“I really love soda. I love soda like so much,” Matthew Urango asserts as he explains to me over the phone how his alias Cola Boi came to be. The name also originates from a song by the 90s dance group Saint Etienne. But regardless of how strong Urango’s love for carbonated beverages is, the California native recently decided to go by his birth name, separating himself from past projects the Sea Lions and punk groups El Mariachi and the Only Child. “When you go under your own name you can pretty much do what you want. There are no boundaries with what you’re making. People aren’t going to be like, ‘oh this doesn’t sound like [xyz]. What if I want to do an album that sounds like dancehall music or reggae or some random shit? I just decided to go under my own name. And I like my name. I don’t know, my parents gave me my name and I like having fun and I’m goofy and stuff but I feel like I want to be taken seriously with my music. I take writing my lyrics very seriously so I feel like going by my real name is an extension of that.”
Urango began seriously pursuing his interest in music after being introduced to punk in junior high. “Oxnard has a pretty popular flourishing punk scene. I was a part of that scene for a fairly long time and started playing in bands for years and years all through high school.” Like for so many others, punk helped mold his character, creating an independent and innovative drive to make music.
Venturing out into new musical territories, Urango’s newest releases are heavily influenced by disco from the 70s and early 80s, but he clarifies that “it’s not just disco. It’s everything. I like a lot of Arthur Russell. He’s a big influence of mine. Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Minnie Riperton, I don’t know there is a lot. This guy Michael Franks, he’s really cool. His album The Art Of Tea is really good. It’s considered jazz and it is but just like pop music like late 70s, early 80s slightly funky pop music like singer/songwriter kind of thing. It is a bit jazzy but I wouldn’t personally classify it as jazz. I’m not a big jazz guy but I don’t really have the authority to decide. It goes all over the board. Not just music influences me. Everything influences me, things that happen in my life and people I meet.”
His biggest influence, however, is the great Sir Paul McCartney. “I’m a big fan of the Beatles. Paul McCartney is my main influence I would say in just music. I try to keep my songs modern but I also try to pull from the past with what I’m influenced by. The Beatles are in my opinion one of the greatest bands of all time and their songwriting was just really influential as far as all music goes. I just learned a lot from their songwriting and just the structures of the songs and things like that. Just like studying music as somebody would study a subject in school.”
The initial transformation of Urango’s current tracks happened three years ago when he happened across the 1975 song “You’ve Got A Woman (Abel edit)” originally by the band Lion. “Just from hearing that one song I was like, I have to make music like this. At the time I was barely getting into how to write like pop songs at all, since all I’d written up to that point was punk music and hardcore. I tried and when you try to do something that you want to sound like something but you can’t quite do it, in a weird way some of it comes out in your own voice. You end up creating your own style, your own sort of sound. It’s a weird process.”
His creative process takes place in his bedroom. His setup comprises of a laptop, one mic, one amp, guitar, bass, and a synthesizer. Urango finds comfort in his home environment, confessing that studios make him really nervous. “I like having a space where I’m very, very comfortable. I can just be, it’s in my room. I sleep here every night. It’s my own comfortable space and it’s quiet and I can just, there’s just something about it. By myself I can get in the zone and tune everything else out. Studios get me really nervous when I’m in an actual studio. It’s just pressure. There’s no pressure when you’re in your room by yourself or with one other person.” Songs such as the intoxicatingly groovy “Penny Girl” and easygoing “Bracelet Love” were born out of collaboration with friends Adrian Alatorre Pillado from the Sea Lions and Nic Hessler. Although Urango only has five tracks on his SoundCloud, there’s hope that many more will be available in the future. He reveals that his portfolio holds almost 40 worked on tracks. In the future he hopes to put out an EP, but is still figuring out how to present himself to the world.
Listen to more Matthew Urango on his SoundCloud.