1. Tell us about young Colby. When did you realize music was your passion?
Well, young Colby was a bit of a mess (laughs). Yeah...It was a tough childhood. Thinking of my immediate connection to music, it's probably a bit of a strange connection, where part of myself sort of escaped to my inner world and my imagination, and music was almost like a form of self-soothing my nervous system -- you know, kind of like humming, singing, rocking, that natural human response. That's probably my earliest memory -- under 5 or something. After that, it was a slow build of taking singing lessons, dance, theater, and that kind of exploration. It wasn't until after I graduated from college (my degree is in theater) that some friends asked if I wanted to collaborate and start a band, and in my twenties, that's when I kind of hit the ground running and really focusing on music, really honing in on it and studying the craft. There's music in my family (my middle brother is a drummer) and to this day I'm still influenced by him and always want to know what he's listening to. My mom is a singer and was in an Irish band and a show band, and she kept that up on nights and weekends post-kids.
2. You recently returned from the West Coast. What was it like living and working in L.A.?
Before L.A., I lived in New York City for about a decade, and I became very burnt out. Through life and being disconnected from myself, that sort of struggle and feedback loop I was on, I ended up getting a corporate job for a year doing wardrobe styling and quickly realized after my tenth year in the city, I had to get out. I was looking to L.A. to be this sort of like rebirth, of re-inspiring, re-invigorating re-igniting the music and the creative side of me. And then I showed up and was meeting amazing people and producers, and they'd be like, "What do you do?" And I was like, "Umm, yeah, What do I do?" I was so just like, nervous. "Don't worry about me I'll just be over here in the corner..." I fumbled my elevator pitch every time and realized I could have made such a better connection if I had just said yes: I'm here to be a songwriter and singer. But I will say, a lot of my time was doing my day job of wardrobe styling, but I ended up connecting with my soul family, friends that are to this day, my tribe. They kind of brought me in, and we would play shows and it started feeling like a huge community and by the end of it, I played my first show under my own name on March 5th, and then the pandemic shut everything down...everything got cancelled. But in the world of trusting the divine timing of it all...and knowing intuitively, I had all these blockages with being an artist, and connecting to that, I knew I needed to go home and heal and recalibrate. I was just like, I need to do this thing. We don't give ourself the break; but really you need the contraction before the expansion, or there's no foundation.
3. What's your songwriting process like?
I would say if I'm in a session with other artists and musicians, it's definitely immediately collaborative. I'll bring notebooks of lyrics, or vibe and a sample I'm vibing with and loop/play with a sample. Or we'll start from scratch, I'll hop in the vocal booth and sort of riff until you link to something that feels good, and you all go "Yeah yeah let's explore that." Also during the pandemic, I was grateful that people were able to collaborate remotely. I would have producers sending me instrumental tracks and I would topline (which is writing the lyrics and melody and track it in my home studio). This got me curious about creating my own beats. I began using a program called Splice, and finding beats and grooves and slicing/dicing/looping them to see if any of that energy informed the lyrics I had. I use a program called Logic to record, and Splice to edit. You can keep your own catalogue of things you've hearted. There's also something called Lander, which lets you collaborate with other artists remotely and shop beats and songs.
4. What musicians have influenced you the most?
A way to sparknote this is different chapters of my life. Growing up in the nineties, it was 90s R & B and Mariah Carey, and then the teeny bopper phase, then my brothers' music and pop punk, then in New York the prime of the DIY Indie rock/folk -- that was the first band I was in, the style we wrote in. Now my interests have shifted also with therapy and healing, coming to hip hop, beat heavy, Afro beats, soul, jazz, and R & B hop hop.
5. What are your three favorite songs of all time?
Artists that are speaking to me are the classics like Ella, Etta, Sarah Vaughn and Donny Hathaway, Sam Cooke. So in that world, maybe one would be Donny Hathaway's song called "A Song for You." He's probably one of my favorite vocalists of all time. It's like a soul, instant connection. And then there's Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Anita Baker -- I love "Caught Up in the Rapture." And then from my childhood, I have to give a shoutout to Mariah Carey's "Vision of Love," which is probably my favorite song to sing. Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You," Sade's "By Your Side," and Nat King Cole's "Stardust" are also favorites.
6. What's something people might not know about modeling?
Being on the other side of it is still a little bit new to me (after spending time doing wardrobe styling). With voice, theater and music, you tend to study your craft, and with modeling there's a real learning curve with being connected to your body and figuring out how to move in an authentic way. In my healing journey, the body is the last thing for you to connect with. You think about healing through memory networks in your mind, then you get spiritual about it, kind of understanding, and then the body is the last thing to release things on a cellular level. So it feels very interesting shifting to this world with being in front of the camera, where it's like putting on your bodysuit again and saying "Oh yeah, is this how this thing works?" There are my hips, there are my curves.
7. What's next for you in 2022?
On the day-to-day level, I have two singles that I'm going to release -- one is done, and the one I'm releasing next we're just tweaking production. I'm also compiling some stuff from a songwriting camp I went to, to see if those could be a full length. I have another couple singles with a producer in London we've been working on remotely, but hopefully in person. Hoping to travel more, do some more modeling stuff. And lastly my friend and I have been working on writing a pilot about the music industry.
Photos: Courtesy of Colby's Instagram