Musician reveals passions behind new album


Donna Hornik

Editor-in-Chief Laine Cibulskis interviews musician Billy Cobb in the journalism lab on Feb. 1. Cobb’s newest album, “Karma vs The Invisible Man,” was released on Jan. 28.

East Side News sat down with musician Billy Cobb to discuss his new album, “Karma vs The Invisible Man” and his life as a solo artist.

What was your inspiration for your new album “Karma vs The Invisible Man”? 

…It really wasn’t a direct inspiration for it. It was just kind of a culmination of songs that I had written over the past two years or so.

Have you gotten any interest from anyone else in the label?

…I’m not really interested in labels in general. I like being by myself and being able to do my own thing, but when it’s something as big as Atlantic Records then obviously you have second thoughts, but we’ll see what the future holds in that department.

What about inspiration for 2020’s “Who Shall its Folds Divide”?

That was a break-up EP…recorded after I broke up with my girlfriend of a year and a half. I let all of that out onto that EP. That’s all there really is to that. It is, obviously, very emotional, sometimes a little bit too naked in some parts if you ask me, but I do definitely like parts of it. I like most of it, it’s just that it’s a very panned project – some people love it; some people hate it.

So “Karma vs. The Invisible Man” consistently explores autonomy, loss, love, and failure. How does your music help you personally move through life? 

Maybe subconsciously it helps me, but it’s more like I kind of move through life and express how I’m moving through life with my music, my current feelings, and my current mood. I express that through my music, so in a way I feel like [I am] just kinda riding along and listening to my life unfold… I definitely feel like I’ve found my voice in a way. I feel glad that I have a platform with it… It helps me feel more fulfilled. 

What has been the most rewarding part of your music career?

Definitely the amount of people…I think it’s rewarding that I feel like I’ve gotten better with production and writing. There’s a growth there that I’m proud of. But it’s definitely the amount of fans I’ve accumulated over the past six, seven years. I had fantasized about that in high school. Whether or not I actually thought it would happen, I’m not sure. Now looking at it, it’s kinda crazy, and I’m hoping to continue the trajectory. 

How old are you?

I just turned 23… which is kind of crazy because I feel like I just graduated high school.

Where are you from? Have you moved since then?

I’ve always been from the greater Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania. I’ve moved houses, but I haven’t left the area. I’ve always been a Pennsylvania native. I’d like to explore a little bit more though. I haven’t been anywhere outside of the East Coast, and I’m sure there’s a lot of people waiting to see me.

How did the pandemic impact your music and its production?

I actually think it had a positive impact because I was in the middle of college at the time when [the pandemic] started, and because everything went online I just had so much more time to do everything. It was kinda relaxing knowing I could do all this without [commuting to classes]. But it also hindered the progress in a way as well because it was almost degrading. But at the same time it did inspire me to [create] albums like “Strokes of Incarceration,” which was at my lowest point in my college career when I just didn’t know what I was doing. I think the pandemic really helped in a sense that I was able to get more time, regarding college. Of all the terrible things the pandemic has done to the world, at least it helped me a little bit.

How has your YouTube presence impacted your career? 

It’s almost like an internal divide because I feel like there’s two sides of me. My biggest following is on YouTube. A good amount of those people want to listen to my music, and some people just like the stupid memes that I post. So I have to find a nice balance between the two when I’m creating content that will satisfy both parties. The thing is that because a lot of my YouTube content is more goofy, I feel like at some points, it worries me that my music might not be taken as seriously in some areas because I’m sometimes a goofy person online. That’s kinda where the conflict lies…Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of covers of pop songs and making them more rock…people who like the stupid stuff really like this, but people who like my music also really like this.

Speak about the influence of Weezer and any other bands’ impact on your career?

I’ve been influenced by so many bands over the years. Weezer is just special because obviously I made the “Zerwee” project all those years ago, and that became very big. I’m pretty prominent, I guess, in the Weezer fandom community, so that will always be a part of me and my career and how people view me… With that being said, pretty much whatever I’m listening to at the time will influence whatever music I’m making directly. My Chemical Romance was the one that really got me to start making the kind of music I do. I have them to thank almost as much as Weezer.

How has your music evolved?

I think the writing is a lot better. I think the production is a lot better. And I think the ideas are a lot better. There’s some old stuff I have that I just can’t listen to, whether it’s because it just sounds bad or the performance isn’t good or it’s just a really stupid message that I feel like I was brainwashed into believing at the time. But I definitely feel like I’ve grown as an artist in almost every single respect.

When did you realize you had a passion for music, and what did that look like?

I’ve always liked music. Ever since I was in elementary school, I wanted to start a band, from like second grade. I think the Naked Brothers band was a Nickelodeon show way back when I was really young, from like the mid-2000’s. They were just kids that had a band, and I thought that was super cool… I really liked Green Day in elementary school…In elementary school, we had these little tiny talent shows in our music class, and I would sing, and then I got interested in recording around middle school. I just thought it was the coolest thing. At first I, embarrassingly enough, I wanted to be a rapper in middle school because I really liked Eminem, and he got me into recording and music. And while I wouldn’t do that today, I at least have him to thank for that… After that, My Chemical Romance got me into the music I make today, and it just kinda grew from there.

Will you tour to promote your album? How might COVID impact that?

Probably not… I don’t know if it would be necessary to promote the album because I would just be playing songs from my entire discography. I haven’t even toured yet. I feel like that’s something I should do, considering it would kinda be a missed opportunity if I don’t. 

Do you produce your music on your own? What does the production process look like?

Yup, it’s all me. There’s not that much to it. I use Logic Pro, and I have a bunch of recording equipment. Really all it is, I have this idea in my head, and I set up microphones. I record all these different parts and then I mix them.

Do you have any advice for aspiring high school artists?

I started in high school. My first video was uploaded in 2015, so I was a sophomore I think… If you’re a musician and you’re in high school, I would say get some recording equipment, even the most basic of stuff, and just record your ideas and put them out there, and hopefully it sticks. If you just keep everything to yourself, nobody’s going to hear it, and it’s just not going to go anywhere.

On the soundtrack of your life, what would be the title song?

That’s a big question. This is already a song title and a movie title, but “Dazed and Confused” is a good one.

If you could perform with one band or artist, living or dead, who would they be?

I would say maybe Johnny Cash. He’s always been my hero… I liked his message, and his aura, his style, just the way he stood out from the crowd… I love his voice.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Keep working at what you’re currently doing, and put yourself out there if you really want to make it somewhere in this field… It might stick.