The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Interview: Your Arms Are My Cocoon and Continuous Metamorphosis

Your Arms Are My Cocoon originally started as a solo project by Chicago based artist Tyler Odom back in 2020. The project placed what would soon be referred to as “screamo pop” on the map. The genre puts heavy emphasis on bedroom, DIY, and lo-fi elements with the undertones of Midwest emo. The first time I listened to their self-titled EP was during the pandemic. The album meant something to me when looking back on my journey towards self discovery and acceptance during an era when many had time to reflect and contemplate their sense of identity.

On February 2nd, 2024, Your Arms are My Cocoon visited Iowa City, to join In Loving Memory’s headlining show at Gabe’s, which was dubbed Screamo Prom. A few days after, KRUI interviewed the band’s lead, Tyler Odom, over a Zoom call. Here, we got to ask questions regarding their music and life.

Interview has been edited for clarity.

Your Arms Are My Cocoon at Gabe’s. Image via Sam Hammond

I noticed that sometimes you play a cover of “Boys Don’t Cry” by The Cure at the end of your set. It sounds so different to the original version. How did you make your own rendition to that song? 

Well, when we were on tour over the summer last year, our sets were only like, 28 or 30 minutes or something like that. We were doing headlining shows every day and you know, we realized that we had room for more songs if we wanted to put them in.

We were just like hanging out one day before a show. I like randomly figured out the chord progression to “Boys Don’t Cry”. We had a keyboard player at the time, and I looked over to my keyboard player and I was like, “Can you play the melody?” She was like, “Yeah, I know the melody to “Boys Don’t Cry.” I looked at my drummer and was like, “Can you play the drum part?” He was like, “Yeah, I already know it.” Everybody already knew it except for me. Then I figured out the chord progression. It’s like one of our favorite songs to play I love playing that song.

The recordings from the self-titled EP have like a very DIY bedroom feel. When you were doing these recordings, did you expect them to gain traction at all, or was it more of a personal project that you were going for? 

It was definitely a personal project. I was like 17 and 18 at the time. I didn’t think anybody would ever listen to them. I started the project kind of out of necessity because where I grew up in high school, was a little suburb outside of Houston. Nobody I knew was into, you know, emo music or the kind of music that I was into. The people that were didn’t play any instruments, so I was like the lone fish in those waters. That’s not a saying.

I was the only person that liked emo music and could play guitar and could play instruments. I realized that the only way I was ever going to be able to make music was if I did it completely by myself. I gave it a shot, and I’m glad that people seemed to like it. It’s been very humbling and surreal to see people reacting in such a way to something I made for fun in high school, you know?

It’s interesting to see people’s reactions to it because many usually have a hard time categorizing your music. People say that it falls into lo-fi, but they also call it screamo pop. So, how would you personally describe your music?

Yeah, I don’t know. When I was making it, I didn’t really have a genre in mind. I was just making something that I had kind of envisioned in my head for a long time. While I was making it, I just considered it like my emo project. I guess that’s all I’ve ever really considered it. It was just like the emo music that I make because I love emo music and I like to make emo music.

Image via Your Arms Are My Cocoon

Are there specific bands that you think influenced or impacted the tonal sound of the self-titled EP?

Oh yeah, absolutely. My favorite band of all time is the Brave Little Abacus, who have this really big maximalist, multi-instrumentalist, huge, big band sound that I really admire. That is definitely my biggest influence. Then on the flip side of that, something a lot more minimal and lo-fi is a band called Bedbug. They’re from Massachusetts. Brave Little Abacus and bedbug are from like the same area, coincidentally. Bedbug were like my favorite band when I was in high school. They’re this like super lo-fi bedroom pop, with muffled synths over quiet, whispered sung vocals. It’s just adorable and so endearing. I like basically modeled the whole EP after that. Obviously, with other bands influences kind of creeping in, but yeah. 

You started out playing solo shows and now you get to perform with a full band how do you think that’s changed the experience of performing live?

