We caught up with Bristol psych-pop maestros Cousin Kula mid-way through their latest UK tour to talk about their new music, their shared love for Syd Arthur and The Louisiana...
Here’s our chat with the talented and friendly indie-rock duo …
Did you have fun on the photoshoot? Where the hell were you?
A: We were at Tempelhofer Feld – sounds super cliché, as this is kind of the Central Park of Berlin. Everyone hangs out there in the summer, fall or spring… but we both live very close to it and we have our practice room in the actual building – so we have spent a lot of time in there for the past year.
L: It’s an old abandoned airport in Berlin that’s closed now. People now use it for cycling, running, BBQing, letting their dogs run around, etc. It’s bit of an odd space, more like a non-space really, and also very cliché place to take pictures at, but I’m glad the photographers made it look more unique.
Cool Juve top Andreya – are you a footy fan?
A: NO. I feel really ambiguous about football and its industry, but I love wearing the sweater because a) it looks really cool b) I bought it NOT KNOWING it’s a football team, which only then Laura told me about and I thought it’s really hilarious I didn’t know. I am such a phony! But this whole story behind it makes me want to wear the sweater even more. Kind of emptying out fan-culture.
Earlier this year you dropped a great new track Hot Summer – how did you cope with this summer’s roasting temperatures?
A: I loved it. I used to not be a big fan of the summer, and when I lived in California for a year, I didn’t even go into the ocean once. But something has changed and I just love being outside when it’s warm and hot – and swim! Swimming has become such a calming exercise to me, as my parents always took me to the public swimming pool when I was a child. The smell of chlorine releases endorphins inside me. And I love the pool and palm aesthetic a lot.
L: I finally got to go to a lot of the lakes surrounding Berlin. Teufelssee is probably my favourite because you can swim naked there. There is also a little plastic island in the middle of the lake where all these naked people sit on their naked butts on this floating piece of plastic … all super crammed next to each other – I think it’s very funny.
I really like the B-52s sound I hear in Hot Summer – are they a big influence for you?
A: I hear a lot of Devo and The Jam in this track too. I am actually not a big fan of the B-52s, even though I like the hits for sure…. Laura on the other hand…..
L: I love the B-52s: Their harmonies and vocal style are definitely a big inspiration for me. I also love Ricky Wilson’s guitar riffs and overall tone which often give the usually very poppy songs this certain manic-ness . So yeah, if we got to transport some of that into Hot Summer that’s a big compliment I think.
I’ve heard you pretended to be in a band before you actually had any song. Do you recommend the “fake it before you make it” approach?
A: I think we’d already started writing songs, but we didn’t have any proof on the web that we’re a band. So we just told everyone. I think fake it til you make it can be a good approach – but maybe more in other realms of the music industry haha.
You’re coming back to the UK at the end of the month – do you have a favourite spot over here?
L: Probably Brighton! We just have so many good memories there. Unfortunately, it will be a very short trip for us this time – just in and out of London for one show. London is very cool, I always hope to see someone famous when I’m there but I think I never have… .
A: I like this vintage shop in Hackney that also serves drinks and has a venue upstairs. Why is that not a thing in Berlin yet?!
What’s your favourite track to play live?
A: Somehow “Yosemite“ never gets old for me. It has a lot of breathers and is really fun to play live, because of the different dynamics. But I also really like playing the tracks from the new album – although you never know if you just like them because they are new in the set. SO COME AND SEE THE SHOW!
L: Always the newest! Even though it always feels very uncomfortable to play a new song live at first. I just think it’s amazing to get out of your comfort zone on stage again. We’ve played so many live shows (was it 100 last year?) that I need to be careful to not become toooo comfortable… I kind of love the shows the most where chaos breaks out on stage – also musically… I’m also the one constantly annoying the others in the band that I want to rearrange old songs and add a different ending or make them float into another song or have a different live version altogether like we did with “Moby Dick” and stuff like that… it just needs to stay exciting on stage and I think this energy also comes across to the audience in the end.
What was the first gig you ever went to?
L: Britney Spears during her “Ooops I did it again“ tour (which was probably my favourite phase of hers). The concert was in a huuuuge arena and a really nice bouncer told me I could come to the very front to watch her. I think I never saw a show in a big arena after that until we went on tour with this very big band in Germany called Kraftklub.
A: A very embarrassing German indie pop band called Tomte! Not much to boast with here.
When people first hear you, very few expect you to be German. Do you like the way that messes with people’s preconceptions?
L: I do like it because it shows that you cannot tell where anybody is from based on how they look or how they sound. I grew up listening to The Who, Oasis, Nirvana,… maybe someone in England listened to way more Kraftwerk and Neu! than I have and could create a way more „German“ sound… so I think it just shows how random and arbitrary these categories are.
What’s the best and worse thing about there just being two of you in the band?
A: The best thing is that we are best friends and have known each other for 8 years and it’s something that can endure a lot of ups and downs. When we’re stressed by being around people, being with each other has a calming effect on me, because I can just be myself….and fart. No just kidding, like I can just not feel stressed by being social all the time. I don’t really know what a downside is, because I imagine being in a band with 5 people feels like a hysterical breakdown every other week.
The video for #1985 is really funny, did you come up with the concept? Also, who’s the guy in the video?
A: I think it’s funny, too!!! I feel like this video hasn’t received the love it deserves.
L: The main guy in the video is called Andi Fischer who is a great painter and artist living in Berlin – the art studio you see in the video is where he actually works and the paintings are by him, too! Sometimes he makes giant sculptures of speed boats though as well… I have no idea what he wants to say with his art but to me, his style is just really reconnecting to these juvenile dreams, aesthetic and fantasies which we learn to abandon later… Anyway, we all met up, together with the cinematographer Benji Held (who is also great) and talked about how we wanted the video to be about Andio, living his normal life and constantly sharing his actions on Instagram.
You’ve been recording new tracks with former Friends guitarist Matthew Molnar, how did you guys meet and what was it about him that made you want to work together?
A: He’s actually the former keyboarder and bass player! I don’t know where this guitarist part always comes from. We actually met on the internet, basically…
L: Well, we met Julia from the band Sunflower Bean at Latitude Festival and asked her where they recorded their album. We love how both of the Sunflower Bean records really hit the sweet spot between a retro and modern production sound! She immediately connected us to their producer Matthew and a couple of months later he was already in Berlin working with us… it was all very easy to record but now we’ve been mixing for over a year which has been a little draining. But we can’t wait to release the new songs and we’re very proud of the new stuff.
Berlin’s such a cool place, what’s your favourite place to see bands play?
A: There’s a building near S-Bahnhof Sonnenallee that holds around 5 semi-legal venues and clubs, all run by young people from the scene… we’ve been going there a lot lately!
L: Yeah, we end up at Intanet Xplorer quite a lot… it’s a smaller punk venue where lots of Berlin bands play regularly: Skiing is probably my favorite at the moment. Plattenbau or No Diving (where some of our band members play) are very great as well!
When’s there gonna be a new album?!
L: We are just finishing the mixes… so hopefully soon!
A: We. can. not. wait. I am so impatient! I cannot wait. I love all the songs on the album and I feel like everyone NEEDS to hear them. Every one of them is so special to us.