Cosmo’s Midnight bounce from talking about their darker-tinged single Titanic and deepfaking themselves, to future music and unexpected projects.
With the release of their latest track Titanic, Cosmo’s Midnight take a dive into a darker, inkier realm of songwriting while maintaining their trademark style.
Happy had the chance to sit down and talk to the Sydney duo about a smorgasbord of topics! Patrick and Cosmo shared their initial ideas for the Titanic music video and the process of filming it during lockdown. The two also enlightened Happy on their music writing process and their dreams of branching off into more cinematic future projects.
HAPPY: Ok! So how have you guys been?
PATRICK: Pretty good, we actually did our first music-related gig. It was yesterday at Oxford Art Factory and we were recording a performance for this Korean festival called ‘Busan Rock’. We got an exemption to record it because everyone in the band is vaccinated and we turned in COVID results on the day so, we were all like…
PATRICK: *chuckles*, yeah n-negative *laughs* of course.
PATRICK: Umm, and yeah! So we did a little performance and recorded it and yeah it was just fun to do something like that after so long.
HAPPY: Yeah, you’ve done a few collabs with Korean artists, so are you guys actually singing Korean on this track?
PATRICK: Hmm *chuckles* I think it’s a little out of my league, but I think it’d be cool to try. I think our manager mentioned doing a rendition of one of our songs in Korean but I feel like we need to practice and get the help of an expert to transcribe the lyrics.
HAPPY: And you want to make sure you don’t butcher it either!
PATRICK: Yeah I’m already struggling with our own lyrics in English so, it’s just another step. But I did say a little bit in Korean just to thank people and say hi and stuff.
HAPPY: That’s cool!
PATRICK: Yeah, I can’t wait to get back over there. I’ve actually been wanting to go to Busan for a while. I don’t know when we’ll go but this festival’s happening at least. It’s just a streaming one that you can watch it online if you like.
HAPPY: Awesome, sounds good! So, I want to talk about your latest single Titanic!
PATRICK: Alright less go!
HAPPY: I wanted to know, how your musical mindset has changed since, your last album in 2020? You know, that evolution and what sort of spurred that?
PATRICK: I guess when it comes to writing an album, it’s just a constant exploration of listening. I feel by the time you’ve released an album you have to decompress a bit because it is just such a process. Yesteryear took us a year and a half to write, so you definitely need to have a little bit of unwinding and let yourself want to write music again *chuckles*.
We always like writing stuff that’s not really Cosmo’s Midnight related and I feel like that’s a good way of staying excited and exploring different stuff. At the start of this process, it’s just figuring out what we like and listening to music and just curating little playlists of stuff to listen to. Then when it comes to writing, well just write something and see if that clicks and feels good for us. Eventually, you have twentyish demos of something that feels right, and then we start chipping away at it.
That’s kind of what let us do Titanic. So it’s a lot of figuring out what worked on the last album, what we love doing and what we want to do in the future.
I feel like one of the biggest steps from the songwriting on our last album compared to our new music is that, we want to write music that feels really fun to play live. Before our first album our music was really produced to the point that it was kind of unrealistic to play live. It was all so much – hyper attention to detail and stuff was flying everywhere.
I feel like we’re sort of just stepping back a bit and getting back into the fundamental of what makes us love listening to music and playing music, and then trying to get that into a track and not overthinking anything – don’t sweat the details.
That’s kind of how Titanic was written it was just a really good feeling track to write. Cos was on his P-bass and I was on the Rhodes and we were just playing chords and this melody came to me straight away. We wrote that song in four hours or something, just the initial idea. It was real quick.
COSMO: Over two days even!
PATRICK: Over two days yeah.
HAPPY: That’s crazy!
PATRICK: Then went back and did another vocal take to get the second verse down and we were like “say no more” *laughs* it’s finished. It just felt real good.
HAPPY: That’s insane!
PATRICK: Yeah it’s not always that a song is that easy, we’ve had songs that are a total labour of love and you’re just spending forever obsessing over trying to make it work. For example, I feel like Down for You with Ruel was really difficult, A Million Times on the last record was extremely difficult as well, then there’s other tracks like, Yesteryear, that were written super-fast. Can you Dig It was written super-fast, It’s Love was written super-fast – a lot of the tracks were just immediately there. I think our whole mantra, or ideology for writing this stuff is just to feel really good about it and to follow that feeling and that instinct rather than second guessing and being too cerebral about it.
COSMO: Our whole hope is that if we write music that we enjoy and feels natural that people will hopefully respond to it in a good way.
PATRICK: Yeah I think we’re just writing music for ourselves and I think in being selfish like that it feels more honest or true to us.
HAPPY: Well I noticed that with Titanic, it does sound sonically similar to your previous stuff but the lyrics are a little darker and I was wondering if having that darker message is a way for you guys to grow as artists as well? Like opening up to those emotions, that aren’t always as positive and happy.
