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by Silke Hartung

NewTracks New Artist: My Cosmic Girl

by Silke Hartung

NewTracks New Artist: My Cosmic Girl

The members of Te Whanganui-a-Tara quintet My Cosmic Girl  found each other while studying commercial music at Massey University. Something clicked and now there’s cosmic melodic indie rock for all to enjoy. NZ On Air Music featured single Help It on their NewTracks compilation this May.

What are your names, where are you from and what instruments do you each play?

Ella Doty is originally from the Tasman region. Lead singer and rhythm guitar.
Toby Sussex is also originally from the Tasman region. Lead guitar and backing vocals.
Elvis Arthur is originally from Christchurch. Keys.
Oliver Grant  is originally from Auckland. Bass.
Jackson Kidd is originally from Wellington. Drums.

Was any high school or other music training especially important to you?

Absolutely. We have all participated in various arts and music-orientated experiences from a very young age, be that music lessons, choir/band participation, extracurricular music activities in school, and parents who also teach music. Both Toby and Jackson are currently music teachers.

Any other projects that we might we know you from?

Oliver plays keys in the Wellington funk rock band Munkhouse. Toby also has solo music under his full name and has just released his first EP. Jackson is in like 10 bands – nah, jokes. He’s just a fabulous multi-talented musician who plays in Wellington bands, Adult Friends and Voodoo Bloo. Ella and Elvis have been making music from a young age, but this is the first project both have released.

What’s the background story of how My Cosmic Girl came together? 

All of us met through the Massey Commercial Music degree. Ella and Elvis were put in a group for a project and found a great creative chemistry between them. After Oliver heard what Ella and Elvis had been up to he asked if they’d like to record a single with himself, Toby and Jackson. This is why our first single Frenchie was fronted as a duo, but now that we’ve been making music together for a couple of years it was a natural progression to front the project as a band. We’ve been making tunes ever since and have been working alongside Robbie Pattinson (Sofia Machray) who is helping us produce our first EP.

How and when did you come up with the band name?

After many cosmic coincidences, Elvis would often refer/introduce Ella to people as ‘My Cosmic Girl’. There have been a lot of invisible string moments with all of us in the band and we felt it was quite fitting considering, so we’re all now each other’s Cosmic Girls.

Aside from this release, what’s been the big highlight to date?

We were lucky enough to play Cuba Dupa as our first gig which was really special and super motivating for us to keep playing live. We also recently had The Rolling Stone write about our latest single Help It, which was a bit of a pinch-me moment for all of us!

How has your music evolved from the band beginnings to now?

A lot of our current set list are songs that Ella has written that she brought to the band to expand on, but now that we have been playing together for three years it’s been a natural progression to start writing the songs from scratch together. It’s now kind of this perfect balance of these two writing styles and it works for us super well. We’ve yet to spend heaps of time writing a song because writing together comes so naturally to us as a band.

What makes Help It stand out for you as a single?

It stands out to us because it’s become such a joyous song for us to play live, and serves the purpose of being a reminder that even in darker times, a positive can always be found.

What is the story behind Help It?

Help It offers a glimpse into Ella’s personal journey. Written during a bout of thought to be seasonal depression, the song’s melancholic lyrics are juxtaposed with the band’s signature upbeat sound adding to the optimism of the tale. Ella’s revelation that her struggles stemmed from an iron deficiency adds an ironic and humorous twist to the narrative.Help It was written in a time of loneliness and thought to be a bout of seasonal depression for Ella. She wanted to write a song lyrically that was almost like an affirmation to remind herself that she can help herself. When she brought the song to the band to finish it turned into this upbeat, happy sounding song that juxtaposed the mellow lyrics. 

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

At the end of the track you can hear us all in the background laughing and being silly in the studio in a really lovely moment that we captured. It’s like being in the room with us at rehearsal and gives an authentic glimpse into what it’s like to be in My Cosmic Girl.

Who did you record the single with and where?

Help It is the first single off our first EP that will be drip-fed throughout the year, and we’ve been working with the amazing Robbie Pattinson, who has been so generous with his time and energy. Robbie heard us play at Cuba Dupa and approached us about recording some music with him. We’ve been super lucky to work with him as he has access to some amazing studio spaces and equipment so we got to get the full studio experience, which for us as musicians was such a nerdy and special adventure!

What would you like listeners to take away from this song?

We hope it’s a nice motivational message/reminder that no matter how you might be feeling, know that you can help it, and there are always beautiful moments in life to look forward to.

How do you generally work out what would make a good single?

It’s honestly just an innate feeling most of the time, but also we have been lucky to play a lot of our material live, so we can see how the audience reacts to certain tunes and which ones are the crowd’s faves.

Who else is in your team?

We’re completely independent. We’ve just been working with our producer Robbie Pattinson mentioned earlier and working alongside a handful of creatives for our visual content – Charlotte Bruin (photographer) and Vanessa Cone (photographer and designer).

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for?

Yes, we’ve got another single out in a few months called Psychic, which we have an awesome roll-out for, including a stellar music video shot and directed by Francesca Sewell, Kerry Pulham and Mason Rudd which we are so excited for.

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your song. 

  • Toby Sussex Life Slips
  • AverieJust Before You Go
  • Wet DenimStuck With You

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on NewTracks? 

No funding yet! But we’re on May’s NewTracks with Help It. Do your research and send the email! The worst they can say is no! We’ve had some awesome opportunities just from asking.

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

Love – Grrrl Music blog and podcast. Also, we’re all big fans of the podcast TapeNotes which breaks down music production and stories of albums from lots of great artists.

Who did you make the video with?

We just took turns on a handy cam and digi cam and made our music video ourselves, nothing super high-tech, just some nice moments of us that we captured while making the EP. Shout out to Bryn Sussex for the shots of us playing live.

Any last words?

Give us a spin, we’re your new favourite band.