Cuco is taking his time, just like his hypnotic melodies of love.
Born Omar Banos, the 19-year-old from Los Angeles is resonating powerfully in music with his oldies themed melodies, bilingual lyrics and gentle use of an oscillating synthesizer capturing a new generation of fans. The teenager has even earned a spot to perform at Coachella later this month.
“I feel like I’m riding a wave, but I’ve never been a spotlight kind of person,” Banos concedes, then adds, “I want to see where it goes. It’s kind of weird, but very cool.”
From embrace of cannabis culture with sold-out merchandise, such as Cuco-themed rolling papers, to his deadpan kind of humor with the Twitter handle @Icryduringsex, Banos says he’s still independent as he continues releasing love songs such as “Lo Que Siento,” “Sunnyside” and the latest “CR-V,” singles that combined have more than eight million views without the backing of any music label or sponsor.
“I’m independent right now and seeing where it goes from here,” Banos says, adding that he and his team are looking at “where we get the best officers.”
Bano’s manager, Doris Muñoz, has been with the singer/songwriter since February 2017 when she saw him play in a backyard in Commerce, Calif. The next day, she says, they met up and started working.
“I think Latinx alternative kids finally have a true representation of who they are existing in the general market,” Muñoz says. “Cuco is a normal kid, only child who grew up in the hood of Hawthorne with immigrant parents. He played in a marching band. He’s one of them, and thankfully lots of people see that and just want to see him win.”
Bano’s Chiquito EP drops May 4. The Coachella showcase follows Governor’s Ball, FYF Fest, Lollapalooza and Outside Lands. Cuco and friends are celebrating their streetwear brand Fantasy’s Easy Living in collaboration with Red Bull Music through a pop-up shop on April 12 at the Glass House in Pomona, Calif. The first 200 fans get a free limited edition ringer tee and coaches jacket.
Banos, who recently preformed at SXSW, took time to talk about his rise in the music scene, how his parents are reacting to his success and what it means for the rest of the year.
How do you describe your music?
It’s like a bunch of synthesizers … jazz chords, it’s like dream pop, if that’s the right term.
How early did music come into your life?
I was 8 when I started playing the guitar. No one in my family was a musician. I took a bunch of beginning classes that my mom took me to for a couple of months and after that I was on my own.
Do you write all your music?
I write, mix, I do everything.
What inspires you to write music?
I guess it’s about going through heartbreaks. It’s about expressing myself. I didn’t know how to do that and music has been my place to do that.
What does performing at Coachella mean for you?
It’s definitely crazy, like what the hell? It validates a lot of things about my artistry and it really means something. It will take me somewhere. I feel blessed.
How important is it for you to be bilingual in your music?
It’s a very casual thing for me singing in Spanish, it’s not something crazy.
How are your parents handling your fame?
They’re excited, but at first they were like, “Dude, we don’t know about you quitting everything and going to do music. You’ve got to have a plan.” Now that I’m working they are super excited.
Besides your team, whom do you talk to before making major decisions about your career?
My mom. She always has great insights. She has the smartest things to say. Yeah, dude, she’s amazing.