ALL PHOTOS BY SEAN CARPENTER
MEET CAMELLA OF COSMIC STRIP
This is Camella, Lead Singer and Guitarist of London-based band, Cosmic Strip. As their name suggests, Cosmic Strip serves up hazy, shoegazey, psychedelic Indie. As Camella descibes it, it’s ‘music to watch girls by, music to move the stars’.
Their latest single is Echo Chamber, and the stunning video was premiered on Noisey earlier this year. Notable in many ways, it was filmed in some of London’s most entrancing locations and directed by well known music photographer Charlotte Patmore. The video is truly a feast (or trip) for the eyes. Think kaleidoscopic lipstick, latex, prisms, mirrors, infinite corridors and neon lighting. Filmed in The Hive at Kew Gardens- an enormous glass beehive structure- it is an uplifting and pleasantly hypnotic study of girls, glass and geometry. If Echo Chamber is anything to go by, this year will certainly be a memorable one for this band. So, as Spring slowly starts to haul in a long-overdue summer- we got the chance to catch up with Camella to find out what 2018 has in store for Cosmic Strip.
Can you describe Cosmic Strip in three words?
dreamy psychedelic pop
How did you all get together?
I started writing as Cosmic Strip three years ago. I slowly started collaborating with different musicians over a few years, developing my sound and my songwriting. In the last year I’ve had pretty much the same band follow me from rehearsals to studio to gigs to festivals to tours. It is still interchangeable as I write all the tracks and musicians get booked up pretty quickly, but I count myself lucky to be surrounded by so many talented people.
Is there a common love or theme that brings you all together?
I think when I first started writing for Cosmic Strip, it was all very nostalgic, slightly lamenting, but I feel that was perhaps due to my state of mind at the time. My writing does always tend to have sad connotations attached to it but I’ve naturally drifted more towards it being a comment on a certain subject rather than my own personal feelings and emotions.
How has 2018 been so far?
2018 has been very exciting so far. We’ve spent the last few months in the studio working on our first ever EP and we’ve been planning a very busy summer of festivals and gigs around the country. We’ve just released our latest music video and the plan is to release another two this year so although we haven’t been out there playing a lot for now we’ve been keeping ourselves very busy.
You guys already have quite a CV in terms of festivals. Has there been a stand out festival slot?
I think when we played Citadel last year it felt like such a turning point for us. I’d spent the las two years developing my music and it wasn’t until last summer when we released ‘Goodbye’ that I felt truly confident and proud of the music I was writing. We spent the summer playing festivals and gigs around the country but when we played the Kopparberg x DIY stage at Citadel we were expecting nobody to turn up and when we arrived it was one in one out during our set to an over 500 capacity space. The year before we had opened Citadel on the Main Stage to 20 people, so it felt like such an accomplishment for us.
Can you tell us about your latest song ‘Echo Chamber’?
I wrote Echo Chamber during the general election last year. At first, I had in mind to write about the Tories but looking at it now it feels more like a comment on the state of the Labour party more than anything else. The song also takes on board social media and our general addiction to our own digital perceptions (myself included) and the bubbles we create and lure ourselves into of our own accord.
What do you do when you’re in need of inspiration?
Songwriting is a funny one. I’ll tend to have something stuck in my head but it’s very slow. At first it will be a few words, then a melody, then the first part of a song etc. Sometimes I’ll try and write it out instantly and then I realise I have to let my brain give it some time and do all the work first. It usually gets to a point where I become obsessed with the song and it takes over my whole brain and I have to let it out before I can start writing anything else. It usually helps to listen to music and sing my song on top, even if it’s in the wrong key or totally wrong for what I want, but for some reason it helps me define exactly how I want it to sound. I’m quite specific with how I like every instrument to sound and feel on a song, to the point that’s too obsessive I would say, so sometimes it can take a while.
Do you believe that aliens are out there?
I believe in science and space and research and based on these facts it would be odd not to think there could be life out there. I guess everybody has their own version of what life in space means, but if you remove yourself from the caricature aliens that we have depicted in general media and solely concentrate on living ‘life’ then suddenly the odds feel quite closer to being true. We live in some really exciting times and it’s great to see how science is being embraced again into general culture.
How would’ve your classmates described you when you were at school?
