There’s a lot of stupidly talented young people releasing music right now. From Angel Haze and Azealia Banks to Odd Future’s roster, which includes the 18-year-old Earl Sweatshirt, recently back from being grounded by his mum.
Cory Jreamz, from Houston, Texas is young even from that list. Recently turned 18, he’s already released a dense, interesting EP of smooth, electronic hip hop where sparkling synths and sax clash with clattering beats and sampling. ‘Electronic hip hop,’ especially coming out of Texas, has come to mean the woozy, minimalist stylings of crunk but Cory’s music is lush, almost swollen with sound and fantasies quite different from the stereotypical girls and parties; Polysemy, his first four-track offering, is full of ghosts and religion. I spoke to him about the internet, artistic integrity and what he’s doing next.
You’re from Houston, Texas, which is where a lot of the biggest artists in southern rap/crunk were coming out of in the 00s. You don’t fit that profile; has the scene changed overall or are you trailblazing?
Trailblazing. Who wants to hear the same thing for 10 to 20 years? I couldn’t tell you about the scene, I maintain to stay in my own world and universe really. But one of my goals is to tear down the stereotype some peeps have on “Southern born artists.” It’s disgusting when people presume what music I make because of where I’m from.
The artists you list as influencing you are, mostly, not rap- Pink Floyd, MGMT, etc. Is that a conscious attempt to distance yourself from mainstream hip hop or is it just an expression of what you love? Do you ever listen to people like Chamillionaire? There’s an interesting parallel of electronic sounds between your music and crunk.
It’s what I love. When I say they influence me that means I listen to them more than anyone else. And nah, I really don’t. (laughs)
Your current EP, Polysemy, feels very considered; how long did it take you to make?
From 2011 to 2012. I had many other songs out in 2011 that I deleted off the internet once I was content with Polysemy. I took least 4 months on things besides the music like the artwork, name, and presentation- I like taking my time on my music. I could never take less than 3 months on determining the artwork or title of a project, it means just as much as the music means. Every detail of the EP took a while. It’s no “let me do 4 songs and just throw them on a CD,” no, this is a reflection of me. It was my first impression on most people.
Some of your lyrics touch close to the bone, controversy-wise- (like on ‘IONR’ ‘don’t wanna fall like Germany in 45′) is being provocative something that’s important to what you want to create?
I wouldn’t say it’s important. I try not to put certain stuff in a box just because it’s provocative or anything. I may take it in consideration or attempt to add my creative twist to it.
You’ve said your favorite track on the EP is ‘Victoria’ -you sound much older than 17 on it, do you attribute your maturity to anything in particular?
Just things that happens in my life. Movies I watch, art I view. Experience. The lyrics on ‘Victoria’ just came from listening to Jimi Hendrix and Joni Mitchell on a Sunday. Let’s not forget I was haunted by a ghost named Victoria. (laughs)
The Jim Gilliam sample that you use as the central theme in ‘IONR’ (‘I have faith in people, I believe in god and the internet is my religion’) was from a speech about online creative power- you’re young enough to have grown up very much in the digital age, is the internet still exciting for a teenager in 2012?
I think you make it exciting or boring, it depends on what you’re doing. It’s exciting to me. I always try to find new things, new artists and bands and stuff. It’s fun. The internet is very beneficial for an upcoming artist, also. I like digging to find old artists and stuff, without the internet I wouldn’t have found out about Depeche Mode! Or David Bowie! Thank you internet, thank you.
Do you think the way the internet is letting younger artists release their early tracks as mixtapes is changing the way hip hop works? If someone doesn’t have to fight to get through the door of a label does it breed more diversity in sound, without executive agendas?
What’s the point of being an artist if you let someone else’s opinion effect your art? That’s one of the main things to being an artist, to have freedom, right? It’s very evil to try and change what someone else wrote and what came from inside of them, for a more popular and accepted way.
You’ve said that the plan with your releases is to reveal more about yourself each time, slowly drip-feeding information to the audience; is that to allow yourself to grow without being shoehorned into a particular typecast?
Yes it is. But people give you a hard time nowadays, to grow privately. Let’s say I went ghost for like 2 years to go create my album, people would be like “Where is Cory Jreamz at?” “We need more music!” I feel like music fans are very hungry when it comes to music nowadays (laughs) I want to let each of my releases settle in the listener’s mind. It’s been 6 months since I released Polysemy and I’m just now going to release a new song on August 3rd. I want my stuff to sink in.
Do you think artists are more guarded now, especially with the direct connection they can have with fans through social media, Twitter, etc.?
For sure- it’s awesome that I can talk to some peeps and respond to fans of my music… It can be positive or negative, in my opinion. Somebody from Japan just mentioned me on twitter and said they listened to Polysemy! I didn’t understand what most of it said but I saw that. Pretty rad, if you ask me.
Onto Vague Current Vivid Fated, you’ve said you’re working with all different producers from on Polysemy– what sort of sound can we expect?
The lyrics will be more personal, that’s all I can say. I want it to be somewhat of a surprise. ‘No Castles in the Air’ will be a taste but nothing like Polysemy.
The title seems very dreamlike, as with some of your previous tracks; is the fantasy aspect of your music important?
It is important. When peeps listen to my music they are in a whole new world. It is a whole new universe. A universe that I created. That’s why on one song you hear “this is a presentation of a nightmare on Jreamz street, where the eyes are seen and the mouth is closed” -I’m welcoming the person into my fantasy, my world.
If Polysemy was designed to have multiple meanings (the word ‘Polysemy’ means an ambiguity and multiplicity of meaning) is Vague Current Vivid Fated going to be more of a statement of intent?
The two are going to be very different. Vague Current Vivid Fated is split in two, there’s songs about how my current is vague and there’s songs about how my future is bright. It is a statement somewhat of how my future is bright even though you may think my present is unsure.
You’ve said you’ve planned a lot of your career in the future, down to album artwork and that artwork like the wineglass in the woods on Polysemy is very important to how happy you feel with your music- what kind of visual artists influence your ideas?
It’s so many people that have inspired me visually. From Sophie Loloi to Mitch Johnson to movies like La Dolce Vita and The Godfather. From Warhol to April Lea Hutchinson it’s too many to name. Really.
What should people expect from you?
Originality. Creativity. Success. Growth. And all that other cheesy stuff I don’t want to say but none the less, expect me to kick out some rad jams.
‘No Castles In The Air’ is out August 3rd. Polysemy EP is available for free download from CoryJreamz.com.
Cory is on Twitter: @coryjreamz
Hazel left school on her 15th birthday and she’s been writing about music ever since. She particularly likes awful noises, confessionally uncomfortable pop and clubs that can’t handle her right now. She has written for “Stylus” (RIP), the BBC, “Popjustice,” “The Singles Jukebox,” “Thrash Hits” and many others. She is 25 and lives in an unfashionable area of London.