Be your artistic self — As someone who grew up singing musical theatre songs, my vocal style is very theatrical. I have very rigid diction, my lyrics are often very intense and dramatic, and I used to be embarrassed about this. I thought that it was weird that I didn’t write or sing like other artists I listen to, but now I’m trying more and more to embrace that as my style and as something that can make me stand out. Embrace your natural sound and use it to your advantage!
As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing George Cobb aka LZYBY (pron. Lazyboy), a singer, violinist and producer based between Oxford and London. Having sung since the age of 9 and played the violin since he was 4, George has grown up surrounded by music. When the pandemic hit and he found himself in lockdown with a great deal more free time on his hands, he really began to work on and develop his own sound, and thus LZYBY was born. His music showcases a diverse mix of genres such as R&B, Neo-Soul, House, the 80s and Synthpop and his vocal style reveals his strong passion for theatre. With two singles already released, and an EP dropping in a month, this is hopefully the beginning of an exciting and fresh journey for the young musician.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Thanks for having me! Well I was born in London, but when I was 7 my family left London and moved to the countryside, and I lived there until I began university. Since I’ve gotten older, I’ve reconnected a lot with London and I would now say that I see both places as homes. I have amazing parents who have always supported me and given me space to really discover who I am, and I really don’t think that I would be who I am today if they hadn’t really encouraged me to be myself and follow my passions. I don’t have a musical family particularly, but when I was growing up my parents both encouraged me to try an instrument, which ended up being the violin, and so that’s been a part of my life now for nearly 18 years. Once I then began to sing a few years later, it was clear that music was a big part of my childhood and my identity I guess. I loved school, both academically and also because of the amazing music and drama opportunities that it provided me; it was a big privilege of mine to grow up in an environment where these passions could really flourish and lead me to the place where I am now.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
This career path has been a secret fantasy of mine for as long as I remember, but it was always one that I never dreamed I would actually pursue. Though it has brought so many horrific consequences, this pandemic has provided me one silver lining, in that it suddenly gave me a whole lot of free time with very little to do but think. I thought about who I am, who I want to be and what I want to do, and I started to realize more and more that this fantasy in the back of my head didn’t have to be just a fantasy, but it could be something real if I commit to it. So I decided to do just that, and since I was locked down at home with my family for 3 months I had the time to teach myself music production and start to find my sound. A few months in and I was sold; I have never enjoyed working hard as much as I have on my music, and the fact that I will always have so much more to learn is nothing but exciting!!
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Well it’s only been 7 months since my journey began, and the majority of that has been in relative isolation, so there’s not too much to report! My first single ‘When the Rain Stops’ came about in a slightly interesting way, I suppose. A friend of mine had just gotten into a course she really wanted in London, and I was so proud of her that I decided to write her a song. I came up with the piano riff, put it on a loop and played it back, and it triggered a very very different emotional response to what I had intended. I ended up feeling strongly reminded of a past love, and the feeling was so natural that I couldn’t ignore it and the song ended up with a totally different theme — I’m still hoping to write a song for the friend one day though!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Well, when I first released ‘When the Rain Stops’, I actually submitted the wrong artist name… I go by ‘LZYBY’, but accidentally submitted the single to stores as ‘Lzyby’ with the lowercase. It just looked dreadful and I had to weigh up the effort in starting from scratch (and re-releasing my single) over the importance of having my branding right. I ended up ripping the band aid and resubmitting my music in time for my second single, ‘Frustration’.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Right now I’m working on my first EP! It’s currently on its final stages and will be complete very soon, and I’m super proud of it as it shows how far I’ve come since starting out in March. The song I’m most excited about on it is called ‘Growing’; it was one of the first songs I wrote where I included a significant amount of live violin, and it’s my most experimental project thus far. The strings are layered and build up to form a complex wall of sound that I sing over, and my mixing engineer for the song added a few tweaks which make it even more interesting. It was just really cool to see all these elements of my musical background blend together.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
I don’t think three is enough!! I think film and television are a huge part of how we learn about the world. I know that so much of my understanding of how life works is heavily influenced by what I’m seeing in the media and the arts, and so it’s very important to fill those educational spaces with people and stories from a wide range of demographics so that we don’t just continue to think of the world as what exists within our own spheres.
