Spazz Cardigan

Pop music has a newer face that you need to get familiar with. Out of Nashville comes Spazz Cardigan, a lone creative ranger looking to break the boundaries of pop music. Just take his latest single for a spin and you’ll see the urban flare he provided in “Episode.”

We’ve been jamming this one in the dojo since it came out and afterward caught up with Spazz just to see where this kid came from and what makes him tick. You can see from his thoughtful answers that he puts his all in everything that he does. We’re happy to give Spazz his own “Episode” in the dojo. Without further adieu, enjoy all that Spazz has to offer in this brief moment in his long – and hopefully quite fruitful – journey.

TMN: How did you initially get into music?

I was always dancing and singing around the house and church as a kid, but I started learning piano when I was 8 and taught myself guitar from there. I spent a few months of my 4th grade year in a children’s hospital after some surgical complications, and that was what sparked the writing bug when I finally got home. I started writing non-stop and playing constantly, so it felt natural to start trying to learn to produce; I saved up for a summer and bought an old 4-track tape recorder and made the first demos that I threw up on Myspace back in 2006. Once my parents realized I was going to take music seriously (lord knows I wasn’t turning in my homework) they started taking me to bars for gigs and nurturing my impulse to create, which is honestly the biggest blessing in my life.

TMN: What were some of your favorite musical acts growing up?

I really just loved music generally. As a younger kid it was straight 90’s boyband pop; Nsync and Michael Jackson were massive for me, but as I got older and started playing gigs I became enamored with rock music and rock history. The Beatles are definitely the most important band in my life up to present day, but acts like The Who, Sex Pistols, and The Clash were paradigm-shifting for me. I grew up in the middle of the emo explosion as well, so for a certain few years it was non-stop Fall Out Boy, Dashboard Confessional, Taking Back Sunday, Gym Class Heroes, Panic!, Get Up Kids and My Chem before Kanye’s “Graduation”, Nas’ “Illmatic”, Wu Tang, and the early Odd Future mixtapes woke me up to hip hop later in middle school. I also got really into Lady Gaga for a moment in high school; she struck me as very rock n’ roll from the get go and I fell in love with how fearless she was. There were probably more, but I’d say that set of influences created the framework I listened to music through until I was living on my own and discovered funk.

TMN: Instead of college, you chose to move to Nashville for music, what made you pursue that straight out of high school?

I’d been making the drive to Nashville every day for a few years with my Dad — we had an agreement that if I stayed on top of my grades I could continue trying to develop as an artist so I would go to co-writes, or go to vocal coaching, or play writer’s rounds, just always trying to develop a network. So around October in my senior year I had a mentor say to me “You can put music on hold for 4 years and sink yourself into debt, you can half-ass school and music, or you can go all-in on music and use the network you’ve been building to hit the ground running and start working.” So I chose the latter and tried to not look back. I actually love learning though, so even without college I still spent the next four years watching 1-3 lectures online each week or sitting in on lectures at Vanderbilt.

TMN: In three words how would you describe your sound?

Pop without borders.

TMN: Can you tell us how your song “Episode” came together?

Tony and I got set up on a session together back in November and just vibed instantly. His studio is a bit of a fantasy space for me — as soon as I walked in I started geeking out over his instruments and gear and that was all it took. We really didn’t even talk that much beforehand, we just started throwing out a few albums we were both digging at the time [Smino’s “blkswn” and MXXWLL’s “Beats Vol. 1”] and that sparked a pretty immediate groove that started with the song’s opening bass line. Tony & I went back and forth instrumentally and the song more or less created itself in the span of an hour or so.

TMN: Who are some artists you’d like to collaborate with in the coming years?

Flying Lotus, Kevin Parker (from Tame Impala), MXXWLL, and Robert Glasper would be a dream to jam with. I’m also in love with Declan McKenna — I would marry him if I could, but writing with him would be just as wonderful. Monte Booker is also making some incredible music and would be a blast to collaborate with.

TMN: What’s 2018 looking like for you?

Right now I’m just trying to stay focused: keep getting the music out to as many people as possible, keep writing better material, and keep playing better shows in front of new people. I’ll be dropping more music through the year and will hopefully get out on the road a bit. I’m really just grateful for the opportunity to create and for it to connect with people.

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