It was earlier this month that we were first introduced to Dallas Cosmas. His latest album, Alpha Beta Gamma, strikes this strange balance between melancholy and celebration; between vulnerability and power. Backed by a gospel choir, Cosmas’ unique songwriting abilities are lifted into soaring new auditory worlds.
So fresh off the release of the record, we caught up with the artist himself to chat all about it, the process of sourcing a choir, and what the future holds.
With an amazing new album—Alpha Beta Gamma—fresh under his belt, we caught up with Melbourne artist Dallas Cosmas to chat all about it.
HAPPY: Hey, how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?
DALLAS: Well, as you know my new album has just come out, making a few plans for another video. Also, I have a couple of other production projects coming up so these are busy days.
HAPPY: We’ve been loving Alpha Beta Gamma! How does it feel having the album out there in the world?
DALLAS: You like the album? Thanks! It’s satisfying that in the sense of the direction I needed to go, most reaction has been positive. You go through a period of nurturing the songs, they start to take their own shape when all the various musicians get onboard during recording, and then they’re released into the world. So right now it’s cool to hear how listeners are responding.
HAPPY: You’ve been a part of a fair few records over the course of your career. How did you approach the writing/recording of this new album differently to past material?
DALLAS: As these songs came to me in quick succession, I really wanted to keep that immediacy and not overthink the arrangements when it came to recording. I’ve always loved melodies and harmonies but in particular, this time around I was vividly hearing a choir of voices.
HAPPY: When you first set out to start work on this record, did you have any particular mission statement in mind? Anything you wanted to achieve?
DALLAS: Although digital recording has opened the floodgates for independent musicians, I love the sound of analogue and at our studio (Prototype Musique) we’ve built up quite a collection of funky old mics and outboard gear. I wanted this album to sound like it was reaching back to some other time, and yet be grounded in the present too. Ultimately, I think the truly classic albums jump out at you regardless of time and production values. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not comparing my music to the great albums of all time! But I do acknowledge their relevance.
HAPPY: I’m curious, how does one go about sourcing a gospel choir for their music?
DALLAS: So as I mentioned, I suddenly had a bunch of songs and I knew that I wanted a choir. It just so happened that I told mastering engineer, Martin Pullan about my crazy idea and he just so happens to sing in the Yarra Gospel Choir. We recorded live vocal parts with a quartet (Martin, Brigid Deneefe, Elan Leng & Jeff Titus) in a chapel so we could get the full effect and atmosphere. If you watch the video we put together for the track If You Don’t Know Where You Came From you’ll see the quartet in action as we recorded them. To break up the various song arrangements, we also recorded vocals with Luci Floyd, Evan Englezos, Brother To The Birds and Wayne Rintoul.
HAPPY: Were there any lyrical themes throughout the album that you thought a gospel choir would highlight?
DALLAS: Over the past year we went through family loss. For me, writing was reflecting in the aftermath where one is at, your relationships and what is going on in the world around you. It’s personal and universal all at once. Using a choir was a means of musical support but on another level, it’s support in a soulful sense. That’s beautiful and joyful. That’s what I really wanted to get across on this record because we do have to carry each other along the path, right?
HAPPY: There’s a pretty large list of collaborators on this album. Were there any artists that you particularly enjoyed working with, and what do you feel they brought to the album?
DALLAS: Every musician was fantastic! Paul Richards is one of my oldest friends and also happens to be one of the great drummers out of Melbourne. He never ceases to surprise me, he can take the groove in directions I never would have imagined. Matthew Shadwick & Wally Hite Rankin have worked on various albums with me before. They came with certain ideas but were open to go in another direction as we discussed the songs. The most important thing everybody brought to the album was their personalities which I think shine through in different moments on these songs.
HAPPY: What’s next for Dallas Cosmas? Any other exciting plans in the works?
DALLAS: Brother To The Birds and Wally Hite Rankin have some fab material which I’ll be involved with production, and I maybe recording Melbourne band, Paper Tapir. I have a bunch of songs on the go too, so look out 2020!
HAPPY: Cheers for the chat!
DALLAS: Hhhhappy 5th Birthday to you!
Alpha Beta Gamma is available now. Listen above.