19 YEARS OLD SINGER/SONGWRITER/PRODUCER COLE BASTA, AKA COL3TRANE, IS QUICKLY CEMENTING HIMSELF AS ONE OF THE BRITISH URBAN MUSIC SCENE’S RISING STARS- AND ONE TO KEEP A CLOSE EYE ON. BORN IN LONDON TO AMERICAN PARENTS AND WITH EGYPTIAN HERITAGE, COLE’S FUSION OF CULTURAL INFLUENCES AND OPENNESS TO DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES HAVE STRONGLY INSPIRED HIS SOUND AS HE SEAMLESSLY SWINGS BETWEEN CONTEMPORARY R&B, HIP-HOP, NEO SOUL, ELECTRONIC AND TRAP WITH SUBTLE ACCENTS OF POP TOO. COLE DOESN’T LIKE TO CLASSIFY HIS MUSIC AS ONE THING, DOESN’T WANT TO BE PIGEONHOLED INTO A GENRE AND FEELS VERY STRONGLY ABOUT EXPERIMENTING AND EVOLVING: “ I AM OPEN FOR MY MUSIC TO GROW AS I GROW AS A PERSON”.
JUST AS HIS SOUND STRADDLES BETWEEN GENRES, HIS LYRICS EXPERIMENT WITH DIFFERENT REFERENCES, RANGING FROM GREEK MYTHOLOGY (HIS TRACK PENELOPE IS INSPIRED BY HOMER’S ODYSSEY) TO REAL SITUATIONS AND THE EMOTIONAL STRUGGLES OF EVERYDAY LIFE, DISCUSSING SUBJECTS LIKE ANXIETY, BOREDOM AND STRESS IN A VERY INTROSPECTIVE AND THOUGHT-PROVOKING WAY. THIS MOOD ALSO COMES ACROSS IN HIS VIDEOS, ALL OF THEM REVEALING A DREAMY, PSYCHEDELIC, ALMOST SURREAL QUALITY WHILE KEEPING THE OVERALL AESTHETIC RELATIVELY LO-FI, RAW AND RELATABLE.
GROWING UP LISTENING TO GREATS LIKE D’ANGELO, COLE QUICKLY REALISED HOW EASY IT WAS TO MAKE MUSIC FROM HIS LAPTOP, AND -AS A TRUE GEN ZER- HE WASTED NO TIME AND STARTED MAKING BEATS, PLAYING AROUND WITH DIFFERENT SOUNDS AND PUTTING HIMSELF OUT THERE, MEETING PRODUCERS AND OTHER ARTISTS. THIS WAS LESS THAN THREE YEARS AGO, WHILE HE WAS STILL IN SCHOOL. SINCE THEN, HE’S RELEASED TWO EPS, 2017’S TSARINA, FEATURING HITS NEW CHAIN AND PENELOPE AND 2018’S BOOT. BOTH GAINED HIM CRITICAL ACCLAIM AS WELL AS MILLION PLAYS ONLINE AND RESULTED IN HIM SPENDING THE LAST FEW MONTHS TRAVELLING BETWEEN TORONTO, LOS ANGELES, KAZAKHSTAN, AUSTRALIA AND ACROSS THE UK, WRITING MUSIC, FILMING VIDEOS, TOURING AS WELL AS OPENING FOR DUA LIPA. HE’ S ALSO JUST BEEN SHORTLISTED FOR THE COVETED MTV PUSH: ONES TO WATCH 2019.
EVEN THE FASHION WORLD HAS STARTED TO TAKE NOTICE, WITH ARENA HOMME + MAKING HIM THE COVER STAR OF THEIR 50TH ISSUE SHOT BY ALASDAIR MCLELLAN.
WE CAUGHT UP WITH COLE OVER WHATSAPP THE EVENING BEFORE OUR SHOOT TO DISCUSS HIS GENRE-BENDING SOUND, CAPTIVATING LYRICS AND AESTHETIC AND HIS UPCOMING PLANS. WITH AN ALBUM IN THE MAKING, AN MTV PUSH NOMINATION AND AN ARENA HOMME + COVER UNDER HIS BELT, COL3TRANE’S NAME IS ONLY GOING TO BECOME MORE AND MORE FAMILIAR IN THE UPCOMING MONTHS/YEARS.
Hey Cole, how you doing? What you up to?
Yooo yh im bless… I’m just in studio. yourself? u good?
Yeah great, thank you. You have had a phenomenal year! From getting million of hits on Spotify to touring and travelling… for those who have just got to know you, could you just tell us a bit about when, how and why did you start playing?
Yeah it’s been a wild year… I started making music around 3 years ago just making beats on a laptop in my bedroom.. then started meeting producers and other artists and building my sound like that…somehow I’ve ended up in this position a few years down the line . it’s crazy looking back on it cos I can’t really tell you how it happened lol…but it’s definitely been wild ride.
Well I’m glad it did! What would you says have been the biggest influences on your sound? Any artist in particular or a defining moment that made you think “that’s it, that’s what I wanna do”?
