Interview: Cosmo Jarvis

Larry Day chats to Cosmo Jarvis

Posted on Aug 15th, 2012 in Features and Interviews, Cosmo Jarvis / By Larry Day
Cosmo Jarvis With a new film coming out and Think Bigger making waves across the music industry, Larry Day chats to the workaholic Cosmo Jarvis

Bearded: Your film debut 'The Naughty Room', is out soon. Can you tell us a bit about it?

Cosmo Jarvis: It's an extremely low budget black comedy about parenting, friends and how society gives the two their qualifications to be what they are... it's about your mates as parents, and what you can learn from them. Dealing with parents. It was made with fuck all with a completely 'inexperienced' crew. Inexperienced from an industry perspective anyway.

What was the inspiration behind it?

I had a real urge to make a feature length movie - it's like a natural transition from music videos. I knew it had to have an arc and a story, something wholesome. It is abstract, but it's not arthouse - it's not a “Why did I fucking watch that...?” kind of film. It's based on growing up, friends and real life. It's also visual manifestation of society's standards.

As a newcomer, has it been tough getting taken seriously in the cut-throat film industry?

Definitely. I’m a tiny blip. The film's a tiny blip on the year. The hardest thing was prioritising the production elements and cast and getting people to take risks. Dealing with people like locations managers was tough, they would keep coming up and asking if I’d done a risk assessment. I didn't even know what that was at the time.

Any other film projects in the pipeline?

I’m three-quarters of my way through a second draft for a new project. It's called 'Abandon Hope' or 'A Band On Hope', and it's about a metal band exploring creative freedom and exploring their inherited dreams.

Your new album, Think Bigger, is very different from your debut, it's a lot more mature. Was there any obvious point where you decided to change things?

Not hugely. 'Humasyouhitch/Sonofabitch' was me being literal and true to myself about personal topics and it was told through my own voice at the time. My newer stuff is from the point of view of characters, and it's about emotional scenarios I've made up. With all my genre-hopping, I’m trying to be more concise to be taken seriously. A lot of people will expect a certain level from a third album.

What's your favourite song on the album? Any you're particularly proud of?

'Hopeless Bay' from a melodic point of view, and 'Sunshine' from a production perspective. I loved trying heavy thrashy stuff properly, I mean I've tried before but this time I took time over dynamics and it went well, I think anyway.

Is there any overriding message you were trying to get across?

Not deliberately, just innate subconscious themes. I usually write about similar things, like assessing what the individual can do, and bettering yourself. Being able to take good from the bad. Being okay with life.

What sort of music do you listen to? Are there any bands you love at the moment?

Everything. Tom Waits, The Grateful Dead, The Beatles... Opera, I love opera music at the moment. Rachmaninov. The Bronx, all that stuff. Drum 'n' Bass. The only one which has been constant throughout my music is Tom Waits - he's definitely good for melody.

You play a lot of instruments on your albums. Do you have a favourite to play?

Banjo! I've not really recorded it before, and it's much louder than you expect. It's diverse with the strumming and plucking and you can play so many genres with it.

You've apparently written around 270 songs. How do you get the inspiration to write so many? What happens to the ones that don't get onto the albums?

They just go onto the next album. It's useful having a wide amount to choose from, it allows for a good filtration process. We - my managers and I - can choose from a lot. When we choose I go back, re-record and hone it in for the album version. I just write about anything that's interesting or worthwhile. I like to try and reassure people who don't think they're important. And sometimes, I like to write about the totally imaginary as well.

'Gay Pirates' was pretty famous. Were you surprised at how massive it got, and how many big names - like Stephen Fry and Kylie Minogue - endorsed it?

Absolutely. Huge surprise. The best thing was knowing that it didn't end up a big camp gimmick just because it references homosexual love, and that people realised it's more than just about being gay, that it's just about love.

Why do you think it got as big as it did?

Because it's only got four chords, simple. I was being juvenile and messing around on the mandolin, trying to write as a simple pirate. It's a shanty with pop qualities. It's definitely passionate - and the gay community approved of it, as it's a credible love song which didn't acknowledge the differences but rather celebrated universal love.

Any plans for the near future?

I’m going straight into the next film, hopefully it'll be out next year. And of course, record the next album and get it straight out - though that might be a while because the campaign for Think Bigger will probably last a while. Got some other side-projects too, I’m trying to get into acting and editing on the sidelines too.