PATRICK: Yeah, I think when writing lyrics, it’s not like I am necessarily translating something directly from my life but you’re exploring aspects of yourself as a human and the different emotions we feel. When I’m writing music I’ll automatically lock into a certain mood and Titanic, although the beat was real fun and upbeat, the lyrics immediately took this, darker turn of events and I feel like in our music, especially in the last album, I don’t really write from life to paper. I like to write about hypothetical situations that are exploring my inner humanity. Some songs are really upbeat and sunny and maybe it’s because I’m feeling that way and then sometimes it’s a bit more dismal and there’s heartbreak and stuff and that’s because that’ a side of my personality I guess I’m feeling at the time. It’s like you kind of want to build a scenario where you can explore and tell a bit of a story about that. I feel like there is a lot of storytelling in music and that’s what Titanic is. It’s this little story about this character, that’s about to spiral into this pretty depressing situation with a partner and they’re assuring that “You’re all good, we’re gonna be fine” and you keep seeing them with other people without your knowledge. And yeah, that’s what the song’s about – you said we’d be ok but in my heart of hearts I know it’s not ok and it’s all going to shit.
HAPPY: Trust that instinct.
PATRICK: Yeah! Trust that instinct. It’s kind of what the song’s about and I feel like we usually write music that’s pretty upbeat, so I don’t really know where that came from, but it just happened so *chuckles* that’s that!
HAPPY: Is that darker side of things going to influence the tone of your future music?
PATRICK: Hmm, I think it’s like a song-by-song thing. We have another song that’s a real confident, fun and kind of flirty song. It’s just like, there are different sides. I feel like when some artists write an album they are very honed into a specific theme. I really enjoy when people do that but for me and Cos, if we stay on one thing for too long it sort of stagnates, the appeal for us to write. So, we have other songs that are like confident and fun and other ones that are a little bit more introspective and pretty. When we work with other artists we’re just like, “We want to see how you respond to the track, we want to really get your raw impression and then we’ll kind of vibe off that and just flow from there”. So, there’s different ways to get things done and it just depends on what you’re vision for the album is. Ours kind of comes from a sonic point of view first and foremost and then lyrics obviously are a very important thing and I feel like they’re coming more to the forefront as we keep working. I guess I only really started singing and writing last year so it’s still like a pretty, new thing.
PATRICK: Yeah, it’s super fresh and that freshness is what was making things feel really exciting and writing these songs just feels so new, even though we’ve been writing music for like ten years now.
HAPPY: Yeah because you can picture yourself singing it. It’s like it’s a representation of me as well now, it’s my voice that is saying those things.
PATRICK: Yeah, I think that’s something else that makes releasing the music so much more exciting, that sort of other layer of vulnerability to the critical world or just in general. It’s not just us playing all the instruments and stuff in the track, now we’re putting a bit of ourselves into the track, lyrically and vocally. It’s just another layer of unravelling? *chuckles* Unveiling? yourself a bit, um yeah.
HAPPY: 100% I was going to ask as well, you guys did deepfake yourself into the Titanic video. I loved that it was heaps awesome.
@cosmos_midnightLil BTS of how we deepfaked ourselves into our latest music video 👽 #bts #makingof #titanic #deepfake #fyp #twin♬ original sound – Cosmo’s Midnight
PATRICK: *laughing* Is it? Yeah, it was good.
HAPPY: *chuckles* It was funny I liked it, it was very quirky. Do you reckon you could see yourselves, deepfaking in other videos after that experience? Or is it something that you’d rather not, venture into again?
PATRICK: I feel like our manager was like, “Oh you gotta put yourself in that scene!” cause Cos hasn’t even seen Titanic, so he’s completely out of the loop with this. I watched it like two years ago for the first time and there’s some good meme-able content in that movie, like iconically funny scenes.
HAPPY: “Sir only women and children are allowed on the boat” *chuckles*
PATRICK: *laughs* Yeah. I wanted to do another scene where they’re dancing in the peasant class and I wanted to make it into a skit where it’s a speak easy club or something, and they’re playing disco. So if Titanic was in the 70s or early 80s and the upper class people were upstairs listening to highbrow music of the 80s while the people in the peasant class are vibing out to disco and Jack and Rose are down there having a boogie. That was my idea *laughs*. The ambition’s there but the execution sounds expensive, I don’t really know how to achieve that, so it’s just staying in my brain for now.
HAPPY: Yeah! Well sometimes when the stuff isn’t executed as professionally it makes it better!
PATRICK: Oh definitely!
HAPPY: Like having that rough, editing has that charm about it.
PATRICK: Yeah, that amateurish charm is definitely a drawcard for me, I reckon.
