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  • Carola Kolbeck

Aussie Twin-Power - Cosmo’s Midnight Set the Popsky Alight

© Xinger Xanger

Cosmo and Patrick talk about working with a sibling, writing music for BTS, and why social media is a double-edged sword for artists.

Making music with your siblings has been a successful bet for many bands, as The Beach Boys, The Bee Gees, The Kinks, and The Corrs prove. This has certainly also worked for Australian twins Cosmo and Patrick of Cosmo’s Midnight, the Aria-Award-nominated musicians who have captured their fans’ hearts across the globe. Having been making music for over a decade, the brothers owe their impeccable music taste and ability to set pop heaven on fire to their artist parents and to spending their formative years listening to Kylie Minogue and 2000s dance classics. Having written songs for some of the music industry’s heavyweights, such as BTS, NCT Dream, Ruel, Yung Bae, and Baynk, Cosmo’s Midnight have a natural ability to not only write their own hits but also capture the ideas of other successful artists. 

With the release of their third studio album ‘Stop Thinking, Start Feeling’ imminent, INJECTION spoke to Cosmo and Patrick about their collaborations, what it’s like to work with a sibling, and how social media has influenced the music industry.

Can you tell us a little about Cosmo’s Midnight, the story of when it all started, to where you are now?

We’ve been doing this for almost ten years, but it’s probably because of our older brother that we got into music in the first place. We were impressionable young brothers and copied every trend he followed. At one point he wanted to be a DJ and downloaded this software called Ableton, and naturally, we got curious about it, too. But our curiosity turned into a full-on addiction, and I spent every day learning about every little corner of this music writing programme. It was such a brave new world for me at the time, it felt so exciting. 

A couple of years later, when we were at uni, we did this remix for another Australian artist and ended up winning this competition. A little while later we just got hit up out of the blue by our current manager and he just said: ‘I want to sign you guys, you are great!’ He really cultivated us, and since then we’ve gone from innocent and naive beginnings to very considered, and reflective songwriters. Writing this latest album has been such a fun process. We’re huge fans of '60s and ‘70s music and the turn-of-the-millennium dance culture. All of those are a huge influence on this record. 

What’s it like working closely with a sibling? Can you share how you navigate the ups and downs of your relationship within the creative industry?

We definitely have tiffs, now and then. But we stick together, we make it work. We are so close, so nothing ever results in tears or splitting apart. Also, musically we both have different abilities and talents that each of us brings to the tracks so we manage to reach a mutual understanding of what is best for each song.

There is definitely some quantifiable thing about working closely with a twin, such as being truly comfortable around someone. When you're writing with your brother, you don't have to worry about anyone’s pride or ego. It’s just like: Let’s write the music!

© Xinger Xanger

Let’s talk about your latest single ‘Fantasy’ featuring Franc Moody from London. How did you meet and how did the single come to life?

We met through our managers who arranged a session. We were already fans of their music so it was really lucky that we had that connection. We just immediately clicked and I think we wrote ‘Fantasy’ in one session. We wrote a few other songs just because we were having a lot of fun jamming and they have a lot of good toys to play around with in the studio. As songwriters, generally, everyone has their bag of tricks and you can fall into patterns and habits. But when you’re collaborating, your bag of tricks and their bag of tricks are new to each other and that can create some new artistry within a unique combination. 

You’ve written songs for the likes of BTS, NCT Dream, Ruel, and many others. What is it like working with other artists and what’s the most important thing you learnt from producing music?

When you’re writing for someone else, you're just trying to help them realise their vision. It’s really challenging because you're interpreting other people's words. They may be very talented singers and songwriters, but they may not necessarily have the language to explain what they want you to do. So they often speak in broad strokes about vibes and you just have to work it out, through trial and error, until you feel like you hit a nerve.

Working with BTS wasn’t really planned. We wrote this gospel soul song with London artist Joe Femi Griffith. We just wrote it for fun, but then we got approached by their management who asked if we could write a song for them. We felt that this song was perfect for them so we sent them the demo. They loved it and just sent some small changes through, it was a really straightforward process, and working with BTS was very chill.  It also depends on what the artist wants. If they have a very clear list of things they want, you just have to fulfil the brief. And at other times it's more like exploring and like an adventure.

If you could change something in the music or creative industry, what would it be?

I’d make sure that people can actually make a living from music. Even with social media’s disruption of the music industry, I feel it's harder than ever to really make a living through streaming. Essentially, any money musicians make comes from live shows and merch sales - unless you get billions of plays. I also think people's attention spans have shifted away from any kind of long format. People don't necessarily want to go out and listen to a whole LP anymore unless they're big, die-hard fans of an act. I think it'd be nice if people had that kind of inherent patience for musicians and their music. 

