I am mega happy that Jemma is coming all the way up from London to come and play for us. I’ve been a massive fan of their work since a friend recommended I check out the Bandcamp demo’s and I was blown away by the recent EP so have a read, a listen and then get to the front on the 11th.
You’re our first artist from London to come and play, give us your three top facts about the Big Smoke?
It’s very expensive, everyone is in a rush, although everything about it seems to conspire against you thriving there it is strangely addictive and compelling, I miss it hugely when I go away for a long time.
Who or what is The Cosmic Something?
Sometimes it’s a who and sometimes it’s a what…The name came about after a friend asked me to perform solo at an astral themed event, we were trying to think up something cosmic….When people ask me what it is I feel like it could refer to the unknown and unseen universes of organisms and energy that surround us, or if I am being more flippant I’ll say it’s the nickname for my (fairly extensive) pedal board. I always wanted to be an astronaut and this is the closest I’ll get to being in charge of a control panel, it’s my own mission control.
What’s the good and bad bits about playing solo rather than in a band?
Playing solo is good and bad in similar ways…it’s great that all the audience focus on is you, it feels like a privilege to take people on this guided tour of your song; drawing them in note by note hopefully taking them on an interesting journey. However if you hit a bum note or mess something up you just have to go with it and try and ignore the pressure that something like that might cause inside. When something goes a bit leftfield I tend to just go with it now, rather than disrupt the flow, having confidence that you probably can fix it or ride with it is essential. Another great thing about playing live is no-one really knows how the songs go so there is freedom to improvise and experiment, sometimes what can seem like a mistake actually is a turning point in the songs development and becomes a fixture! If you were playing with a band you would have to hope they followed your lead or it could end up sounding shambolic.
The bonus of having a band there is far more scope for creating light and shade, depth and breadth. If it goes well it’s like a 2D picture turning into a sculpture. When you add something like drums for example the choice of rhythm can totally dictate the tone and genre of the song. They are big decisions to make!
What have your previous experiences of Leeds been and what are you looking forward to checking out whilst your here?
I have many experiences some more foggy in my memory than others! My first girlfriend went to uni in Leeds so I spent a lot of time here mostly in bars and a pub that is a boat in the middle of a roundabout, in my first band The Fucks we played a show in the cockpit (I think) and in Landshapes we were incredibly lucky to support Placebo at the o2. I fully fanboyed and had a peculiar rictus grin on my face for the entire event much to the amusement of my bandmates, half of whom didn’t even know who Brian Molko was (they may have been cryogenically frozen for part of the late 90’s so that’s maybe why). Most recently I saw Chrissy Barnacle at Wharf Chambers and bought some excellent hand blended tea in the bar upstairs
Top three puddings?
Sticky toffee, black pudding (I like it ok, leave me alone), slightly oversized extra fluffy cats which should all be referred to as Pudding
What else have you got planned for 2018?
I’ve got lots of new music that I can’t wait to get out there. Some recorded and some being developed as we speak. So expect to hear some new sounds very soon! I really want to play festivals this year so fingers crossed some of that can happen. I’m working with Wendy Rae Fowler and Leo Taylor being part of their live band where I get to really go wild with my effects pedals, it’s nice to have the freedom to get creative with guitar sounds, to be honest I’ll probably use this as an excuse to expand my collection a bit! Playing outside of London is always great and meeting and working with new musicians is always good, so hopefully more of that too. I’d love to get some synths and extra backing vocals going on for the full band show as well.
Can you tell us all a bit about your recent EP? How was the recording process and where is the best place for people to purchase it?
The EP is a real turning point personally in making music, anything I’ve released before has been the result of writing collaboratively, or as part of a collective. I have always written my own songs so getting to really delve into them, spending the time and energy getting everything exactly how I envisioned it has been an empowering experience. I don’t think I had the confidence or belief before that I could do it by myself and funnily enough the songs document these kind of insecurities. The amazing thing to me was that as the project developed and I asked people if they would like to be involved my belief in it increased and it encouraged me to reach out more. Recording is one of my favourite parts of the process. There is the magical moment during mixing when suddenly it no longer sounds like a bunch of distant sounds lumped together, but an actual real life song that makes you tap your feet or want to punch the air. The relief that you made the right choices is tangible and electric!
The EP is available digitally on all major platforms (iTunes, GooglePlay etc) or you can get it on a custard coloured cassette with a download code, the sleeve is a massive sticker it’s really cool! It’s also available in Jumbo records Leeds or you can grab one here:
Practise little and often. Ask for advice but don’t let anyone tell you how you should play, only how you could. Play with people who are better than you technically, play with lots of different musicians, don’t take opportunities for granted. Never pay to play anywhere. Start thinking of a band name now, they are hard to come up with under pressure. Be fair to your bandmates. Figure out what you want to hear in your monitors on stage and be assertive about getting that right, don’t be shy like I was and spend 10 years busting your vocal chords because you were too scared to ask to be turned up. If they tell you to turn your guitar down it’s probably just because they are overwhelmed and confused by your musical prowess…but it’s always good to have someone out in the pit letting you know if you sound how you ought to. Be kind to yourself, you might not be able to make your instrument do exactly what you want it to right now but it might be doing something else which could be even better. Have fun or quit now!
I have recently been reading Estates by Lynsey Hanley which is a memoir/history of social housing investigating council estates, and Trans Like Me by CN Lester. I watched all of the new Black Mirror back to back, but you probably all know about that already, a friend of my girlfriend recommended aki kaurismäki The Other Side Of Hope and I recommend it too! it’s a great film about a Syrian refugee arriving and starting to live in Finland, there is a slightly Wes Anderson feel to it but not quite as absurd and it engages with the subject matter honestly. My new favourite band is Socket, I hate to compare people but for easiness; I think they sound like Sonic Youth, The Worms are fantastic, they have The Fall type vibes.
Please come and ask me any questions about pedals, guitars, amps etc at the show or whenever, knowledge is power and I believe it should be shared