23-year-old South Londoner Cosima makes the kind of lived-in R&B that sounds like it was recorded fresh from whatever emotion inspired it. In fact, she’s so connected to her songs – the low-slung majesty of ‘Had To Feel Something’, the delicate ‘Girls Who Get Ready’ – she also directed the videos. Basically, she’s one of those new artists who knows exactly who she is and what she wants to do, which is nice isn’t it.
Cosima, hi. What’s your favourite season?
Probably winter because then I feel like I can listen to Jeff Buckley all the time.
Is that important to you?
That’s very very important to me.
Are your songs more suited to the summer or winter?
That’s a good question. It’s the extremes of both those seasons – either a very hot summer or a very cold winter. Spring would be good too actually.
In ‘Had To Feel Something’ you sing in a low register and then in ‘Girls Who Get Ready’ it’s a lot higher – are you just showing off?
Maybe. I listened to a lot of male singers when I was younger, or women with really deep voices, and then I took classical lessons and discovered I was a mezzo soprano.
For morons, what does that mean?
It means I have an upper register and I didn’t really know about it. I used to sing tenor.
What’s your favourite key to sing in?
A minor. I usually sing when I’m feeling very sad and that key always takes me straight there.
Who are your three favourite vocalists?
Nancy Wilson for technique. La Lupe for drama. And Kris Kristofferson to lust after. He’s everything to me.
Someone told me you like a mood board – are you quite a perfectionist when it comes to your visuals?
I love a mood board. I am a mood board. I think, firstly, music is an audio image so you need to know where you are describing when you’re singing and writing, and secondly I love film. That’s why I decided to direct my own videos because who knows better than me what I want.
You seem to have arrived as quite a fully formed artist in terms of sound and imagery – was that important to you?
Definitely. It took me a long time to really work out the specifics of how to do that and to collaborate with people to make that possible. At the beginning I wanted to do everything myself and have an iron grip on everything but then when you start to collaborate that changes. As a woman, when I was growing up, I didn’t have current people who I could look at where you weren’t just fixating on their abs. Or not fixating on how they look. It was important to create the kind of girl for myself that I would have wanted when I was 14 and confused about what a woman was supposed to be.
What’s ‘Girls Who Get Ready’ about exactly?
It’s about that point when you go out and everyone gets drunk and you all sit down and talk about how you feel about body image. It made me really sad because every time that happened someone’s always crying. It’s like why is this amazing girl sitting here crying because she’s not thin enough, or she doesn’t feel she’s worth as much as other girls. It made me really angry. It’s almost as if your body belongs to someone else and they’ve already dictated what you should do with it, or what your face should look like. You should have the choice about whether to wear no make-up or loads of make-up. But either way you should be allowed to love the girl under the make-up otherwise we’re fucked.
In the video there’s a goat and a pig. If you had to turn one of those animals into a delicious curry which one would you chose?
Oh my God. Probably the goat, although she was really cute so I wouldn’t eat her specifically. Curried goat is so good.
If you could sum 2016 up in five words what would they be?
Relief. Excitement. Long. Worthwhile. Cathartic.
What do you want to achieve in 2017?
Everything that was on my list when I was 18. Ideally I’d release an album. But mainly I just want to carry on doing what I love.