In this weekly series, we spotlight the performers and other participants who will combine for the Emerge Music + Impact Conference on the Las Vegas Strip November 16-18. Tickets are available now at emergelv.com.
Like many teenagers, Omar Banos doesn’t have a conventional sleep schedule. But unlike many teens, it’s for reasons other than boisterous high school parties or the mindless fun of video game marathons.
Banos stays up late for band practice. At 19 , he’s the leader and principal songwriter for Cuco, the LA-based indie/synthwave project that has drawn kudos from rapper Kevin Abstract and The Internet’s guitarist, Steve Lacy.
Since releasing its first mixtape Wannabewithu in 2016, Cuco has gone from support slots at tiny venues to headlining a sold-out show at fabled DIY venue The Smell.
“We’re just total night owls. Band practice usually starts around 11 or 12 and ends around 3 or 4 in the morning,” Bano says. The nocturnal vibes often shine through in Cuco’s songs; many of them are downtempo numbers that seamlessly pair moody melodies with a brooding sense of melancholy. Songs like “We Had to End It” and “Lover Is a Day” are ballads that detail heartbreak and failed relationships.
Many songs, such as latest single “Lo Que Siento,” contain lyrics in English and Spanish, a decision that Banos says “happens entirely naturally.” While his music and work ethic reflect a sense of maturity, he oozes a youthful conceit. “I record everything and play all the instruments by myself,” he says. “I like moving around onstage, though, so I called four homies to be my band, and we’ve been doing that since.”