I think growing up I always idealized the greats like d’angelo, 3stacks, Thom Yorke and saw them as like aliens u know? Then us I got older and saw how easy it was to just make music from your bedroom I knew I had to do it.
That’s a really cool attitude…just do it! And yeah you definitely name checked some of the greatest! Could you briefly describe your music- making process as I believe it has probably evolved from the “making music-from your bedroom days”? Do you write all yourself/ work with the same people regularly or do you mix it up/ experiment?
I make most of my music with my guy Jmoon… but I work with other people too…I’m always down to experiment and try new things, but when it’s time to go into the fine details of the music it always comes back to me and J. that’s what we into tonight right now lol.
Sounds great. I am curious to find out more about your inspiration… particularly around the themes/ topics of your songs… in the new project, BOOT,(Breathing Out Of Time), some of the lyrics/ meanings reference topics like anxiety, boredom, being stuck somewhere, stress…it’s all very real and mature, and very cool and inspiring, especially from a young male artist. Are these drawn from personal experiences , is it a social commentary on what is actually happing in the world? Where does your main inspiration come from?
Guess. Most of my own inspirations comes from my own experiences like the shit I see and do on a day to day… and sometimes things that I see other people going through or things i read about. but u know life is shit sometimes and it’s good to talk about it…I’ve found people connect most to the songs that are based on real situations that have happened…people can feel the authenticity in music.
Absolutely. Do you think it’s particularly important to tackle this sort of topics and be open and honest as you gain increase exposure/influence?
I guess so… but I’m open for my music to grow with me as I grow as a person. like I’m not gonna be talking about the same shit in 10 years cos I’ll be a totally different person…but it’ ll come from that same place of honesty…if that makes sense
Makes total sense. In regards to your hometown, does your life in London and also your cross-cultural heritage have an influence on your sound and visual aesthetic?
Yeah for sure, i always say I’ve grown up in an American home in London… and I feel like that allows me to see things from a different angle. I’m blessed to have been exposed to a lot a different music and art and culture from a early age.
Yeah you can certainly note that fluid approach in your music… talking about aesthetic, especially! when it gets to your videos…they are very strong, Britney especially! How involved are you in the concept of your videos/ visuals?
I like to be involved… but I’m still learning about the process. I like to come with story ideas and work with directors who know what is possible to do with a camera and how to bring a song to life, and yeah thank you! Britney was a wild one to film.
Kazakhstan right? How was that?
Crazy… mad couple of days out in the desert. It’s a beautiful country. never ever expected music would take me there.
Hehe… you’ll be going to many other crazy places I imagine!
When it gets to fashion… what’s your relationship with it? You graced covers of the likes of Arena Homme + (congrats!)… do you enjoy this part, is it something you would like to possibly explore more or you are squarely focused on the music?
Yeah thank you! And yeah for sure. I’m working on designing some stuff at the moment I’ll be able to talk about more hopefully in a few months.
Exciting! Looking forward to it. What’s else is next? You have two mixtapes out that were super well received and you are slowly blowing up…You are obviously in the studio as we speak… Any new music coming this year we can look forward to?
Got hella songs…I can’t wait for people to hear. Im very excited for this year. I just sent off the final masters for a bunch of Features like 10 minutes ago…so it’s fresh to me. but yeah…soon lol……. don’t wanna say when yet.
Can’t wait to hear some new stuff from you, all very exciting! It’s gonna be a big year! What would you consider the highlights of you career so far!
I think probably going on tour with Dua…I learned a lot from being on that tour and seeing how hard her and her team work and how they always do everything with smile. Also playing in front on that many people was just crazy. was blessed to be able to do that.
I can imagine. Dua is a boss! Ok…and to finish off I have some quick-fire questions before i let you get back to your studio session…
Fair enough. Dream gig/festival to perform at?
Wanna headline wireless…also Coachella… also wanna play at red rocks cos that shit looks crazy lol.
It truly does. London’s fave spots?
Caribbean kitchen on mare street. Serious flavours. X
Fave place you have visited so far?
Toronto was mad cool and I didn’t get enough time to go out and do stuff there …so I’m try na go back asap.
Right now? Drama Call. Evisu my shit too.
Netflix recommendations for us?
I don’t really watch too much Netflix but I watched training day for the first time yesterday that film is dope
Cool! And any artist who is currently inspiring you and should be on our radar?
Lucky Daye is awesome . Also Miraa May. Both their EPs are flaaaames.
Amazing! And one place in the world you have always wanted to go to?
I wanna go South Africa.
Oh man it’s amazing! Definitely go! One of my favourite places for sure, very special!! And finally, bit of a corny question but…since 2019 has just star started…have you got any New Year’s resolutions?
Nah I don’t really believe in that stuff.
Ok cool! Thanks so much Cole! Great chatting to you and looking forward to what’s coming next!
Text and interview Sara Maggioni – @saramarievictoire