Cuco Keeps Going Despite Bumps On the Road

Photo by Abraham Recio

At the moment, I’m sitting in front of my computer waiting to talk to Cuco (born Omar Banos). It’s an overcast and a sort of cool December day for Southern California. When we finally get connected through the phone, he sounds lethargic, tired, and distant. I already know the reason why.

Cuco has had a meteoric rise in the L.A music scene. He was raised in Hawthorne — which is not in East L.A or South L.A for you damn non-native implants but the South Bay (although this is disputed among the natives). Omar went from backyard shows to Coachella in a short span of 2 years after he recorded a 30-second cover of 1959’s chart-topping hit “Sleepwalk” by Santo & Johnny which went viral — partly helped by Miami rapper Pouya when he noticed Cuco was wearing his shirt. However, nothing goes smoothly forever.

In early October of last year, Cuco was involved in a major accident that forced him to cancel his tour after several of his bandmates, including himself, suffered injuries. Before this untimely incident, he was riding a high that many struggling artists only dream of, millions of fans listening to his music, touring, a Coachella appearance, and all while unsigned. Although this incident might have sobered him back to slightly grimmer reality, he isn’t going anywhere — at least not anytime soon.

As we talk over the phone, he is in good spirits. We talk about music, his hopes at producing music for others, and — although clearly shaken — his optimism about getting healthy again.

“I can’t walk right now. I have a crutch and I have a boot, too,” says Banos over-the-phone. “I guess. Kind of the pain and thinking about the accident” replies Banos when I ask about how his injury has affected him.

Even though he lost some music because of the accident, he insists that the album isn’t changing. “It shouldn’t be postponed. It should be coming out as planned…but I don’t know…you never know,” says Banos with a sly chuckle. The record itself is supposed to be, according to Banos, more dreamy, trippy, and psychedelic. He mentions a plethora of influences like the latest Black Dahlia Murder album, a prog band called 4 Korners, Oldies music, Trap music, and even Kevin Parker from Tame Impala.

Apart from his own music, he has been keeping busy with other projects. Although he’s tight-lipped about release dates or exactly who he’s working with, he mentions a few other internet artists like himself.

“All these people I used to look up to…like now I’m just kinda cool with them. People like Pouya, Fat Nick, and Shape Up that I grew up listening to while in high school and now I’m cool with them,” says Banos. “I’m writing a couple of things for some of them and when it comes out, it’ll come out,” says Banos.

However, don’t expect a whole bunch of collabs coming out. He likes keeping his creative circle small. “It doesn’t really matter as long as I fuck with you, I’ll send you beats. I’m not the type of person to beg people to work with,” says Banos. “I appreciate the connections I have with the people I’m connected with. I have to already have developed some sort of friendship to want to kick it and work,” says Banos.

Even though he has the title of Chicano artist or bedroom pop artist, I ask him how he would describe his himself. “I don’t know. They can describe me how they want. I’m just making music,” says Banos.

After several months of recuperation and time off — and several months after this interview — he is touring again, playing a small number of shows in California one of them being at the Observatory on Feb. 12th. He’s even booked on a few international festival dates. And after a brief hiatus, he’s also releasing music again. He dropped a collab track with Dillon Francis called “Fix Me” which as of Feb 6th has 45k streams. A new album is also on the horizon but there is still no official release date.

Upcoming Shows:

2/12 – Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
2/13 – San Diego, CA @ The Observatory North Park
2/14 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda
2/15 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda
2/16 – San Francisco, CA @ Young Love at The Regency

I like to stare at my computer. Occasionally I type words to pass the time. Those words are usually about music.

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