If you’ve ventured onto Soundcloud in recent times, or are subscribed to YouTube channel like MrSuicideSheep or 17Tumba, chances are that you’ll have seen CoMa’s name floating about. The American-born vocalist has been making waves in the liquid electronic community recently – so I caught up with her to have a chat about her music, influences as well as her thoughts on the whole SOPA situation. Catch some of my favourite tunes of her’s littered throughout the interview, I wholeheartedly recommend that you take a listen to them….
Introduce yourself to all the people out there….
I am not terribly good about talking about myself. My name is Nicole and I am a music and art obsessed creature. Sometimes you will catch me singing as CoMa or in the new project I’ve joined just recently named “Arctica” with Ben Pickering and Jon Maynard (SoularOrder).
Where did your name come from?
Well my name is Nicole though I do not prefer to go by it unless with close friends and family. On the regular, my friends call me Cole and my middle name is Marie. My good friend Bryn one day told me. Cole… has anyone called you CoMa before? I was like… um… No. That is fucked up. She said no, no Cole. Co le. Ma rie. Then I felt really stupid and felt like… Oh. Right. After that it stuck as her nickname for me which eventually turned into my artist name.
So, how would you describe your style? I’ve always found it hard to pin-point a definition for your music.
You can really call it whatever you like I am not too bothered by style or genre tags. I have done everything from industrial to grunge to dubstep to garage. Right now my focus mainly is two projects I am doing. My work with Sorrow and then the Arctica project. I used to guest vocal quite frequently with many friends but I started to concentrate more on garage and experimental tunes more now. I find that my vocals and style tend to be more on the dark spectrum of things and so I think that is where I am most comfortable. Though no matter what I do I still mess around on guitar and piano when I can be arsed to. I really do not worry about it too much in the end though. I am just a creative person who will do whatever emotionally suits me at the time.
Arctica – The Final Word
How long have you been making music for?
I have been performing on and off since the age of 5 in theatre and such but it was not until I was 13 that I started writing my own songs.
What inspires you when you sit down to write a song?
I would not be able to really answer that I mean it varies. Sometimes I write about what is going on with me at the current time or I might be drawing from things that happened to me in the past. Other songs might be conceptual pieces based on faerie tales or stories. I couldn’t really answer that I guess.
So anyone who follows you will know that you put out a lot of tracks, so you must spend a lot of time on music.. but what do you like to do away from music?
I prefer to do music at all times. If I am not doing music I get really agitated. It isn’t a hobby or even a career for me. It is almost a biological compulsion to create noise I guess. Not sure what to call it. Need I guess. If I am not doing tunes though I am probably off making fantasy art somewhere digitally painting faeries and the like.
Ghostek – Machinehead (feat. CoMa)
As you mentioned earlier, you’re just focussing on the Arctica project and working with Sorrow.. but if you could collaborate with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Amon Tobin or Burial for sure.
What’s your favourite track that you’ve ever worked on?
I would say it is a toss-up. Of my currently released material I would say “Imagine That” which I did with Owsey is my all time favorite piece but I have some unreleased material with Sorrow which I would say is a contender to be my favorite.
Ahh, so will we get to hear this material with Sorrow soon enough or is it consigned to stay forever hidden?
As far as I am aware it will be a vinyl release on Solace.
Owsey & CoMa – Stay With Me
Looking forward to that! So away from your own music – what kind of stuff are you listening to just now?
Currently I have been listening to a lot of Burial as cliché as it sounds because I only recently got into Burial but I really do love his music. The whole Burial worship thing really put me off to his music for ages and I did not allow myself to listen to him but now that I put that aside and just listened to the music for the music I am really amazed by it. Also have been listening to a lot of Soundcloud friends tunes. Mostly my playlist consists lately of Stumbleine, Sun Glitters, Owsey, Ghostek, Sipp, Sina, Hiatus and Shura, Essay. Stuff like that. Though I have also recently gotten a bit crazy about Sleep Party People. I listen to many different things I guess.
