Interview: Q+A with Cosmic Strip We chat to Cosmic Strip aka Camella Agabalyan about life as a London based musician and the recording of her upcoming debut EP - set for release later this month.
Posted: 9 August 2018 Words: Bianca Eddleston
We chat to Cosmic Strip aka Camella Agabalyan about, dream support slots, life as a London-basedmusician and her upcoming debut EP - due out later this month.
London based shoegazers Cosmic Strip make blissed-out, psychedelic-tinged, indie rock music. Frontwoman Camella Agabalyan, began making demos under the moniker Cosmic Strip back in 2015 after a romantic break-up and has since gathered a revolving cast of musicians to help bring the project to life both on record and the live stage. Having just released the lead single 'Heavenly' from her upcoming debut EP due out later this summer the band have spent much of 2018 been cutting their teeth on the independent festival circuit playing a string of dates at festivals including The Great Escape, Citadel and Wilderness.
Self-describing her music as “music to watch girls by, music to move the stars”, the band’s dreamy yet bracing new single 'Heavenly' has drawn comparisons to the likes of Beach House and Alvvays. Agabalyan describes the track as “a song dedicated to the addictive feeling of your first love” - check it out below and read what she has to say about life in London as a burgeoning indie musician.
Go watch Cosmic Strip live as they embark on a full UK tour later this month.
GL:Introduce the band, who is who?Cosmic Strip: The band is primarily me, Camella Agabalyan, lead singer and guitar player. The rest of the band is constantly shifting around with different members coming in and out. The main band would, however, be this year Alice Padron on lead guitar, Jack Sully on bass, Jay Malhotra on keys and Omar Rahwangi on drums.
GL:When and where did you guys form and start making music?Cosmic Strip: I started writing for Cosmic Strip in London in 2015 after a break-up. I recorded a demo with some friends that summer and that’s how I got my friend Jack involved on bass. Jay was introduced to me via the producer at the time to mix the track and we’ve worked together on producing my tracks together in his own studio ever since (we’re both big fans of layering as many sounds as we can hence why I also get him involved in keys). Omar on drums plays with Jay in several other bands and I met Alice through our Tour Manager Nima who’s also in Arrows in Love.
GL:Does your location affect the songwriting process?Cosmic Strip: I think location does influence your music making and songwriting because I’m constantly inspired by the people around me, by my friends who are also artists and musicians. Being in London you can feel suffocated by the amount of information out there and it can sometimes be hard for you to find your place as to where you belong. There are some really exciting scenes outside of London I wish I was part of - finding a place where you can spend more time to write freely and develop your work and support other bands and friends that are doing the same is invaluable for your own growth.
GL:Pros and cons of life in London, as a musician?Cosmic Strip: I do love living in London as a musician because everyone is right at your doorstep and I’ve met some really incredible musicians and bands simply by living in the same space as them. However, it does mean there is also a lot of pressure to produce work that is instantly recognisable whereas I like to take things slowly and see what works and what doesn’t work as I’m a perfectionist with my own songs.
GL: Where did your band name come from?Cosmic Strip: The name is an amalgamation of Comic Strip, my favourite Serge Gainsbourg song which also references my French roots/origins as I grew up in Paris and also Cosmic Trip which is supposed to reference the sound, look and feel of the music we play.
GL:How would you describe your sound?Cosmic Strip: I always say Cosmic Strip is ‘music to watch girls by, music to move the stars’ which references Andy Williams and Lana Del Rey but also Jane and Stephen Hawking. I find myself influenced by a lot of different genres which means the music does tend to vary quite a bit, however, I think what ties everything together is that sense of dreamy nostalgic celestial mystery at its root whether the song feels more grunge, shoegaze, the 70s or pop.
GL: 'Heavenly' is the lead single from your upcoming debut EP, tell us a bit about the making of it...Cosmic Strip: Making this EP was really exciting as we’ve been playing and writing together for so many years it finally felt like the right time to produce a calibre of work that could represent the band properly. Two songs were initially recorded last year and then we started working on two other tracks in the New Year (a warehouse studio in Southend in January with no heating was not always the easiest!). The EP was actually supposed to be called ‘Sugar Rush’ but I wrote Heavenly in the spring this year and it felt like the perfect embodiment of what I wanted to introduce to the world so we quickly put it down before it went off to Master. It’s safe to say this EP has taken a while to come out and I can’t wait to share it with the world.
GL:What are you listening to at the moment?Cosmic Strip: I listen to a lot of new music but I tend to gravitate towards anything that’s soft and dreamy day to day like Sunflower Bean, Hatchie, Tess Parks, The Horrors, Beach Fossils, Elliott Smith, Beach House, Slowdive, La Femme but there’s also a huge energetic side of me that leans towards bands like Average Sex, Peach Club, Nova Twins, Lucia etc. It’s a mixed bag, to say the least!
GL:Where are the bands fave places to hang out in London?Cosmic Strip: We all live in and around East London and a few of us are in a lot of different bands so we do tend to have quite separate lives when we’re not touring. We rehearse in Homerton at Gun Factory so The Gun on Well Street is always a good place to go to after for a drink. Alice also lives in a shared warehouse where they host a night called ‘Sunday Services’ where people can turn up and play together.
GL:Describe an average Friday night in London?Cosmic Strip: I guess an average night in London would definitely involve the Gun at some point, it could potentially also involve Ridley Road Market Bar depending on who’s around, sometimes I like to go way off and see my friend Gianno host Waved in Full at Junction House. Also, any of the smaller cocktail bars my friends run like Pamela, Shep’s and Blondies are always fun as there will always be someone there you know. Alibi on a Monday for karaoke still remains my favourite night of the week as it’s a perfect time to see friends you haven’t seen in a while.
GL:What live acts are you liking right now?Cosmic Strip: Amyl & The Sniffers definitely blew me away at The Great Escape this year, it’s hard not to love her! Rebecca Taylor as Self Esteem is also amazing to watch live, she has these great dancers with her and she’s generally just a queen. I saw Soccer Mommy also this year and her voice was mesmerising. Dream Wife I’ve seen several times but they’re just great aren’t they, same as Black Honey. I either like to feel energised when I leave a show or in a complete daydream state.
GL:You’ve got a tour coming up later this month in support of your new EP. If you could support any band/artist, who would it be?Cosmic Strip: I think the absolute dream would have to be Slowdive. Or Wolf Alice could also be amazing as we’re from the same circles so that would make things less daunting. There are so many big bands I admire like Tame Impala, Brian Jonestown Massacre, My Bloody Valentine, Warpaint but also great solo artists like Lana Del Rey, Florence & The Machine, Kali Uchis etc. so any of those would be an absolute dream.
GL:What has been your most memorable live show to date?Cosmic Strip: I would have to say when we played Citadel last year we were completely blown away. We had played the year previously but as we opened the Main Stage it wasn’t very busy. Last year we played the DIY x Kopparberg stage and it was at capacity before we had even started playing. That was such a nice feeling knowing so many people had come to see us play, it felt like the first time we had taken a step forward for the band and its music.
GL:What is the one album/band/song that you and your bandmates would agree on?Cosmic Strip: We all have very different taste in music which keeps the band interesting when I’m writing with them. However, we are all huge David Bowie fans so I would have to say “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”. We have easily sung that album together about a million times at festivals, in vans, in bars, anywhere!
Photo Credit: Sean Carpenter