Our September release for the White Label Series comes from Kelley Deal (The Breeders, R. Ring) with her pick, Cole Vargas.
"Oh, you should hear my son,” says a good friend of mine, “He plays beautifully! Look at this video of him playing piano.”
Well of course you love whatever he does, I think to myself, You're his mother! But instead I say, ”Lemme see that.” I watch the video and it’s reeeeally lovely—I am genuinely impressed. I ask her what song he’s playing. She explains that it’s his own composition and then she tells me about her son, Cole Vargas.
Cole is a self-taught artist and musician. He just picks up an instrument and plays it. There was an attempt at music lessons when Cole was a child but they came to an abrupt end when the piano teacher proclaimed he was "unable to be taught." Cole has a form of autism called Asperger’s Syndrome.
Working with him on this record has been a revelatory experience, observing how it affects his ability to write and perform his songs, both negatively and positively. After my first chat with his mom about his music, Cole and I exchanged contact info. Over the next few years he sent me his songs—old demos, roughly recorded piano pieces, and fully realized songs. He played, wrote, and recorded all the instruments. I was impressed with the range of his music, his smart lyrics, and unaffected vocals. I admire that he is not afraid to create from a position of vulnerability and is willing to let the listener hear it—which is something I always struggle with.
When Joyful Noise invited me to curate an album for their White Label Series, I felt this would be an opportunity to share Cole’s music. He and I worked with Mike Bridavsky at Russian Recording in Bloomington, IN, giving sonic cohesion to this collection of dark birds. Drummer Ben Lumsdaine replaced Cole’s computer beats with a human groove, and my friend Jocelyn Hach played some gorgeous viola."
Cole has an artist page where he showcases his paintings. We are sold out of our copies but you can get an LP direct from Cole at his website or from Kelley.