Cosmic Waves interview with Blacklisted Magazine

Taking a ride on those Cosmic Waves

The Copenhagen four-piece speaks about their debut single, being a part of a queer feministic music collective, and life in the Danish DIY music scene.

Published: March 14, 2018Words: Cosmic Waves & J.Scott StrattonVideo: Inês Alessandra Gomes

Ihave been told that punk’s not dead. In fact, t-shirts have been telling me that for the last 25 years. Yet, it’s certainly not hard to conclude that the final nail may have been hammered into the coffin, given that you can now buy an Exploited, Ramones, Slayer or the very aforementioned “Punks Not Dead” t-shirt at H&M. C’est la vie. Such is the world of the mainstream – exploiting a movement and bastardizing it until it’s a shadow of its former self.

The one solace I can find in it all, is that the punk “mentality” is not dead. In truth, the moniker of “punk” long ago became too narrow to describe the breadth of independent creative music projects. Bands with the DIY attitude will be forever shaping the future of music – regardless of whether they create with distorted guitars, 808 samplers, banjos or tubas.

The Copenhagen four-piece shoegaze band Cosmic Waves is a perfect example of this. The fledgling band has only been popping around Danish venues for a little over a year now, and they’re already building hype. In that time, they’ve been relentlessly ambitious to exposing their music to the world, while still being fiercely devoted and connected to an underground collective of free-thinking creative musicians – namely the Danish music collective Dansk Beton.

Now, as we all do when we discover new music, my first reaction when I first came in contact with Cosmic Waves was to try and compare them with something I already know. Maybe it’s an American thing, but categorization makes me feel all safe and cozy.

The band has this “Mazzy Star singing for The Jesus and Mary Chain” kind of vibe to it. If you listen long enough, you can hear all the familiar references and inspirations, but you’ll be hard-pressed to lock them all down because Cosmic Waves still have their own thing going on.

One solace I can take, despite all those references and inspirations now being exploited on the 199DK sale rack at Urban Outfitters, is that Cosmic Waves are in good company when it comes to staying rooted in the Danish music scene. With CPH locals like Bleach Blondes, Less Win, HVASS, Fugleflugten and a host of other DIY bands creating their own supply and demand, there is no fear of everything sacred turning into a commodified nightmare.

Cosmic Waves is a still a relatively new project, so tell me how it all came to be?

We formed in the cold winter months at the beginning of 2017 after Lisbet, Lasse and Martin had attended A Place To Bury Strangers at a Venue called Loppen in Freetown Christania. We’d all kind of known each other a bit through the psych scene, which is rather small in Copenhagen. All in all, we all shared a common love for post-punk, shoegaze and psych music and decided to meet up and jam and quickly ended up with a handful of songs. A few months later, Mia joined, and Cosmic Waves was born.

We played a couple of small gigs in CPH in spring and shortly after recorded our debut EP over the course of a weekend with our friend and producer Joël Krozer in a small church on the Danish island Bornholm, close to Sweden. The remoteness and the acoustics of the church provided a sublime work environment. After the release of the EP a few months later, we’ve been playing a series of gigs throughout Denmark and next up we’ll be supporting Levitation Room in May in CPH.

One of the more interesting things that I discovered about the band, is that you are all part of this underground Danish music collective called Dansk Beton. Tell me about that.

Dansk Beton is a queer feministic music collective with base in an inner Copenhagen cold war bunker. We’re a good handful of bands who play everything from grunge, hardcore punk, jazz, shoegaze and post-punk but who all share a DIY approach. We’re a collective not only in the sense that we share a rehearsal space, but also hang out, have meetings, and support each other at shows.

What are your thoughts on the Danish DIY music scene?

There are some genuinely hard-working and dedicated people who organize gigs, clubs and play in bands. But it can be kind of difficult to motivate people to show up at events or even to get gigs. That’s why we are very engaged in Dansk Beton and try to do our own thing and not to be dependent on third parties.

As a band that has an equal gender split, and female lead, do you feel that gender neutrality plays any role in the dynamic of the band?

Femininity is a force to be reckoned with, so we don’t see a why gender should be a neutral thing. In contrary, I’d more see gender fluidity as a dynamic of the band.

How does your songwriting process work?

In general, Lisbet and I (Martin) write the majority of the material. Speaking for myself, I come up with most of my songs when I’m alone, sitting next to my amp and pedals and playing around with a loop pedal and a drum machine. Sometimes I end up playing with a riff or a chord progression that I keep returning too. When I end up deciding that a particular piece of music works, I end up jamming around with that, and the lyrics are subconsciously shaped around the melody and thus end up almost simultaneously to the music.

The band just released your first music video. Tell me what it was like putting that together.

It was, like so many things, a very coincidental thing for us to happen. Portuguese movie director and model Inês Alessandra Gomes was sitting in Lisbon and found our rough demo for our song ‘Sun Doom’ on Soundcloud. Somehow, she envisaged it as a good fit for her upcoming short fashion film ‘The Life of The Party’ and got in contact with us. We let her use the song for free, and in return, she directed and starred in the music video after we had recorded the studio version. We didn’t star in the movie, as we were quite a few countries apart, so actually, we’ve never met, but very much hope so in the new future.

Tell me about your live shows. What is it that you aim to bring to the audience?

We pride ourselves on delivering a hard-hitting and reverberating live show, which shifts between the soothing mellowness of monotony and upfront aggressiveness.
Consequently, we end up moving about a lot and at times find ourselves among the audience. With some of us having roots in the punk rock scene, blurring the lines between the audience and the stage is something that comes quite natural to us. In the end, the aim of our performance is to capture the attention of our audience and deliver an entertaining show.