Some groups meet at school. Others form after wild nights out. Cosmo’s Midnight are a little bit different, though – they met in the womb.
Brotherly duo Cosmo and Patrick Liney, the siblings weave an intoxicating spell of avant R&B, hip-hop, and left-leaning beats, all delivered with a pop suss. Retaining an air of mystery on record, they’re admirably straight forward during a Skype call from their native Australia.
“Basically, Cosmo was writing this song around midnight, and it was very literal – he saved the project as ‘Cosmo’s Midnight Mix’ because he finished it around then,” Patrick starts to explain. “When he went to export it he saved the song title like that and it ended up sticking, so we used it for every song since that moment.”
So that’s that cleared up. Debut album ‘What Comes Next’ is superb, a fresh-sounding collection of adventurous R&B songs that seem capable of crafting their own universe while still neatly intersecting with our own.
“Instead of R&B I’d say it was rhythm & house,” Cosmo explains. “It’s all the elements of R&B that we love combined with all the elements of house music and pop, and we roll it into one big collage, drawing from all our favourite corners of the music world. Filtering it through our lens and the end result is our music.”
One of the duo’s biggest musical touchstones actually ended up on the album – a spicy hip-hop leaning production, ‘Monego’ features a Neptunes sample, cleared seemingly because Pharrell Williams is a personal fan of the track.
“We’re so lucky for him to be into that track!” Patrick exclaims. “We were kind of banking on the fact that Pharrell and the Neptunes in general were hard into sampling, so maybe he’ll understand the sampling culture. We’re re-appropriating it into our own song.”
“The amount of creativity you can get through sampling is infinite,” his brother adds. “In the early days of sampling it was a free-for-all but now with copyright and stuff it’s a bit of a grey area. But when it works out I really do love sampling. I wish you could do it more.”
Out now, ‘What Comes Next’ is set to be followed by a stint in Europe, with Cosmo’s Midnight matching a handful of live performances with some studio time right here in London. “We really look to the UK in terms of the music we love,” Cosmos explains. “I think it’s one of the biggest heavyweights in the music industry. All eyes are always on what’s coming out of the UK.”
“I feel like the UK is where the coolest pop music is coming out, where America is where the most just pop music is coming out. Super-generalising here. The UK is where our tastes align. Without bad-mouthing the US!”
The UK and Australia are two island countries, capable of absorbing fresh influences and spewing them back out, a perpetual conversation that never quite resolves itself.
Cosmo continues: “I do think one of the things about being in Australia is that, one, it’s a really young country. So culturally it’s got a really diverse identity.”
“It’s such a migrant country, a real melting pot of all these different places. So I feel like when it comes to writing music you’re looking to the outside, to other countries, to the internet in general and drawing on what you can find there.”
International in scope, the duo’s debut album actually helps frame our final question: what will come next?
“‘What Comes Next’ is like acknowledging a point in time where we’ve arrived, but is also acknowledging the future at the same time,” explains Patrick. “As a title it’s like a prediction, a prediction of what is going to happen next in our musical careers, with everything that’s amassing and coalescing into being what we are as artists and songwriters.”
“We never stopped writing. Even as we were finishing off the album we were writing new ideas, whatever happens. I feel like working on the album, a lot of it was polishing off existing ideas, whereas we also kept working on new stuff. It’s never stopped. Even right now we’re in our studio and we’re writing music.”
The duo like to keep the door of their studio open, a freewheeling strategy where everything goes, but the time is always midnight.
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