Spearheaded Collective

By: Brittany Lawler

The Kansas City native, Cody Critcheloe, is an inspiring and talented performer that
combines aspects of traditional pop music with his own creative concentration. The
experimental sound and the unique collaboration of art, musical concepts and stage
presence are the building blocks of SSION.

After speaking with the artist, several questions came to mind: like how does he come
up with experimental pop sound? Or how did he come up with “SSION” as his band
name? Well, the multi- talented performer openly talked about how his work is inspired
by many, but at the end of the day it’s all his.

SSION has toured the country and released four albums, including, in 2008, “Fools Gold”
and his most recent album “Bent.” But it all started when he was 16 years old, making
cassette tapes of his work. “I put the name "SSION" on it just because I liked the way
it looked…I love the way it sounds. I love how no one can pronounce it. I think that's
what's cool about it,” said Critcheloe.

SSION’s songs are coated with archetypes, stereotypes and iconic pop culture
images. “In the most basic way, I would describe it as pop music. We follow a similar
format first chorus, first bridge and so on... I want them to be catchy and have good
hooks, but the music is made to reach a lot of people. I want people to be able to
connect to them,” said Critcheloe.

Critcheloe's encouraging tone intertwines with memorable melodies, disco bass lines
that filled with assertion and aspiration. “Depending on what I’m into at the moment,
affects the art and the music I make. Like Boy George, Wanes World, Jean- Paul Gaultier,
even things like Maryann Faithful and Delight influence me,” said Critcheloe. “I’m more
attracted to female artists and performances. I think that they are a pretty big influence
on what I do. But I’m also influenced by Top 40 pop music too, I don’t think it’s all
necessarily good, but it definitely does influences me.”

Compared to most contemporary musicians, Critcheloe has his hands in just about every
aspect of the business. He creates, designs, writes and generates his own music and
album work. “I have creative control because we are a ‘do it yourself operation,’” said

SSION’s latest album “Bent” incorporates original material and graphic elements that
showcase Critchloe’s distinct reverie. His music and artwork go hand-in- hand; both play
a role in actualizing Critchloe’s vision for his work.

“As far as writing songs goes, I’ll make a demo but I’ll enlist people’s help. But I think

that, that is pretty typical of how a pop singer would work. There are different aspects
that are involved that I may not be as good at,” said Critcheloe.

Music is always evolving—changing with each generation, but Critcheloe flips that on
it’s head. He blends elements from every area of mainstream culture and uses it in an
interesting way. “My esthetic choices are a little different,” said Critcheloe.

“If I’m making a video, I’ll have people help with editing or postproduction stuff, but the
overall decision is mine—I always say that it’s a spearheaded collective. Because there
are a lot of people there working on it, but at the end of it, it’s my thing, I’m calling the
shots. When you have a distinct vision I think it’s really easy to get people to help you
with it. But as far as the album artwork goes, I do all the drawings for it. It’s all one big
thing,” said Critcheloe

Although music is a subjective form of art, there are aspects of any album that can
draw the attention of a crowd. Today, many performers are limited to covers of other
artist’s work or sourcing things from the passed, instead of generating original content.
However, Critcheloe openly states that he is not immune to using ideas that have
already been used, but he strives to “restructure it to make it relevant.” SSSION is an
embodiment of Critcheloe’s visual perception and an actualization of his vision.

“I always wanted to change it up in a way or do something that wasn’t totally expected,”
said Critcheloe.