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Cosmorat is a labour of love

09 June 2024, 12:00

Ahead of their set at SON Estrella Galicia's micro-festival in London, Taylor Pollock and Olly Liu dive into the genesis of Cosmorat.

US-born and London-raised project Cosmorat consumes the lives of its mastermind Taylor Pollock and Olly Liu in the best way possible, even if things can be frustrating sometimes. But when they're turning their hands from web design to video, audio and graphics, as well as visual projects in the name of a creative kinship, nothing feels better.

Ahead of the group's set at the SON Estrella Galicia's micro-festival at Two Palms and Paper Dress Vintage in London this week, the pair are diving in on what it is that continues to bring them together. They're currently obsessed with art books. "We keep going to this Oxfam on Muswell Hill and buying as many art books as we can because they're so cheap," vocalist Pollock laughs. Obsessively trawling through books or the furthest reaches of the Internet Archive, these ideas are composing themselves into Cosmorat's creativity. Figuring out how this endeavour is coming together is why Pollock and guitarist Liu work well together. "I give it to you and then you spend seven hours figuring it out," Pollock laughs to her bandmate, guitarist Olly Liu. It's an aspect they share and is one reason Cosmorat is their collective ambition.

After Pollock and Liu met at college in Boston, the pair have tried their hand in other bands whilst balancing degrees and working in studios as audio engineers. But before they met, the pair had their separate dues to pay.


Growing up in a small town outside of Pittsburgh, Pollock grew up in a musical, albeit Catholic, family ("Weirdly enough, none of them pursued music, all of them are in medicine or engineering,"). But it was her uncles who offered her a glimpse into band life. "Both of my uncles were in blues bands," she recalls. "They played in dive bars around the Midwest. So there was a lot of me going to dive bars with them and singing blues covers of songs." It's this element of her life that would lead to her kinship with Liu.

Making his way to the US from his hometown of Bath, Liu attended the same college after eagerly eyeing it up. Being able to settle there for a few years, he recalls also having a musical background, but mostly from his brother who, after needing to step back, offered him his place in a Blues Brothers tribute band. "At 15 that was the dream job for me," he laughs. "So I missed out on a lot of parties and hanging out with people at school, but I ended up going and playing lots of weddings all the time." The pair's shared affinity for the Blues stands even today: "We still love blues music so much, honestly, we listen to Robert Johnson on repeat," Pollock says.

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But, wanting to start a band, Pollock posted on a Facebook group looking for participants. After one non-starter: "I had somebody else in the band, who actually couldn't be in the band anymore, because he had to have his commitments to Weed Wednesdays, and that was the only day that we could rehearse," she laughs. "So I needed a new guitarist."

Living on the same floor in their dorm, it wasn't until they were in a practice room one night that Pollock had an idea and decided to bounce it off of Liu – and the rest is history. "It was weird because I've never really written with anybody in that sense," she recalls.


It was during a short tenure in LA where they were working various audio jobs, they began noticing a burgeoning UK indie scene sprouting out of London: "The Big Moon, and a lot of stuff that was going on in the English music scene," Pollock remembers. It was this that led them both over to the UK's shores. "A lot of the time we were over in America, we were constantly gushing about all the cool bands coming out of England at the time and we desperately wanted to be part of that," Liu says.

With the pandemic hitting not long after they settled in London, it was time to knuckle down. Cosmorat’s origins, Pollack explains, came from wanting to take herself seriously, "and be very serious about something and not half-assed." While acknowledging that she'd never half-assed any previous projects, the idea of Cosmorat was steeped in personal elements for Pollock. Its genesis revolved around her wanting to have complete creative control over something. "Because I've always had to bounce back and forth. And then it got to a point where I selfishly want to say how things are, or revisit things that I've dealt with in my life. It was honestly, unintentionally kind of cathartic."

"I wanted it to be personal,” she continues. “I'm welcome to criticism, I'm happy if people don't like it, because I think things should be polarising. But I want it to be something that I know I didn't bend to anybody else. It needs to be what I personally feel and want to convey…maybe it was just a bit of stubbornness on my part!" she laughs.

This certainly rings true for their debut EP Evil Adjacent. The small collection of tracks is a collage of everything that inspires the duo and is a composite of the various facets that make up Liu and Pollock. Standing out is "Backseat Baby", of which Pollock says, "It sounds really upbeat and fun, but to me it's an ode to growing up in a nowhere town with nothing." This was an important element for Pollock.

With Cosmorat being a conduit for her formative experiences – ones that she'd rarely vocalised before – meant should could share her own perspectives: "Many experiences that I've had that are not just unique to me, but are unique to growing up in the middle of nowhere." It also meant their debut EP felt like home. "They're all quite closely related to a very specific community in a very specific place in my past that makes them feel like cousin tracks, if that makes sense?" Pollock says.

What Cosmorat sounds like is an ever-expanding idea but it's one they want to trim and condense – honing in on what it is they want to be and can be. Liu offers: "Because Taylor and I obviously have a background in performing all the time with all this stuff that we quite, we get excited about trying to retroactively figure out, how are we actually going to do this?" Given their debut EP features tracks with looped cello arrangements and other such studio wonders, it's a fair question.

As for where these elements come from, Pollock has a valid reason for the wide scope. Describing it as stemming "From a lot of different places…I'm always trying desperately to capture a specific feeling and a specific thing all the time," she explains. "Which is difficult because then we start experimenting with different instrumentation and different things. We write stuff with cello and strings, but I'm very obsessed with movies. So capturing ideas that are feelings, like places that I remember when I was home, and growing up, I'm really obsessed with very specific feelings and trying to put them into songs – and I think we're getting there," Pollock sighs.

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Citing the likes of Alabama Shakes, particularly Sound & Color, "So many of those songs are so different, but they're all the same," Pollock says. "And they all encapsulate a specific feeling. Every time you listen to it, you're like, 'Wow, I can place myself there'.” There's also an element of American literature that influences Pollock, including the likes of Donald Ray Pollock (no relation) and Cormac McCarthy, which call to mind her upbringing: "But it was not as visceral, that was not my childhood!" She laughs. "My childhood was very nice. But some of the darker things creep into the little exciting bits," she chuckles.

Now joined by drummer Lorenzo Burgio, Pollock and Liu can bounce their ideas ready for a burgeoning live arena, bolstering Cosmorat's identity. Significantly, The project has given Pollock a way to overcome any residual confidence issues from her time at college. "The male to females split up in the school was like 30% women 70% men – and men at jazz school are not always the kindest people," she laughs. "And I had a lot of my confidence ruined for a while and I was a little bit scared of anything I was creating because I'm not the best guitar player so a lot of the stuff that I write can be very simple," she explains.

What Pollack and Liu ultimately want Cosmorat to be is up in the air. Pollock does offer that, "I am also unfortunately, a bit of a theatre kid in the sense that like, it'd be sick if I could just make like a nice, big, beautiful show out of it." But in the meantime, this labour of love is an obsession the pair are dutifully following.

Cosmorat plays the Son Estrella Galica Soundhood festival at Two Palms in London on 14 June 2024. Find out more by following Son Estrella Galicia on Instagram.

This feature is part of a paid partnership with Son Estrella Galicia.

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