Interview: Gabriella Cohen
Gabriella Cohen established herself as a reputable name in Australian music following her debut Full Closure and No Details in 2016. Ahead of the release of her sophomore album, Pink Is The Colour Of Unconditional Love, the songwriter already has ideas for her future as an artist – world music, choirs and travel.
Congratulations on the new album! Pink Is The Colour Of Unconditional Love is really a beautiful collection of pop gems. I feel your music is quite timeless and nostalgic. What kind of music did you grow up listening to and how has that inspired your music now?
I listened to a lot of Brazilian bossa nova and a lot of Tibetan throat singing from my dad - he has a wild taste. Lots of Paul Simon. That’s influenced me in the way that I want to make world music, eventually.
Amazing! Does your dad make music as well?
Yeah. He plays the flute and violin, but he’ll never tell anyone. He’s just a dude. A bro.
When you do make world music, do you reckon it’ll still be under your name or will you move onto something different?
Yeah, I think it’ll be under my name. I mean, I call world music like when Paul Simon did Graceland. I think that’s the bomb. That’s what I want - I want to get to that level.
Do you think you’ll do a lot of travelling to get to that level?
Yeah, I want to go and work with lots of choirs around the world.
I saw that you sometimes have a choir singing with you live – how did that come about? So beautiful!
A friend of mine happens to be a choir director and I was just like, ‘lets do something together,’ because it’s just the best, I love choirs. They’re so cool.
Such a huge sound!
Even being in a choir! I wanna be in a choir. It’s a feeling of unison.
Your second album is called Pink Is The Colour Of Unconditional Love – what does the colour pink mean to you?
It’s everything that sounds really good – it sounds like love and it sounds like the doo wops that you hear in motown music. It’s like my unconditional love. I didn’t realise it would be such a public statement but I guess it is.
Is writing music a solitary thing for you? When you do write music alone, do you envision the ways it could sound live with the full band?
Yes. I generally write all the parts at home. I definitely am a control freak – I plan everything and play all the parts before we get to recording.
I hear you recorded and self produced Pink Is The Colour of Unconditional Love in countryside Victoria with Kate Babyshakes Dillon - how was that recording process?
It was long and hard and great and rewarding. We moved to the country, so we were fully inhabiting a farmhouse. There were lots of cows and lots of cockatoos. We had to stop our takes because there were cockatoos screeching past. Full Australian. We had a really good life in the country. But we thought we were superheroes. We thought we could record a 24-track length record, which is what we set out to do, but we consolidated it to 11 tracks.
Was that because of time constraints?
Did you find that being in kind of isolated, peaceful environment like that really helped shape how the recorded sounded in the end?
Yep, totally. I mean, the record was always going to sound like that because the songs were written but it was calmer being in the country.
Focusing purely on recording?
Do you think recording an album in that way helps in keeping the music sounding pretty natural & organic, rather than spending time in a full on studio?
A sterile studio. Yeah, straight up.
You finished recording Pink Is The Colour of Unconditional Love on the road with pretty minimal equipment. Did finishing the record in Europe influence the way the final product sounded?
It didn’t really influence at all, it just had to be done. I had to finish all the takes. I was carrying around a microphone and interface, so it was very minimal equipment but it worked and I’m glad it’s over.
The video for ‘Baby’ is a really nicely shot. Where was it filmed?
It was filmed in the Mojave Desert in America near Joshua Tree. It’s a cool place. My partner shot it and we had no idea and no inspiration and we were driving each other a bit crazy, so that movie came out of that.
What else were you doing there at that time?
I was networking really hard and making lots of amazing friends and hustling in a city that I now love and respect and can’t wait to go back.
Do you think you’ll go back soon?
Oh, ASAP! I can’t wait to go back as soon as possible. It’s really cool. I recommended it. I’m talking about Los Angeles in particular.
Did you come across many opportunities in LA?
Everything is an opportunity. It’s great. I’m a big talker and everyone just wants to talk. I got to meet and perform with one of my early musical heroes and we’ve become friends now. His name is Rodrigo Amarante. He’s from a band called Little Joy.
Oh, Little Joy!
Yeah! His solo album is called Cavalo and it’s amazing. I was emailing him for a year saying I was coming to LA. I came to meet all the crew and I met all the crew and all good things happened. Everyone you want to touch in LA is there.
Do you think you’ll want to work with Rodrigo Amarante?
Yeah! I think we’ll collaborate in the future, totally.
Your music does have a bit of Little Joy feel.
Yeah, I’ve been listening to them since I was 14. Funny. He’s putting out a new album soon. It’s cool. It’s nice to make friends overseas that you both enjoy their music.
Which songs on the album do you love the most? Are there any that mean more to you than others?
I really like Music Machine and I really like Recognise My Fate - I like the strings on that. I haven’t listened to it recently. I think we did a good job.
What are you looking forward to the most after releasing Pink Is The Colour Of Unconditional Love?
In America we had a really large band, with lots of percussion and dancers and singers and it was very exciting so I want to recreate that in Australia because the album calls for more than just the four of us to perform it live, you know what I mean?
Expanding the line up.
And you’re going on tour soon – are you going to have a bigger line up for the tour?
I don’t know. I need to meet some people. In America it was easier because it was so laid back.
How do you think LA compares to Melbourne?
Well, Melbourne is like the America of Australia. If you can live in Melbourne, you can live in LA.
Thanks for the chat, Gabriella!
Photos: Amber Palicka