Gabriella Cohen Paints Textured Strokes of Energy on New Genre-Blending Album 'Blue No More'
Holding the attitude of a divine '60s eclectic folk rock star, alt-folk and blues singer-songwriter Gabriella Cohen matches this energy with her raw lyrical portraits, exploding guitar solos and luscious vocals on her new self-released album Blue No More.
After a break spanning over a few years, the Brisbane-born, Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Gabriella Cohen has jumped back on the scene with a feast of songs ready for her listeners to devour. With self sufficiency and intense desire, Cohen's third full-length album Blue No More was mostly produced and recorded by Cohen alone before she enlisted the help of a few friends to add some extra spice to the mix. Working with Sam Cromack (Ball Park Music), JB Paterson, and Matthew Malone and Xavier Butler from Chaos Magick Studios; the gifted team were able to assemble Cohen's brilliant words and ideas into one of her best projects yet.
After co-fronting the shambolic garage pop duo The Furrs and releasing two solo albums — 2018's Pink Is The Colour Of Unconditional Love and her 2016 debut Full Closure and No Details —Cohen has crafted a spectacular new album with a genuinely exploratory feel that genre-blends and weaves in-and-out of high octane folk pop and low solemn acoustic tracks — it almost feels like taking a peek at each side of her brain, with the album being divided into two distinct halves. The record starts off with tracks such as "Frangelico Dreams" and "Just For The Summer," inducing infectious guitar riffs, catchy choruses, and addictive rhythms that are bound to have you skipping around your room with high spirits. Tracks such as "Water" and "24 Sexton Street" later follow to bring listeners back down to earth after running out of breath from previous dancing, with soft vocal melodies and mellow acoustic guitar.
We caught up with Cohen to to snatch a glimpse at the recording process of her celestial new album, indulge in what the songs are all about and learn about her time working with her talented recording crew.
Paperface Zine: Hey Gabriella! It's so exciting to hear new music from you, I (and I'm sure many others) have been waiting for you to come back with another album! How are you feeling about the new album and re-emerging after the pandemic?
Gabriella Cohen: Oh, that is so lovely to hear. It feels wonderful to come back with a third record in my hand, finally. The pandemic was relatively kind to me in the way that it gave me time to focus on finishing the album with little distraction.
I read that your first album was recorded in only ten days! What did the recording process for this third LP look like?
Haha, yes, that is true. The only reason we did the first LP in such a short amount of time is because Kate Dillon's parents (who's home we were recording in) had left town on a ten day cruise. This time round, though, it was much more deliberate for a few reasons.. I had time to figure out what I was going to do… and how I was going to do it.. and this was the first time I wasn't working with Kate as my co-producer and engineer, so I had to step it up in all areas.
Your new album, Blue No More, was primarily self-produced and recorded, however you did work with a few select friends including Sam Cromack, JB Paterson, Matthew Malone and Xavier Butler. How did working alone contrast to working with a team?
It made a lot of sense to record the solo tunes myself ("Seagull," "Blue No More," "24 Sexton St," "Rewind") at my family's home in Crystal Waters, where I wrote most of them. I wanted people to hear the geckos, crickets, sighs, birds in the trees. The songs on Blue No More really belong to their own individual worlds… so with that in mind it made sense to assign them different recording landscapes.. different people.. different energies. I hope that comes across when people listen to it. I like working alone, but for band stuff, I was very grateful to have such a colorful palate of fine folk to record with. Working with good friends makes me extremely fulfilled... all I desire is to record with people I cherish and admire… and have a good old time while doing it.
You have described that the recording sessions were a super positive experience, and compared it to the feeling of Christmas which sounds wonderful! What made these sessions such a delight?
Ha, I think I was talking about recording with Sam Cromack when I mentioned Christmas. Firstly, I'm a major fan of his band, Ball Park Music, so it was an honor to be able to work together. Secondly, at that point I was pretty fed up with pretending to be a one-woman band in my bedroom, so you could imagine my excitement at the prospect of doing 9-to-5 sessions in the studio with a real life human, not midi. I wanted to be put to work.. it had felt like an eternity. After each session I was high as a kite. Sam understood pretty quickly what I wanted to execute and matched my vision with some red hot production and attention to detail.
"Frangelico Dreams" reflects on the history of Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys and his memoir which you were inspired by. What other artists have been a major influence to the creation of this record?
There is no particular main influence on Blue No More.. it's more so the byproduct of all the music I adore, funneled through me, whipped into shape and presented in the form of a decadent smorgasbord.
I love how the album has its share of both fun upbeat songs and more solemn folk vibes. How did you shape the sound of the tracks? Does each track follow an intentional emotional journey as we listen through the album?
I think I always had it in my mind that there would be two clear cut sides. About ten years ago I listened to Megapuss' Surfing on vinyl, and I remember they had a morning side and an evening side. That sentiment stuck with me.
I am interested in learning more about the track "Blue No More," with your ambient vocal harmonies and the sound bite of people cheering — only to be wound down like a dead battery. What is this song about?
Yeah, my parents were pretty concerned after they heard that track. Haha. That song came about very quickly one afternoon… I was experiencing a bit of dryness in the old writing well.. and was feeling quite downhearted.. so I did what I know best, grabbed my SM57 and closed the doors which separated my sister and niece from my little section of the cabin, and sung my wee mantra; "Blue No More." The vocal takes are unchanged. I always record wherever I go and I'm a sucker for nostalgia, so it was fitting when I found some audio timestamps I'd collected previously which worked within the song. Please note the guest appearance by a few whales and some ambulance sirens.
The album has a real summer vibe to it, I think that it is going to be the perfect introduction into 2022! How do you want listeners to feel after listening to the album?
Thank you so much! I very much hope so. And to answer your question.. oh, boy! I want listeners to feel it all… but mostly.. I want them to feel love….. elation… humanness… You know, all the things.
Gabriella Cohen's Blue No More is out now.
Stream the new album below.