All people involved in the music industry heavily rely on live music for the survival of their art. When COVID-19 struck Australia in March, well, I don’t need to remind you what came next. Our craving for a packed out bar, theatre or stadium and our favourite band was ever so slightly quenched with the adaptation of live streaming and video conferencing. Or, alternatively, ‘sit down’ gigs where our urge to stand up and dance was quickly diminished by the eagle-eye COVID Marshal.
Nonetheless, we endured, only knowing that people from countries around the globe were still not able to leave their homes. As restrictions ease Down Under, our taste for live music is once again reinvigorated thanks to our good friends at the Sydney Opera House and Cosmo’s Midnight.
Off the back of their newly-released album, Yesteryear, the electronic music duo have announced they will take to the Opera House this December (you can buy tickets here), to sound in the return of Summer and live music. Prior to the announcement, we spoke to Pat.
ICON: Congratulations on your new album! ‘Yesteryear’ is said to be ‘more analogue’ than your debut album. What was the thought process behind moving in this way with the music?
Patrick Liney: “Thank you! And yeah, this album definitely moved into a more analogue, earthy and organic direction without us really knowing or making any conscious decisions. Originally we used to be extremely methodical and ‘in-the-box’ when it came to production and songwriting using almost entirely plug-ins, mouse and keyboard. After we started to play live with Cos on bass and guitar, and me on keys, we found ourselves gravitating to jamming in the elements we used to precisely draw in. Before we used to fake the natural flow of live-performance, by offsetting and manually quantising elements, but this new jamming method for us really lent a grounded and loose feeling that we’d been chasing all this time.
Sonically, how would you say this album differs from ‘What Comes Next’?
PL: “This album is all about feeling over thinking. It’s about capturing a vibe and getting it out there in its purest form. We really found our voice with this record, especially with me finally getting the courage to sing on our records. What Comes Next was super collaboration heavy, which was really fun and has some of our favourite songs, but writing with other people takes a really long time, especially if you’re writing via emails. Moving forward to Yesteryear we were really set on doing something that was truly ours, and as I got more confident with my singing behind the scenes I eventually started recording on our own music.”
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt between the two projects?
PL: “We learned to stop overthinking music. We had always deliberated when writing to the point that only one or two songs would be finished a year. I learned a valuable lesson from my Dad who’s a painter, he said something like, ‘You can work on a painting your whole life and never finish it, you need to capture the feeling and then accept that it is ready to go, by overworking it you lose what made it appealing in the first place.’ It was especially hard for us to let go because originally, we used to painstakingly mix and master the records as well, which only added to the already lengthy creative process. Eventually we found an incredible mixing engineer who gave us the confidence to let go and let him handle getting the songs from 99 percent to 100 percent.
So much of your identity has been drawn from your parent’s record collection. What music were they listening to?
PL: “Their record collection is super vast. It goes all over from Classical greats to Jazz and Blues, Disco and Funk, Rock & Roll and Psychedelia.
Would you say this is where you found your love for music?
PL: “I want to say yes, but at the time we kinda hated hearing the same Jim Hall and switched on Bach records over and over. By the time we started writing music we found ourselves gravitating to the disco records they used to play. Like Silver Convention or Boney M. One of the first songs I ever made sampled George Duke’s ‘Reach Out’.
The second album of any artist or band comes with a lot of expectations. Were you feeling the pressure in the lead up to the release?
“100 percent. We always get nervous, but that’s part of the parcel. I’d be more worried if I felt nothing!”
Talk to me about the track ‘A Million Times’. What was it about the song that took so long to perfect?
PL: “This song was complicated because it had a very weird chord progression originally. There was no way we could cohesively mesh the verse and chorus and it was literally driving me crazy experimenting different routes and ideas to make it work. Eventually we got a helping hand from Panama, who helped us make it flow naturally. What it lost in complexity it gained in straight vibes, so it’s an overall win to me.”
Do you follow the notion that if something isn’t perfect, it won’t be shared?
PL: “I used to, but no longer. I feel like people respond to authenticity so much more. Releasing a song that is imperfect but still captures a very strong feeling will resonate a lot more than something that is hypothetically ‘perfect’ but soulless.
You performed your first live show of 2020 at the High Garden Rooftop in Sydney this month. How did it feel to finally get to playing live music, albeit without a crowd?
PL: “Even playing to no one, it was super euphoric, it was a kind of release to finally play these songs we’d been working on for almost two years. I was on a high for like two days after watching back and reading people’s responses, and it’s only gotten me more excited to play to an audience this time.
Do you think enough was done to support local art and artists by policy makers during the height of the pandemic?
PL: “I really worry for the venues that have somehow had to survive this whole year. I want to say ‘no’ but honestly I’m not educated on the topic enough to discuss it.”
You’ve previously worked with the likes of Winston Surfshirt, Buddy, Jay Prince and Ruel. Who would be your all-time dream collaboration?
PL: “All time is impossible to pick who but we’d love to work with BadBadNotGood, Nile Rodgers, Tyler the Creator, Mac Demarco, Frank Ocean. Or Prince.”
‘Yesteryear’ from Cosmo’s Midnight is out now. You can buy tickets to their live performance at the Sydney Opera House, here.