New music comes and goes with ever-diminishing returns and whilst the age of social media has projected more and more artists into the spotlight, it does tend to fill the creative pool with a greater number of disposal one-hit wonders and seriously challenges our faith in the music of the 21st Century. However, an afternoon spent in the company of Full Closure and No Details the new album by Aussie singer-songwriter Gabriella Cohen helped reinforce our belief that there is still something new worth listening to. We caught up with her to find out a little more about who the girl behind the fresh sound of pop.
Talking about Gabriella Cohen requires a new adjective: when she tells you about a guitar tone she likes, an organ sound she’s looking for, or the opening bars of The Velvet Underground’s ‘I Found a Reason’, she might tell you these things sound ‘pink’. She’s not describing a synesthetic or aesthetic connection with the colour — instead, it’s an adjective she’s coined. Luckily, after a spin through Cohen’s debut album Full Closure and No Details, we’ll all know what ‘pink’ sounds like: it sounds like this. It sounds like heartbreak and reckless abandon, like quiet reflection and raucous teamwork.
Cohen’s first solo full-length is the product of ten days and two microphones. Co-produced alongside close friend, bandmate, and engineer Kate ‘Babyshakes’ Dillon, the record is the result of what Cohen describes as the “ceremony” of reflecting on a relationship. The album’s raw, personal side could be traced back to its place of birth at Dillon’s parents’ place in the country, or to the Brisbane streets, the songs were composed in. The songs are soaked in the kind of aching nostalgia that is tinged with equal measures of sadness and triumph. On “I Don’t Feel So Alive”, Cohen warns: “This could be the last time we get together”, and on one hand it’s melancholy, but it’s in the spirit of endings that are also beginnings. After finishing the record, Cohen and Dillon hit the road down Australia’s East Coast, from Brisbane to Melbourne, a truck full of instruments and gear following in their wake.
There are two sides to Cohen’s coin though — for every moment of raw, cutting emotion, there’s one of otherworldly ethereality. It’s what makes the record feel timeless, which doesn’t mean old-fashioned — it means that the vocoder on “Feelin’ Fine” and the fuzzy, frenzied drums of “Alien Anthem” don’t feel at odds with the dreamy, ambling melodies and old-school ethos at the heart of Cohen’s songwriting.
I recently caught up with the Aussie singer and this is what she had to tell us.
Did you always want to pursue a career in music?
“Well at first it was all about acting. And real estate. I used to draw many stick figures of my parents in a mansion I would get them. And a jag, in the driveway of my family home, wrapped in a pink ribbon for my mother.”
What kind of music influenced you as you were growing up?
“Paul Simon’s Graceland was a big one. And The Beatles. I’ll never forget listening to ‘I Will’ and sit in wonder at the vocal melody line…Mum played heaps of cheesy Brazilian music…. I loved it … Brazilian music never ceases to amaze me.”
Were your parents supportive of your decision to make career in music?
“They are generally always supportive of everything I do.”
How difficult was it to get into the music business for you?
“It’s as difficult as you want it to be. It’s good to be ambitious.”
Can you tell me some details about your next album?
“I could not disclose. Not yet. Although it will be something close to a heartfelt memoir. If I get it right. And I plan to!”
Do you enjoy the writing process?
“I love it with all my heart. It is the bones of what we do, it is the architecture of our handmade dreams.”
How would you classify your music?
“Compost pop. If it had to have a genre. Or Coma pop.”
Do you enjoy touring?
“I’ve caught a tiny glimpse and yes I am hungry to do more and more. It is exciting to do while we are young… I am frequently surprised and grateful when people come…. when you’re going to an unknown place and they come to see you … that’s incredible.”
How important is social media to your project?
“I’m slipping away more and more from ideas I once had about social media. I am glad now, because as I grow more loose towards it I can spend more time on music itself.”
Is there any artist you would like to perform or write with at the moment?
“Yes… Andy Cabic of Vetiver and Rodrigo Amarante… Vashti Bunyan…. Adele… Paul Simon, Kevin Parker. Have I said too much?”