I was either writing songs in the classroom or bouncing off the walls from boredom. I didn’t dislike school, but I struggled to concentrate due to my hyperactivity and having grown up in a French school with an English home base in Paris, I always felt like my mind was split into two and I was thinking two different things at the same time in different languages. I was definitely different from anybody else in my class or school, I was quite eccentric compared to a lot of Parisians and would daydream about living in London and being at the center of the music scene there very early on.
When you travel, what one thing do you miss from home?
I grew up travelling a lot and I’m lucky to have lived in quite a few different countries, so I don’t tend to miss home as I have many homes. I have a very close family even though we’ll be separated across different countries or continents sometimes, so I guess if I were to be away for a long time they would probably make me feel the most at home. I used to call England more a home than France at one point when I was travelling back and forth a lot so I guess the smell of a pint in a pub, as disgusting as that sounds, would let me know I was back in London.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
I’ve said this before but I can get very stressed and I’m constantly worrying about money because everything I have goes into music but my boyfriend said to me ‘you could have a nice couch or you could have something to look back on when you’re older and be genuinely proud of yourself’. I try and remind myself about this every day because he’s totally right.
What was the first piece of music that moved you?
That’s a tough question as there are probably so many. If I’m honest as a teenager I was obsessed with soundtracks and scores (who wasn’t?) so I would listen to James Horner’s Titanic score on repeat and Baz Lurhman’s score for Romeo + Juliet, I could lie there for hours listening to strings and choirs sing their heart out. It’s probably what’s made me so dramatic in my writing.
What was the last piece of music that moved you?
My boyfriend turned me onto Soccer Mommy’s new album recently, I quickly became obsessed. Her songwriting is so beautiful and her use tone in the melodies are really beautiful – I’m particularly a fan of the parts that feel out of tune, it reminds me of Elliott Smith and I am a huge fan of him.
Is there any music that people would be surprised that you listen to?
I guess a lot of people don’t know that other than the music I write personally I also work for music festivals in particular Lovebox Festival. And trust me in those stressful environments you have to be working in them because of the love of music more than anything else.
What’s the best gig you’ve been to?
Again, this is very hard, there are so many incredible artists out there that move me and I’m a huge fan of live music. I guess the most recent was finally seeing Lana Del Rey last summer in London. Not only was she absolutely incredible live but I spent most of her show singing and crying my heart out. It meant a lot to me.
What book changed your life?
I was a big reader as a child, I learnt to read English quite young and started devouring books to help with my boredom and as we used to travel a lot. A lot of books for young children are written with them in mind and the writing isn’t always as compelling as some adult reading. It was only when I read Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials that everything changed for me. I related so strongly to Lyra in personality and it was probably the first book that heightened my interest in sci-fi, time-travel and science. I could re-read them to this day and still feel the same way. I have the ‘Book Of Dust’ on my list for this year obviously.
What have you changed your mind on as you’ve gotten older?
I think I always thought growing up you had to be one person – you either chose to live your life as a creative and made art or you built a career for yourself and chose to go up the ladder. But I’ve found out as I’ve gotten older it’s not so black and white and you can find a career in a creative world and you can make art and be a businesswoman – anything is possible, you just have to carve your own identity and your own wants and needs. The balance isn’t always easy but at the end of the day everything should be focused around your own happiness and not expectations of what your art or career should look like through other people’s eyes, especially through the eyes of said industry you work in.
What do you collect?
My best friend started collecting pins and patches and she has the most amazing collection – which in turn got me obsessed. I have a whole stack of them at home, I wish I could wear all of them all the time, it’s really such an underrated art. I also collect zines, I’m lucky to have met a few people in the zine world who got me hooked – there are so many talented men and women out there creating some really compelling and beautiful work and don’t even make a profit, it’s truly amazing.
Here at Underground we champion subversion and the renegades of the world. What’s the most rebellious thing you’ve done?
I grew up in Paris and had everything mapped out – I studied hard at school, I went to Business School, got a Masters Degree, did everything I was told to do while slowly biding my time. I would say the most rebellious thing I’ve done was reject everything I’d accomplished in France and start again in England. I was so obsessed with living in London and working in music and being a creative that I was happy to start from the bottom and slowly get to where I wanted. Hard work pays off so if you’re passionate and dedicated then anything is possible.
What’s next for Cosmic Strip?
We can’t wait to finally get out there. We have a such a busy year ahead of gigs and festivals and releases and tours, we haven’t played live since last November so we’re itching to be back out on the road and finally being able to release an EP of work that fits together and feels like a true representation of our sound is the most exciting thing to be proud of.
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