You were spotted by Will.I.Am when you were just 13-years-old singing at a concert in Philadelphia. What’s he like as a mentor?
He’s kind of like that big brother that I never had. I don’t have an older brother so having someone that’s around –especially musically – he’s such a big inspiration and helps me. He’s also like a mad scientist. Seeing him create is just really awesome. He’s doubly eccentric when he’s in the big brother role.
So did you grow up listening to The Black Eyed Peas?
I did and the crazy thing is, The Black Eyed Peas were never like a group that I ever imagined myself meeting. Not because I never wanted to meet then or anything but because they seemed like they were at such an untouchable level. Then finally meeting Will and Fergie, Apple and Taboo, it was surreal and pretty insane for me.
So what happened after that gig in Philadelphia?
Shortly after that, I remember my manager at the time calling me and telling me that he knew Will through a producer that was working with him. Basically they flew me out and I remember singing in front of Jimmy Iovine (Co-founder of Interscope Records) and Will and literally a few days after they were like, “How would you like to sign to Interscope?” It was one of those extremely fast, dream come true moments.
How would you describe your sound?
Honestly I want my music to come across as happy, very feel-good and relatable.
Growing up who were your musical inspirations?
That’s a really hard question for me. I could go down the list but I think the obvious ones are Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Earth, Wind & Fire and then the more under the radar people, Blood, Sweat and Tears and all that kind of stuff. My parents were really big into music, so I’ve been exposed to music my whole life. I’m someone that loves music and I literally can’t get anything done without listening to music.
You said your family are musical. Are they involved professionally?
My mother was actually a jazz singer and my dad is just a huge music buff. He has nothing to do with the music industry what so ever.
You’re clearly a fan of musical theatre having starred as Simba in The Lion King as well as The Nutcracker. How did you transition to urban music?
Honestly there’s something magical about theatrical performances and I went to a performing arts charter school, so that kind of mentality was taught to us from kindergarten. So I had always had that love for musical theatre and it’s not so different from the transition to an artist. I’d say the only transition is being an artist is a more personal commitment rather than portraying another character in an hour long production.
Would you consider going into acting professionally then?
Definitely, I think it’s just one of those things, another art form that I love.
You scored a UK Number 1 with ‘It’s My Birthday’ in May 2014. How has your life changed since then?
The crazy part is when we were in the UK (with Will.I.Am) and we sang and it went to radio and everything, I actually had yet to hear it in a club or anything so I am nervously anticipating hearing it so I don’t freak out. It’s crazy having people notice who I am, that’s something that takes a lot of getting used to. It’s pretty unbelievable to see all of the positive feedback I’m getting and seeing the fans and the friends I’ve made along the way. It’s something that while you are in the moment, it’s so surreal but I’m just riding along.
So how do you usually celebrate your birthday?
People will totally judge me for this but I am a really old man when it comes to celebrating my birthdays. I basically wake up as late as possible and our family as a tradition were we just cook whatever it is that the person wants for their birthday, and I’m so unoriginal I always ask for Buffalo wings every year.
So are you more low-key rather than a party guy?
My birthdays are more of a family thing however I would love to have at least once have like a ridiculous, all out there friends and party kind of thing.
So after the success of ‘It’s My Birthday,’ do you feel pressure to follow it up with another Number One hit?
I don’t think there’s any pressure, if I were worried about getting another Number One hit I probably wouldn’t get another one. I wasn’t worried about getting it in the first place. It was one of those moments, where we were like, ‘Let’s make a song,’ and then we made it and it just so happened to be a really good song. So I think it’s good to keep that mentality and I’ll definitely achieve that goal.
Are you currently working on an album?
Yeah I am, it will be early next year. I actually have my own studio space in Will’s little complex and I’m there nearly every day writing, producing and creating something.
What have you been up to recently?
I’ve basically been touring and promoting and I want to meet a lot of my fans.
What can we expect from your performance at White Dubai?
I’m really excited for it, honestly I just want to bring the fun and the party. I’ve never been to Dubai and I will be there for a few nights.
Aside from music, how do you spend your downtime?
I’m a huge technology buff. I built my own computer and I just spend a lot of time fiddling away at stuff on it. I actually have taken an interest in snowboarding, even though I’m terrible at it. I really like it but I hurt myself every time I attempt it.
So perhaps we might see you on the slopes at Ski Dubai?
Oh yeah I heard about Ski Dubai. That’s awesome, that should be on my agenda.
Do you ever get shy around other celebrities?
I remember I went to the studio one day and out of nowhere I see Will talking to Jay Z and I had one of those like internal freak-outs. It’s like you don’t want to freak out because you don’t want to be that guy but you are still freaking out regardless. That’s happened me quite a few times actually.
What do you most enjoy about your career?
I think my favourite part out of all of this, is performing. I love it, there’s something about coming on stage and seeing people’s energy and then using their energy, it just builds me up that much more. That connection I have with a crowd - it’s a crazy high.
Tell us something that nobody knows.
I’m a really good tap dancer. That’s actually my favourite form of dance.
What inspires your music and your track,‘Love like this’ - perhaps a great romance?
There wasn’t a romance for that one but I’m sure that there will be one that will inspire an amazing Number One at some point.
How do you define success?
When I was younger, I would tell everybody that I wouldn’t consider myself famous until South Park made fun of me.
URBN: Cody Wise. Doors open 10.30pm-3am. White Dubai, Meydan Racecourse, Nad Al Sheba (050 443 0933).Connect with Cody Wise on Twitter @CodyWise; instagram.com/codywise; www.codywise.com