Written by Brodie Popple
After the release of her internationally acclaimed debut album, Full Closure and No Details, Gabriella Cohen is back with her latest release Pink Is The Colour Of Unconditional Love. This album takes you on a ride from melancholic self reflection to jovial reminiscence. Cohen is a master of her craft creating a sound that is both unique and reminiscent of her influences - Lou Reed and Neil Young.
Cohen joined Foxygen's US tour after posting to the bands Facebook requesting the slot (they gladly accepted). Whilst on the road she completed Pink Is The Colour Unconditional Love with a microphone, an interface and a multitude of challenging situations. From mountains in Italy, to cafes in Mexico and finally the sand of Venice Beach in LA. The singers fusion of Bossa Nova and old school Doo-Wop style is just one element of her bottomless appeal.
Songs like Mercy and Miserable Baby invites the listener on a personal journey full of intimacy, heartache, and a certain warmth that derives from the empathetic lyricism. I couldn't recommend this record enough. For this journalist it couldn’t have come at a better time in my life and I was very fortunate to have a little chat with Gabriella ahead of her Brisbane show this Saturday:
I know this is a pretty general question to kick things off with, but what prompted you to name your sophomore album Pink Is The Colour of Unconditional Love?
I remember having a bit of a weird day… you know when you start work in the dark and then its midday and you’re done for the day… and you feel a bit pale so you wander around town because you need some fulfilment… So I wondered into my friends house on Brunswick St and she did a very lovely job at hosting me. As I left she was steaming her shirt and told me more or less that pink is the colour of unconditional love. Her mother told her. So as I walked out the door, the sentiment stuck.
In Music Machine you touch on being anti-machine and other themes relating to the music world. Out of everything, what irks you the most about the music machine?
I think its important for creative people in this industry to embrace their originality, and know that there is not one cut out way. What irks me is that for a while I was under the guise that there was one master plan and one way to do things in the industry… there are so many avenues and back streets you can take instead of staying on the highway.
You went on quite the adventure whilst writing this album; a US tour with Foxygen, a boat ride in England, Coastal Portugal and amongst the mountains in Italy to name a few. What was the biggest challenge for you writing with all this going on?
The songs were written mostly in Balaclava, Melbourne. So whilst I was overseas I was only doing finishes touches in recordings.. thankfully.. but that was a big challenge within itself… what with my ongoing wifi crisis …trying to coordinate stems with Marly Luske, my engineer in Brisbane… when I was in tiny towns around Mexico.. that was pretty hilarious… there I was with a shiny new mac book pro on the ground at a park in Bacalar, a harddrive balancing on my knee..… no one will ever know….
You're said to have worn your musical influences on your sleeve with this album and I've read in the past that artists like Lou Reed and Patti Smith are huge influence on you. What kind of music were you listening to mostly around this album?
Every time Kate and I would drive to town, we would listen to Tonight’s The Night by Neil Young.. exclusively it seemed. Great record!! And lots of Vetiver…. and classical music on the radio.
You spent a lot of time in LA and played heaps of shows whilst there, what was the biggest difference you found between playing there and playing in Australia? And did you really like LA because the people are mean/seemingly clean?
Ha. Kate and I were lucky enough to land in a patch of beautifully laidback cruisy humans in LA… It’s a different kind of laidback to Australia, and I really appreciated it… kind of like a mountainous, salt of the earth human beings who were so laid back they sometimes forgot to tell me they couldn’t play a gig…(ha) but again… I think we were quite lucky to be surrounded by these kind of people in the City of Angels… !!!
Like many great talents of our City, you moved on from Brisbane some years ago and now you're due back for a show at Black Bear on the 16th of June. How does it feel coming back to Brisbane?
The truth is I never really left Brisbane… my heart is still there. Every time I come back to Highgate Hill I wonder why I left, given the eternal sunshine and the doe eyed, laid back pace. Although I’m probably seeing it in a different light now that I’ve been away for so long…. but yes… I can’t wait to come back and celebrate the release of the record in Brisbane in front of the community who first supported me.
It seems from Brisbane, to Melbourne, to the Sunshine Coast and across many cities in the states, you're showing no sign of slowing down. What do you look forward to the most when you get some time to yourself?
I look forward to a quiet room somewhere.. it could be anywhere… but it just needs to be quiet…and it would be nice to have a piano, a guitar and a writing book with me.