Chris Cohen Has Nothing to Hide Anymore

With Chris Cohen's self-titled new album, his life can finally begin

"Music business was never something I thought I would be a part of.... I've always sort of looked down on the mainstream music business, so I was pretty reluctant to have this be my work," Chris Cohen told me over the phone this week.

"It's ironic. I never saw myself doing music professionally.... But it's hard not to define yourself in terms of what people in your family do," he added.

When he's not recording and performing his solo albums, Cohen makes his living as a producer, engineer and occasional hired hand. He's played with Deerhoof, Cass McCombs -- "An old friend from the Bay Area," he explained -- and Ariel Pink, in addition to Weyes Blood, aka Natalie Mering.

It's not quite the industry involvement that his father, Kip Cohen, had as an A&R executive at a major label, but in some ways, Chris never escaped that aspect of his father's world.

"I think about myself and the world that I came from.... It seems like very much a part of it -- I am a part of the world I came from.... But what I've done on my own has been my own. The music work that I do has more to do with the friends that I made and the types of shows I went to," he said.

"My dad didn't talk to me a lot about what he did. His job brought a lot of music into our house, but it was never a question of like, 'Is this something you want to do?'" Chris added.

It's been years since Chris has talked to his dad, actually.

"We don't speak. He's somebody that's been -- I stopped talking to him for my own protection really. He's been in and out of recovery for years, and I've found myself put in real danger by the way that our relationship was working. It made it hard to get anything done," he explained.

"During the making of the last record that I made, I spent a good part of the year helping ... and lost a lot of time dealing with insane situations," Chris said.

As a result, he doesn't really know what his dad's feelings are about his music, and while severing ties with his father allowed Chris to unburden himself and allow his life to finally begin, "Chris Cohen" is not about his dad.

"My record is not about my dad. It's about my own path as a person and as a musician. They say you choose your family, and it's really true; biological ties are not everything. Families -- our understanding of families is a little bit limited. Our expectations of a family are so high, but it's crazy to expect that you're going to have parents [that live up to those expectations]," Chris said.

"I made the decision to not have kids. I don't want anything to do with family. I have my friends. I'm still close to my mom and my sister.... But what I grew up thinking they [my family] were going to be for me is just too much," he added.

While he's written a lot of songs about his family, he didn't really feel like he could lay claim to them. There was too much at stake. But now, there's "nothing to hide anymore."

"In a way, my parents' secret was mine," Chris said.

Chris Cohen headlines Soda Bar on Sunday, July 28. Get tickets here.

Rutger Ansley Rosenborg is an editor and digital marketer at NBC's SoundDiego. Find out more here.

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