Following the release of his imaginative debut The Much Much How How & I, we spoke with Cosmo Sheldrake to discover what’s lead to the creation of something so unique.
One of the most interesting albums to come out of the past few years, Cosmo Sheldrake hasn’t just pushed boundaries, he’s shaped his own. Music that sits somewhere between “something that would be a great soundtrack for a children’s tv show” and “an imaginatively genius soundscape”, this is an early contender for album of the year, for sure.
We spoke to the man behind the brilliance about the album, future plans and any advice he’d give to those working up to their debut release.
Hey Cosmo, how’s everything going?
Busy but good!
Your album The Much Much How How & I came out recently, how challenging did you find creating such a diverse soundscape in one album?
Well making an album is a huge challenge, definitely the biggest thing I have made. To be honest I find finishing anything quite a challenge let along a piece of music, let along 14 of them. At points, it felt like an uphill struggle and at points the easiest thing in the world. It changed almost by the day
What were your specific aims with this album?
Not sure I had any conscious specific aims before I started it, things definitely emerged along the way. For me, it felt important to bring an ecological approach to the making and writing of the music and to engage with some of the issues facing us all at the moment. I also wanted it to feel joyous and celebratory.
What’s the main thing that you hope that people will take away from the album?
I hope that people will connect to some of the ecological elements in it, but also to listen more deeply and, hopefully, to feel some form of hope or joy in spite of some of the challenges we are all up against.
The artwork for ‘The Much Much How How & I’ is pretty ace, tell us a bit more about the fish?
There are so many good ones in there. Louis Renard, the French man who painted them in 1712 made lots of them up and added all sorts of imaginary elements, like smiley-faced suns and clouds and human faces. There is also a mermaid that I didn’t include which I really like.
Where did the concept for the artwork come from?
I was looking through medieval bestiaries and early botanical illustrations and things, trying to find some sort of imagery that would be sort of fantastical but also biological. And then someone sent me the fish images and they just felt like exactly what I had been looking for. I wanted them to be grounded in observation or the natural world but also have some fanciful surreal imaginary aspects.
Where did you mostly take inspiration from when writing the tracks for the album?
From lots of different places. From things I listened to, things I read, conversations I had, pictures I saw, walks in wild places, images and melodies that just came to me and a good portion of good luck too.
Were there any particular low points when creating the album?
there are soo many moments of highs and lows. It was a constant battle with my self, going from moments where I thought it was all shit and I had not made any progress, to moments where I thought I was getting closer and making things I liked. I think making anything of that size and scale like an album or writing a book is a constant battle with self-worth and learning to trust your own intuition and voice.
What about high points?
Soo many! like spending days trying to make music and then all of a sudden something emerges in the course of an hour almost fully complete. Its a baffling and joyous feeling.
How did you know it was finally ready for release?
It just felt finished, also I had set myself some clear deadlines like mixing it with Matthew Herbert. So it had to be done by then, but even then I was still recording some vocal takes and tweaking things right up until the very last moment. But when it gets mastered and you hear it all popping to life and then walk away from the mastering studio with it all on a cd that’s when it really feels finished as it’s all there in its right order as a complete unit rather than 8 different mixes of each song and scraps all over the place.
If you could give yourselves (when you were starting out) one piece of advice knowing what you know now, what would it be?
Take your time, don’t rush it or beat yourself up one day it will be finished!!!!!
Once the albums out what’s the plan for Cosmo this year?
Touring it for a bit, then having a bit of time to get back into the studio and finish off some other projects that I have had on the go for some time and would love to wrap up.
Also, some serious intentional chilling out!
Are there any festival plans on the horizon yet?
Got a bunch of festivals coming up and a fair few gigs here and there.
If you could play any festival in the world, which one would it be?
Ohhh, not sure. Probably some sort of desert music festival in Rajasthan or something.