gothboiclique rapper cold hart goes pop punk
His new album 'Good Morning Cruel World,' produced by YAWNS, represents a rebirth of sorts.
Photo by Armen Djerrahian.
In the era of SoundCloud rap, YouTube and mixtapes, it seems almost old school for members of one of the internet’s most influential music collectives to release an album. But that’s exactly what GothBoiClique’s Cold Hart is doing. For the past few months he’s been teasing fans with news of a project produced by fellow GBC member YAWNS. He’s released three singles, “EYES,” “Nick Cave In,” and “Hot Pink Lighter,” all with accompanying music videos, and dropped an additional song called “European Coins” that’s not even on the album.
Titled Good Morning Cruel World, the album represents a rebirth of sorts for the typically morose vocalist, songwriter, and producer. Gone is much of the computerized production and multifarious samples that defined his and most of GBC’s earlier work. Instead, he and YAWNS picked up guitars and drumsticks to make an album using live instruments that has a pellucid pop-punk bent to it. “Back when we would sample stuff, sometimes we would get inspired and try to sing like the orginal song,” says Cold Hart, whose real name is Jerick “Jay” Quilisadio (but who’s sometimes referred to as Coldy). “Now we do everything more organically. We get inspired by different bands, but we can make it however we want to make it.”
It’s not a complete do-over, though. Good Morning Cruel World still contains themes and characteristics associated with GBC’s online roots, like punk rock, cloud rap, and lyrics drawn from subgenres like emo and indie rock, but it will certainly stir the pot and challenge those who ride or die by the original formula. But as far as Jay’s concerned, it’s a natural progression. “I like heavy music and have always wanted to make it… [YAWNS and I] always played that shit.”
The message Jay wants to relay is simple. He outlined it recently in a story on his Instagram. “You have to wake up and be, like, fuck it, no matter what the world throw [sic] at u,” he wrote alongside a picture of YAWNS swiping at his neck with a pickaxe. Speaking to i-D, he further explains, “On this one I really changed my whole style. It’s more about illustrating emotions instead of wanting to be depressed and numb. I just wanted to make something that was really different to all that other shit. It’s also about leaving toxic relationships and waking up, even though you know the world is shitty.”
Jay hopes that Good Morning Cruel World can be a sanctuary, similar to the way music has been for him — providing a place to manifest his feelings. “In Long Beach, I felt like I was going nowhere. I didn’t really have a purpose,” he says. “But I would make music every day and it would help me calm down and think about life again. It would make me happy. It was definitely a sanctuary.”
Work on Good Morning Cruel World began last summer and was completed several weeks ago in Brooklyn, New York. Jay relocated east during the winter and moved into an apartment in Bedstuy with YAWNS and GBC’s Fish Narc. “This is probably the longest project I’ve worked on,” he says. “The last one I did with YAWNS, Wish Me Well, we made in six days.”
Jay is a founding member of GothBoiClique, an online collective of vocalists and producers who, over the past half-decade, have become one of the most influential collectives within emo rap — a genre often conflated with SoundCloud rap, although the latter has a much broader definition. It was Jay who came up with the group’s name. “I would always hashtag stuff on Twitter and I thought of GothBoiClique,” he says candidly. Cold Hart, Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, and a kid from Sweden named Ghost, who disappeared before they could meet in real life, were the first to join the collective in 2013. It eventually grew to ten members, incorporating Lil Tracy, Horse Head, DOVES, Mackned, Fish Narc, JPDREAMTHUG, YAWNS, and Lil Peep.
Like any subgenre that’s an offshoot of another, there’s an element of nostalgia that bleeds into the music. In Cold Hart’s case, it’s punk rock, country music, heavy metal, trap, and what he characterizes as “oldies” — rock and roll radio hits from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. It’s all music he was exposed to as a kid growing up on the west side of Long Beach, California. “Being a skater, you get introduced to a lot of people with different interests,” he says.
When he first met YAWNS, Jay says they bonded over their mutual love of The Misfits and various oldies like Ricky Nelson, a Rock & Roll Hall of Famer who sang with an infectious country twang. “He’s kind of relatable,” Jay says. “I like the fact that a lot of people don’t really like country. But there’s a lot of cool elements to it, and I try to [emulate] that. The lyrics are always about a place or girl or something.”
It was their shared interest in punk and rock and roll that inspired Jay and YAWNS to make Good Morning Cruel World with real instruments, and to strive for a different type of nirvana with this particular project. He admits, however, that some fans have been a little disappointed to hear them making more conventional music. “It was a bummer,” he says. “But now that we’re explaining the album more and talking about the message it’s been a little [better].” Jay notes that the live show has definitely been more dynamic. “I definitely see fans’ eyes light up when they realize that YAWNS is actually playing the songs,” he says. “I just hope they get inspired to go home and try and do the same shit. Try to learn the songs and pick up a guitar.”
GBC’s output has already inspired many others to deconstruct pop music by taking melodies normally associated with pop and indie rock and adding rap sensibilities to them — just as Jay himself has done. “Usually I freestyle and I’ll punch in recordings,” he says of his process. “Then I’ll listen back to it on speakers and I’ll treat that as a rough draft. I do a lot of fine-tuning after that.”
Good Morning Cruel World is out now via GothBoiClique Records.