Gabriella Cohen is a modern psychedelic prophet who layers drawling vocals, heartache, and healing over a background of Velvet Underground-esque guitar distortion. Though you may recognize the Melbourne-based artist from her other musical project, the Furrs, Gabriella recently released Full Closure and No Details under her eponymous solo project.
Today, we’re premiering the video for “Sever the Walls,” a playful and surreal accompaniment to the single. Gabriella describes it as a “shiny monster.”
Via the internet, I recently chatted with her about the video, a few of her influences, and reveling in creative control.
ANNA WHITE: We’re premiering your new video for “Sever the Walls.” What was the inspiration for that video?
GABRIELLA COHEN: I don’t know! We’ve always been obsessed with green screens. I guess we just wanted to match the song’s intensity.
It’s a really great song! What is it about?
I was just trying to write a good pop song! It was late at night, and my keyboard was there. I don’t know if it’s even a pop song anymore, it just turned into, like, a shiny monster.
I like that! So tell me about the album title, Full Closure and No Details. What does that mean?
I was sitting down, trying to think of a good name, you know, something half decent, and it came to me! The name makes a lot of sense now that I’ve had a lot of distance from the album. It’s unfolding itself.
How does it make more sense now?
Because there was definitely full closure, but no details, in what happened. But that’s as far as I’ll go.
Gabriella Cohen is your solo project, but you also work with the Furrs?
Yeah, but they live in Brisbane and I live in Melbourne, so we’re not really working together right now. Not anymore, unless they move to Melbourne.
How does the process of making music in your solo project differ from your work with the Furrs?
I do everything for Gabriella Cohen. I write all the parts, and I think the Furrs was more collaborative. Me and the other singer, we switched off between lead singer and guitar, but we wrote everything together, so it’s different being fully in control.
Do you prefer being in control of it all?
Yeah, there’s up sides, you know. It sucks to be in the position of the dictator all the time, though. It’s not that fun all the time, but you have to do it. Get your message across, your vision across.
Do you feel that the song material changes a lot when it’s just you writing the songs?
What are your main influences?
I’ve been listening to heaps of Bach recently. Listening to him, and just piano music in general is making me think in ways I’ve never really thought before. But apart from that, Lou Reed and Bob Dylan. I just can’t get past them. It sounds pretty boring, but I’m always going back to the Beatles, Lou Reed, stuff that was written a long time ago now.
Why do you think you gravitate toward that?
The songs are better! But then, it’s completely contradictory, because then you’ve got Beck and Tame Impala and Devendra [Banhart], and Little Joy, and their songs are brilliant. But I don’t know. I just keep going back. Oh man, I just named all male artists, but there are definitely some females I love as well, I just couldn’t tell you right now.
You play with two other girls, yes?
Yes, Bella is the drummer. But sometimes when she doesn’t drum, Danny does, and he’s a boy. Then there’s Kate on lead guitar, and we recorded and engineered the album together.
Oh, what was that like?
It was great! [Kate’s] parents went on a cruise for 10 days, so we decided to take all our musical shit and turn her place into a studio! It was the best time I’ve ever had. It was really random; we didn’t know we were going to record an album, it just kind of happened.
And the whole album was recorded in just 10 days?
Yeah, and we played everything on the album.
Wow, that’s impressive! Ten days is a very short amount of time for a whole album!
Yeah! Ten days, two microphones, two girls, yeah, it’s so cliché! Is it?
It doesn’t sound cliché! You just moved to Melbourne, correct?
Yeah, we moved from Brisbane to Melbourne about nine months ago. It was really great—we arrived at midnight in a big truck with all of our stuff, to a brand-new house we had never seen before. That was kind of our initiation.
Do you feel like the Melbourne scene has been affecting your writing style?
Yeah, totally! It’s ever changing and ever inspiring. Recently we’ve been performing with a 40-piece choir sometimes. I don’t think I would have done that if I didn’t move to Melbourne, I think Melbourne definitely shaped that.
Tell me more about the choir! How did you end up playing with a full choir?
I just got them! It’s all on the YouTube. They’re the best, they’re called the Carpark Choir, and they’re this gospel 30- to 40-piece choir that just rock. They’re fabulous. They sing about five songs of ours on stage, with the band as well. One day I want to give them dance moves, inspired by the chorus line or something like that.
Do you arrange parts for them, or do they figure that out themselves?
I work together with the choir director, and he arranges on top of my original arrangements, so we work together, and then he comes back with the choir all prepared. I’d love to hook up with more choirs when we tour North America, just have them all over the world—do a big church tour or something.
Next tour! What are your plans for the future?
We’re going on a North American tour in November. I just want to keep playing shows and keep growing, really, so I can take it easy after five years and retreat in a forest and maybe write film scores or something. I don’t know what the future holds, really, but I can tell you that we’re going to keep rocking on.
If you have one piece of advice, or one thing you’d want to say to Rookie readers, what would it be?
Listen to the album Father, Son, Holy Ghost by the band Girls! ♦