Fresh from headlining his first show in Los Angeles, Tyler Cole is on a roll with his latest release, Existential Crisis Boy: Part 1. In constant pursuit of growth, the release of Part 1 in a multi-part project was fully intentional—he’s got a lot more to say. “I can celebrate the wins without being completely content,” Cole explains. “There’s so much more that I want to do and I’m just getting started!”
When Cole and Willow Smith released “Meet Me at Our Spot’’ in 2020 as their band THE ANXIETY, it sky-rocketed Cole into the stratosphere. A product of both artists’ efforts to address mental health, especially in the Black community, the song connected with listeners across the internet and went viral. “If [my art] helps people, or they can relate in any way, I feel like I’ve done my job,” Cole says.
When the hit first dropped, Smith and Cole spent 24 hours in a box at the MOCA in Los Angeles to demonstrate the eight stages of anxiety. In those 24 hours, the pandemic broke and people all over the country went into quarantine; Cole and Smith walked back into a completely changed world. “The irony is that we were quarantining in that box right before the world had to,” Cole says. “I’m so grateful to Willow. I think she’s one of the only people I know that would have ever done some crazy shit like that with me.”
Cole’s drive and ambition go hand-in-hand, always pushing him to go that extra step. Or, in the words of one of Cole’s favorite teachers, “If you are not creating, you are dying.” It’s advice Cole took to heart. “I try not to associate my self-worth with my creations, but they mean more to me than almost anything.”
In Existential Crisis Boy: Part 1, Cole dives into his life in a blend of pop, soul, R&B, and rock across seven tracks, two of which also feature Teezo Touchdown and Baby Tate. “It all comes natural to me,” Cole muses, who in addition to his love of “everything from Weezer to… to Usher to Blink 182,” also plays several instruments, including guitar, bass, and drums.
Every time he approaches the blank slate of a new song, his process changes. “I’m not always searching for a specific sound, but I am looking for it to make me feel something” the musician adds. Cole has recently had the opportunity to collaborate with some of his favorite artists on songs he promises we’re sure to hear about soon, adding, “You can expect the unexpected.”
Photography Sam Dameshek
Fashion Hunter Clem
Editor Kevin Ponce
Grooming Mira Chai
Manicure Naoko Saita (Opus Beauty)
Set designer Teaghan Rohan
Photo assistant Vincent Lantzy
Fashion assistant Nick Rossi