On a quintessential sunny LA day I had the opportunity to catch up with Sydney based duo Cosmo’s Midnight. From hearing the opening chords of their newest single, “History” you are immediately struck by an effortless and sweet dance track that engages all the right qualities of pop music. It’s no wonder the twins have a remarkable ability for making catchy singles and remixes.
Their engaging discussion and unwavering enthusiasm towards music made for a pleasant conversation as we spoke about the Australian music scene, their recent signing to RCA Records, and more.
How’s the tour going? How are the US shows and Canada shows?
Cosmo: It’s been a pretty successful tour, we’re doing our first proper hard ticketed shows where as last time it was soft ticket or going on club nights like Brownies & Lemonade. For example, this year we did a show in New York at a place called Rough Trade in Brooklyn and we sold that one out which is really exciting.
It’s just really exciting to be able to sell out venues that is similar to the size of what we’ll play in Sydney as well. The dream is just to be able to play a 600 cap venue anywhere in the world.
You recently signed to RCA Records. Congrats! Tell me a little more about that?
Cosmo: It was a couple of weeks ago, while we were here in LA. That was really exciting. They really want to push our single, “History”.
Pat: It’s good because before we were just like Australia focused. They know how to push things over in America and overseas. It’s really cool to be working with them!
What does the electronic music scene look like in the US compared to Australia?
Pat: It makes Australia feel really small by comparison.
Cosmo: We just went to Pass the Aux by Team Supreme, and there was probably like 200 people there… and every beat some random kid dropped was just huge. I just thought, ‘this is ridiculous’ everyone was really talented.
Pat: In Australia we had a Pass the Aux and there was just like 10 people there, so by comparison LA just has a room full of producers.
Cosmo: Out here you have to work hard to really get noticed, succeeding in the scene here seems really intense. Back home since it’s a bit smaller it’s less competitive, and there’s more people working together.
Pat: The Australian music scene in general is just very close knit. You end up probably seeing a good lot of the Australian music industry at a festival in one go. At Australian festivals you get huge billed artists like ASAP, RL Grime, and then Rufus will also be up there with them. Even we’ll play a set at the same time. In Australia they put the local music in front. They try to really push it, especially since a lot of the festivals are sponsored by Triple J.
How would you describe your music?
Pat: I find it really hard to describe our music, since we’re so close to the music it’s hard to look at it from an outside perspective. There’s definitely an R&B influence, we also like to work pop into our music, we love to make our music catchy.
Cosmo: I think we try and sit outside of genres with our music, we just like to say it’s loosely electronic. We want to make stuff that sounds timeless, so when you listen to it 5 years later it will sound just as good as it did before. We and try and get things sounding kind of organic.
How did you get into producing?
Cosmo: Our older brother he got Ableton to just practice mixing tracks together and DJing. We wanted to use it to experiment to make little songs and stuff, so we just ended up cutting up acapellas of rappers we liked at the time trying to make beats around it. We just kept going at it, there wasn’t like a school we went to, we just kept doing it until we got better at it.
What’s it like working with your sibling? How do you compliment each other when you produce?
Cosmo: Well Pat looked into the production aspect more than me, I was just using it to make little mixtapes. Pat was learning to see how production really works writing things without any other involvement from other songs, writing from scratch.
I guess I’ve always been more about coming up with the chords or finding samples, while Pat has always been really good at getting into the production, getting into the details. It depends who comes up with the idea first, we then pass it back and forth until we get to our finish point.
Pat: Sometimes we write a song and one of us has barely touched it… but we both know what we’re looking for in the music we make.
Cosmo: If Pat makes a demo, and we haven’t touched it, I’ll listen and see if it is something we should have as Cosmo’s Midnight.
Pat: We often just write music, not even for Cosmo’s Midnight.
Cosmo: You have to practice outside of your own sound otherwise you’ll get stuck.
Pat: We write all these different styles, and also listening as wide as you can helps you push outside of your original boundaries.
What do you look for in a collaboration or vocalist?
Cosmo: Well when we go into a vocal session with someone, we always want to make sure they like the song, we don’t just want to force them to sing on it because we need a vocal. If they don’t like the song we always look for something else.
Every session we want to do something that works with the singer, we don’t want to force them to do anything that doesn’t sound good.
Pat: We want to make sure they’re enjoying it.
