The Youth Issue: Cazwell (Part Two)

Hopefully you didn’t destroy too many braincells this weekend and remember on Friday we posted part one of a two-part interview with one of our favorite New York City-based musicians, Cazwell. In case you did, in fact, do irreparable damage, here’s the link to part one, in which he chatted about his growing up in Worcester, Massachusetts, his creative routine and what he’d do if he weren’t making music.

Caught up? Good. We switch gears a bit in this installment. After the jump, read what Cazwell has to say about losing his virginity, why he doesn’t call himself “hip-hop” and who he’d love to write an album for (hint: she’s rich, blond and named after a city – oh, and a hotel).

(Also, be sure to head over to Cazwell’s MySpace page and/or website for his upcoming tour dates. You’ll be glad you did.)

Andrew Belonsky: Do you remember the first time you had sex?

Cazwell: Yeah, it was the day I graduated high school, at my apartment. It was with this guy, Rick. He was really hot – he was half Puerto Rican, half French. I totally fell in love with him, but he’s crazy. It wasn’t that good.

AB: Did you guys fuck around after that?

CZ: A couple times, but I think that he sensed that I really liked him and he didn’t like that.

AB: Don’t you hate when that happens?

CZ: Yeah. That’s probably why I put up all these walls, right? And then when people [that I don’t like] like me, I try to be a little mean to them to make them put up a wall. Or I’ll avoid them or something.

AB: Do you fall in love easily?

CZ: No, but I’ll tell you one thing that I realized that draws me to people –[their] voices. You know, when people have really sexy voices that you’re attracted to, it makes such a difference. I remember a year-and-a-half ago, I was dating this go-go boy that everyone loved and everyone thought was so hot and was on the cover of HX, Next, he was so hot, but when he talked – he wasn’t totally queeny, but I could tell in his spirit, he was like a mom, you know what I mean? I haven’t had a boyfriend in like three years, but I’m seeing a guy that lives in San Francisco, which is perfect, because I need space. And he’s an artist: he’s a photographer. That’s really important to me: someone who has a passion for something, especially something that I can understand. He’s pretty political with his imagery. He’s so brilliant. I really admire him.

AB: You think he’s talented?

CZ: Yeah. If you get with someone you admire and he has a sexy voice, [it’s] so hot. I go on dates here. I’ve been dating young boys lately. I like that.

AB: Eighteen year old boys?
CZ: Well, [there’s a] twenty-year old that I’ve gone been going on dates with, but I don’t want a – a boyfriend is like another job. You know what I mean? I work like 40 hours a week… a boyfriend is responsibility.

AB: What’s the appeal of these young men?

CZ: I think I would be just as attracted to him if he were my age, but he’s a cute Latin boy with nice style. He has really nice style. You know what it is, I just think there’s so many new kids that come to the city – I like them all.

AB: You’re an equal opportunity slut.

CZ: I haven’t really gone on dates with anybody older than me – not in a while. Maybe it’s just easier because the newer kids really want to get to know [and learn from] the people who that been here a little longer. But I go really slow and usually if I meet someone that I like, I ignore them. If I really like them and I think they’re hot, I’ll totally ignore them. It’s not that I’m trying to be a snob – I just know I’ll put my foot in my mouth, I keep it short, so that they can wonder more about me. So they want to get to know me more. If I throw it all on the plate on the first date, it’s like, “Uh…”

AB: What was your impression of New York when you first came?

CZ: When I got here, I was really intimidated because everything’s so big. Like the sidewalks: people don’t realize, but the sidewalks are really big here. If you go to Worcester, it’s like one block. Lafayette Street? The sidewalk is so big. Everything is really big. I was really intimidated, but excited. We were living in Boston between Worcester and New York. Boston is not a place for artists to grow. It’s a lonely, cold city. It’s for old money.

AB: And you find New York to be a warm city?

CZ: A warm city? Oh, yeah. I definitely find a real sense of community here among the gay artists. Totally. My roommate Michael Wakefield – he works for Gay Action News for public access TV and he’s always working with people from the studio and he’s taking pictures and making movies…there’s a total sense of community, especially compared to LA. There’s definitely a community of artists [in New York], especially gay freak artists.

AB: What are you thoughts on LA?

CZ: I don’t drive. I don’t have a license.

AB: Can you drive a car?

CZ: No. I don’t want to. I think if I had kids so I could do the car-pooling, but no, I have no interest in driving at all. Plus I have a little bit of ADD and I know I’ll get into an accident. And I don’t like being behind the wheel – I just feel like there’s too much of an opportunity to hurt somebody. I don’t want to drive; I’d rather be driven.

