We caught up with Cosmopolis following the release of the superb single, ‘Sécheresse’ which is out now!
Tell us about yourself?
We are Cosmopolis, a three-piece alternative rock band who are located in Australia, Belgium and England.
What is your songwriting process?
Since we live in different parts of the world, we work on files separately, writing our contributions and then uploading them so the other band members can see what has been done. And since we live in different time zones, it feels like Cosmopolis is a 24-hour-a-day distributed enterprise: while one is asleep, another is working away on a part.
We get together in real life whenever possible to record and play, but because of the lockdowns, we have not done this for a while.
Tell us about your latest release?
Our latest single is called Sécheresse. We arranged a week all living together in Cherbourg, in Normandy – a friend of a friend kindly gave us use of a remote cottage where we could play without worrying about disturbing the neighbours.
We composed new stuff there as much as possible, but we also recorded a version of Sécheresse – an older song that we had written some time ago – where we all played together and tried to get an organic, groovy sound.
We didn’t manage to finish it – some overdubs had to be done when we had gone our separate ways – but we made a version we were happy with. We think the stark beauty of the Normandy coast has somehow made its way into the song.
What message do you think your music conveys to your fans?
We think the whole point of music is firstly the expression, but secondly the sharing, of particular emotional states. So we want our listeners to experience our music as a communication of a feeling.
Of course, we cannot control that feeling! So long as our listeners sense that the music takes them beyond the every day, then we are happy.
Who are your musical influences?
The three of us like quite different things. But to generalise, we prefer stuff that is a bit weird, that seeks to break the boundaries. For example, the Velvet Underground took rock in a new direction by giving it a new subject matter.
James Brown showed how everything, even the voice, could be a rhythmic instrument. David Bowie showed us the importance of constant reinvention. It is harder now to break expectations because so many gestures in popular music have already been made.
It’s also worth mentioning that we like music that mixes genres – Beck, Talking Heads, Gang of Four, etc. We also like newer music than this, but we emphasise these older artists because they’re the ones we grew up listening to. There’s lots of great new music out there: Balthazar, Mogwai, First Aid Kit, Lorde, Laibach, to name just a few.
Who are your non-musical influences?
Again, we are drawn to weirdness and to the outsider. Dadaism, Nietzsche, Goya, Velázquez, Burroughs.
What’s the best gig that you have ever played?
It will be our first one, which we hope will happen sometime in 2021.
What do you think are the biggest obstacles for bands/artists today?
It used to be the case that bands had the time and space to develop while doing something else that kept them solvent. Maybe they went to art school, maybe they were in college, maybe they could live in cheap parts of town and take part-time jobs. That space barely exists any more.
For example, the bands that came out of the New York scenes could live in cheap (albeit dangerous and inhospitable) bits of town. There aren’t any cheap bits any more! Free college education has either gone or is fast disappearing from our countries.
So there is much more pressure to stay afloat. The other major development is the democratisation of music-making – the welcome fact that so many people now have the means to make very high-quality recordings in their bedroom – means that there is a lot more competition to be heard.
What advice would you give to other bands/artists starting out?
There are so many great online tutorials and guides out there now. You can easily teach yourself lots of new techniques, music theory, and all sorts of things that will make your music more interesting.
However, you also have to be patient and wait for your own sound to mysteriously emerge – it’s a process that happens to all the best bands, and we suspect most of them have little idea how it happens.
What are your hopes for the next two years?
We are planning to release a single every few weeks, and then we want to record an album. We sometimes talk about doing some cover versions – we like the idea of reinterpretation – but it is hard to find the time since at the moment we are focussed on recording our own original material.
We are keen to collaborate with other musicians who will join us from time to time to add extra singing or instrumentation. We’d like to play live in 2021, but we’ll have to see how things develop.
FV Music Blog August 2020
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