Indie-rock singer-songwriter Eddie Cohn recently released his single/music video, “Who or What I Was Before,” a song about shrugging off the chains of old, inner archetypes and exposing the beauty that can come from internal growth and expression.
With four full-length albums under his belt, there’s plenty of Eddie Cohn to discover in the vaults. What’s most exciting, however, is what’s next. For 2024, Eddie Cohn is tapping into the grunge-fueled ‘90s era of rock and plans to release a new single every other month. The next era of Eddie Cohn coming through in this next string of releases is a whole new sonic world for listeners to explore.
Directed by Cohn’s regular collaborator Leslie Andrew Ridings, the music video for “Who Or What I Was Before” catches Cohn in his transitional phase. Shot on the traffic-laden streets of his adopted city, the video feels like an intimate walk with Cohn through mind and time. Riding’s masterful camera work combined with Cohn’s vocal performance creates an atmosphere of hope and desire.
Tattoo.com spoke with Eddie Cohn to find out more about the person behind the music, why he makes music, and his writing process.
What three things can’t you live without?
My two cats and pizza.
Why do you make music?
I was just thinking about this the other day when speaking to a friend about creativity and how that can intersect with the business side of the arts. Sure, we want our piece of work to be seen by the masses, but when you strip all of that away, the reality is that creation is this cathartic experience. From a very young age, music has been this vehicle for me to express myself. It allows me to relax or try and make sense of the world. There’s something incredibly meditative and joyful about hearing a song idea in my head and trying to sculpt and mold it into life. There’s this art about creating a ‘perfect’ song but I also love to sing and simply play the guitar with no expectations. I’ve always been transfixed and moved by the sounds of music, and I also love the collaborative process of songwriting.
What inspired your new single/music video, “Who or What I Was Before?”
For this new group of songs, I plan to release for 2024, they came from a place of self-reflection. You sort of reach these milestone birthdays or events in life that potentially have this power to make us look back or forward and examine who we are. I don’t typically write stories within my songs so it’s more about the emotional state of mind that I am experiencing when I write songs. I found myself contemplating some of the deeper questions like the passing of time. The meaning of life. Can we change or are we sort of stuck with who we are? I also came to this realization in the last couple of years that I worry too much. There’s this great line in a Tom Petty song. He sings, ‘Most things I worry about, never happen anyway.’ I think these songs were more about channeling an energy or an approach to how I want to live the rest of my life. I also wanted this song and the songs that follow to be driven by a more rock ’n’ roll energy. A sort of forward momentum that drives and energizes the listener.
For 2024, you’re planning to release a new single every other month. What motivated such an ambitious project?
Well, I have about sixteen songs in various stages of production, eight of which are done, and while I grew up loving to listen to full records, it feels like our culture has moved more towards digesting music and art in smaller pieces. I mean sure, we hear anecdotes where the long form is making a comeback or we see these three-hour movies coming out, but from what I see, it makes more sense to put as much art out as possible, but in small little bites. I feel like if I released a full record, I’d be out of the cultural mix much more quickly than if I released singles.
How did you get started in music?
The first time I sat down at the piano, I was just three years old. And then I picked up the drums when I was twelve. I actually didn’t start writing my own songs until after college so I guess you could say I’m a bit of a late bloomer. I guess music was always present in my life and something I will always have a deep passion for, but as I got older, I began to have an interest in singing and writing my own songs. I owe a lot of that to people who kept telling me I was talented or the ones who told me I had a great voice. It’s amazing how these little flickers of positive feedback can truly be inspirational.
Which singers/musicians influenced your sound?
I feel extraordinarily lucky to have grown up during the ‘90s grunge era of music. That was easily one of the greatest decades of music and that era definitely will be forever etched in my songwriting process. Eddie Vedder, Chris Cornell, Layne Staley. I don’t think I could ever sound like any of them, but I love the passion which they all sang with. I’m also greatly influenced by artists like Beck and Thom Yorke, not only by how they sing but the production styles in which they bring songs to life. I think U2 and Tom Petty have shaped the way I craft songs as well.
If you had to describe your sound to the uninitiated, what would you say?
A little bit of rock ‘n’ roll with some synth-rock sprinkled around the edges. It’s not always easy to incorporate synth into a rock ’n’ roll song but I try to create an atmosphere of energy and edge and complement it with some of the ethereal touches of synthesizer.
What can you share about your writing process?
I bought a new acoustic guitar about 18 months ago, with no real plan or goal in mind, but that instrument became this vessel for me as a songwriter. I also wanted to try and create a more organic and less digital approach in the production of these newer songs. I wanted the focus to be more about the earthy instruments of drums, bass, and guitar and rely less on digital components like drum loops and synthesizers. Now while the acoustic guitar isn’t necessarily a ‘grunge’ choice, it definitely inspired a more rock-oriented song. I typically try and find the melody and structure of the song and once I feel good about the energy and shape of the song, I start humming melodies and then work on the lyrics and theme of the song. It’s very much a long-drawn-out process. A lot of guesswork and trial and error and moments where it’s about listening to my instinct. Each day presents different challenges.
Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?
I LOVE Inhaler. They’re a rock n’ roll band from Ireland. The lead singer is Bono’s son and I really love their style of rock music. I still love Cold War Kids and as far as pop acts, I think Harry Styles is the real deal. I’m going to see U2 next week at the Sphere so I’m still really into them. I like Billie Eilish and I’m really into the War on Drugs.
How do you define success?
I think for me, it’s about growth and constantly getting better at my craft. Staying disciplined and not getting too distracted by what other people are doing but finding a way to keep exploring my craft and my path as an artist. It’s a life-long journey, but each week, I try to focus on bringing a little bit more of my art closer to the finish line.
Do you have ink? If so, how many, and which is your favorite?
No ink yet, but If I started, I would definitely get one of my cats.
What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? Live gigs? Music videos?
My plan is to keep putting new music out in 2024 so I’ll be putting a new song out every other month with the hope of putting out a full record at the beginning of 2025. Definitely more music videos, and if all goes well, and if the timing is right, I’ll start playing some shows too. I put out my first book a couple of years ago, so I’d love to start work on my second novel.