Cool, I’m digging Owsey in particular just now. Continuing with the Soundcloud friends thing, there seems to be a current crop of you that are gaining a lot of popularity from the site. What about it do you think is so good? I’ve noticed it has a much more community vibe than other sites.
I think what is best about it is the community itself not even so much the tool. They just seem to have some really unique producers and a great audience also. I suppose Soundcloud’s best quality is the audience and artist have an equal contact ground in so far as the artist uploads material and the fans are right there. You can follow who you like. You can easily see who updates and when. The commenting on the tracks themselves on the player. The community activities. I am not really sure. I am such a Soundcloud noob really. I joined and did not expect much. Was on about two months and got featured as the artist of the day and I was still making my way around SC figuring it out so I was rather confused by it. It seems a lot of the SCers tend to collaborate together also. I do not see any other places that have that kind of interaction on artist to artist or fan to artist level. I wouldn’t know really I tend to just do my thing. I never really thought about it to be honest.
With the recent stuff about SOPA/ACTA coming out, if these laws were put into place, how do you think they would affect music, especially the whole electronic scene, which is quite heavily dependant on sampling/free downloading?
I think people would just find other ways around it to be honest. I honestly never believed it would get voted or passed. I do not know why. Call me naive but I just did not see it happening. I think eventually there would just be new places and networks to do what we have always done. They can try to regulate shit all they want but in the end people will still do whatever they like. That is life really. It would just go more underground I suppose. They can remove and delete and such but there will always be ways to get tunes.
Bustrexx & CoMa – Just Say
When you put it like that, I guess it’s not so bad. It’s like anything really: make it illegal and you just drive it underground. So, while a lot of people are loving this whole ambient/liquid scene that you’re a part of.. but do you think it’s got the ability to hit the mainstream?
I never really thought about it. I mean I do not see why not. That is another genre thing I mean anything has potential to hit mainstream with enough funding, promotion and audience. It’s like anything else. Just depends on talent and a little bit of luck. I think ambient and liquid already are in mainstream in many places in elements of other genres if you pay attention. I would be happy to see it blow up and get a bigger community but as is the community for that sound is pretty amazing and just seems to keep growing. I hope a lot of the artists I listen to get more and more popular but for me personally I am not bothered by if the things I am personally involved in go mainstream. I do music for me first. If people like it and get something out of it. That is amazing and I am really grateful but I sing because I have to. As for the genre itself like I said before though, I mean, anything has the potential to go mainstream.
Yeah, got big respect for your stance on that. Musicians who do it purely for the money irritate me a bit. To that end, have you thought about what you want out of your music career? Record deal, tours..?
I already do more than I expected to. To be honest I would just be happy being with a decent label who funds art video projects for my work like stop-motion animation and a bit of touring. Nothing crazy. Some vinyl releases and decent promo. I will always make music whether or not I have an audience though obviously the fact I have listeners is really sweet. I only made my Facebook page a little under four months ago and I really did not expect anyone to care. It went from no one listening to too much work a bit quickly. I won’t complain it is just a bit surreal to me still when I go online and I am like. “Hey that’s me! I did that!”.
Okay, so what can we expect from you in 2012? Have you got big plans for the Sorrow/Arctica projects mapped out just now or are they in the works?
You know I just create stuff as I go. Everything is still pretty new to me. My main focus though is my work with Sorrow. I hope to get some cool art projects going with the music once it is released. As for the rest who knows? I am just really glad to be doing what I love. I really have no idea what to expect I just know 2012 looks to be pretty interesting with the other projects I have going on also.
We will see I guess?
Haha, yes we will. Thanks so much for your time, it’s been great – anything of yours you wanna plug before you go?
Not of mine no but as always people need to go love on 17tumba, Mr Suicide Sheep and //needSupply//. Promoters like them are the quiet ones helping out artists all the time promoting music I might not have heard otherwise. They’ve helped a lot of people I know not just me, and generally, I love the tunes those guys post up.
Thanks a lot for your time CoMa.