Artist Name: COTTON
Song Title: Come Back
Genre: Soul, Hip-Hop
Release Date: 28.09.18
COTTON – Come Back
Drawing from a mix of influences, such as Anderson Paak, D’Angelo, or Kendrick Lamar, ‘Come Back’ is a rich sound, blending hip-hop-driven drums and soulful vocal lines into a fully animated record. Only at the beginning of his career, writer and producer COTTON drops the atmospheric tune that is set to become his landmark entry into the neo-soul genre. Written at the turning point of a relationship, his honest lyrics question its outcome before realizing this story was meant to end, while emotions complicate the difficult decision. The music video is an errand into the nightlife when the mind cannot sleep and instead, wanders aimlessly, lost in thoughts.
At the crossroads between neo-soul and hip hop, London-based music artist and producer Antoine Cotton, aka COTTON, is blending guitar, keys, and vocal in energetic tones. After graduating in music writing, he is now also cutting his teeth on music production, working with other artists to develop their sound, while still refining his own. Growing up in a music environment in Switzerland, COTTON picked up the trumpet at the young age of eight before switching to the guitar and the piano as a teenager. After stepping into London’s music scene, the 26-year-old singer quickly built himself a repertoire inspired by jazz, funk, blues, and strong soulful backgrounds. Last year, he released two songs – “Roamer” and “Who You Wanna Be” – while also performing at top London venues including; Brixton’s Hootenanny, Notting Hill Arts Club, and Ronnie Scott’s Upstairs, and playing live at Vibe 106.7 and Shindignation festival.
Discuss the relevance of social networking to music.
According to my personal experience, it’s always been through people I met directly that I’ve managed to create interesting professional relationships. Having a personal and human connection to the person you want to work with makes a massive difference when it comes to helping each other, both for efficiency and motivation.
Go into detail on why you decided to choose music as a career.
I grew up in a musical environment, pretty much everyone in my family studied an instrument at some point in their lives and so did I. Starting from a young age, I found that music was giving me a space for creative expression I couldn’t find anywhere else. So after years of music practice and education, it became quite apparent that it was what I wanted to further through a career.
Brief us the feedback you are getting from fans on your music.
There have been a lot of amazing responses to the tune and the music in general. From the grooves and arrangements of the songs to the energetic performances, I was really pleased and humbled by the positive feedback I’ve been getting.
Tell us how you record your song.
For ‘Come Back’, we did all the arrangements beforehand with the band, working from the original demo production. Then going into the studio was much more of a free creative process, adding whatever would be on our minds, even if it was to take it away right after. It is through experimenting that we managed to find the sound we wanted for the record.
Tell us the story behind the song.
After a few months in a long-term relationship, my feelings slowly started to fade away with the distance which naturally put an end to what was happening between us. It is after reflecting on that relationship a couple of months later that the song came about – as a defined decision to let go and move on. But it was a very interesting experience that I don’t regret and definitely wouldn’t change.
State your musical skills.
I started my musical journey at the age of 8, learning trumpet through private lessons. After a few years of practice, I got drawn into polyphonic instruments, which offered more flexibility for composition. So I picked up guitar around my early teenage years, also because it felt much cooler to be playing rock tunes and crunchy blues bars rather than improvised solo arrangements.
It’s only another couple of years down the line that I started taking a vocal lesson to accompany myself on guitar. Slowly picking up piano on my own and experimenting with drums and production, I ended being comfortable with the role of artist and producer; giving me the ability to bring ideas way further than I ever thought I would be able to.
Tell us how long it takes to complete a song from the start.
‘Come Back’ took about two years.
From the first draft of the tune to the early production, the band arrangements, a few gigs to try it out live, organizing studio time, actually recording it, then production again to polish it out, pre-mixing, mixing, mastering, finally promotion and marketing come about and you can finally unveil it to the world – really quite a long process but very exciting at the same time.
Go into detail on how you develop your lyrics and melody.