Yeah, in 2022, I did a whole Western US tour just by myself in my car. I had backing tracks loaded up on my laptop, and it was really fun. It was a really meditative experience. Compared to how the full band sounds now, just the laptop sounded like like garbage. It sounded like ass. But now like with this full band, the emotions that not only the audience feels, but that I feel on stage, is deepened so much more by the fact that all the music that we’re playing is being played at the same time. It wasn’t pre-recorded or anything like that. Everybody that’s on stage playing those notes are feeling those notes. By degrees, the audience feels those notes as well, and it just feels so much better. It sounds a hell of a lot better. 

In your songs, you introduce so many different instruments, like the violin, the piano, and some MIDI keyboards. How do you come up with the idea of having these various tonalities in your songs? 

Well, I think that for the most part, it goes back to the influences being namely Bedbug and Brave Little Abacus. Bedbug for the lo-fi synths and Brave Little Abacus for the crazy, weird instrumentals and instruments. They’ve got synths, obviously, and they’ve got saxophones and MIDIs and all that cool stuff in their songs. It’s something that I didn’t want to emulate, but I wanted to sort of incorporate into my art.

Also I just, I really like learning new instruments. I’m not very good at learning new instruments, but I like getting them, and trying them, and putting new sounds and new textures into songs. I feel like it’s a lot more fun to feel those different sounds that you don’t normally hear in those kinds of songs, like in screaming songs and in emo songs.

Image via Your Arms Are My Cocoon

I noticed too that in some songs like “Snowy!” there’s drum loops similar to breakbeats. Do contemporary genres like hyper pop or breakcore inspire you in any way? 

Sort of, I mean, there’s an Amen Break on a split song that I did called “Raisin Lungs”. I would say I’m influenced by electronic music a little bit. Also, the song that we usually end with on live shows is an electronic song that I made a couple of years ago where nobody plays any instruments. It’s just like a track that plays over the speakers. It’s like this big four on the floor, party type beat. That’s the song we usually play at the end, but I didn’t have a sampler with me in these last couple of shows. But yeah, that song, “Raisin Lungs”, is modeled after more modern electronic music. I listened to, you know, some Hexa music. If you know Faxx Gang, they are from the Philippines, and Eva Boy from California who are some of my favorite electronic artists. 

Bands like cicadahead, The Civil War in France and calendar year have a similar thing going on to you. How do you feel about being an inspiration for other bands to explore that kind of sound?

I think it’s really cool. I’m glad that I was able to find an avenue where solo artists could be solo artists for people who were in a similar position that I was in high school where they didn’t know anybody that played instruments and didn’t know anybody that liked emo music. I’m so happy that’s an avenue that is readily available now for kids who are my age, who are in the position that I was in. They can make music on their own and have it be listened to by a community of people that adore that kind of music. People that adore that kind of DIY at its most literal, you know?

How would you say you position yourself in the screamo community since the music you make is a little unconventional to what would normally be classified as screamo? 

Yeah, I’ll be honest with you I’ve never felt like I really fit in with the the screamo community, not only like music wise, but just like me personality wise. It’s not out of lack of want, you know, I adore the screamo community. I’m really happy that this kind of revival or whatever you want to call it has come up in the last two or three years, because I do love screamo music, and I have for a long time.

I’m glad to see it have a community in modern music but I’ve always felt like I’ve been doing my own thing on the outskirts of this circle of screamo bands and screamo sounds. Just kind of like hanging out on the outskirts. If people want to look out from the inside and listen to what I’m doing, or people from the outside want to look in on what I’m doing and then discover more screamo artists through me, I’m happy either way. No matter if they’re in any kind of predetermined community or not. 

Your Arms Are My Cocoon Playing Metamorphosis Live

Looking back on your evolution as a musician with older projects like Caterpillar Witch Coven and Hair, how do you think you’ve changed since then sonically? 

Okay, first of all that was that was a crazy deep cut, oh my god. Well, you know, I’ve definitely changed since all those. I’ve even changed since the self-titled came out, because I’m still young, but I’m not as much of a child anymore, I guess. So, you know, my tastes have shifted a little bit. My perspective definitely has shifted. The way I write has shifted. I feel like that’s natural. Every artist’s art shifts with their life. If water’s in a stream or a river, it’s got to go somewhere. I feel like that’s the way art is. That’s the way that I feel. 

