hear cuco and clairo's dreamy duet about a dying love
As the two artists drop 'Drown,' they talk finding viral fame, unexpected influences, and the importance of collaboration.
Photograpy Kayla Reefer
Omar Banos and Claire Cottrill have a lot in common. They’re both 19, both make mellifluous lo-fi dream pop under bite-sized monikers starting with C, and both launched careers off the back of viral DIY hits. It’s not surprising that the two run in the same circle. You might have caught a Cuco cameo in Claire’s wonderfully insane video for “Flaming Hot Cheetos,” for which she enlisted a bunch of her friends to throw a neon-soaked rager in a diner. They’ve now teamed up for a sparkling collab single “Drown,” which was written for the ongoing series Songs From Scratch, and starts off with Omar semi-jokingly sounding off into the mic, the intro reaching an autotuned and explicit crescendo.
“Omar was ranting about something in the studio,” Claire laughs over the phone, describing the organic origin story of “Drown.” The song was written and recorded in just two days, with Omar and Claire both contributing vocals and production (Ricky Reed also helped producing). Cuco drifts seamlessly between English and Spanglish, and Claire’s distinctly silky voice makes this one transcendental ballad. “Drown” is a perfect evolution of friendship, and of Omar and Claire’s trajectories as artists, from recording music in their bedrooms — they’ve both credited with ushering in a “bedroom pop” revolution — to dropping studio EPs and hitting the festival circuit. “Drown” follows the release of Clairo’s diary 001 and Cuco’s Chiquito.
“Artists have been recording music in their bedrooms for decades but their music was never labeled ‘bedroom pop,’” Claire says of her mixed feelings about the bedroom pop genre. “It’s not a new thing.” But at the same time, she adds, it has led to friendships both and online and IRL. Omar and Claire agree that the the Soundcloud scene fosters a sense of community and collaboration amongst young artists, and that it’s this, rather than the potential for viral fame, that they love about making music today. “I’ve collaborated with people I never would have met if it wasn’t for Soundcloud,” Claire says. She says recently dropped the disco banger “Better” with Liverpool producer SG Lewis after bonding during a writing session in LA.
Omar and Claire also unsurprisingly credit Soundcloud with expanding their many influences. But the genres that have been most seminal in inspiring them as artists come from their disparate upbringings. (After all, they’re still only teenagers.) Omar grew up in Hawthorne in southwestern LA, listening to Chicano rappers, but also immersing himself in the city’s healthy metal scene. He cites metal, along with his first MIDI keyboard, as the thing that made him want to produce music. Claire was raised in a small rural town in Massachusetts on the sounds of the 60s. “But I don’t think my music sounds like that,” she clarifies.
Could we be getting more Cuco x Clairo collabs in the future? Both artists voice a desire to work on more music together, though we might have to wait until festival season winds up for that to happen. In the meantime, if you’re feeling some type of way about the dog days of a summer fling, “Drown” has your back. Watch the Songs From Scratch video of Omar and Claire in the studio below, and try not to want to sound like Travis Scott's autotuned baby.