I usually work from instrumentals I produce, trying to understand where the atmosphere wants to go and give it what it needs to get there. Coming from a musical background I can see that it’s definitely my go-to in terms of writing tunes. There are songs that I’ve started with lyrics and added music to it later but that way less common for me.
Once the song and the draft lyrical ideas are down, I try to compile them together to make the most sense for my intended direction. Then I record the first draft, listen back, make adjustments, re-record, and so on until I find myself with a version I’m happy with.
State your five favourite genres of music.
Hip-hop: it has that bounce and such an attitude with how the sounds are put together; it’s usually what I listen to for a feel-good boost.
Soul: for me the musical honesty, the ability to say something true to you, and using music as a medium to convey your emotions in a way you might not be able to otherwise.
Funk: gives me some energies that I don’t find elsewhere, a little extra something that makes you want to go nuts, and I want to bring that crazy into my music like a pinch of salt to make it come alive.
Folk: I grew up listening to the extra laid-back guitar and vocal tunes that can carry you through a whole journey without having to flash out some fancy productions. Just the lyrics and the melody can take you where you need to be. I find it very inspiring to think that you really only need that base and everything else is extra.
Jazz: I discovered the genre through my sister who was deep into it and showed me some interesting artists. A simple introduction to what the musicians were trying to say while still having that intricacy and virtuoso set of skills on their instruments. I treat it as research; you listen and get lost in this world of notes, trying to make a sense of it. Take away whatever you can.
Describe the chemistry between you and your fans during a live performance.
I’ve always enjoyed being on stage, either playing an instrument or performing somehow (I used to do a lot of improvs back in the days) and I think people can sense that I’m loving it. So when watching me people said that they were taken in by that energy… So the energy I give away I actually get back because I can sense when the crowd is having a good time and it makes me happy to think that I was the original instigator.
State your artist’s name and elaborate on it.
COTTON, it’s actually my last name.
I used to get a lot of shit for it back home (I’m originally from Geneva) because it’s all soft and fluffy and it eventually pissed me off. But using it as an artist’s name is a way to reconnect with it and show that I’m proud of my heritage and where I came from.
Discuss your rehearsal.
We work as a three-piece, so I usually bring a tune to the table, something that I’ve written and produced to a level where the guys can understand where I’m headed with it.
Through feedback and various trials, we eventually come up with a live arrangement that we’re all happy with. Usually, it is also the opportunity to bring a bit of each other’s style into the tune and make it our own as a unit.
State your favorite musical instruments.
Piano, sadly not the one I’m most comfortable with…
But it gives you such amazing options when performing because it’s a format that will translate through MIDI and therefore give you any sound you can possibly want.
Discuss your personality in full detail.
I would say that I’m quite a sociable person in the sense that I love connecting with new people and sharing experiences but at the same time I can be very private when it comes to things I feel more sensitive about like my music.
Perfectionism is probably what I love and hate most about myself… It pushes me to achieve more but holds me back at the same time, and that can impede my creative process.
I tend to express a lot of what I don’t like talking about through music, so most of my songs have a dark undertone or a connection to something I didn’t know how to express in the first place.
That’s because most of the good vibes I’m more than happy to share with everyone around but I’ll be a little more careful when it comes to expressing fears and emotions; I don’t know what to do with them. So they usually find their way into my lyrics.
Discuss your music career.
As always Ups and Downs but it’s been giving me a lot to be proud of and happy with. I would say it’s barely the beginning though so I can’t wait to see what comes next and where it’s all going to take me.
List your musical work.
I’ve soft released two tunes almost two years ago now and I’m working on the release of my first EP at the moment, Come Back being the first single with another one soon to come out.
Share your memorable experiences with us.
I would say that it would probably be when performing with an old band of mine called OKAPI, we used to get quite a good vibe going and just have a ton of fun when performing.
Not that I don’t have fun performing my own music but I guess there was a sort of simplicity to it that was quite enjoyable. Maybe our tour of the Netherlands was a highlight for me.