It’s also really hard to be a new artist these days because the market is so over-saturated because of social media. But that said, there are more niches than ever to find your audience and your family. So it's a double-edged sword. 

In your opinion, how has social media influenced the music industry?

Nowadays it feels more commodified than ever before and lots of labels are looking at things such as someone's social media performance, rather than trying to cultivate the art itself. They want to see that a person can sell themselves, because social media has been such a disrupter, where people can self-market and self-promote, and find a platform on their own. They don't need anything other than distribution and you don’t need a label for that. 

Unfortunately, the other side of that is that music has lost a bit of its mystery. Every artist has to cultivate a parasocial relationship with their fan base and give them insight into their lifestyle and who they are. Fans want to buy into your life and not just the music. And artists who just release their music and remain a bit more distant, are met with less success. That’s a real shame because many musicians make music because they struggle to express themselves verbally or socially and their art is their way to get their feelings across. And that just feels a bit at odds with why music exists in the first place. 

© Xinger Xanger

Do you think the arts are valued enough in society?

Most people put emphasis on what we call ‘essential jobs’ and I think it's annoying that people constantly undermine the arts. They say: ‘Oh, you're studying art at university, that's like throwing money away!’ Because it’s so hard to find a career in the arts, it’s hard to justify it financially. But that’s just because the government and society as a whole have been undermining the arts for the better part of a century. The annoying thing is that the arts are undervalued because people don't understand that artists want to do these things almost selflessly because artists are interested in the key aspects of humanity. 

And of course, you can go out there and become a lawyer or a doctor and be helpful to people and get lots of money. But I think people who are invested in the arts are people who are romantic and want to contribute to the human dialogue, for hundreds of years. They want to nurture and fix the soul-side of humanity and unfortunately, people don’t see that as valuable or necessary. So it's only until it's gone, that people will appreciate it again.

Another issue is that creative careers are seen as a privilege and restricted to the middle and upper classes because, if you're of lower socioeconomic status, all you're doing is hustling all day to get by. This in itself is crazy because most of the best music of ours and humanity’s lifetime has come from adversity and from people who used it as a means to survive. And now it's flipped on its head where people who are already in a very comfortable position can pursue the arts and music. 

Talking about art in your lives, you’re not just talented musicians - your style is incredible and the ideas for your music videos are super cool. Where do you get your inspiration from and how do you fill up your creative well?

I feel we need to give a shout-out to Mum and Dad; they're both artists as well. Dad’s a painter and Mum’s a composer. So, I think we almost had to go on this creative path from the beginning. I look at photos of my parents when they were around our age and they looked so cool. I would love to go back and hang out with them when they were living their best lives. And, I feel like the biggest way to fill up on creative energy is to consume as much art as possible. Whether it be film, TV, reading, going to art galleries,....

And with our style, I think it’s a bit like the way we make music. What you do is that you never really just intentionally do things, you just stab your way around in the dark and you find or latch onto things. That’s what we've always done with music. It’s like creating a collage, where you listen to all sorts of music, taking little snippets of the things you love best. Then you filter them down through a mesh and what comes out at the bottom is this combination of everything you love, focused through your own experience. And that's kind of the way we like to dress as well. I hold on to clothing for years, I’ve had some stuff for a decade.

It's also about being open-minded and about the people you surround yourself with, like people who push boundaries and are a bit unorthodox. Those people form your sense of style, of music, and everything. We've been living in the inner West of Sydney for 30 years now and managed to cultivate a few really special friendship groups, and I feel like they all offer something different. 

What is Cosmo’s Midnight doing for the rest of 2024?

We have our new album ‘Stop Thinking Start Feeling’ coming out, and then we are starting our tour in the Americas in June. We’re coming back to Australia to continue touring in July,  then heading over to Asia in September, the UK and Europe in October, and back to Australia to finish 2024. And then we’ll do it all over again. We just want to be there when inspiration strikes and find new things to get excited about. 

© Xinger Xanger

There is no doubt that Cosmo and Pat have worked hard to get where they are today and that their success is a product of curiosity, determination, and perseverance, through lockdowns and the constant threat of a volatile music industry. But it’s also true that their music contributes something to the vast soundscape of the 21st century, that connects with people and sets the pop sky and their fans’ hearts alight. In the end, as their new album tells us, sometimes we have to just stop thinking and start feeling.  

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