you resource for all things shoegaze & dream pop.

05 January 2018


Photo by Kurt Schiøtt
Interview with Cosmic Waves

Cosmic Waves’ self-titled debut EP commands attention from the start. Lisbet Randefelt’s distinctive, incantatory vocal presence presides easily over the Copenhagen, Denmark quartet’s combination of punk, shoegaze, and psychedelia. Mia Skjold Tvede Henriksen on bass and Lasse Schiøtt on drums undergird a generally spare, open sound with their tightly-focused, muscular figurations. Guitar contributions from Lisbet and Martin Herskind thread angular single- and dual-note patterns through a spaciousness sometimes broken by lightning-bolt blasts of intense chord work that lend a touch of doom metal atmosphere. The resulting whole leans heavily into post-punk territory while also creating a psychedelic mood worthy of the band name.

The Cosmic Waves EP actualizes a lot of impact for four tracks that play out in under thirteen minutes. We’re delighted to present an interview featuring contributions from all four band members. The project’s very first video, for the song “Sun Doom”, was released on the 1st, allowing us to include it here as well; find it below just after Lisbet’s comments about it.

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How and when was the band formed?
: Martin, Lisbet and Lasse met at a pre-party for an A Place To Bury Strangers concert and bonded straight away over a common love for sixties rock'n'roll, eighties shoegaze and post-punk. They needed a bassist and asked me. I had played several instruments before, but never the bass. I took on the challenge and joined the band on a winter night in 2016. We rehearsed at our Cold War bunker rehearsal space for a few months and came back to the surface in spring 2017 to record our EP.

Can you tell us what the band has been working on?
: Our first music video, for our song Sun Doom, has just been released. It is a collaboration with the fashion company The Insomnia Project from Lisbon, Portugal. We’re confident that peole will find it intriguing and exciting.

Do you consider your music to be part of the current shoegaze/dream pop scene, or any scene? Defining one's sound by genre can be tiresome, but do you feel that the band identifies closely with any genre? How do you feel about genres in music, in a general sense?
: We are part of the Danish music collective Dansk Beton, which revolves around a Cold War bunker from the 1960s, which also houses bands like Techne, Revulva, Mimic Octopus and Søvn. As we are a very new band, it is difficult to say if we already belong to a certain scene. Our music is definitely shaped by shoegaze, post-punk and psych. But I do find it very difficult and limiting to be put into a certain box.

What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop/psychedelia artists, any favorites?
: I think that there are many great artists around from those particular scenes.
Martin: The Underground Youth is one of my favourite bands – their music means so much to me.
Lisbet: I would also go with The KVB, Flyying Colours and Cold Showers.

What is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer? 
Lisbet: Reverb and chorus are the heart to my guitar sound, while other pedals are more of a secondary importance.
Martin: I always play on the bridge pickup position of my Fender Stratocaster. Pedal-wise, I never switch off the reverb, delay and chorus. I switch settings on the delay pedal depending on the songs though. For noise, I use a vintage Pro Co Rat and a Death By Audio Fuzz War. For our EP, I recorded all my guitar parts through a bass amp, to get that deeper and darker sound I was going for.
Mia: Some delay, and distortion for the rough parts.

What is your process for recording your music? What gear and/or software do you use? What would you recommend for others?
Martin: In the beginning, we just recorded our songs with a mobile phone and later added overdubs and vocals on GarageBand. You can imagine that the result wasn't the best. 
Lisbet: Luckily, I was fortunate enough to meet the amazing producer Joël Krozer on a night out a few days after I had moved to Denmark. He took us under his wing and agreed to produce our EP Cosmic Waves. The EP was recorded on the Danish island Bornholm, in a small church which had been turned into recording studio. The high roof added a great reverb and echo sound to our songs. We used a sixties Gretsch drum set, a sixties Hagström guitar amp and some really nice vintage microphones provided by the studio, but other than that we pretty much used our own gear.

How do you feel about the state of the music industry today? There is no doubt a massive change underway. How do you see it and do you feel it’s positive at all?
Martin: We haven't dealt with the corporate music industry yet. So far, we have been quite a DIY band, so it's quite difficult for us to say.

When it comes to label releases versus DIY/Bandcamp and the like, what is your stance, if any?
Martin: I am a big fan of Bandcamp, as it made it possible for us to release our EP to a big audience, while maintaining complete artistic control. When it comes to physical releases though, I feel that it is vital to have a label that can help you out from a financial and organizational perspective.

Do you prefer vinyl, CD, cassette tape or mp3 format when listening to music? Do you have any strong feelings toward any of them?
Martin: There is no doubt that streaming comes in so handy when it comes to accessibility and discovering new music, but nothing is ever going to beat vinyl.
Mia: Agreed. Vinyl is incomparable with other formats.
Lasse: CDs for me, all the way!

What artists (musicians or otherwise) have most influenced your work?
Martin: To mention everybody would probably add up to a small encyclopedia, but if I had to cut it down here and now, I'd have to pick Sune Rose Wagner from The Raveonettes and Craig Dyer from The Underground Youth. Sune might be my favourite guitar player of all time and I love the songwriting of Craig Dyer. Then there's the simplicity of Spacemen 3 and the sound of The Cure which I have been very influenced by. I'd also have to add Dee Dee Ramone, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, as those are the people who inspired me to start writing my own songs. Otherwise, the literary worlds of Franz Kafka are vast sources of inspiration.

Can you tell us a little about what you are currently into (books, films, art, bands, etc.)?
Martin: I've just finished the new Twin Peaks season which I absolutely adored. I also just started reading Mark Frost’s The Secret History of Twin Peaks. As you can tell, I'm quite a Twin Peaks fan. Otherwise I listen to a lot of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Warpaint at the moment.
Mia: These days I dig into a little feminist study concerning female perspectives on life – also the foundational question about if that perspective is something in itself at all. Besides philosophical classics such as Simone de Beauvoir, Judith Butler, and Shulamith Firestone, I must also mention A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf.

If you had to choose one track that was the ultimate definition of your sound, which would it be and why?
Martin: It is hard for me to define the Cosmic Waves sound by only naming one song, as it is quite difficult to compare a track like "Dead Night" to "Sun Doom" or "Wild Flower" to "Darkest Hour".

*The band votes*

Mia: Two of us would go for “Sun Doom”; meanwhile two of us would go with “Darkest hour”. Please listen to both and get back to us.

Can you tell us a little about the band’s song writing process?

Lisbet: Usually Martin or I come up with the base of most songs, which we take with us to the rehearsal space. From there on, we go more into depth with the sound and structure and finalize the songs.
Martin: I write and compose a lot when I am alone. Often, while jamming at home by myself, I end up stumbling across a certain sound or melody that I keep returning to, and from there onwards, I try to develop it into a song. Lyrics are written almost simultaneously and in the heat of the moment, with a bit of editing afterwards.

What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?
Lisbet: Rules are made to be broken?
Martin: I don't have any, at least not yet...
Photo by Jakob Ståhle