Not even three weeks ago, on June 9, jxdn lost a best friend, model and influencer Cooper Noriega. Days later, the artist hit the studio with collaborator and label boss Travis Barker to get over his grief – and emerged with two new singles, released today (June 28), to honor what would have been the 20th anniversary of Noriega.
“I felt like everything had stopped for me, and even to this day it still does,” jxdn says, admitting he still feels “foggy” and “retarded” while speaking and dealing with his loss. “But especially in the days that followed, I felt like I couldn’t do anything, I couldn’t go anywhere, and I didn’t really have any words to say. I was getting really frustrated. I did not know what to do.
He says he felt “empty” and told Barker he desperately needed to make music. “Travis has truly been through everything a person can go through, and he’s definitely been there,” jxdn says, likely referring to Barker’s loss of best friend DJ AM. “So I go to the studio and we had nothing planned, we were just talking about Cooper and how amazing he was. We weren’t worried about what the songs were going to be, we were doing them because it was therapy.
With the help of Barker, along with artist Aldae, songwriter and guitarist Nick Long and singer-songwriter Liza Owen, jxdn quickly emerged with two songs on which he struggles with his grief as on an emotional swing. He describes the first, more rhythmic and melodic song “Beautiful Boy”, as “everything I could have wished it to be”. (While the title of the track came from a mumbled phrase by Allday, jxdn later and coincidentally discovered that was what Noriega’s mother would affectionately call him). “I really feel like people need to understand the pain, but not let it consume you,” he says, “which I hope for everyone, but that’s the biggest something I struggle with.”
He leaned into this more painful side of his emotions on the heartbreaking second acoustic single “Even in the Dark,” on which he sings, “I’ll celebrate your birthday, even if it’s not with you.” Yet jxdn’s most striking line is in the pre-chorus, when he asks, “Walk me home and let’s go to sleep.”
“If I could say anything to Cooper right now, it would be [that], because we did that so much,” he recalls. “It’s not like I need anything from him, I just want to be around him… People don’t really understand how safe he made me feel. I really never had a relationship with someone like I had with Cooper, because it was such an intense and real love. And I don’t want to remember Cooper because all these things that people who didn’t even know him remember him by [because he struggled with addiction and mental health]. He was such a light in the world, and that’s part of the reason he struggled so much, because he loved others way more than he loved himself.
Jxdn thinks offering two sides of the same coin with these songs – striving to positively remember someone you’ve lost while feeling paralyzed by pain – will resonate more widely than if it didn’t. had tapped into just one aspect of the many ways grief can strike.
“All I try to do is make people feel like they’re not alone in their feelings – and there are so many vast feelings, that’s why I didn’t want to tie them to a single specific emotion or idea,” he says. “I was really trying, even though there are only two songs, to create a world. I hope to add a day, but that’s exactly what is needed for now. And Cooper has truly blessed me with the peace of knowing that.
This two-pack is just one of the ways Noriega’s life is celebrated. Jxdn mentions how his family – parents Treva and Harold and his sister Parker – are pursuing Noriega’s hopes of opening a rehabilitation center which, as Noriega once wrote on Instagram and jxdn repeats now, “don’t let children scarred and traumatized” by their experience. The family is currently fundraising for the space. Days before his untimely death, Noriega had started a Discord “for mental health strictly,” as he wrote on Instagram. It currently has over 275,000 members.
“His legacy should be positive,” says jxdn. “Cooper would really be so happy for him to have such an impact on so many people, and that’s all I want to show the world.”