What was the initial meaning behind the title of the band? What inspired that specific title? 

So, if you know about Hair, for that project I made that whole album for a girlfriend that I’m not with anymore. A line in the last track of that song is, “your arms are my cocoon.” I really liked that line, so I took it, stole it for myself and put it aside. I was like, “I really liked that. That could be something I’m gonna save for later.”

When I was making some these weird screamo songs when I was 18, and finishing them up, I still needed a band name. I looked back at like my recent history of what I had been doing, and I remembered “your arms are my cocoon” and I thought it kind of fit the sound that I was creating really well. The kind of like fuzzy lo-fi sound with the lyrics that are yearning and wanting, but not in like a particularly sad way, but more so in like a “I just really love you, and I want to be with you” kind of way, you know? 

In the lyrics, there’s a lot of butterfly motifs and like bug analogies that are referential to themes of growth, transformation, and yearning. So how did you use this analogy to come up with deeper reference points? 

That’s a good question. While I was writing it at the time, I had butterflies on the mind. I had written half a stage play about butterflies, and had kind of used butterflies as an analogy for the transition into death. I kind of scrapped that halfway through, but I still had butterflies on the mind. When I was writing the words for the self-titled, I think that just crept in through my self-conscious and turned it into what it is. When I was writing it, I had the music written out, and I was more so just kind of feeling the words that fit with the music. I was just feeling the words that fit with what I felt at the time and writing them down just off the top of my head. I think those butterfly motifs and metamorphosis crept in through my mind and laid its eggs in the words. 

Image via Your Arms Are My Cocoon

At this point you have a certain uniform you wear during shows with the dress and bunny ears. Does the outfit have any significance to what you want to convey when you perform the songs live?

So, we’ll start with the bunny ears. The bunny ears were made for me by my current partner. I mean it’s fairly superficial, at least on the surface level. It’s because I love bunnies. I used to work at a place that was kind of like a cat cafe, but for bunnies, so you just like pay to come and hang out with bunnies. I worked there and took care of the bunnies, and I love them. My partner made me these bunny ears, and I love her very much, so I wanted to kind of honor her by wearing them at all my shows. Love is also kind of intrinsic to what Your Arms Are My Cocoon is. It was started with the intention of love. I try to continue that tradition of love and working that into the sound and image.

As far as the wedding dress goes, I really only wore that specifically for the tour that we did last year called, “The Let’s Get Married Tour,” and it was themed after getting married. We had, an intro where we played like the wedding march with the flowers in my hands, and I would be wearing the wedding dress. At the end of the set, I would play a song off our new record, which isn’t done yet, but almost. The song was called “Let’s Get Married”, so it was really just for that tour. It’s very cool that people seem to kind of find that dress linked with the Your Arms Are My Cocoon character and universe at this point. 

Last question to wrap up the interview, what’s next for the Your Arms Are My Cocoon project? 

As we’re speaking right now, it is Monday, February 5th. On Friday, February 9th, me and my drummer Lobo are driving out to the suburbs to record drums for the new record. At that point, the record will probably be like 90% done. I just got to finish up some minor mixing and background instrumentation, and it should be pretty much done. It’ll be out I’m hoping by like June or July. Maybe September at the absolute latest. It’s something I’ve been writing, recording and working towards since, I think December of 2020, when I wrote the first song for it, which was would have been like two months after the EP came out. I’ve been working on it for a really long time.

Besides that, you know this is kind of on the low, but I’m doing a a Midwest tour in March. I’m doing the Asia tour in April and then we’re also going to Europe in June. We’re going all over the place. It’s not something a band of Your Arms are My Cocoon’s size typically does. We’re like a pretty small fucking band. But, you know, there are people out there that want to see us, and I want to make that happen. Also this kind of opportunity doesn’t come along very often where you get to see the world, so I’d like to take that chance while I’ve got it, and see places that I never thought I would have seen, especially at the age that I am now. You know, I’m only 22, but I’m going to see Thailand in two months. It’s crazy.