SSION JUST WANTS TO PARTY
photos / Tyler Nevitt w/ The Brooks Agency
Styling / Anna Brown w/ The Brooks Agency
Makeup / Claudia Lake using C.Lake organics
Hair / Niko Weddle using Amika haircare
story / Robert Frezza
The innovative and ever creative independent artist, SSION, aka Cody Critcheloe, may cross the boundaries of punk but add a little disco and electronica to the mix so much so that we may just have a new big pop star on our hands. SSION’s roots begin in Kentucky but after high school, he decided to move to Kansas City to attend the art school there. “I really started SSION in Kansas City,” Critcheloe says. “I kind of really fell in love with that city. It was and still is a creative hub for me in a weird way.”
Critcheloe grew up on the MTV diet and he loved everything surrounding music. “I just always knew I was gonna do something with music in a way. That’s why I went to art school—to get into music. I thought I’d find the type of musicians I’d make music with there.”
The singer’s music background is extremely diverse and anyone would know that listening to his music or just by watching his music videos. “I was heavily influenced by punk rock as a kid. That never leaves me even when I’m dabbling in pop music. The spirit is always based in a punk rock mentality.”
His most recent project released in May of this year entitled, O, is an audiovisual album that dazzles the senses with both songs and videos alike. “The visual was coming up slowly. It doesn’t all come up at one time. In a sense, it’s like whenever I release an album it has a strong video component. So it feels kind of natural to me. Sonically, it was the first time I could utilize better production, better mixing, and better mastering,” the singer stated.
Critcheloe teamed up with two producers that helped bring O’s glam sound together. “Producers Nick Weiss and Sam Mehran were both very instrumental and patient for allowing me to experiment. Weiss is more knowledgeable about electronic music and Mehran tapped into my formative years with rock music. They both brought two sides of the spectrum together,” Critcheloe said.
The audiovisual album featured Ariel Pink, Sky Ferreira, MNDR, among others. “It all started out on how I would cast a movie or musical. The majority of these songs were done. We started reaching out to collaborators because I either knew them or had a connection to them. Mehran knew Ariel Pink and Ariel heard the song he’s on and liked it,” Critcheloe said.
Jacket- Vintage. Pants- Discount Universe
The album was always on the back burner. “I took 5 years off. I still play shows and what not but I didn’t put O on the forefront of my focus. I wanted to wait until I had a voice and some sort of perspective of what is clear.” Come 2016, things started to come more lucid for O. Critcheloe then honed in on putting the record together.
Critcheloe’s doesn’t have one favorite song off O but loves seeing the reaction to his song “Comeback” when he plays it live. “I love how the song’s hook is so strong. A lot of songs off the record are these pop songs but sprawl and drop references to other things,” the singer says.
SSION’s music lays on the border of independent and mainstream. There just needs to be a push in the right direction for him and the singer’s music, fashion, and style will inundate modern day America. “If SSION was to break through, it would kind of be this fluke moment in some random movie or commercial. Then it becomes hugely popular and then we could be true freaks with it,” laughs Critcheloe. “We are in such a weird time that becoming popular today would take a ten-second clip of something I did, visually be taken out of context, and explode over the internet. We live in such a different time now with music. It’s such a double edge sword though because I’m more into things that are nuanced. It has multiple levels to have me engaged with it.”
As a gay icon, SSION, truly believes that people want it. “It’s a cultural swing that people are looking for or is saying that it exists. On some level, Troye Sivan is doing it. Hell, if someone can make it through one way or another, I am rooting for them.”
Jacket, Comme Des Garçons. Shirt + Gloves, Landeros New York. Glasses, Gucci.
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