Catch up with Los Angeles-based indie pop singer-songwriter Gonzalla (Cody Randall) and listen to his latest single, "We Still Run".
What first got you interested in music?
Cody: I actually wanted to start playing violin. I think I was 8 or 9, but I went to a music shop in Orange Country and we went to play some violins, try it out, and I was, surprisingly enough, not good at all at it, but I saw some pretty cool guitars on the wall which caught my eye and that ended up being my first instrument. And, I learned piano from then and just kind of never stopped, really. Once I got good enough to create my own music, it just naturally happened, so I guess I've always kind of written music since the beginning, really.
Do you remember the first song you wrote that you were happy with?
When I was in England I had another band that I thought was quite good and it was very diverse, culturally: it was with a Swedish guy, an Aussie guy, and a Norwegian girl, as well. I think that was probably the first time that I started being really happy with the songwriting and then, I've moved back now for Gonzalla and that's kind of helped me and shaped my songwriting really. So, I think I've found quite a good place. But, I'm still trying to figure out how to be even more happy, I guess, with my songwriting; I still feel like there's another level of progress for me out there.
Which musicians have you been influenced by?
A lot of my friends really, just from writing with them. Like the Clean Cut Kid are quite a big one: Mike Halls is a good friend of mine, he's such an amazing guitarist and he's helped me so much with songwriting and music altogether and Evelyn Burke, her solo stuff - she's in Clean Cut Kid, she's married to Mike now - she's so talented. Them and Jack Garratt. For songwriting, it's quite classic kind of singer-songwriter stuff, like Jim Croce or John Denver or Bob Dylan and John Lennon and how they didn't always do the standard 'first verse, first chorus, bridge, chorus' structure and everything and the way they told stories in their lyric, which is quite an important thing for me, really, to always stay true to that. But, yeah, those kinds of bands. And, there's so many new musicians, like Japanese Houses is amazing and the new The 1975 album is blowing my mind currently.
How would you describe your own sound to someone who had never heard you before?
That's the toughest question to answer. For me, it's tough to describe, but I've been told that I sound a lot like Coldplay - which I don't necessarily agree with but people seem to lean towards that for some reason - and I don't know if it's the vocal, but it's a mix of them, Of Monsters And Men, and some upbeat band like Grouplove for some of the tracks, but then it gets a little bit more Bon Iver-ish/Ben Howard kind of playing. So, I guess it's like a boiling pot of those musicians, I would say. It's tough to pinpoint it.
What were your inspirations behind your single "We Still Run"?
That one was mainly a friend of mine who was just going through a very difficult time in their life and it was meant just to help them through that period. It didn't take very long to write, I think a few days, and I kind of wrote it as everything was happening, so it needed that time to come together but, yeah, it's mainly about - for the majority of my material - about personal things and things that happen to me or people close to me. I try to keep it quite honest 'cause I don't like to make up too much in the songs.
Are you working on an album or EP?
I've just recently thought of doing an EP for this project. I still have a few more single and remixes - I'm actually meant to put out a remix, possibly today, of "We Still Run" which my friend in Liverpool has done called Cobble, he's amazingly talented - but there's definitely plans for an EP, or possibly two EPs, in the future, but I still feel quite distant from an album yet. He's [Cobble] so talented, this guy; I didn't know he did remixes even. He just put something out recently and a friend sent it to me and I've known him for 4 or 5 years and he's been doing it this whole time but he never told me, so I'm excited for everyone to hear it finally.
Why choose the stage name Gonzalla?
Originally, I just didn't really like playing under my name. I didn't like the way it sounded, as well as it makes it a little bit difficult to work with other people in the sense that I can seamlessly, under Gonzalla, bring in other musicians - like I'm working with someone from OneRepublic and then some guys from Kitten, they're an LA group - but when it's Cody Randall, I feel like it's just not as seamless; it makes it a little bit blocky to go from bouncing from artist to artist and it's kind of difficult to have featured artists. Like, on "Heart", it's Nora Konstanse and that kind of works well with it being Gonzalla x Nora.
What do you hope your listeners will be able to take away from your music?
I hope they just understand what I'm saying in the music really, that's kind of my goal. Just to have them take anything away from it, hopefully help them through a difficult time, especially for "We Still Run". It helped my friend through the time so I'm hoping she's not the only one who can gain something from it.
Is there anything you want to add?
We're trying to do festivals next year and since now is the time to be applying for all of that sort of stuff, hopefully you guys will see us at SXSW and we'd love to come to New York to do some festivals as well, so I think that's going to be a big part of our project next year, as well.