ICON: Congratulations on the release of “Nice To Meet You”! What does this single mean to you?
Cody Simpson: “To me it’s a real pivotal moment. It acts for me as the turning of a page, the reintroduction of all things me, musically, and it’s been a minute since I have done an album project. It is the perfect reintroduction to a whole world of music and following in the footsteps of musicians that I personally love and look up to in this acoustic singer-songwriter rock space. I’m moving away from my career in pop as a teenager.
The song itself is a reflection of an ending being a new beginning. Not sad that something is over, but being happy that it happened and being ready to move on. That directly relating to a relationship so to speak but also life.”
The single forms the apt prelude to what you’ve described as “the album of your life”. Since your last album how have you personally evolved?
CS: “It’s a good question. I’ve had a lot of musical growth since my last full-length solo album and there has been a lot of people that followed that evolution as guitarist and as a musician. But I guess for the larger population, a lot of people might not have seen me since something I did when I was a lot younger so it feels like a big step if you’re only just tuning in back now.
“My last record titled Free was my first independent release. It was my third album which came out over six years ago so a lot has happened since then.”
We can’t talk about your earlier work without speaking about your very first single, “iYiYiY” featuring Flo Rida 12 years ago. What was that experience like reflecting on it now?
CS: “That was almost half my life ago now and I’m only 25 – I’m still young. It is crazy to look back on and realise the path it sent me on and the amount it has done for my career. The people I’ve met and the people I’ve got to collaborate with and learn from and the experiences I’ve had travelling the world. You can’t look back on it with any regret. I mean, a lot of people can remove their old Facebook and Instagram photos but for me I can’t that, it’s just out there online for the world to see forever in perpetuity.”
You were quickly thrust into the spotlight and your entire family relocated to Los Angeles to pursue your music career. What was the most surprising thing you encountered when adapting to life in America?
CS: “We were a pretty normal Aussie family that had nothing to do with the music business before it all happened. We went over with a lot of ignorance to the way it all works and inevitably got f**ked over a few times. We’re a swimming and surfing family that knew nothing about Hollywood and we were thrust into it. You certainly learn a lot. You learn that you can’t necessarily trust everybody, you learn that it is a business that people want to make money from and as a youngster it’s tough because you trust everything everyone says. We learnt a lot as a family and it brought us all stronger and closer together as a unit. I’ve got a wealth of knowledge now and experience now at a young age that a lot of people don’t get until they’re 50.”
There are not many people who are so open to speaking about these past experiences and your family has also been incredibly candid about it in the past. Can we expect this kind of trend in the forthcoming album?
CS: “I think it’s a hyper-vulnerable record altogether. It’s a reflection of the past few years of my life and the relationships I’ve had personally and publicly. It’s a complete collection of diary entries in a way that have documented my experiences over the last five years. It is certainly the most open and vulnerable I have ever been and it’s also the most creative control I’ve had over a project in my life. I’ve been able to build it from the ground up and write every song and co-produce every song.”
In addition to music you’ve restarted your career in swimming. What pushed your to return to the pool?
CS: “It was a burning itch from hell that never went away that I just had to scratch. I left competitive swimming at the age of 13. I was really at the height of what I could have been at the sport at the time. I was national champion for my butterfly and freestyle events three years in a row and I had national and state records. I just left it in a good place. I had always wanted to come back to it one day. It’s as equal of a passion for me as music is and it has always been that way so I had to have a crack [at swimming] before I got too old.”
What does the daily schedule of a swimmer AND musician looks like at the moment?
CS: “I’ve had to be really sensitive to not missing any training sessions. I’ve made it very clear to everyone that I work with that nothing can get in the way of training. I don’t miss a session. It’s not an option. I train twice a day, sometimes five or six hours a day and between that is sleeping and eating. It’s tough. At the same time swimmers often have other jobs to make money and stay afloat and in a way, [music] is my ‘other’ thing. I just do it up to a point that it doesn’t distract from my training and I still try to give it as much time as I can. It’s hard to find a balance.”
What do you hope people take from this new single?
CS: “It’s a reflection of where I have come from musically. More literally it’s a willingness to be super vulnerable and pour everything I have into a track which is what I have done with this single and the whole album.”
You’ve spoken about the acoustic artists you have admired. Who are those people and what have you learnt from them?
CS: “More modern [artists] like Ben Harper, John Mayer, Jack Johnson and from the past, Nick Drake, Jeff Buckley, Sting, Paul Simon. Those are my playlists. Those are the people I listen to at home and in the car. The music I’m making certainly reflects that and will continue to reflect that.
I’ve learnt to the idea that you should do what you enjoy. Stick to your guns, stay your course and don’t necessarily get swayed by trends.”
With everything that is happening right now, what do you hope to achieve in the next five years?
CS: “I’d like to get as far as I can in the pool. That is my primary goal in the next three years. At least to see what I can do in the pool. I will probably re-evaluate after the Paris Olympic trials where I’m at and if I want to continue with it. Musically, I’m going to keep making albums. I would love to be able to play live again one day. Once I’m done with swimming plan on doing music for the rest of my life.”