Fantasy Gateway

Cuco

Fantasy Gateway

A lot has been written about Cuco, the Mexican American musician Omar Banos. His bilingual, chilled-out, hyper-personal indie pop first made waves in 2017 with “Lo Que Siento,” laying the groundwork for his debut LP, Para Mí, in 2019. Now, on his second album, Banos’ ambition knows no limits: Fantasy Gateway is a concept album about an unknown dimension where “the dream world and purgatory are in the same realm,” he tells Apple Music, “and corporations lead you into the fantasy gateway.” The cost of admission is a beloved memory, replaced with a new, mechanized one; as the listener travels deeper and deeper into the LP, utopia starts to look a lot like dystopia. The promise of perfection comes at a price, as explored in the trippy ’80s synth-pop “Caution” or the ’60s bossa nova and samba “Aura.” At the heart of Fantasy Gateway are catchy songs about anxiety and existentialism (“Sweet Dissociation”), breakups and relationships (“Fin Del Mundo”), and gratitude (“When the Day Comes to an End”). Like any reality or created universe in any artistic medium, however, the listener can choose how deeply to read into each track. Below, Cuco walks Apple Music through every song on Fantasy Gateway. “Heaven Is Lucid Dreaming” “This is the HILD corporation, like ‘Heaven Is Lucid Dreaming.’ The whole idea is, you enter this gateway and it's where the purgatory and dream world connect. The whole concept of a utopia is so twisted. It's such a weird thing to think about. I've always thought purgatory and being in a dream state is the same thing. I've always thought when somebody passes away, their soul is just free roaming. Being in hell is being stuck in a nightmare, not being able to accept the fact that you passed.” “Caution” “When I wrote ‘Caution’ I was just thinking about how I go about issues I deal with, and how I bottle things up. If things are just going wrong, I don't like to make it known. It’s a bit chaotic. I suppress it but it still hurts the people around me, because clearly something's wrong. [This song is about] finding a balance in my solitude, being able to deal with things, and at the same time, being able to escape some of those things, not in an unhealthy way.” “Aura” “‘Aura’ is a straightforward, feel-good track—that bubbly feeling in a really good dream. In the Fantasy Gateway, you can't really see a person, you talk to the person's surrounding spirit. It's maybe the most dumbed-down track of the album, but it still has a deepness to it. I’m explosive and self-destructive at some points and then good. There’s a feeling of sadness because it's about somebody who is clearly not there with you anymore, but you're making it known. It's like, 'No matter what it is, you saved my life, and I'll be there forever in spirit.'” “Paraphonic” “We called it ‘Paraphonic’ because me and [co-producer] Andrés [Rebellón], when we started working on the song, I had this keyboard from 1974, a paraphonic keyboard. Essentially, a paraphonic keyboard has multiple oscillators that can play a different note that goes through the same output. It’s different from polyphony, which is more technical—I'm still not sure what it all means. But I thought the name was cool. And it means, like, individual sources for the same thing.” “Artificial Intelligence” “Producing it and making it was so, so fun. It has this robotic feeling, and I wanted to create something so soulful, so felt, but contradicted with artificial intelligence, because machines don't feel, they just do. And sometimes the coldness of a person can feel robotic. When you look in the mirror, you might feel that way, and when I was writing it, I was feeling a little lost.” “Fin Del Mundo” “[Bratty and I] had already known each other through the music industry. I like her music, and it is cool to bring somebody into this and give their own input to get into it. ‘Fin Del Mundo’ sets up the scenario where your world is ending. It doesn't necessarily have to mean the physical world; it could mean a chapter is ending. It could be, 'I think it's time for me to go into this Fantasy Gateway.' And it has such '60s-'70s production, it’s pretty peaceful. It has that sound where you’re watching the world end, but you know life is about continuing on to this next dimension. But you still have no idea what's about to happen.” “Time Machine” “‘Time Machine’ asks, ‘What would you have done differently before your world ended?’ If we come back to this earth again for purgatory, you write what you want your life to be on the other side of the Fantasy Gateway. You submit a form to the HILD corporation, and they take account of what you want to see in this next dimension.” “When the Day Comes to an End” “I made this song because I wanted to be able to express every feeling I could possibly feel, in one song, and make it feel nice. We are so wrapped up in trying to [find] a solution, we never take the time to appreciate life. We never take the time to be grateful for where we're at. That’s what the song is to me.” “Sitting in the Corner” (feat. Kacey Musgraves) “Working with Kacey Musgraves and Adriel Favela was like a dream, because they're great people, great artists, and very open to doing everything and anything. Nothing sounded off or forced, because I'll never put out a song if it feels the slightest bit like pushed. That didn't happen with this song. This is a psychedelic mariachi song.” “Foolish” “‘Foolish’ is actually the first song I made for the album. Me and [co-producer] Manuel Lara were working in Mexico in November 2021. It's like a dance song. When you go out and listen to a house or disco or techno song and you dance in a public space—but the lyrics are opposite. They talk about this feeling of 'no matter what I do, if I'm out, I just need to be by myself.' I need to fix my own issues being by myself and not being with the crowd, being my own individual once again.” “Sweet Dissociation” “Dissociation is something I go through daily. I have severe, severe anxiety. Dissociation is hard to come back from sometimes, but at the same time, it takes me away. Sometimes you're stressed out and your dissociation is your best friend. So I’m kind of mocking it, but also being accountable for certain ways of how I cope.” “Decir Adios” “It’s a goodbye and an intro at the same time. I wanted it to seem big, like theme songs, shows from the ’80s or sitcoms, the very nostalgic feeling of something that you'd hear, like a Juan Gabriel song, good vibes. I feel like [this song is] my cliffhanger, because now people will know this whole album is an introduction into this world I created. I want people to just be able to form just their own connections to it.”

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