With her cold electro-vogue tracks and daring artificial aesthetic, COBRAH is creating her own auditory and visual world. She’s here to challenge what is expected of the contemporary artist.
Together with her close collaborator Erik Hellmouth, COBRAH was recently nominated for a Swedish Grammis award as the director of the music video for IDFKA, her debut single that launched in November. With it, an artist project that had been in the making during the past year was set into motion, generating quite an impressive amount of buzz for a first release. Now she’s releasing WET, the second single leading up to her forthcoming EP. And she’s not holding back when it comes to creating an original creative expression.
“Putting music in a visual world of sorts is extremely important”
COBRAH’s aesthetic draws from different directions. Her punk background is ever-present, but these days, distorted guitars and harsh vocals are not an as big part of her musical identity. Instead, it’s the punk attitude that seeps into her electronically powered music and the artist image surrounding it. And just like in the early days of punk, fashion is key to building a subculture. “Fashion is a super important part of the way I express myself”, COBRAH says. “Putting music in a visual world of sorts is extremely important, and fashion is part of that world.”
Designing and creating a lot of her clothes and accessories herself has sprung from not finding the clothes she wanted to wear. “I felt that there was nothing that appealed to me, and the fashion that does appeal to me is often extremely expensive”, she says. “I was inspired by other people who did both fashion, hair and makeup themselves and figured that ‘that doesn’t look too difficult’. You can get away with wearing rather basic clothing if you have something more advanced and hand-made on top of that.” Inspiration, she says, often comes from smaller Instagram influencers such as Matieres Fecales who create their alien/goth/punk-vibe fashion themselves or together with other artists.
“I want to challenge the standard mould of what is expected from artists today.”
Something that’s become an important part of her identity, both personally and artistically, is the realisation of the potentially self-expressive nature of adulthood. “As an adult I had been looking to create some sort of ‘adult style’, trying to suppress my 13-year-old self and thinking that ‘I can’t wear plateau shoes every day’. But then I got to a point where I realised that there was nothing else that I wanted to wear. Now I just try to do that all-out. If anything, that’s what I think your adult self is about, not suppressing what you really want to be doing.” While self-realisation is a central value to COBRAH, she also mentions always striving towards something that is new and original. “I want to challenge the standard mould of what is expected from artists today.”
“I like the idea of over-the-top, maximised self-realisation”
To a significant extent, COBRAH draws from the bounce music that has evolved in tandem with the drag and ball culture since the 80s, a culture introduced to her through dancing vogue. “The more I did it the more I got to learn about the history behind that culture. The music is so good, and I like the idea of over-the-top, maximised self-realisation. The music I do is so influenced by that culture and the people who have created it.”
With dance being an original inspiration to COBRAH’s current music creations, it’s also an integral part of her live performances. However, she often doesn’t choreograph. “It’s based on improvisation, with a few set elements that are synchronised and choreographed”, she says. “But most of it happens in the moment, which I think makes it feel alive and fun.”
When Stockholm’s new club venture Kontakt invites one of the world’s most well-known techno DJs, Nina Kraviz, to play at Berns this March, COBRAH joins the line-up. “I lived in Berlin for a short while and thought that I was going to get into techno”, she says when I ask her about her relationship to techno culture. “But I don’t really like it. When I work with new producers, I am often presented with productions that they think is very COBRAH-esque but is actually more industrial techno, which isn’t my thing at all.” Despite this, she praises the techno scene in regard to its ability to organise great clubs.
“I think that people outside of Sweden will understand my references better.”
The initial traction from her debut single IDFKA was not just confined to Sweden. And being an international artist is a direction she intends to keep pursuing. “I think that people outside of Sweden will understand my references better. It’s not Swedish culture. For example, looking at what I resemble musically, like Arca or SOPHIE who makes some kind of experimental electro-pop. That is still regarded as subculture in Sweden, even though it’s big.”
COBRAH’s new single, WET, is a fierce electro track, clearly inspired by modern vogue, complete with sexually suggestive, or explicit, lyrics and playful word-painting. “I actually wrote it in Spanish at first”, she reveals. “And I flunked Spanish in high school! We started writing it in January of last year and a lot of it was done. But it didn’t work out, so we reworked it. It took a very long time. I still have that Spanish verse though and I do want to do something with it in the future.”
COBRAH’s single WET, taken from her upcoming EP, is released on January 11th on her own independent label GAGBALL.