Alt dream pop fun from the LA-based wunderkind.

Cuco portrait
Cuco portrait

Twenty is pretty young. Most of us were at uni, unrestrained in our Pot Noodle consumption, and just generally figuring our shit out. Meanwhile, at the very same age, LA-based Cuco (born Omar Banos) has been confidently producing psychedelic-tinged pop bangers, all with an assertiveness and self-belief much older than his years.

As a first-gen Mexican-American, you’ll catch him rapping and singing in both English and Spanish. This, in lethal combo with relatable lyrics, inventive compositions and fun retro-style videos (spot Plank from Ed, Edd n Eddy in “Summertime Hightime” below) have built him up quite the dedicated fanbase.

With a couple of fire mixtapes already under his belt, and having just released a new EP, “Chiquito”, he’s now collaborated with viral YouTube star Clairo for a brand new track, “Drown”. We chat to Cuco about working on his first album and being a reluctant heartthrob…

Cuco means “cuckoo” in Spanish – why did you choose this as your stage name?
Cuco has a different meaning to me and my family than most. “Cuckoo” came from me being a crazy kid, but most people will think of El Cuco, which is a scary monster told in stories to get kids to behave.

What made you want to start making music?
I started playing at a very young age, but only really started making music at 16. It’s something I’ve always been fond of.

Who do you make music for?
Mainly myself, but it’s dope that a lot of people seem to fuck with it.

Your music definitely sounds older than your years – do you get that a lot?
I do, but I’m just inspired by a lot of different types of music, so I try to incorporate that.

What made you want to collaborate with Clairo for “Drown”?
It had been heavily requested, and then we got this opportunity where we could work on the song for two days straight – it was very easy to make.

What is ”Drown” about?
“Drown” is about a boy that wants to be in a relationship but is never home, and a girl who doesn’t because she’s tired of waiting for him.

Who would be your dream collaboration?
Kevin Parker. I’ve been a huge fan of his work and he has inspired some of my songs. I think we would make some crazy stuff together.

You sing in both English and Spanish…
It’s just something that’s very natural to me because Spanish was my first language and I grew up speaking both. Then it was something that just kind of happened in my music.

How do you want your music to make people feel?
I would want them to feel euphoric. Like they’re in a trance, because most of my music has a psychedelic feel to it.

You’ve been called a heartthrob repeatedly online – how do you feel about this?
It’s weird because I was never really someone that girls paid attention to growing up. So it’s really new and odd for me but it’s dope at the same time.

What’s next for you?
I’m working on my first album, and I’ll be travelling the world this year which is dope. There’s a lot of stuff I’m very excited about.

Maybelle Morgan