Interview: Cody Simpson on ‘Welcome to Paradise: My Journey’
If you want to understand the evolution of a teenage-heartthrob, then immerse yourself into Welcome to Paradise: My Journey, Cody Simpson’s tell-all autobiography that charts his origins from “the beaches of Australia to the bright lights of Hollywood.”
After spending years building a fan base that currently exceeds over 10 million on his social networks, the 16-year-old’s rise to fame all began with a life-changing decision, that ultimately left him scratching his head.
Perhaps surprisingly – or maybe unsurprisingly – in his native Australia, Simpson has been hailed as their answer to Justin Bieber, and to top it all off, he has already managed to make plenty of waves – from touring worldwide to releasing three albums, to providing the soundtrack for Sony’s new Sci-Fi comedy Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.
Over the course of our conversation, Simpson spoke candidly about everything from an unexpected encounter with Jay-Z, to giving up a promising swimming career, and the pressure of fame.
“To have such influence on people is a beautiful thing, but it also carries great responsibility,” he explained. In one sense, whatever success Simpson has achieved is largely the result of his willingness to take risks and make bold creative moves.
Let’s start from the beginning—what inspired you to write Welcome to Paradise: My Journey?
I thought it would be an incredible opportunity to tell my story in my own words and to be able to thank my fans for their support. I really wanted to provide them with an understanding about the different aspects of my life that I have never shared before.
There are demands and all kinds of proposition from all directions. How do you cope with such responsibility and pressure?
I mean I never ever to want to stop doing what I’m doing but sometimes after an intense week of being busy, I do sort of crave a couple of days off. However, I have realised that when I do have a day or two off, I’m always eager to get back to work.
I think a lot of people are going to read the book and be like, “He seems to have everything in the world going for him, yet he’s so down-to-earth.”
Despite all the things that go on in my career and behind the curtains, I really am just normal. I like to write music and do a lot of artistic things. I usually just like being a kid and hanging out with friends. I do miss not being able to go surfing and not having anything to do, but I have always known that I wanted to do something extraordinary, and in some ways, I feel as if that’s what I’m doing.
The part of the book where you describe how you had to quit swimming to pursue music was hard to read.
Yeah. I was an Australian champion swimmer for a couple of years, and my coach was obviously disappointed when I had to leave. It was hard for me to make that decision at such a young age, especially as my whole family had to move to the US with me. It was a big risk, and if I didn’t take it, I would’ve probably spent the rest of my life wondering how different things would have been.
You obviously share an equal passion for music. How significant a moment was it for you in meeting your current management?
I think having the right people around me has helped to shape my music. It’s important to have people around you that also share the same vision for you. I have found that now and I can definitely see where I want to be going with my career. I’m turning 17 in January next year and I’ve already started working on new projects. I want to do my best to continue growing because I think there is always room for me to improve. I feel like I’m only halfway towards what I want to achieve but I’m going to continue taking steps towards reaching my full potential.
You write that: “Sometimes I find it difficult to know who to trust… So I don’t really make a lot of new friends.” What’s your idea of friendship?
That’s a great question. I think the only thing in the way of real friendship for me is that a lot of people will want to be friends for all the wrong reasons. It’s easy to sense pretty quickly, but I can usually tell if someone is genuine or not. I try to stay close to my childhood friends and also other people in similar positions to me – who I can relate to about certain things. It’s great to be able to have friends in the business that understand.
You wrote in the book about an encounter with Jay-Z, who had some nice things to say about you, didn’t he?
Yeah. I was opening for Bieber in Brooklyn and Jay-Z was there at the show. I remember walking past and being really surprised seeing him standing talking to people. My manager was also there and he called me over to introduce me, and all I remember was Jay-Z saying, ‘Awesome songs, man.’ It was really surreal.
What’s next for you?
On November 19, I will be releasing an acoustic EP with four of my fans favourite songs reinterpreted along with a Christmas song, and that will also be accompanied by an acoustic tour in the US in January 2014.
Cody Simpson’s official autobiography – Welcome to Paradise: My Journey is out now
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