Cosima’s new EP proves we need more than escapism right now
The London soul singer breaks down ‘THE FUN IS HERE?’ in all its emotional, relatable glory.
Photography Max Barnett
Whenever Cosima feels stuck in a situation, she turns to the safe haven of musicals and 1950s romantic films; something wildly different from her immediate surroundings. So, when it came to creating the artwork for her new EP, THE FUN IS HERE? -- six tracks written in response to that very feeling, plus a very special cover of Donnie and Joe Emerson’s 1979 hit “Baby” -- she wanted something that felt synonymous with that era. The result? Cosima, multiplied, looking like the cast of a Carry On film.
Released on her own South of Heaven Records, THE FUN IS HERE? tracks those times the singer has found herself craving change, searching for happiness everywhere but inside of herself — something we can all relate to. “This EP is about having to confront myself,” she says. “I was trying to find escapism anywhere I could, and once I had to stop, I created this project.” The EP is unified by the feeling of “wanting to put distance between myself and certain things — be they circumstantial things you can’t change as a child, or emotional things you can’t seem to figure out.”
Cosima has spent the pandemic piecing together this emotionally confrontational body of work that tracks breakups (“PHILLY”, “GREATEST HITS”), living a life stuck on loop (“BACKSEAT DRIVERS”) and time spent reckoning with self-acceptance (“SOMEWHERE”, “THE FUN IS HERE”). She drew from lyrics written on the walls of her bedroom and office, something she recommends as a useful editing technique. “I like how permanent it is; when you put art into the world it's a forever thing, so I like to test how it feels when the only option you have is to paint over it.”
The question mark in the THE FUN IS HERE? is, in part, a nod to the precariousness of the past year. “I also wanted to make clear that it’s about the feeling of chasing happiness and never feeling like you’re finding it,” she says. “I think there were a lot of people who had uncertainty in their lives before the pandemic happened, and maybe everyone collectively feeling it made us more comfortable to describe our own fears.” But that's not to say that the project is without hope; to the contrary, it's full of it. It forces listeners to address the things they've been ignoring all along.
Indeed, rather than the far-flung escape we’re all desperately longing for right now, Cosima hopes that the EP takes people to their truth. “In a way, this project is the sound of me stopping and allowing myself to feel everything that I needed to feel; and accepting the things I wanted to be in denial about, There are moments we all are the tiny person under that billboard,” she says, referring to the “PHILLY” single artwork in which she looks pensively beneath a billboard promising a better life. “This is a reminder, to me, that I am not alone. We are under this billboard together. Is it too much to hope that we could also change the billboard and replace dreams we are sold with dreams we can determine ourselves?”
Fresh from performing it live at Milan’s Piccolo Teatro yesterday — empty save for Valentino’s AW21 show unfolding around her — listen to THE FUN IS HERE? as Cosima walks us through her creation, track by track.
refrain 3-2 (last of england) “An ode to a London that I’m not sure exists anymore; the one I grew up in. Summers on my estate, boys playing football downstairs, clothes being thrown over balconies and families having to air out their grievances in front of the whole block for lack of detached spaces between their walls. The Last of England is also the title of my favourite Derek Jarman film and felt fitting. When I write, I sometimes weave a few different stories into one song. When I was writing the song I was comparing someone in my childhood to someone that I was seeing. There was one afternoon in summer when we were so disconnected from the outside world that the only indication of time we had was people cheering or booing while watching England lose a game during the World Cup. It’s also about how sometimes the quiet ends and fights hurt more than the big public blow outs.”
**“Someone once sent me flowers and then broke up with me less than 24 hours after they arrived. I remember going to sleep under three bouquets of flowers and just thinking ‘this is too ridiculous to be true, I have to write it down!’. The song basically wrote itself from there; it's me thinking through different romantic gestures that I have experienced and wondering, was it real or for show? I also had this really specific feeling when I was in Philly because, to me, Philly soul has always been the most romantic music in the world. I always imagined that true love felt like a Delfonics record; so I loved the image of someone driving to Philly to see someone.”
SOMEWHERE “This is a song about a kind of love I hope to experience at some point; about finding someone who is a buffer to the world around you, who makes you feel safe. It’s not straight forward but you know there is comfort there. I started writing it with Scott Storch and it was just him playing the piano and me singing; I love writing like that, all my favourite songs that I have written started like that.”
**“I just love this song so, so much. I wish I had written it, so I decided to try singing it. I love how on the original Donnie and Joe Emerson version there are these breathy backing vocals. I was listening to it one day and was like, ‘Damn… what if the whole song was just breathy backing vocals and then the lead sung playfully on top?’.”
**“This is a song about just feeling stuck and scared. Not moving because every option scares you and you just think you’ll be stuck frozen in fear forever. It’s also about the other teenagers I would see in parking lots on Friday nights when I lived in Germany; I didn’t have a group of friends there so I would walk by them and wish that I could hang out in the car park with them too.”
**“It’s hard to put into words what this song means, but for me, the lines ‘When you stopped caring where I was/ the world ran out of places I wanted to be’ sums it up. I’m stubborn and I always put up a good fight but sometimes winning an argument is more painful than losing it, even if it concludes things in the way they needed to be concluded.”
**THE FUN IS HERE
**“This and ‘GREATEST HITS’ are companion songs because they describe the fall out from the same argument. I think of ‘THE FUN IS HERE’ as a song for anyone who has ever acted out in the hope of being reigned in, or who has run away to see if they are loved enough to be brought back. It’s what happens after the person who made you feel safe is gone and now it feels like there is no buffer between you and the world, so for a moment it feels like you are losing your mind.”