AB: You want to have children?
CZ: Um, maybe. I don’t know. Not anytime – not this week – but I think so, I think I do. But, I’m not that good a person yet. I’m still working on myself and not being selfish and putting people first. That’s a big lesson I’m trying to learn – I want to be nice. My roommate’s really nice – he’s a total giver, he’s really cool – so it’s good that I’m around him and stuff. I need to find a balance. I’m so go, go, go. There’s so much I need to do to stay on top of the game. I’m really competitive with myself. Therefore, I always put myself first, but, you know, sometimes I’m so busy I forget to walk my dog and I ask my roommate to do it. Can you imagine if I had a kid?

AB: I think being competitive with yourself is a good thing.

CZ: I’m competitive with other people, too. I’m always trying to impress myself. I feel like if I impress myself, I’ll impress other people and that’s the name of the game, whether people admit it or not. If you show a dull video that people have seen before or it’s just tired, it’s over. If I’m impressed with it and people close to me are impressed with it, I know I’m doing it right. The point of being an artist is, “What’s the next step?” I was really, really happy with the “All Over Your Face” video. I thought it was a shame that it wouldn’t go on Logo. It was one of those great moments when you get exactly what you want. I love making videos. I make decisions, I work with other people – I’ll tell you, the video coming up, I learned a lot about patience. We lost half the footage and had to reshoot. I’m telling you right now, it was a moment for me. I had a choice on how I was going to deal with it and I came to the conclusion, “I don’t have it, it doesn’t belong to me, we gotta do it over”. So, it was really a good opportunity for me to learn how to be patient.

AB: Do you feel like an adult?

CZ: No, not totally.

AB: But somewhat?

CZ: Um, I’m a lot better at controlling my reaction skills so that I don’t react the way that I used to – I’m much better at thinking about it, but I’m not a pro.

[Belonsky flips tape and says they’re taping over Michael Musto.]

CZ: Sorry, Michael. Michael’s great. Did you go to the [book] party?

AB: No, I couldn’t make it.

CZ: Did you see the performance?

AB: I saw it and linked it on the website.

CZ: Awesome. It was a lot of fun.

AB: I get nervous going out.

CZ: You get nervous?

AB: Yeah. I mean, I’ve been all over this city, but I still don’t really…

CZ: I get nervous – I don’t like to go where it’s packed. I’ve never been to Bank or Roxy. I can go to more intimate things where I know my friends are going to be. I don’t like it when it’s really packed. I get nervous about that type of thing. I’d much rather go to Metropolitan than Crobar.

AB: I also don’t like when I run into people that I sort of know, but…

CZ: It’s really sad – I stopped drinking like two weeks ago – but [before] I really couldn’t remember if I talked to someone or if I just saw them at Boys’ Room and I said “Hi” because I’m the host or someone came up to me…So, the best thing to do is you tell them you don’t have your contact lenses in.

AB: All the faces blur together.

CZ: That’s totally true, especially going out every night.

AB: Do you go out every night?

CZ: No, but I am going out tonight. I’m going to Room Service with Amanda. I promised her I’d go with her. I hung out with her last night. We haven’t hung out in so long. We just watched The Devil Wears Prada and gossiped. I like the DVD because there’s a little documentary on Pat Field. I didn’t realize that she was such a bull dyke when she was younger – she [was] really butch and I see her as such a femme. I think he attitude it really cool. She’s the queen of New York.

AB: Do you want to be Queen of New York? Prince?

CZ: Maybe of nightlife. New York? That’s a lot. I can’t wait until I can do just nightlife. I bartend one night a week, so I’ve really slimmed it down – and the rest is just DJing. There’s my Friday party at Boys’ Room.

AB: So, do you want to stay here in New York indefinitely?

CZ: Yeah, yeah. I’ll always want a place in New York. I’m an East coast boy, definitely. I like San Francisco. It’s nice and relaxed and there’s always a good time. I like that it’s an artist city. I’m not really fond of the layout of LA – it’s just not…you know what the difference between LA and here is…the big difference: here, people walk and there people drive. And that’s why fashion is different here. Here, fashion – I know this sounds really corny – fashion is a lifestyle. People that work at clubs – it’s their lifestyle. It’s what they do. They spend all day getting ready, which is why I put that thing in “All Over Your Face”. I love watching people getting ready to go out. I used to love watching my mom get ready.

AB: Women are much more fun than guys.

