"I Don't Want To Be A Rockstar" Cold Hart Interviewed

"I Don't Want To Be A Rockstar" Cold Hart Interviewed

Emo rap aesthete on his new album, evading tragedy, and more...

“Listening to my old shit is crazy,” Cold Hart tells Clash. “Back when we were doing it, we were a little weird. But even that sounds weird because of how popular it is now.” Much has changed since GothBoiClique founder Cold Hart coined the name with a beat and a hashtag he used to use back in the days of Tumblr microscenes. Originally getting to know Wicca Phase Springs Eternal and other founding members of GothBoiClique online in 2012 and 2013, Cold Hart had been at the very start of the influential collective.

The group’s characteristic emo-tinged sound has attracted a large fanbase of terminally online teens and twentysomethings, particularly with the fast rise and death of Lil Peep in 2017. Despite experiencing such a tragedy, members of GothBoiClique pushed further and Cold Hart is no exception, being picked up by the cult label Epitaph prior to the release of his new record, 'Every Day Is A Day'. Making his foray into guitars and pop-punk on 2019’s 'Good Morning Cruel World', the new project sees him play around with 1980s goth and new wave synths, leading to a more introspective sound.

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Despite this, Cold Hart did want to use at least a part of his old sound. “I tried to keep some of it. But I’m always trying to move forward,” he says. Having worked on the album since last fall, Cold Hart credits the album’s darker sound to the cold winter months spent in New York. “We worked a lot in winter, so that influenced the mood a lot. With the darkness of everything.”

Coupled with the cold weather, the pandemic also played a key role in shaping the album’s darkerkness. “Well, if you think about last year, everyone was really cooped up and not really doing too much. And everyone was scared. So that forces you to dig deeper,” he says. “Because you’re not out doing things that you have shit to write about, I had to dig deeper a little and be more vulnerable.”

Staying indoors, Cold Hart had spent much time listening to 1980s post-punk and new wave, the influence of which is apparent on the single Nein. The Cure were a definite listen for him.

“I watched a lot of their interviews and performances. Specifically 'Cold' [from 1982’s 'Pornography'] and 'Live In Paris',” he says. Together with The Cure, Cold Hart found inspiration in the likes of Bauhaus or Depeche Mode, as well as Tears for Fears or Hall & Oates, all of whom have pushed Cold Hart and producer Yawns to a more synth-heavy sound.

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Following the direction of 'Good Morning Cruel World', Cold Hart’s new record has doubled down on combining live instrumentation with trap beats and production. “We found this new studio called Diamond City in New York. We really wanted to just go in there and try to use everything we could to make it really organic,” he says. “I’m trying to find a way to incorporate the live instruments, but also stay true to my roots.”

While the pandemic has undoubtedly been a bleak period for most people, Cold Hart saw much change for the better in his personal life. Having previously left the West Coast behind in what he described in a previous interview as a decision for the better, he has now settled down in Long Island together with his wife and newborn daughter. Recently announcing that he will be having a second child, Cold Hart had also wanted to include a more „hopeful“ sound in some of the songs.

The introspective nature of the album and the impact of the pandemic pushed him into confronting parts of his life. On the record, I talk about my mistakes a lot – just like fucking up. And like I talked about on Wild Wild West, I mention things from my hometown that only I would know about in my life. And how it’s still nostalgic.“

This nostalgia inspired Cold Hart to relisten to some of his oldest work. “I’ve been going back to my old stuff, like really old stuff. And it’s kind of embarrassing to listen to, but it also just inspires me because I just hear what my sound was building up to,” he says. Despite this, Cold Hart has no desire to simply return to his earlier work at the start of GothBoiClique.

“I don’t think I would ever go back to it, because we started as teens and I was just hopeless.” Previously delving into pop-punk and now focusing on synths, Cold Hart sees no limits to how his next record will sound. “I want to make a shoegaze album. Or an R&B one. Just try something new.”

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While the initial GothBoiClique sound, which found such popularity online, is not something Cold Hart would like to return to, he still finds joy in seeing its influence on others. “It’s crazy because some of these clothes and sounds that we have started - other kids are making them now and it’s popular.” Cold Hart partly credits this to the meteoric rise in popularity of Lil Peep, who has entered the canon of genre changing talent marred by personal tragedy. “To me, Peep was king and everyone wants to be him.” Seeing the posthumous release of his records and the release of the Everybody’s Everything documentary, Peep’s image and music has by now spread across the internet, influencing others in fashion and music.

Indeed, although 2020 and 2021 have been marked by the resurgence of pop-punk and the continued popularity of emo aesthetics, which can be partly traced to GothBoiClique, Cold Hart is keen on creating his own future. “I definitely see the influence and I’m not mad at it...I just always want to grow as an artist and never go backwards,” he says. “Everyone wants to be a rockstar now. That’s fine but I don’t want to be a rockstar.”

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'Every Day Is A Day' is out now.

Words: Adam Zamecnik

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