KOSM is a band that I am very new to but I liked what I heard so I had to interview them. Interviewee: Erik Leonhard (guitar) Anders Ekdahl ©2018
How hard was it to come up with a band name and how does the name fit the music?
-It wasn’t really that hard for us, actually. But that’s partly because we didn’t come up with “Kosm.” “Kosm” is a reference to the video game, Bloodborne, which Jessie and I am huge fans of. The lore of the game is a little complicated, but basically “Kosm” is a sort of omnipotent space goddess, who grants forbidden knowledge to those who follow her. We thought this was fitting on a few levels. For one thing, we’re a very space and sci-fi centred band. For another, Bloodborne and “Kosm” are both heavily inspired by the writings of cosmic-horror author H.P. Lovecraft, of whom we’re also big fans. Like the video game, our debut album Cosmonaut is very much inspired by Lovecraft.
What was it that made you want to be in a band in the first place?
-I think I actually remember the exact moment I decided that I wanted to be in a band. I was probably about 12 years old. I was in the car with my parents, and “Chop Suey” by System of a Down came on the radio. I was so blown away by how crazy the song was, I pretty much decided right then and there that I wanted to learn guitar and start a band. Granted, Kosm sounds nothing like System of a Down, but they still inspire me to keep things a little weird.
As I am no musician I have no idea how it works, but how do you make your own music based on what influences you? What parts do you pick?
-To be honest, I’m not sure I know how it works either. If I did, I’d probably be a much more efficient songwriter. I think taking inspiration and turning it into music is something that’s learned over time. You start with an idea. You try to write a song about it. The song is terrible. But then you write another, and maybe it’s not quite as bad as the one before. Over the years, you sort of learn a process for converting a concept, or an emotion, or an important event in your life into a coherent song. But even when you get to the point where you feel you have a pretty good grasp on songwriting, it can still be very frustrating. Many of the songs on Cosmonaut had to be taken back to the drawing board many times.
When you are in a band does it feel like you are a part of a worldwide movement?
-I don’t know if I’ve ever really thought about it in those terms, but yeah, it kind of does. There have been a lot of ups and downs with the advent of the digital age, but one big positive is that it’s allowed bands from across the world to share their music with the rest of the world. I think some might find this a little intimidating, since it sort of makes you feel like just another fish in the sea. But at the same time, it’s really inspiring. There’s so much great music in the world today, and it’s all at your fingertips.
How important is it that you look the part in promo shots and stuff? How important is the graphic side of the band?
-Very important, now more than ever, a band is also a brand. I think developing a cohesive image for the band that stands out needs to be a cornerstone of any band hoping to get noticed. You don’t have to get on stage in a crazy getup or anything, but looking like a rocker, rather than just “some dude,” makes a difference. This is something that took me way too long to learn.
Artwork and a logo is really important as well for pretty much the same reason. You want your band to come off as a finished product. Having an image and artwork that stands out, and also reflects what you’re doing musically is critical in presenting your band as a professional act, rather than just another garage band.
What would you say influences your lyrics? How important are they?
-Personally, I’m influenced a lot by fiction, particularly sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. Cosmonaut is a concept album based loosely around the cosmic-horror writings of H.P. Lovecraft, but also heavily inspired by classic sci-fi. Right around the time I started creating the idea that would eventually become Cosmonaut, I was reading Frank Herbert’s Dune, and Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light. Both of those books played a huge part in developing the final concept.
The lyrics of course all have a personal and emotional dimension to them. I like using abstract to concepts from sci-fi, fantasy and horror to express personal feelings. I find that by using those concepts, and distancing myself personally from the lyrics, I can sometimes express my thoughts more honestly.
Is the album as relevant today as it was in the 70s and 80s? Is digital killing the album?
-I don’t think the album is quite as relevant as it used to be. But I also don’t think it’s on the way out, like so many people have predicted. At least in the metal world, albums seem to remain popular. You don’t see too many metal acts relying on singles over full length records. If anything, I think the digital age is allowing us to collect and listen to more albums than ever. My collection exploded once I finally gave in completely to digital media.
Where will the future of format end – digital verses physical verses whatever?
-As much as I hate to say it, I think it’s pretty clear that physical media is on the decline. It may never vanish completely (and I hope it doesn’t), but I don’t think bands rely on it too much anymore. Digital is just too convenient, and physical albums don’t sell as much as they used to. We have physical copies of our debut album, but we were cautious about how many copies we should produce. It’ll be interesting to see how quickly they sell over the next few months.
How much of a touring entity are you guys? What is a live experience with you like?
-We’re not much of a touring entity at the moment. But that’s something we’re hoping to change in the next year. So much of the band’s existence to date has been focused on the release of Cosmonaut that we haven’t dedicated much time to planning out of town shows. Now that the album is out, we’re hoping to bring to live act to as many places as possible.
I’m not sure what I can say about Kosm as a live act. We don’t have any pyrotechnics, fog machines, or light shows (at least not yet). But we do have energy, and we have a lot of fun on stage. I think audiences pick up on that. It may not be Rammstein, but I think our shows are an experience nonetheless.
What lies in the future?
-Now that Cosmonaut has been released, I think we’re looking more than ever to get out of Vancouver, and bring the show to new audiences. It may just start with small excursions through BC, and to Alberta and Washington, but we want to get out there.
We also want to make sure audiences aren’t waiting years for our next release. Now that the album out, we’re working hard on new material. It might seem crazy given that we just released an hour long album, but the writing, recording, mixing, production process takes so long that we want to get started sooner than later.