Tell us a bit about Cuco.
The name came from my family. Usually, Cuco is a nickname for someone named Refugio, but that's not my name.
It came from my mom. She used to say I was 'cuckoo' crazy, and my grandpa spoke Spanish, so he used to say I was Cuco.
Before I was Cuco, I was going by the name of Heavy Trip in high school. I think, a couple of my songs that are really big now I dropped them as Heavy Trip.
I decided to make the name simpler and go with the childhood nickname.
You incorporate a mix of Spanish and English throughout your tracks.
How do you feel you're representing both languages/cultures through your art?
I feel like I do it by not really thinking about it.
I spoke Spanish first, that was my first language. I was born here, but I spent my time talking to my family in Spanish. When I got into school, I started speaking in English.
Obviously, I have Mexican roots, and I represent that by existing. I'm already Mexican from both parents.
There's a lot of elements in music that I'm always curious what it would sound like if I went one direction or another.
If I went in Spanish, English, or Spanglish. I just do it without thinking about it. I've never forced myself to do something in any type of way.
It opens your brain up to processing the world in a different way. Being bilingual from a young age, do you think it affected your output creatively?
I think so, knowing languages opens up a new realm for what you can learn. You can still listen to music without knowing what they're saying.
If I listen to something in French (or some other language), I like the music but can't understand it the way someone speaks does.
There's so much more art you can absorb and experience for yourself.
Can you tell us a bit about the new 'Hitchhiker' EP?
Yeah, the new EP is based around a lot of real life experiences.
Dealing with the concept of death in different aspects of how short life is, how I navigate that, going through something real existential, dealing with love, and feeling kinda disassociative a lot.
Was there a particular event that prompted you to dive into that?
I sobered up in March of last year. I needed different hobbies to get into. I kept dislocating my shoulder and the second time, the doctors gave me Ketamine.
It sent me off to some other dimension. You know like K-hole?
Coming back, I felt like I needed to write a lot about it to understand what I experienced. It felt really real, without it being real.
Yeah, like a major psychedelic experience more or less?
Can you describe it at all? Or is it too...
You enter this wormhole, the room disappears and you're thrown into a bunch of patterns, and stuff like that. There wasn't a lot of color.
Losing understanding of what you are, as a being. There's no concept of anything in there. Nothing exists except for the patterns in there.
During COVID, I was meditating a lot and had a lot of out-of-body states where you know you're separate from yourself.
I'm sober as well, and even when I meditate, I can go back to that if I need to.
I try not to spend too much time there because I know I need to be here; once you experience something like that, it f***s you up. It f***ed me up for like two years before I could make sense of it.
Yeah, for sure. It's crazy. It's really real and not real at the same time.
Your approach to this most recent album cycle was sober. Can you tell us a bit about not dealing with substances this time around?
It was good.
It was liberating for sure, I was already pretty sober before I started demoing the EP.
I haven't felt like I've needed anything for a long time, especially after the ketamine experience. A lot of things happened over the last year that made me realize I was doing a lot better.
I feel like I was changing a lot during my first year of sobriety. It was the most inconsistent year of where I was mentally. After that first year, it was more consistent for how I want to be and keep moving.
It's chaotic, but it brings you peace.
I've talked to a lot of people who have gone sober after the psychedelic experience. It's almost like, 'I can't do it anymore,' it's not part of you anymore.
It's almost like you're repulsed for lack of a better word.
The feeling (of being high) you have felt it so much. You see it as so pointless.
Everyone has different thresholds for when they reach that.
Diving through your discography, I really liked the visuals for 'Si Me Voy,' and the track as well.
Can you tell us a bit about that?
Yeah, I started writing that song during the pandemic.
It was one of those tracks I started demoing & writing, messing around with different songs & styles. It was such a sick song.
I talked to (name) & Marías, and they were like, 'oh yeah, this is fire.'
The music video was directed by Carlos Lopez Estrada who is amazing. Super sick. Everyone who worked on it on the music side or creative, killed it to each respect.
Can you explain the loop a little bit?
Yeah, it was Carlos's idea. This person leaves, and you see life kinda going. One chapter ends, but so many other chapters keep going.
You're left with one nice thing that this person gave you.
I want to first off say congrats for headlining the Flog stage on day two @ Camp Flog Gnaw!
Can you tell us a bit about the performance?
Yeah dude, that was crazy.
It was a full-circle moment. I was growing up in Hawthorne (CA) it was dope to be there in my city.
It was tough to figure out only a 45 minute set, on tour we do an hour and 45. Bringing the set down was tough to choose all of the songs. I think we did a good job.
The boys killed it, everyone did their thing. It was a great set.
It was a perfect way to end the year.
Was there any approach going in that you wanted to do on stage?
I wanted a show that felt genuine and visually appealing. The stage props were a sick touch.
The main thing is that the music sounds good. We dialed in a lot as a band this year. We showed that off really well.
What's next for Cuco?
Honestly, a lot of music. I have three projects in the works right now.
I'm trying to compartmentalize, I have so many songs I got finished that corespond to the world beyond their own realm. I got to find time to make these projects come out.
Keep working on my clothing brand, I want to start dedicating a lot of time to. Keep mastering, making more visuals, keep doing photography, start showing it off to people that don't know I do all that stuff.
You got a lot of multi-disciplinary pursuits going on right now, hey?
I'm excited. I'm a huge work addict.
I fell in love with being creative again, especially with being sober.
It helps pave the way.