COSMO: In terms of the Titanic film clip though, we were thinking how are we could incorporate ourselves into this clip that was shot really far away from us – we couldn’t get there so we were like, “We can just deepfake our faces on the kids, that are in the film clip”. So, we just did that. I feel like in the future, I don’t know if we’ll do more deepfaking, it’s just that, in that clip we thought it’d be pretty funny and surreal and strange if we did that.
PATRICK: Yeah, it was this classic thing, like the limitation of not being able to be present at the shoot. So, we had to look into deepfaking and it turns out it is incredibly easy to do, you just need a decently powerful computer.
HAPPY: Yeah I saw your Tiktok video on that to.
PATRICK: Oh yeah, yeah *laughs* it’s like, it took me a day to do and most of that is just waiting for it to pop out more accurate iterations.
*AUDIO CUTS OUT*
HAPPY: Sorry about that!
PATRICK: Oh no worries! Shall we keep going with the interview? *laughs*
HAPPY: Of course! When you were growing up your Dad introduced you both to a lot of different musical styles and different artists. I guess that’s given you a lot of appreciation for different types of music. Is there a particular music genre that you guys want to experiment with that your fans might not expect?
COSMO: I don’t know if it’s something that they wouldn’t expect and necessarily not like either but it would be really cool to write entirely produced band music and see how well we could do it. I mean we’ve never really been a band ever. We always write in the computer, slowly piece by piece. We’ve never really just gone into a room with a full group of people and written a track and I think that’d be cool to try out. I’ve been listening to a lot of older stuff recently like Talking Heads, The Flaming Lips and Todd Rundgren and I feel like something about all their sounds were so modern, like today they still sound so fresh and crisp and cool.
PATRICK: I think that’s something we definitely look for. We try to find music from whatever era, usually from the 70s or 80s and sometimes early 2000s as well, that has really stood the test of time and feels so fresh even 40 years later. That’s something we’ve really been trying to pull apart and figure out. I think something that people might be interested in – something that me and Cos have always been really keen to do – is to write a score to a short film or something. We’ve always wanted to score a short film and I think it’d be really fun to do that with a mix of Cosmo’s Midnight style and push it into a bit of a more cinematic space.
HAPPY: Yeah cause you guys try so many different things so I was wondering if you wanted to ever expand your creativity into another realm, and that’s exactly what you’ve just said as well, into a short film or something like that. That would be sick.
PATRICK: Oh yeah, it’d be so fun to score a movie or something, but yeah that’s definitely one thing! We’re both pretty into arty stuff in general. I do a lot of drawing and painting stuff. I don’t know how you could tie that into your music. I really don’t want to make our own album art though; it is so overwhelming trying to come up with that stuff. Even just talking with Charlotte, who does our art, it’s like there’s this infinite potential to just change one thing and just letting someone else handle it, it’s really fresh, because you see them do it and you can go “ok that’s sick!”. If you do it all yourself there just so many variables that you’re like “I don’t know where to begin”.
PATRICK: That’s already what it’s like with music, being on the creative side from the beginning is just too many potential permutations which is why writing as a band could be really exciting because I think there’s just a lot more limitations.
COSMO: I mean like even just yesterday, Pat, whenever we’ve set up the band set up and we just start jamming and then we’re like, “Hey that’s pretty cool!” and I mean it’s not necessarily something we‘d put out but it’s like cool to see.
PATRICK: I think it’s just a cool way to come up with ideas from a more limited beginning because you’re just on your instruments. I think me and Cos have deliberately kept our palate pretty small, so there’s not too much to be distracted by or overwhelmed by. We just have these “go-to sounds” and experiment with how can we push these sounds and just use what’s in the box.
HAPPY: It can definitely almost stunt the creative process when your mind is like “oh what about this! and this!” I feel that way too! I like to make art I’m very creative so when I’m working on something I kind of just like to do it in the moment because I don’t want to think too much after it otherwise, I feel like it’s just…
PATRICK: 100%. You can get weighted down real quick with the thinking part *chuckle*
HAPPY: Yes! And also, it doesn’t feel like it’s natural either, it’s like “Argh! It’s got to have this! this! this!” and if I just make it, I usually love those artworks that I did the most.
PATRICK: I completely agree. The ones where it just feels natural and happens really quickly and instinctively is the stuff that you look back on and it feels fresh to this moment.
COSMO: And also one thing with drawing and painting in particular, when you go to a gallery there’s often next to the original painting a process diary or sometimes the original kind of drawings that the artist did before they came up with the final product and I’m like “these drawings are like the main event!”. They have this essence through them that is so sick and raw and felt out and I feel, as you get further toward the finished product, you often lose a lot of that kind of honest expression that you get in the initial drafts. I think that’s something that we try to do with our music, we write kind of drafts that really feel quite raw and nice and as we get closer to the finished, you worry that maybe you’ll lose some of that along the way. So, it’s hard yeah.
