August 21: Cody arriving at his hotel in Montreal

+ davidschwitzer: my anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns hun

davidschwitzer: my anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns hun

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Cody Simpson on new music with Justin Bieber

“We’ve been doing a bunch of acoustic material,” Simpson explains. “He called me up a couple of months back, and said, ‘Mate, I see you’ve been getting really good at guitar!’ So we got together that night, actually in L.A., and wrote some great riffs, and ended up writing a really amazing song together.

“Then I had to go over to Europe, but we got back together when I got back and wrote 12 songs in seven days. We stayed up all night, every night, slept in the day, working until 6 a.m., and we literally wrote an entire project together. You’ll be hearing some music from it soon. He’s been a good mate of mine, helping me get my music out there and exposed, and this album will really help me with showcasing my guitar, songwriting and vocal skills.”

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Cody Simpson’s finding his own voice - Interview

“I keep good people around me, and I think a lot of people can lose sight of being conscious of other people and being mindful of their feelings and so on, because you get so caught up in your own world,” says the Queensland native after a sound check later that day at the Dutchess County Fair in New York’s Hudson River Valley. “I have mates in the industry where that stuff kind of gets to them, and I try to keep my family around me and good people who are never going to let me totally lose sight of myself.”

Looking forward to his first trip to Halifax to sing tunes off his albums Paradise and Surfers Paradise — “It’s pretty crazy, the show’s sold out. I’m anticipating a pretty high level of excitement” — the 17-year-old hasn’t lost sight of the fact that five years ago he was posting Jason Mraz and Justin Timberlake covers on YouTube from his bedroom on the Gold Coast.

Now he’s playing arenas, and developing his own sound, combining pop melodies with a chill acoustic groove, but he’s also aware that it doesn’t hurt to have chiselled, matinee-idol features and brash Aussie confidence, either.

“It was pretty crazy right from the start, and things have been moving quite fast ever since,” he says. “At the same time, I feel personally that I’ve only reached 10 per cent of where I would like to be, that 10 per cent of the 100 per cent of my goals and endeavours.

“I mean, I started in the music industry when I was 13 years old, and at that age you have a lot of people telling you what to do. They say, ‘Do this, do that, be this, be that, sing this, sing that.’ Because I was exposed to that at such a young age, I basically grew up discovering myself in public. Only recently, being on the verge of turning 18 years old, I’ve been learning a lot from these experiences and have very suddenly come into my own.”

Inspired at an early age by fellow Australian performers Keith Urban and acoustic six-string virtuoso Tommy Emmanuel (who just played Halifax’s Rebecca Cohn Auditorium this past June), Simpson says he’s intent on moving past being seen as a pop star and establishing himself as “a real guitarist, a real singer, and a real musician” with full control over his music.

As a result, fans can expect a heavier guitar-based sound, with songs that are more about performance than production, as seen most recently on his latest release, The Acoustic Sessions EP, an unplugged followup to his 2013’s Top 10 album, Surfers Paradise.

“It’s slowly starting to transition into playing all my shows completely live from scratch with the band, having no element of background vocals and things like that. I’m inspired by artists like John Mayer and Jack Johnson, and I’m slowly bringing in those influences more and more.

“As much as I can, because up until now my music has catered to a certain demographic, and now I’m able to start fresh, especially with this next album. It’s a new project I’m working on for next year, and I’m writing the entire thing, not only for a 10-year-old age group, I’m making music for everyone.”

Currently based in Los Angeles — “I miss Tim Tams (chocolate biscuits), meat pies, the beaches, all that typical Aussie stuff, but I also just miss my friends and being back home,” he sighs — Simpson feels invigorated by the music scene that surrounds him.

His most recent efforts have been an example of Australian-Canadian diplomacy, teaming up with Justin Bieber, who brought Simpson on the road with him for tours in Europe, Australia and the U.S.

“We’ve been doing a bunch of acoustic material,” Simpson explains. “He called me up a couple of months back, and said, ‘Mate, I see you’ve been getting really good at guitar!’ So we got together that night, actually in L.A., and wrote some great riffs, and ended up writing a really amazing song together.

“Then I had to go over to Europe, but we got back together when I got back and wrote 12 songs in seven days. We stayed up all night, every night, slept in the day, working until 6 a.m., and we literally wrote an entire project together. You’ll be hearing some music from it soon. He’s been a good mate of mine, helping me get my music out there and exposed, and this album will really help me with showcasing my guitar, songwriting and vocal skills.”

Simpson’s touring with Bieber had another positive side effect, when their Australian dates coincided with a Jack Johnson show in Perth, in the southwestern corner of the country. Simpson got to meet his idol, who dedicated a song to him onstage, and he hopes it won’t be their last encounter.

“That’s my dream, to be able to go surfing with Jack Johnson and maybe write a song with him,” says Simpson, who was intrigued to learn there is also a surfing scene in Nova Scotia, at the opposite end of the world from Perth.

“Really?” he asks, with a note of surprise. “It might be a bit cold.”

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August 20: Cody performing in Montreal 

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August 20: Cody performing in Montreal 

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+ @CodySimpson: #unoanytime in Montreal! @uno

@CodySimpson: #unoanytime in Montreal! @uno

August 20: Cody with fans in Montreal

Cody with a fan at the airport today!