Speaking of collaborations, who are some people you would want to work with?
Cosmo: Our friends, (Basenji, UV Boi, Young Franco) we’re always kind of helping each other out.
Pat: We have a lot of little touches on each others stuff, but we don’t have any official collaborations. We’ve gone in the studio several times but we’ve never really found how to crossover our sounds yet.
We actually wrote a song with UV Boi like three years ago, it was just a fun thing we did. As for Young Franco he moved down to Sydney so we see him all the time now. For example his last three singles, we helped out with some production on that. I would love to work with him.
Cosmo: As for dream collaborations the ASAP Crew would be great. Really anyone that can help us get out of our own heads a bit.
Pat: Someone who can completely bring a different sort of face to our sound, like multi instrumentalists.
Cosmo: I’d love to work with any of the dudes on The Internet, like Steve Lacy, people that worked on To Pimp A Butterfly, or Flying Lotus. These are people that I feel are very impulsive producers, or musicians that help you get out of the slow writing process.
Pat: Our friend, Goldwash, actually just moved to LA, he’s just incredibly talented. He kills it on the keys and is also a great singer. He’s really good about helping us think critically about our stuff.
Cosmo: We compare the strengths of our songs. You just get so close working to your music…
Pat: You forget what’s good anymore!
What do you think of the current state of Soundcloud?
Pat: You know, I do miss being able to impulsively upload stuff. Soundcloud has always been very remix heavy of like, say the top song on BillBoard. Even then you can find people doing crazy creative stuff.
Cosmo: People just instantly bite each others style, there’s like a million “Mr Carmack” or “Kaytranada” types on Soundcloud.
Pat: No one can do them (Mr. Carmack, Kaytranada) quite as well as the original artist.
Where do you get the name Cosmo’s Midnight from?
Cosmo: Well my name is Cosmo and Patrick is Midnight. Before we were just Cosmo & Pat, putting beats together.
Pat: Our older stuff was kind of terrible haha! You can still find it online.
Cosmo: Then we had a turning point where we were like ‘let’s try this style of music’ and I did a remix at midnight, and we just called it Cosmo’s Midnight.
Your Australian dates feature support from Muto. Are you fans of the label Of Leisure?
Pat: For sure! Muto. has just been popping off lately, he’s dropped three singles this year already. He actually hasn’t toured Australia yet, so we’re excited for him to join us. All the Sydney shows have sold out, so I’m excited to see what he does.
The lockout laws and the growing reaction with ‘Keep Sydney Open’ has also had a big impact on the Australian music scene lately.
Cosmo: Yeah, even the venue we’re playing at is closing down after we finish.
Pat: We’re one of the last shows at the Newtown Social. Sydney definitely thrives on club culture.
Cosmo: Like we would have nights where you would show up and whoever was in the country at the time in Sydney would be at that club. It would be announced on the night… it was like an institution, you would see everyone there! We would see Ryan Hemsworth, Knxwledge, Flying Lotus, Cashmere Cat, all these people. Almost every week someone would be at this club.
Pat: Clubs would also be packed with resident DJs. A lot of Australian DJs and producers cut their teeth playing late slots in those clubs. Like Alison Wonderland and What So Not, for example, got a name from DJing in Australia. Now that platform isn’t really there for artists, now the only choice is to go online and try and promote yourself.
Pat: It’s really hard to grow as an artist in the real world.
Cosmo: Even when like we had a great following online, it’s hard to transfer that online audience to real life. There’s a lack of support from local venues for people who are starting out.
Pat: Now musicians are trying to get big online so they can secure a hard ticket show from day one. However, I am really thankful for platforms like Triple J Unearthed.
Cosmo: Pretty much everyone you see in Australian music today was on Triple J Unearthed… Flume, Basenji, Wave Racer, and us. They gave us the opportunity to be on the main radio, and they just love supporting the story of someone who went from Unearthed to headlining one of their festivals.
Any other up and coming Australian labels or artists to keep an eye on?
Cosmo: Melbourne Deepcast for House.
Pat: Motez is great. Kilter as well! He’s on etc. another Aussie label. My friend Sasha, he does Valve Sounds. They’re just starting out but I’m really excited for what they have.
Thanks to Cosmo’s Midnight for the interview and Astral People for making it possible!