I think this is especially the case for children. When you’re young, you’re developing and absorbing information more than you ever will at any later point in your life; obviously, people change throughout their lives, but to some extent ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’. It’s so crucial for young people to grow and develop with a broader and more open-minded understanding of the world we live in, and this will only be easier if this diverse world is represented in the shows and films they watch!
It’s also super important for people who don’t feel like they fit into what society tells them is ‘normal’; if for example, you’re a POC or a member of the LGBTQ+ community, you’re growing up as a minority in a sea of straight, white, cisgender male culture. By having more diversity in film and television, people in these minority demographics will have a better chance of finding people or characters that they can relate to. I know that I personally would have found my own sexuality much easier to understand and come to terms with if there had been more LGBTQ+ representation on my TV screen as I grew up.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Less is more — I used to overload every song I wrote with instruments and effects, thinking that the more I added the more impressive the song. I now realize that if anything the opposite is the case!
- You don’t need to rhyme — As someone who approaches writing songs from the music side, I initially struggled with the lyrical side of things. I used to overly ensure that things rhymed and it ended up making me cringe, but I now try to relax more with my lyric-writing.
- Don’t be afraid to use the same instruments — I used to think that if I used the same instruments in different songs, it would mean that I’m not being creative or original enough. I now think that if anything, it’s more creative to take the same instruments and find new and interesting ways to use them in different songs. This also means that your portfolio will blend together better and share more of a common sound.
- Be your artistic self — As someone who grew up singing musical theatre songs, my vocal style is very theatrical. I have very rigid diction, my lyrics are often very intense and dramatic, and I used to be embarrassed about this. I thought that it was weird that I didn’t write or sing like other artists I listen to, but now I’m trying more and more to embrace that as my style and as something that can make me stand out. Embrace your natural sound and use it to your advantage!
- Write down EVERY idea — I never really believed in the whole process of lying in bed at night, having a musical idea and then quickly scrambling to your notebook to write it down. I was very wrong, and creativity comes at completely random times. Some of my favorite songs that I’ve written have come from ideas that I’ve voice-noted or scribbled down at random moments in the day.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I’m sure that I will have plenty of burning out to come as I’m still so early in my career, but I’m trying to keep myself busy with things other than music. I’m taking up hobbies wherever I can, seeing friends and family where possible and making sure that music isn’t the only thing going on in my life. I’m hoping that these experiences will not only give me a break from creating, but also give me more things to write about!
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’m not a person of great influence (yet?), but let’s pretend that I am. I mean, 2020 has highlighted more issues going on in the world than I can count, so I really don’t know where I would begin. I think right now is a time when everyone needs to find all the energy that they can to be selfless. We’re in a pandemic, and it’s affecting people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds more than anyone else. It’s disproportionately affecting people of colour for example, and it’s shining a light on the divisions that exist in the places where we live. If you’re someone like me who lives with privilege, be it due to your ethnicity, your gender, or your socioeconomic class, then acknowledge those things, and acknowledge the fact that many people might be hit by this pandemic harder than you. In short, donate where you can, support where you can, and WEAR YOUR MASK :).
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
The big change which came along for me was being introduced to my co-producer Alice Haine (Naughty Alice). We were put together by a mutual friend, and it was through this that I was really able to take my music to the next level. Alice was there to help me fine-tune and polish my ideas, and she also set me up with the awesome Miguel Leon who does my mixing and mastering. Without this help, I wouldn’t have been able to get the quality of my music at the right standard for release.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Manifest your intentions!! My friend would always say this semi-jokily whenever someone would achieve some minor goal. I kept complaining about wanting a coffee table in our university house, but when I actually looked for one online I instantly found one that was perfect; my friend exclaimed “George, you just manifested your intentions!”. The same goes for my music in a weird way. I spent so long wishing that I could learn to produce and wishing that I could sing and write music, but the only thing stopping me from actually doing it was myself. Stop thinking and dreaming about doing things, and actually DO them. Manifest your own intentions and stop waiting for something or someone else to make them happen.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Erykah Badu. Not only is she one of my all-time favourite artists, but she has the most fascinating view of the world. I probably listen to her live album and her NPR Tiny Desk performance most weeks, not just for the music but also just to hear her talk in between! It would be an honor to share breakfast with her.
How can our readers follow you online?
Follow me on Instagram: @george.is.lazy
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!