A Chat with Cosmopolis (28.07.2020)

Cosmopolis is a music collective with three core musicians from Australia, England and Belgium. Gavin Kendall (vocals, multi-instrumentalist), David Hussey (drums, percussion) and Nicolas Payelle (guitar, multi-instrumentalist) record in multiple locations and mix in the cloud. Hot off the heels of their last release, ‘God Hotel’, the collective has unleashed ‘Sécheresse’. We sat down with Nicolas Payelle (NP) to talk about the new single, their music and much more!

OSR: If you were not a musician, what would you be doing right now?

NP: Museum guide or ski instructor.

OSR: With the band being spread across continents, can you tell us how this impacts the creative process?

NP: First of all, we get a lot done because while some of us are asleep, the others are up working on songs. So it’s a 24-hour-a-day enterprise. It’s exciting to wake up and see how a song has been transformed overnight. Second, we have to develop trust in everyone else and we have a rule that anyone can change anything. We can’t work on things simultaneously, so we have to accept whatever someone else has done. It’s good to keep the ego in check because that amazing guitar part you spent 10 hours writing might be erased overnight. But we have a strong belief that our collective decisions will be the right ones, the wisdom of the (very small) crowd.

OSR: Who are your main musical influences?

NP: Bowie, The Velvet Underground, Kraftwerk, Joy Division, Talking Heads, Techno and House. Just the start of an endless list.

OSR: Is there a message or meaning hidden in ‘Sécheresse’?

NP: The song is about how we are terrified, but simultaneously energised, by the realisation that time is running out and maybe we’ve made some bad choices and wasted our life. The ‘drought’ is the condition we live under. We recorded it in Cherbourg, so we wanted it to have a French title.

OSR: Why did you choose ‘Sécheresse’ as your second release?

NP: Some of our songs have a cinematic feel and we wanted to release something to showcase that part of our work. It’s a very plaintive song, but we think it has a stark beauty.

OSR: On a scale of 2 to 6935, how different would you say ‘Sécheresse’ is to your last release?

NP: 4977: our previous release, ‘God Hotel’, was a more sinewy and rocky song, albeit with a psychedelic reversed ending. ‘God Hotel’ sounds like it could have been written in an optimistic 1967. ‘Sécheresse’ sounds like it comes from a dystopian future.


OSR: What is your favourite part of being a musician and your least favourite?

NP: The best bit is that sometimes you write something that doesn’t seem to have come from you – it seems to magically emerge from a combination of musicians and doesn’t really belong to any of you alone. The worst bit is setting up and taking apart your equipment and moving it from place to place in a van, especially if the van smells of fish.

OSR: If you could play any venue in the world, where would it be and why?

NP: The Royal Albert Hall in London. The acoustics are good, but you have to play in the round, so the stage show would have to be spectacular to engage with everyone in the Hall. Otherwise, a smoky little club with tables and chandeliers, with waiters dressed in white, preferably in Buenos Aires.

OSR: What is the worst advice you have been given?

NP: You need an expensive studio to get a good sound.

OSR: What can we expect from you over the next 12 months?

NP: We have a lot of material written, so we are going to record and release some of it as singles, maybe one every six weeks or so. Then we want to make an album. We hope that we can play some live gigs next year.

Thanks to Nicolas Payelle for chatting with us! You can find more about Cosmopolis on their website, Facebook, Instagram and Spotify.

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