CZ: Or drag queens… I mean, there are some nice people in LA. I have some fans there and I’ve had some really good shows there, but it’s not for me, especially if I had to drive. I could probably live there for a little bit, but, I don’t know…I’ll take the cold weather.

AB: So, what’s next? You’re going to go home to work on the next album and then you have the tour.
CZ: Yeah, the tour starts the last day of January in the UK and then I come back and I hit the West coast: Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, LA and Vancouver and then come back and try to go to Miami. Oh, and I’m doing Paris in March. I’m [also] putting out Amanda Lepore’s album for spring, late spring: May at the latest. We’re finishing up the tracks on that – I also want that to be campy and autobiographical, too. I’m the perfect person to write it, because I know her really well and I know what she wants to say and what she can do.

AB: You’ll be performing on that, as well?

CZ: Well, yeah, I’m on “My Hair Looks Fierce” and then she’s on my song, “Get Into It”, which I’ll probably do a different remix and put that on her record, too. I feel like I’m performing, even if I’m not, because I write the lyrics. I’m really happy with that. I’m really happy that she’s doing a lot. She’s changed my life. She’s such a great person. She’s one of those people you meet that you’re like, “Oh, if the whole world knew you, it’d make it a better place!”

AB: How did you guys first meet?

CZ: She called me up – she got my number from my boyfriend at the time – this is like in 2001 – and she asked me if I would perform at her birthday party at Spa. At the end of the night, I saw her on top of a booth and she was up there with a bunch of people and she was wearing this gorgeous blue dress and drinking champagne and I was like, “Wow, I’ve never seen anything like so glamorous before”. So, I went home and I wrote “Champagne” and then we practiced that for a long time and that went really well and then I wrote, “My Hair Looks Fierce”. The only reason I wrote that is because she accepted an award for ‘Best Dressed’ for the Glammies and she went on stage naked and said, “I don’t know much about clothes, but my hair looks fierce.” I was like, “Oh, that’s so great!” So, I just write down things she says and write down things that are going on so she feels like it’s her, like it’s a part of her. People say things all the time, but they don’t know they can construct it into song. I’m pretty good at that now. For her, anyway.

AB: Anybody else you want to write for?

CZ: I think I’d really do a good album for Paris Hilton. I feel like her last album – everyone was in on the joke, but her. I feel like no one was going to take it seriously, but she took it way too seriously. I think that if I could write a really campy album about a rich bitch that could have anything, but she has to let herself go and be really campy about it. It would be really John Waters-type. It would be a little ironic. I could do something really funny.

AB: Can you set that up somehow?

CZ: I don’t know. I don’t know her. I know people who know her.

AB: That’s a start.

CZ: I don’t know if she’s looking. You just gotta put it out there, feel it out…

AB: Anything else you want people to know?

CZ: I think what I want people to know most about me is that I’m not trying to be hip-hop. I don’t consider myself hip-hop. I used to. When I lived in Boston, I was really trying to get respect from the underground hip-hop scene and I did shows and I felt like I was really good. I was really into it and I perfected my skills and I did straight shows, but I was out. I realized that no matter how good I was, straight people don’t want to roll with gay people, especially in hip-hop. That happened around the same time that I met Larry T – I met Larry T before I moved to New York. What I learned from him was [that] you have to create your own sound and invite people to come to you. So, that’s the direction I want to go in.

What I’m trying to say is, basically, if I was trying to be hip-hop, then I couldn’t be out of the closet, because there are rules in hip-hop, both spoken and unspoken, and one is that you can’t be a fag. Maybe people will say it and maybe they won’t, but it’s true. That’s why there’s no successful [gays] in “hip-hop”. So, I don’t think of myself hip-hop. I rhyme because I can and that’s the best way – probably even better than singing, if I could – [to get] across how I feel. I can [just] say it, I don’t have to do notes and shit like that. I can really create a story in a way that you can’t when you sing.
I just think, you know, when people hear “gay rap” or “gay hip-hop” – I’m turned off by that. I’m like, “Why are we trying to be them?” In another twenty years, we’ll be having the same conversation. We’re never gonna be accepted by straight people, so don’t try. And if they do accept us, they’re going to do it because they “discover” us or our sound or what we’re doing, like Sylvester or disco.

I’d be really stressed out if I were trying to do hip-hop. I was really stressed out when I was living in Boston. It’s really stressful to try to make straight people accept you. People struggle with that with their families their whole life and it never happens, you know what I mean? I think that that’s what I want people to understand: if you say it’s hip-hop, that’s fine with me, but I’ve had people say “You’re not hip-hop”, and I can totally live with that.