CORNELIUS on BRONX ZOO
At Loam, we strive to share the work of musicians because music makes us fall in love with the world. And to us, it's that that love—the experience of listening to and learning from some soul-sweetening melody— that is vital to environmentalism. We can't heal our world if we aren't wildly in love with her.
My latest infatuation has been with the atmospheric songs of Cornelius A.K.A Derrick Holman. Derrick and I went to college together and collaborated on the VIBES Music Festival. I've always been inspired by his unapologetic pursuit of creativity and am excited to share his gorgeous music & inspiring words with you all. Tune in.
What experiences made you fall in love with music?
As a kid, I spent a lot of time in the car with my dad driving from place to place. He'd drive me to school, to doctors appointments, to visit family, and to go on short vacations. The most memorable ones though were long trips from our home in New York to visit family in places like Baltimore, Atlanta, and Florida. On those trips he'd play his favorite albums — mostly pop and R&B or jazz —over and over until the words and rhythms were ingrained in all of us by the end of the trip. I grew to love the music from listening and then studying and appreciating it more and more. Then when I started making my own music, it was a natural way for me to express myself when I had no one to talk to. I think that's why I have a tendency to write these conversational lyrics. It was my escape from loneliness.
Your album "Bronx Zoo" is a really rich, layered, atmospheric voyage. What inspired you to create this work? What do you want a listener to take away from your songs?
It was inspired by my need to tell a story about myself. I spent most of my life telling stories— writing novels, plays, poems—and had never told much about myself to people in my own words and with my own voice. The album is a collection of ideas and memories both about myself and about the people around me. Its layers come from the experiences I've had in and around this city that I love, one that is very layered in itself. I think that applies to social class, economic opportunity, and race— all of which I try to touch on or explain as best as I can so far. The album is an introduction to my life.
How do you merge creativity and environmental sustainability in your life?
I could be better and I'm still learning a lot every day. My goal is to bring about a change in the way people think about and perceive discussions about the environment and sustainability. Sustainability is making its way into mainstream conversations, albeit slowly, and being an advocate as someone who is admittedly still in the process of figuring it out I think will help people who are also unsure of what they can do or where to start. It's good to be able to admit you're unaware at times, and even better to be able to say you're willing to learn. Music also draws people in so I know one of my roles is to keep making music that inspires people to think differently about the world around us.
Tell us a little bit about VIBES. How do you hope to grow in the coming year?
Well, first, we're taking it from a loose organization and will be registering as a legally recognized entity so we can start making a real change in our communities. We want people to truly embrace the concept of social entrepreneurship and we've realized that sometimes the best way to teach or influence people is to lead by example. We have plans to get into festival production—which we've experimented with in the past—and urban farming—which we're learning more about now. I'm also excited to get into more film and media production. I'm filming for a web series with a major TV network that I'll be able to talk about more once it comes out; and, as far as VIBES, we're interested in producing our own content for shows and concerts that we produce. Eventually, I think we'll be able to tie all of these projects together in more direct ways. For now, it's just a matter of doing the best work we can and making use of every minute we're given to better the world around us. As much as we want to heal the world, we also want to fill it with great music and positive vibes.