Rob Cosh Interview


Rob Cosh may not be a familiar name to many who have been around the netlabel community for a long time.  However, his credentials are impressive: he is a former band member for Brad Sucks, and as an audio  engineer he has worked on projects for:  Brad Sucks, The Peptides, Jam Toast,Grill Shots, Rob Meyer, Gert, Shot Pounder and Margaret Tobalowska.  He is also a piano tuner (a highly skilled profession) and web designer.

We chatted about his inspirations, his choice of releasing music under Creative Commons licenses, and the upcoming release of his latest through Magnatune.  His music is currently available through his website: Rob Cosh Music, as well as BandCamp and iTunes.

The Interview

Part One: General Questions

Please introduce yourself to our readers.

My name is Rob Cosh. I’m an independent musician in Ottawa, Canada. I’m also an audio engineer, piano tuner and web designer.

Do you have any aliases?

Yes – I have also released music as ‘thehipcola’.

Do you focus on specific styles of music?

I mainly produce electronica – thehipcola works with harder edged, alternative electronica – and the work I’m doing right now as Rob Cosh is half ambient/half very chilled out.  Both projects share a cinematic approach to production insofar as I spend a lot of time working on the space of the music – preferring the widest possible stereo image – something that really draws the listener out of their environment and into mine.  I spend a fair amount of time capturing natural ambience through field recording and that inspires me to go wide and deep with my productions.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by creativity in all of its forms. Nature is the ultimate creative experience for me – it doesn’t get more creative than that – hence it shows up regularly in my work in the form of recordings and/or inspiration.

Name an artist, place, event, thing, etc. that has inspired you. 

See above – as for who, well – I find I’m most inspired by creators who create exclusively according to their inner voice.   Much of the creative impulse can be copycat or derivative – but those with a  truly unique, individual voice – whatever art form they work in – those people really impact me.   My list of those people include – Loscil, Aphex Twin, NIN, Pink Floyd, The Orb, Amon Tobin, Don Ross..  I could go on – there are many.   It’s not so much a desire to create something that could reside in any of their worlds as it is a desire to create as authentically as it appears they do.

What drives you to create music?

Something deeply connected inside.   I often get a sense that creating is an act of channeling something greater than one’s own desires.   Giving one’s self over to this process of making something simply because it needs to made.   I spend a fair bit of time exploring the inner world through contemplation, meditation and general mindfulness – and I really think that creating music for me is a beautiful opportunity to be fully present in the moment.    Nothing is more presencing than the act of creation.

What values do you wish your creativity to express?

Beauty.  Space. Thoughtfulness. Playfulness.  Exploration.

What role does community play in what you do?

Community is a wonderful feedback loop for what we create.  Releasing an album into the wild public is such a humbling experience – it’s really incredible.   I’ve found a great community in the Ambient Facebook group and a few other online hubs – and I’ve noticed that inherent in the online-ness of today’s communities is the increased amount of promotional noise – mainly artists promoting their own work.   I wish it was more about discovering other people’s work and the dialogue that can occur from those discoveries, but it is what it is.   It’s a new world for musicians, one that’s changing quickly – and I’m very appreciative of the wide access to tools and resources we have for creation AND promotion of our work.  I’m excited to see where it all goes over the next 10, 20 years.

What are you working on at the moment?

I have just released an album entitled, “PONDER” which is available on iTunes, Bandcamp, Amazon and which has just been picked up for release by the longstanding Magnatune label which I’m very excited about.

At the moment I’m participating in a 48Hour film project as the soundtrack composer – so this weekend I’ll be on tap to create an original score for a film that is to be created, shot and edited to completion in 48 hours – should be a lot of fun.  I’m working on some material with another musician that is decidedly pop/rock where we are using typical instrumentation like guitars, drums, bass and recording to tape.   And all the while I continue to explore the more esoteric, spacey side of ambient electronica.  I’m working a lot more with getting sound out of the computer and through a speaker and back into the computer – perhaps with a stay on magnetic tape in the signal path – and seeing how that all comes together.  I’ve fallen in love (again) with tape and the analog domain – so this will figure prominently on my next album.  Capturing sound as it moves through air from a speaker or an instrument is my focus right now.

Part Two: Creative Commons

How did you get into Netaudio and Creative Commons?

I found out about this from a good friend, Brad Sucks.  He really helped put the notion of sharing music on the map, so to speak.

When and why did you start releasing music under a Creative Commons license?

I first discovered Creative Commons through Brad Sucks – one of the originators of giving music away.  I got involved with Brad as a live band member and then with mixing his last two albums – and through that experience I really saw first-hand the power and success of giving the music away with a licensing structure that supports sharing and attribution.   It’s a brilliant system.

Do you release all your work under a Creative Commons license?

I do.  I want my music to be shareable and also for it to be used as a creative tool for others if they feel moved to do so.   Creative Commons allows me to support both ideals while ensuring that attribution is preserved.

Any neat stories about releasing music under a Creative Commons license?

Music of mine continues to be picked for use in podcasts, video and indie games and some cool remixes have shown up out of the blue – it’s all very cool and very organic.   This is the cool part of Creative Commons.

Any negative stories about releasing music under a Creative Commons license?

Not that I’m aware of.

Part Three: The Future

What is next for you?

More of the same I expect – which is to say, I’m not sure other than that there will definitely be more.  I have a lot more ambient/chill electronica to write and I’m excited about the sounds and textures I’m coaxing out of the studio right now.   I also have designs on some mainstream pop-rock music as well as some instrumental acoustic guitar, finger-picking style that I’ve been working on for some time.   The edgy alternative musical mood I spent some time in seems to have passed – but occasionally I feel drawn to making some loud noise there too – so really, it’s all on the horizon.  🙂

Do you have an upcoming event / release / etc. that you want to mention / promote?

The Magnatune release of “PONDER” is coming up – although no date has been set as of yet.  In the new year I am hoping to release a series of EP’s that are thematically focused.   More to come on this!  🙂

In Closing

Rob brings up an interesting point about the promotional noise online.  I’ve noticed this as well.  We seem to have a lot of places where musicians and artists gather and promote their work.  However, there seems to be a disconnect in the amount of discovery that is happening.  Part of that has to do with the way Social Networks tend to work.  Part of it is the ongoing struggle between the old music industry an the new possibilities the Internet has given us all.

I’m really happy to hear that Rob’s latest release, Ponder, is being released through Magnatune.  This is one of the places that I’ve always found some really excellent music, and think Rob’s work is a perfect fit for them.

Posted by George De Bruin