UO MUSIC: COSMOApril 7, 2017
Born and raised in Peckham, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Cosmo Pyke is London’s coolest newcomer. Taking inspiration from a range of blues, jazz, hip hop and neo-soul, his tracks combine a myriad of influences to create a unique and wavy sound that is equal parts reggae and contemporary soul, infused with pumping basslines and meaningful lyrics. Working through topics from law enforcement to love, there’s nothing that’s out of Cosmo’s intergalactic reach. We sat down to talk South London, his experience at the BRIT school and his debut EP, “Just Cosmo”.
UO: Was music always the plan? We saw that it was your mum who taught you how to play bar chords.
Yeah, it’s always been this obsession since I was born, and my mum was big in Scandinavia when she was in her 20′s in a sort of comedic, feminist, stroke punk trio called Clapperclaw. There’s still videos on YouTube and I’ve sampled her at the end of my first track of my EP. Luckily she ain’t charging me for any royalties!
UO: You’ve lived in the same house in Peckham your whole life – how has the South London music scene influenced your sound?
I’m not sure to be honest, I’m asked this question a lot but I think I could have lived in north London or west London and I could have come up with the same vibes.
I feel like it was my ears more than my sight; my parents brought me up on lots of old reggae music and singer songwriters so I guess I have a universal inspiration, not just the border of South East London.
UO: A lot of the topics you explore are quite deep, like love and law enforcement. Why do you think it’s important to reference these types of emotions and experiences in your music?
Because it’s the stuff that really gets me going. I want to write more stories and political songs too though.
UO: What was your experience at the BRIT school like? Was going to an arts school integral to you finding your sound?
I went from year 10 to year 13, and there’s a bunch of sick musicians and actors there that I met. It inspired me to write because I went through loads of drama (BRIT school is crazy), I wrote all the EP when I was getting the train from Peckham to Selhurst in the mornings.
UO: How did you get into skating and spray painting? Have they influenced your music?
My drummer got me into graffiti and I started skating like 6 years ago.
UO: “Just Cosmo”, which was released in February, is your debut EP! What was the process behind writing it and what are the main themes you explore?
The process was just being truthful in my music without it sounding forced or rushed. I put years into these songs and I’m glad it’s got the attention it’s got, but it was a serious test on my part. I talk on life subjects, the police, people I love, people I hate, the situations one finds themselves in.
UO: In the EP, you play all the instruments except the drums. Why was it important for you to create as much of the music yourself as possible?
It’s cheaper! And I also love playing bass and keys because I know what I want underneath my guitar. However I have a new bass player now so the next stuff will probably be a lot better!
You shot to fame after an appearance in Frank Ocean’s “Nikes” video! Who and what are your biggest influences, both in music and the everyday?
Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Frank Sinatra, Amy Winehouse, Billie holiday, the Zombies, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix and the Streets. In both senses.
UO: What other London-based artists are you excited about right now?
Right now I’m excited about Puma Blue, Anna Ottridge and Jerkcurb.