Cosmic Blonde’s story begins at ELLA — an all-female rock music program located on a remote island in the Baltic Sea, where instrument instruction, music production and gender studies are part of the curriculum.
Since graduating, Cosmic Blonde has gained a reputation in Sweden as a great live act, thriving on improvisation and a powerful interpersonal chemistry. They recently finished a nationwide tour, where critics were impressed by their innovative take on blues rock. Audiences have been equally smitten by the trio’s colorful soundscapes, magic loops, beautiful vocals, heavy riffs and deep, funky elements.
In the spring of 2014, they released their self-titled debut single on the Ella Music Nation label. I had a chance to chat with Emma Öberg (guitar/vocals), Hanna Westberg (bass), and Amanda Ahlerup (drums) about their last year and growth as a band.
She Shreds: What was it like to study at ELLA?
Cosmic Blonde: We were isolated from our everyday life and could fully focus on developing our musical skills for two years. The second year at ELLA is project-based, so you form a band, rehearse, book gigs and tours, and learn how to write songs together and how to record them. We also learned about publicity and gained a broad knowledge of every aspect of the music industry. The most important thing is we were the ones who were in charge of the whole process.
What’s the rock scene like in Sweden?
It’s not a very big scene, but there are many great bands and people who arrange a lot of great festivals like Fest i Logen and SandvikFest, and venues like Far i Hatten, Truckstop Alaska, and Skylten. We are very lucky here, since we have educational organizations that allow us to apply for support funding from the government for rehearsal space rent equipment, or other necessary things. This funding is called “cultural support” since the government wants to support people doing creative activities. We also have city-run music schools that give all kids an opportunity to learn instruments for free from a very young age. Overall, Sweden is a very good country to live in if you do a lot of creative stuff.
What is your songwriting process like?
I think I’d just like to really stress the importance of playing with people you like, no matter how many you are. You can be everything from two to ten people and it can function really great, but also be a disaster if you’re not on the same page and enjoy each other’s company.
What do you want to get out of playing live and what do you want the audience to experience at your shows?
Playing live is what we want to do. It gives our songs a new dimension, and we also have a need to push ourselves to a different level. When you’re in the rehearsal space, you’re in a safe spot. Playing live is about testing your skills together as musicians, but also seeing where the songs lead you and if there’s anything to improve on. Playing live is the most developing thing you can do as a band.