Interview – COSMOPOLIS

COSMOPOLIS recently released a brilliant new song called Nixon-Manson, which I really enjoyed. I decided to have a chat with Gavin from the band to find out more – read the interview below if you liked the track!

By Jane Howkins

You recently released a track titled Nixon-Manson, which we reviewed. What can you tell us about the song?

The world’s in a bit of a mess right now, but we were interested to write about another time – the end of the 1960s – when the promises of flower power were dashed and it seemed like the end of an era, the end of innocence. It’s a song about evil, disenchantment and corruption.

Has the pandemic hindered your work much?

The three core members of Cosmopolis live in Australia, Belgium and England. We are used to being apart and working separately, sending files across the oceans. But we haven’t all got together for two years, and we are really missing that experience. It’s a very interesting phenomenon that musicians together in the same space will produce something unexpected, something inaccessible to them as individuals; we are really missing those moments of collective magic.

We also often like to record our rhythm section with us all playing together, so we are looking forward to doing that again. Not least is the social side of it; we have been good friends for many years, so we have missed catching up socially and larking about.

What is the writing and recording process like for you?

We are a geographically distributed band, and we write through software, so the writing and recording processes are not separate. Usually we have some rough ideas to start with, which may be chords and melody, a lyrical idea, or maybe a groove. Then we all work on this basic idea for a while. Some of the changes we make are structural (“get rid of that middle eight”), some are adding parts to an arrangement (“it’d be nice to have some discordant guitar noises over that break”). It’s quite exciting to wake up and see what’s been going on while you’ve been asleep. The downside of this method is you can work all day on something and a few hours later you discover no one else likes it! But that’s quite rare; we are usually on the same wavelength. One difficulty is knowing when to stop, because potentially one can work forever on a song, adding and subtracting bits endlessly.

We usually get people we trust to help us with the mixing and mastering of the finished track, but we are learning how to do more of that for ourselves.

Do you plan to release any more singles in the near future?

We have a huge backlog of nearly-finished tracks. Our next release will be a cover of the Seeds’ Pushin’ Too Hard. After that, we have about 2 or 3 things that are pretty close to ready that we’ll finish off and see how they sound.

Have you started writing for an EP or an album?

We certainly have more than enough material for an album, and we think that will be the next step for us.

What/who influences you most as an artist? What have you been listening to recently?

Musically, we all grew up on the classic indie diet: Bowie, The Velvet Underground, Joy Division, etc. There’s a lot still to be learned from how these artists structured their songs. But we also like a lot of more recent electronic music, which is especially interesting in terms of sound design and processing. We’ve got a Spotify playlist of some stuff we like, both ancient and modern, so you can check it out if you’re interested

Where are you based? What is the music scene like in your part of the world? Are you influenced by your surroundings?

Gold Coast, Australia; Canterbury, England; Brussels, Belgium. Three completely different music scenes. I don’t think any of these scenes exerts much of an effect on us. Sometimes interesting things pass through, but these are just as likely to be in other fields of art as in music. For example, the Gold Coast is a centre of Australian beach culture, so that has more of an influence than any Gold Coast music. Walking on the beach is a really important part of the day, and lots of musical ideas emerge from the almost zen-like state one can get near the ocean. Sometimes if one goes to a really important music city (like, say, Berlin), one can feel the gravitational pull of the music scene. But none of us lives anywhere like that.

Do you have any tour dates lined up?

Not yet! We should be getting together in person soon, and then we’ll see if anything is possible.

What can people expect from one of your shows and why should people come and see you perform live?

Most of your readers will already know the magic of seeing a successful live show: how existing songs are transformed and reinterpreted, how the performer and the audience share an experience. Beyond that, we want to make sure our live show is an interesting event in its own right, not just a playing of songs. We want an intimate setting, and we want it to be interesting visually as well as musically. So we’ll see if we can achieve these lofty aims!

Any last words for the fans?

We have had an amazing response from people all over the world to our first four singles. We are really grateful and want people to know how much it means to us when they write to us or even when they simply give a song a thumbs up or play it through a streaming service. We hope you’ll stay with us for our journey and that you will like our new stuff!