Cody Simpson's third full-length album and first for his very own Coast House Records, Free, signals the start of something new.
"This is the beginning of a long musical journey for me," he declares. "I’m sticking to my guitar. I know who I am. I know where I’m headed, and that’s all I have to say.”
In 2014, the Australian-born Los Angeles-based singer and songwriter found himself independent for the first time as he thought this was the best path for him moving forward in his musical career. That independence invigorated and inspired a flurry of creativity as well as an insatiable desire to collaborate. Through a serendipitous introduction, he ended up in a Malibu studio overlooking the ocean with producer Cisco Adler. Within hours, Cody realized he had met his “musical soul brother.” They immediately began working on what would become Free.
“The moment I finally felt I had the tools necessary to execute my vision was when I met Cisco in Malibu,” he shares. “I was looking at the ocean, and I felt home. It was the perfect environment with the perfect partner to make the album I had always wanted to make. The universe brought us together. I had so much peace, and I was able to move on from the frustrations of my prior situations. I was finally on the right path.”
That path saw early morning surfing give way to late night studio sessions marked by laughter, smiles, and countless memories. Nodding to lifelong influences as diverse as Bob Dylan, Jack Johnson, John Mayer, and Sublime, Cody cooked up a sun-kissed sound of his own driven by sandy acoustic guitars, steel drums, soaring solos, and unforgettable hooks.
“It sounds like me,” he declares. “I just wrote, and this is what came out. For the first time, I felt like I properly represented who I am as an artist. Being free from the pop world is the most incredible feeling. I don’t have to conform to anything. I didn’t think about anyone except for myself and the people who are going to be with me for a long time. I want to bring real music with live instruments back.”
He does just that on tracks like “Flower.” A hummable riff blossoms into a shimmering hook that instantly shines. “The sun was just coming up,” he recalls. “We could hear the crashing waves, and we came up with this magical little guitar lick. It was so natural. You’ve got that imagery of picking petals off flowers, and it paints a picture.”
Then, there’s “New Girls New Problems,” which tempers his sharp storytelling with a cleverly catchy refrain. “I wanted to get a little edgier,” he admits. “I wanted to do something derived from the negatives of the relationship I’ve been in now for a little while. It’s ultimately a positive situation, but we’ve broken up twice. Musically, there was no layout, and we captured this flow.”
“Happy Little Hippy” is the ultimate ode to flower children everywhere with its wistful western twang, surf rock swagger, and carefree chorus. “We wanted to write a song about a girl who doesn’t conform to society,” Cody continues. “Personally, I think society keeps people in boxes. This is about a girl who doesn’t know there are any boxes. It’s your ideal free-spirited woman.”
Meanwhile, “Love Yourself” proved to be a dream come true for Cody. One of his idols, G. Love of G Love & Special Sauce, joined him in the studio for this spirited call-and-response. “I’m a big fan of his music,” he says. “He has an awesome blues vibe. In the song, I’m wishing that I lived during the time G. Love was growing up. He’s telling me it’s not as good as I thought it was .We both share this message to love yourself, just cruise, and live life.”
Cody has enjoyed quite the impressive career. His 2013 album Surfer’s Paradise featured collaborations with Ziggy Marley and Asher Roth and landed in the Top 10 of the Billboard Top 200. He toured Europe and the U.S. as direct support for Justin Bieber and released his official autobiography, Welcome To Paradise: My Journey, through Harper Collins. Along the way, he performed on television programs including The Today Show, Live! with Kelly, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show and garnered the award for “Favorite Aussie Star” at the 2012 Kids Choice Awards as well as International Male Artist Award at the 2015 Huading Awards in China.
However, Free opens the first page of his biggest chapter yet. “To me, this feels like the first project I’ve ever put out,” Cody concludes. “I want the music to speak for itself. This is meant to allow listeners to feel timeless, happy, and free. The world needs music back."