PATRICK: That reminds me of, you know Christo? Who does these crazy projects where he would wrap things, or put curtains across, enormous…
HAPPY: Yes! I studied him in Art
PATRICK: Yeah *laughs* same! I think he did a big curtain across a whole valley and it was a big undertaking. But he kept a process diary with tonnes of sketches and I often ended up just enjoying looking at the sketches way more than seeing the final thing.
HAPPY: Yeah 100%.
PATRICK: Something about seeing a sketch, you can kind of appreciate the artistry of a sketch more than a final painting because a final painting is unattainably good whereas a sketch… you can see the process… sketches and the progress books… that’s where you really see the artistry I think.
PATRICK: I think that’s something the same with music. We don’t want to overwork it to the point where it loses a bit of its humanity. We try to keep it feeling a little bit fresh and unrefined so that it keeps that initial vibe of when it was a sketch all the way to the end. I think an analogy would be that we try to keep our music kind of like an impressionist painting, where you can see the final picture but it’s still got the signs of paint you know, moving around on the canvas and stuff.
HAPPY: I feel like you can definitely hear that, in the little random electronic accents here and there as well. That definitely helps to push that freshness and fun through the music. It’s such a bop, every single song is such a bop I love it.
PATRICK: *chuckles* thank you. I think it’s also like when you make a mistake and instead of fixing it, it’s about leaning into that more, and instead of being a perfectionist and getting rid of it because by nature it’s probably wrong, let’s keep that. It adds to the whole organic feel of it.
HAPPY: Definitely. You guys obviously like to express yourselves through your fashion. Do you think you’d ever want to do your own line?
COSMO: Yeah, I mean I just saw a friend of mine, who, like you remember Felix Idle Pat?
COSMO: Yeah so he lives in Japan now and he just showcased like twenty bits of clothing that he made off the bat, like customised or built from two different pieces of clothing and then kind of Frankensteined them together. It was so cool! I think I’d be really cool to try and do that at some point. Doing it from scratch may be a bit out of my league but I’m definitely down to work with a textile worker or a designer to make our own clothing. Not even for merch just for me to wear.
HAPPY: Yeah that’s what I was thinking as well, cause you’ve got merch but you know…
COSMO: I can’t wear that *laughs*
HAPPY: *laughs* no! I mean, I would wear it. But your own line and injecting yourselves in your brand, I could definitely see you guys doing that just based on your style.
PATRICK: Yeah I mean, we like even getting a pair of pants and fabric markers and just like drawing all over them. I’ve got a pair of pants I wear at shows that Cos, drew all over *chuckles*. They looked pretty cool.
COSMO: Yeah I went to Cabramatta and got a bunch of like workers painting pants and just, went on them with some pens and stuff and nothing particularly good, I was just like, “these pants cost like ten bucks, so I’ll just fuck em up”.
PATRICK: Oh yeah but the stuff we used for this shoot yesterday was all from our friend. Except I had this one shirt that I got in Melrose Vintage in LA, it’s a cream button-up vintage shirt from the 70s, and you can’t really see what the pattern is until you’re really close, and it’s just Goofy and Micky but it looks really classy.
COSMO: Oh dude I have it!
PATRICK: Oh you’ve got it. But yeah, honestly America is… like when we go back, I’m buying so much shit there – it is so cheap and so good.
HAPPY: Guys before we wrap up, I just wanted to know was there anything that you wanted to talk about?
PATRICK: I’m ok personally.
COSMO: Yeah! New music to come, as you know and yeah, stay tuned.
PATRICK: Yeah! just making the best of isolation and working on tonnes of music for this year, next year!
PATRICK:*chuckles* Gotta make hay, while the sun. I guess that is the silver lining of not touring – you can work on music a tonne so yeah that’s all we’re doing at the moment, pretty much every day. Cos comes over and we write stuff and just listen to music, get excited about things.
HAPPY: Of course! Thank you guys so much for today and I really appreciate you chatting with me.
PATRICK: Oh all good!
HAPPY: Had an awesome time talking to you both, lots of cool things came up. Good luck with everything and can’t wait to hear the new music!
COSMO: No worries, us too!
PATRICK: Yeah thanks I’m keen to see how *chuckles* you sort through all that, there was so much stuff talked about that was not really music-related.
HAPPY: *laughs* Well I feel like it all ties in cause you guys are creative and you draw inspiration from different things so, you know what, it’s been insightful either way.
PATRICK:*laughs* I’m glad, I’m glad
COSMO: *laughs* Alright, thanks Alex
HAPPY: Thanks you guys and thanks Charlotte I’ll talk to you guys later and have a lovely day.
COSMO: Alright bye bye!
PATRICK: Alright see ya guys! Bye!
Titanic is available on streaming services – give it a listen!
Interview by Alex Stefanovic.