For her new album Pink, Gabriella Cohen wanted to make a place in her music to really give her music a place to live in. While a barn-based recording started this process strong, touring duties meant Cohen had to finish the record on the road with some helpful engineers. We caught up with Cohen ahead of her latest tour to discuss her unusual recording process and how her family got involved in the album.
Northern Transmissions: I understand the video for “Music Machine” came together through a lot of help from your family, how did that start?
Gabriella Cohen: My sister, Sara Yael, designed all the costumes and styled the girls. She is queen of bling and has an amazing eye. You should check out her stuff at @lilycastel. My other sister, Lisa Raquel, who is one of the dancers in the video, choreographed. Together they are a powerhouse team. I learnt a lot in a very short time about being ‘on set’… and greatly appreciate anyone who works in the film world. What a crazy job.. you need such people power! My good friend Yasmin Langlois is the belle of the ball, and it was shot by Audra Murray. Ladies in the house!
NT: How did you want to set Pink apart from Full Closure, and what was your main focus for this record?
GC: I think by the nature of time (2 years since the last release) the record is naturally different from Full Closure and No Details. I wanted to create a magical world that lived and breathed a forest of old trees, towering mountains surrounded by blue ocean, colourful birds flying in the air, the sound of a gospel choir from a far off distant church, and James Brown in a Cadillac cruising down the highway with Lou Reed as his passenger.
NT: How did your countryside farm recording affect the album and what led you to record out there?
GC: I knew that I wanted to leave the city to make a record, and really live it. I only had a fantasy of doing it in the country… and then I went on a Tinder date….and within the first ten minutes I blurted out did he know of anyone who lived on a farm?…. Sure enough, one thing led to another and Illya Milstein, my fantastic tinder date and now dear friend, told me, yes he had a good friend, James Miller, living on a farm called Zintara, and yes he would drive Kate and I there the following day. After an hour or so of driving out of the city, we drove through a long stretch of trees and Kate and I stuck our heads out of the window, relishing in the glory of the mountains and the forestry and the shrieking cockatoos circling the skies…. It was exactly what I had envisioned, and more. The farmhouse was a gorgeous old relic… that night we ate good food and drank good gin, provided by farmer, James Miller.. We swam in the cold lake after dinner… Kate and I knew it was the place, and a few weeks later, we moved in and turned the farmhouse into a ramshackle recording studio. For 6 weeks we lived there in the peace and quiet, nothing disturbing us apart from the cows… who were enthusiastically welcomed by Kate, who would, in between takes, jump out of her chair and run to greet them… sometimes she would even sing them opera… and bedazzled them all.. hundreds of them.. gazing at her dolefully while she would sing.
NT: How did you find moving to America for a while help you?
GC: It was the most positive experience I’ve ever had in such a short amount of time! I very much enjoyed being in the middle of what felt like the hub of the entertainment industry. Kate and I lived in LA for one month exactly, and met a lot of wonderful human beings who have now become good friends. It’s a nice feeling to have made little communities across the globe. I am looking forward to living there for a good stint of time next year.
NT: How did finishing the album on the road change things?
GC: It definitely took longer… and there were many ridiculous points when I thought that the album would never see the light of day….(dramatic)….but I am grateful for all the space and time in between.. because it allowed me perspective… and so I had the chance to improve arrangements, re do vocal takes ect.. The album travelled around a lot… it finally finished in Baja, California, at a little restaurant on a highway… I remember the relief of connecting to the internet, and sending the final masters to my label, whilst tackling a fish taco. It was all a bit like that.
NT: What led you to self-produce this record, and what does Kate Dillon offer you as an engineer and friend in the process?
GC: Kate Babyshakes Dillon is the most nurturing, accomodating, efficient and classy engineer and producer I could ever work with. We read each others mind… she’s incredibly patient and forthcoming… especially because when we made this record I accidentally turned into W.S.G……. world slowest guitarist… and I would spend days crippling over a guitar take….. she would sit there and be so patient with me… with I am eternally grateful for. Kate also has the ability to play most instruments… and because she is classical trained… it is a total bonus… I would sing piano lines to her… and no matter how complicated the patterns were, she would play in her diligent and efficient manner. Thank you, Babyshakes!
NT: You’ve also been known to perform with choirs live on occasion so how does that start and what’s it like trying to prep that show?
GC: I had the absolute pleasure of performing a few shows with Melbourne’s Carpark Choir, led by choir director, Dan Greig. We rehearsed in a great big church. Dan wrote and arranged the choir parts for ‘I Feel So Lonely’ off the record. Performing with a choir is total fulfilment…it is ‘love’…it is thirty + people singing with you… it brings everyone together and lifts up people. It’s like my soup. I’ve never felt so happy!
Words by Owen Maxwell
June 22 – Castlemaine, Australia
June 23 – Fitzroy, Australia
June 24 – Ballarat, Australia
June 29 – Sydney, Australia
North American Dates:
09/26 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
09/27 – Montreal, QC – POP Montreal @ Piccolo Rialto %
10/01 – Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom %
10/03 – Philadelphia, PA – Underground Arts %
10/04 – Cambridge, MA – Sonia %
10/05 – Brooklyn, NY – Knitting Factory %
10/06 – Washington, DC – The Black Cat %
10/07 – Asheville, NC – The Grey Eagle %
10/08 – Atlanta, GA – Drunken Unicorn %
10/09 – New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jacks %
10/10 – Houston, TX – White Oak Music Hall Downstairs %
10/11 – Austin, TX – Barracuda %
10/13 – Phoenix, AZ – Valley Bar %
10/15 – Solana Beach, CA – Belly Up Tavern %
10/16 – Los Angeles, CA – Moroccan Lounge
10/17 – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall %
10/19 – Portland, OR – Star Theater %
10/20 – Seattle, WA – Clock-Out Lounge %
10/21 – Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre %
% with King Khan & The Shrines