Photography Simon

10 things you need to know about COBRAH, the Stockholm artist making BDSM-pop

Her new single “DEBUT” promises heavy bass that’ll make your insides shake.

by Frankie Dunn
19 March 2020, 3:00pm

Photography Simon

Stockholm artist COBRAH grew up in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second city and home to a thriving metal scene. Immersing herself in metal each weekend gave her something to do when she was, in her own words, “way too young to party, with way too many hormones to stay inside”. It was in Stockholm that the prodigious ex-flautist discovered the fetish club scene, which massively resonated with her and would go on to shape her creatively.

“When I tell people I'm an artist, they usually ask if I'm a singer, which I wouldn't necessarily say I am,” COBRAH explains. “Then they ask if I'm a rapper and I guess that's maybe more accurate. I think being an artist is about way more than the instrument you play. It's about your whole output as a person: you have to live it, love it and express every part of it in many different forms... not just music.”

And she’s been living it for two years now. In 2018 she wrote her deliciously abrasive first single “IDFKA” (I don’t fucking know anymore, obvs) with local writer-producer Hannes Roovers, who is still one of her closest collaborators. “The name COBRAH comes from the lyrics in that song, and it feels very much like me because it’s similar to my own name.” Still a secret, we hasten to add. Since then, COBRAH -- who counts the likes of Sevdaliza, Brooke Candy and Tommy Cash as big inspirations -- has released an EP called ICON as well as follow-up singles “TEA” and “DEBUT”, all of which are screaming out to be played loud at your favourite queer night.

Proudly independent, COBRAH releases her music via her own record label -- the well-named GAGBALL records -- and does absolutely everything herself: booking shows, sewing costumes, making and distributing the music, directing videos, taking photos and designing artwork. The visual for her new single “DEBUT”, out last week, is a wild floating orb of many mouths. It’s a track inspired by the new experiences of straight girls who she has casually dated in the past; the nervous excitement around doing something for the first time.

Interested? Thought so. Get to know COBRAH a little better via these 10 fun facts...

1. She was a musical theatre kid
“I studied musical theatre in high school (yes, with the glitter hotpants, hat and cane), but when I graduated it didn't feel right. I knew I wanted to be an artist, so I studied songwriting and during that period COBRAH began growing.”

2. Seeing Marina Abramović sitting on a pile of bones did something to baby COBRAH
“I got a book about 100 female artists as a kid and saw Marina Abramović when she’s sitting on a pile of bones. That was the first time I really got into an artist’s work. I was also really inspired by the artist Amanda Palmer when she was in the band Dresden Dolls. She really captured being a weird outsider with lots of crazy energy and frustration, making her own rules with shaved eyebrows and her tits falling out of her corset on stage. It was true punk.”

3. Her first single “IDFKA” still bangs. Here’s what she doesn’t fucking know anymore
“Like, honestly, everything… That song just keeps giving me a new meaning every week. It was about growing up and having a very ambivalent relationship with sex and romance. As I think most teenagers do, especially teenage girls that are looking for a place of belonging. It's easy to be taken advantage of, and it's very hard when you're a kid to realise when it happens.”

4. New single “DEBUT” is about her experience dating curious straight girls
“It’s about doing something for the first time, and all the strange excitement around that, and being the person that introduces someone to a new thing. I wanted to capture the feeling of excitement and nervousness, which I think is one of the best things in life, almost like falling in love.”

5. She likes to pair her music with movie trailers in the studio
“Like with “GLUE” we looked at the Godzilla trailer, and when we did “DEBUT” we looked at the Harley Quinn: Birds Of Prey trailer. So always something with super cool action scenes.”

6. Her energetic live shows are sweaty, awesome and a must-see
“Expect lots of sweat, heavy-ass bass that will make your insides vibrate and me working every inch of the stage in high-shine black costumes and a lot of ass shaking. I bring my two friends with me, a sick DJ and VJ. We remake a lot of the songs live to add an extra live experience.”

7. Last year she was nominated for a Swedish Grammy
“I had this idea about a music video I wanted to make and asked around if anybody was up for making it. I sat in a bunch of meetings that never led to anything and almost gave up but wrote a post in a FB group and Erik Hellmouth replied. We made it together and we have created all the visual material ever since. During that time I emailed the Grammy committee and said that I had a cool video for them but was so surprised when they announced that we actually were nominated.”

8. Charli XCX invited COBRAH to join her on stage in Stockholm
“It was C-R-A-Z-Y. I fucked up at rehearsals and was mad nervous about the show. But my sweet drag queens pumped me up and when we got on stage it was incredibly fun. I didn’t know that I was gonna do the performance until the day before so everything was very much improvised in the moment.”

9. COBRAH fully embraces her fuck ups
“I’ve learnt that you never can avoid fucking things up, and that it’s okay to do so. As long as you learn something from the fuck ups, you’re gonna be fine.”

10. She’s not going to let the global pandemic stop her big plans
“I’ve always wanted to go on tour around the world, which now seems impossible due to Covid-19. But if that’s the case for all of 2020, I wanna do an animated live show that’s streamable, and if it could be interactive that would be dope as fuck. As for now my mission is to put out more music, make new music videos and take over the world step by step.”

10 things