We had the good fortune of connecting with Cody Dear and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cody, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
“Authenticity” is the most important principle for me as an artist. Like most musicians, it takes some time to find your musical identity. With the rapid growth of social media and streaming platforms making a surplus of music so easily obtainable and in your face all the time, it’s hard not to compare yourself to others on a day-to-day basis. It wasn’t until after I graduated from college that I tried to finally lead my own band playing the music I genuinely wanted to play, and not necessarily what would please the most people. My band plays jazz…funk…rnb…gospel…instrumental music? I was always into a very wide variety of genres growing up which ultimately led me to the type of music I compose today. It took a couple of years (or a lot of them), but I eventually accepted the fact that I loved to write and play this sort of mishmash music that drew influence from all of these different styles. I learned it was harder to market the music, but it was more genuine to me. Somedays I found myself just trying to write what would be more popular in the general public’s eyes, but I often felt more disconnected with those songs. On the flipside, when I wrote something kind of quirky that felt more “me” per say, I always looked forward to playing those ones the most. Oddly enough, those quirkier songs were almost always the ones that my audience would dance out to and ask me about after the shows. I strongly believe that the power of “authenticity” and being true to your artist vision will always be better than trying to be something you’re not. My acceptance of my artistic self has given me so much joy and motivation to continue making music for the people around me. I always want my mishmash musical style to feel inclusive and to have something for everyone listening. So, to any readers out there, I encourage you to do what you love and really own whatever that is. Whether it’s music, cooking, or sports, the feeling of loving what you do is so important and will lead you in the right direction over time.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Just to give you a little bit of my background, I’m a half Chinese, half Filipino saxophonist/pianist/composer based out of Los Angeles. As an Asian-American artist, I’ve always strived to help create artistic opportunities for others like me in hopes of manifesting a more inclusive musical environment. Although my roots are mainly in the jazz music medium, I try to put myself in every type of musical situation as possible. I’ve always been a music theory fanatic when it comes to learning about the melodic, harmonic and rhythmic differences between each style. Most recently, I’ve joined pop artist MAX (Max Schneider) in his live touring band on saxophone and piano. In addition to that, I also lead my own sort of jazz-fusion ensemble in Los Angeles. A lot of my more recent musical opportunities have come through building connections on the Instagram platform. I’ve always seen social media as a useful tool to help showcase to people around the globe who I am and how I can help contribute to their musical projects with what I do as an artist. Like I’ve mentioned before, the concept of “authenticity” is the most important thing I’ve learned throughout my musical career. If you don’t love what you’re doing, or you’re trying to be something you’re not, it’s so incredibly difficult to connect with the art that you’re producing. I struggled with this for many years and it wasn’t until I learned to accept what makes myself different that then, would I truly enjoy every second of my musical journey moving forward.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m a super foodie which is why I love that Los Angeles is a giant cultural melting pot of flavors. I highly recommend going to Tsujita L.A Artisan Noodle on Sawtelle for your tsukemen ramen fill. Additionally, I’d highly advise hitting up Pasta Sisters on Pico for some amazing authentic Italian noodle dishes! As for live music, I’m a big fan of the Peppermint Club in West Hollywood, and the El Rey Theatre on Wilshire! Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to give a shoutout to every music educator that’s played a role in helping me find my musical identity and purpose as an artist. A huge thank you goes out to all of my school band directors, private lesson instructors, and university professors for sharing so much wonderful knowledge and insight about music with me over the years.
Other: Custom Sax Mouthpiece: https://www.syos.co/en/shop/products/signature-saxophone-mouthpiece/cody-dear-alto