Cole Vargas '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."
— Kelley Deal