’m from a minority background and that I am Mexican, especially today… It influences my music and I wanna be someone who represents that culture for sure. At the same time, of course, I’m just doing me and I’m going to represent myself too.”
“I do have to step away from music every now and then, because it can get a bit overwhelming.”
Cuco’s moniker is a name given to him by his mum when he was a kid, it means ‘crazy’ in Spanish (English equivalent: cuckoo). As a kid growing up, he was an only child who quickly took to music and, despite keeping to himself, would always be ready to burst into performance, having a natural flair for entertaining others. “It honestly just comes out, I don’t even really think about it,” Cuco explains in his typically-understated way.
Anyone who follows Cuco’s Twitter will see that it’s much like his music: humble, honest and often funny. Sometimes it seems he is living the life of his dreams and other times his tweets read like the philosophical outpourings of a modern day Young Werther: “I do have to step away from music every now and then, because it can get a bit overwhelming,” he explains.
This stepping away, Cuco tells me, can take the form of sightseeing while on tour – favourite sight in London? “Nandos” – working on his own fashion line (Fantasy Easy Living) or “just kicking it with friends and watching car videos”. Car videos? “Yeah, like rare Japanese imports. I actually own an ‘89 Toyota Supra. I get really into learning about the mechanics of them and the different parts that you customise on cars,” he elaborates.
This obsessiveness for even his pastimes is perhaps key to Cuco’s casually-hectic life; he falls in love with something, then makes it his goal to become master of every detail of it. So far, this trait has taken him around the world and back and, luckily for his fans, has allowed him to produce a wonderful debut album.
Cuco’s debut album, Para Mi, is out July 26th via Columbia.
See the video for ‘Bossa No Sé (ft. Jean Carter)’ here: