By Ada Yakobi
Photography courtesy of Kevin Cossom Management
A Grammy-nominated songwriter, Kevin Cossom has worked with renowned artists, such as Ne-Yo, Mary J. Blige, Usher and Justin Bieber.
FAJO Magazine chats with him about his latest single, shopping in Florida and his favourite accessories.
ADA YAKOBI: What inspired you to get into music?
KEVIN COSSOM: Music was something that I was always doing as a kid – I used to even sing in the back of the car seat and my Mom heard me keeping up with the radio, so she got me into music. By the age of six, I started singing in a church, and by 14, I got into a band and realized that this is what I wanted to do professionally. That’s when I got to miss school days and to perform in different places, cities and states; it was great! And I knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Who did you listen to growing up?
I had a chance to listen to a lot of gospel and, at the time, Michael Jackson was really big. No matter how selfish you are in secular music, Michael Jackson was definitely an influence. As I got older, I started to listen to more R’n’B, like Boyz II Men, Jagged Edge and then over to Stevie Wonder to school myself and see what I was missing out on. My style now is pretty diverse. I grew up in Orlando and it’s a melting pot, so I got a chance to be around a lot of different people, and made my music very eclectic.
Where do you get your inspiration to write a song?
Anything – different life situations, something I’m going through or the common story. Sometimes I write things through my perspective, something that is relatable, has substance and connects. You could even say something to me on the phone, and that would spark an idea in my head, and I would go off on that. Life is an inspiration for me.
What is the most memorable collaboration you’ve ever had as a songwriter?
Mary J Blige – the coolest person ever. It was great working with someone that has been in the game for so long. She is a legend and for her to still be so humble, cool and a hard worker is definitely a big time inspiration. Jay Z actually stopped by the studio during one of the sessions and listened to what Mary was working on. He just walked in with a camera behind him – it was a great surprise!
What are you currently working on?
A mixed tape with Ace Hood, and I’m also writing for Mary J Blige, Justin Bieber and Usher. I recently worked on a song called “Body to Body” with Ace Hood and Chris Brown, which is up in the urban charts right about now. I am also working on my own stuff right now; I got a single called “Love Thru the Speaker.”
How would you describe your style?
Clean and au naturel. I go with how I feel every day, and I try not to overdo it or make it seem like a costume. I try to stay in the gym a lot and living in Miami, the climate is pretty hot. So I tend to do jeans and T-shirts, or even just cargos with some nice shades. As far as the sneakers go, that’s my one weakness!
What’s the craziest you’ll go with your style?
I like to brighten it up, like a fully black outfit with a jeans jacket. During the day I’m very chill and laid back in terms of my style, but I like to take it up a notch at night. I like to wear all black at night and like to experiment with leather. I like to keep it real. It can be from Urban Outfitters or from Barney’s, but if the fit is right then you feel good and comfortable, and you can rock it.
How do you feel about men’s accessories?
I love to do the jewelry and wrist bands. If I wear a chain, I want it to be more simple, nothing too gawdy. As far as the shades go, my label tells me to stay away from them as much as possible, but I can’t get enough of them. I try to go more with the clear lenses now, but I love them.
You are always in the media and have a large fan base. How do you feel about being someone who kids look up to?
I remember growing up: you tend to admire certain artists for their music and their style. If a blazer was hot at that time, you’d put it on and say, “Oh, I’m trying to be such and such!” I tried to always be me, and kinda have my own thing. I wanted to be walking down the street and think: “I got the Kevin Cossom look.” I remember looking up people and what they wore and what they had. It’s really great to be an inspiration to kids and for me to be doing it, and I love it. It’s not too planned and not too controlled.
If you weren’t working in music and you could do anything else, what would you do?
Well, that’s kind of a hard question. I love kids – my Mom works with a lot of kids that are less fortunate than others, and I’ve always loved children, in general.
They really are our future, and you realize how they look up to you and how much of a big influence you can have in their lives. I think it’s important for us to teach them – the more we learn, the better it is to teach.
So I’d definitely be doing something with the kids or help them in some way!