The Legend of Cowboy Jones: A Conversation with Dylan Cohl
As the gracious blue skies of America crossover all 50 states, Texas stands alone with its vast terrains, southern hospitality, one-of-a-kind livestock, and a strong sense of originality. Along with these assets, the manifestation of legends are created as well. The tall tales of Lone Rangers and Spaniards that were once duking it out across the Southwest transformed into the modern age representation of icons who have boasted their legacy through the many art forms that are attainable in the Lone Star state. Houston being one of the flashiest cities that the state has to offer, it’s only right for the city to conceive a rising star that embraces soul samples from the 70s, has a southernplayerstic vernacular, and uses the moniker “Cowboy Jones.”
Dylan Cohl, who’s originally from Port Arthur, but moved to Houston, has transcended a sound in this region that has been forgotten, surged with his eclectic energy and soulful background. He released his first full project, Cowboy Jones: 2000 and Beyond, last fall and it showed Cohl’s versatility as an artist and producer. Since the release, he’s worked closely with Kirko Bangz and LMG Music Group while also crafting the sequel, Cowboy Jones 1.5: Days In The East. The growth of Cohl’s artistry is shown in tracks such as “Flowers,” a Third Coast duo ballad with Susan Carol, to songs such as “Don’t Need It,” a slow but well-worth-the-wait single that offers Cohl’s minimalistic attitude towards life.
All in all, the preparation of this project shows maturity after the first act of “Cowboy Jones”, the feature presentation. The sequel has much anticipation, and I recently had a chance to speak to how this project, his life, and more will become a cinematic experience with the upcoming release of Cowboy Jones 1.5: Days In The East.
Dylan Cohl. Photo: ShotbySeth
Free Press Houston: How’s everything going for you at the moment?
Dylan Cohl: Everything is going great. I’m growing, and it feels good to see the growth myself.
FPH: Aside from residing on the east side of Houston, you’re also from the Port Arthur area, which carries a lot of rich history when it comes to Texas music. How was your upbringing there and how did it shape your taste in music?
Cohl: Growing up in Port Arthur were some of the best times of my life. I come from a big family I’m the youngest of eight kids in a small ass house learning and soaking up all the game I could. All my siblings are musically inclined; my mom was a lead singer in the church choir and all that, I played the drums until moved to Houston. Port Arthur gave me my style and confidence. I’m proud to be from there. I listened to everything from Miami bass music to zydeco and jazz. It’s a certain mystique about that city and I embody those same qualities. It’s a small town but it’s a lot going on at the same time.
FPH: Knowing that UGK has been the face of the city for quite some time, how do you plan on to continue their legacy and fill in their shoes to show the new image of Port Arthur?
Cohl: Keep It Trill and Grind Harder. I’m just trying to be a catalyst for my city. We’ve got talent down here. All I can do is be the best Cowboy Jones I can be. I just have to continue to be a man for the people and to never forget that they are a part of the reason for all of whatever I may accomplish in this industry. The people crown you king, so I’m just working until they say I’m the king.
FPH: Going by the moniker, Cowboy Jones, it’s a strong sense of Texas that’s found in your music. If you could, how would you describe the aesthetic of being Cowboy Jones?
Cohl: Cowboy Jones is a southern playa. Everything in one. The hero and the bad guy. The perfect balance between what’s real.
FPH: In the midst of the growing infrastructure of Houston’s rap scene, you’re one of the only dual threats that rap and produce. How do you think this works to your advantage when it comes to your artistry?
Cohl: I’m always ahead of the curve. As long as I can produce for other artist and build their sound along with working on my own music I’ll always have my hand on the pulse in a way. That’s exactly what Travis Scott did, he implemented his sound in the industry before he really broke out as a rapper. It was a win-win. I’m an influencer simply because I am a producer. The vibes and direction will always start with me so even if no one hears my raps they’ll hear my sound in someone else’s music.
FPH: You released your first full-length project, Cowboy Jones: 2000 and Beyond, last October and since then, you’re music has grown a lot. From seeing the releases of “Dial Tone” to the release of “Flowers” it’s a change in the direction. How would you explain the creative process you’ve been going through since the release the installment of Cowboy Jones?
Cohl: It’s all about the experiences. The only constant is change, I’ve been through a great deal personally since releasing the first tape and with music being my only outlet it shows in my work. I’ve been consistently working on music day in and day out for the last seven months working on 1.5 and I think I’ve found a perfect combination of synergy through all things good and bad as of late and it’s allowed me to be fearless when making this music. My whole team is just as invested as I am and everybody is on the exact same page and it feels good.
FPH: Another thing that’s been noted by following some of your social feeds, you’ve been working alongside Kirko Bangz. How is your relationship and how do you feed off one another when you are in the studio with one another?
Cohl: Kirko is a like big brother/mentor. I met him when I was 16 and he’s been a great example for a kid like me coming up who’s always wanted to make music on a major scale. He’s always supported and done small things for me like letting me go on the road to his shows with him and even opening up once on his previous tour. The times I have made music for Kirko I’ve just been focused on creating new vibes for him. I believe I’m gonna produce his next big hit.
Dylan Cohl. Photo: Twitter / @dylancohl
FPH: On the other hand, you’re preparing yourself for the second installment of the series, Cowboy Jones 1.5. This being a more in-depth body of work and fusing sounds together that are maturing the sound of Cohl. What experiences did you encounter that allowed you to grow as an artist?
Cohl: Mainly dealing with the passing of my brother. Seeing how it affected my entire family watching my brother battle illness at a very young age it made my lock in and push out the best music possible. That’s all he would want me to do right now. I stopped fighting the inevitable and focused on actually doing something and making a way for me and my family and I think it shows on this tape especially. Cowboy Jones 1.5: Days In The East is filled with a lot of emotions you’ll definitely get to know who I am a bit more.
FPH: Listening to your music, it’s a cinematic presence that’s brought to the forefront. Why do think this feature presentation of Cowboy Jones 1.5 will be different than any other release that’s coming out of the city this year?
Cohl: I’m making some of the best music coming out of Houston. I’m focused on standing out and carving my own lane in the city. This tape has everything you can ask for. You won’t want to skip any of the songs on it. We put so much effort into the instrumentation of Cowboy Jones 1.5. We really care about the music and it being nothing but quality and substance. I’m here to push the culture forward and create what doesn’t exist.
FPH: Along with making this feature presentation, the Cowboy Jones story is one that people to pay attention to. Before 2016 ends, what would be your ideal ending for the second act of the Cowboy Jones story?
Cohl: Hopefully generating a solid fan base and taking this music past Texas and the Country border. I want to be touring next year God willing.
Check out Dylan Cohl’s latest single, “Don’t Need It” from “Cowboy Jones 1.5: Days in The East.”