Science fiction set to music


I interviewed rock, electronic and hip-hop outfit The Cosmic Sect. The interview first appeared on the Sunday Times of Malta’s Culture section.

A relative new addition to the local scene, The Cosmic Sect, was born through the chance meeting of musicians Jimmy and John Bartolo with Los Angeles-based producer Alex Fairman.

Fairman had seen the two playing at a bar in Mellieħa and immediately liked their style. In the musician’s words… “one thing led to another and a cosmic jam laid the foundation for this adventure”.

With the three members, all hailing from different musical backgrounds, the band had no pre-conceived plan as to what the end result would sound like. However, things came together pretty naturally and the fusion of rock, electronic and hip-hop that is now The Cosmic Sect’s trademark sound was born.

With Fairman on keyboards, MCing and vocals, John on drums and programmes percussion and Jimmy on guitars, bass, vocals and vocoder effects, the band recently released an online EP called Rent a Starship.

We wanted something that sounded futuristic

Besides the obvious, who does what?

When it comes to writing and producing, it has become a kind of ritual where we all pitch in ideas, redo takes, come up with concepts and just generally have fun together.

Where do your influences lie?

I think what influences us the most, apart from our own musical backgrounds, is that world we create for each song. Once we figure out what the song is about, then we grab it and take it to its full potential. Musically combined, our roots are pretty much rock, electronic and hip hop. And we are also all into sci-fi films… The Cosmic Sect is a combination of all this.

Do your songs speak of reality?

Beautiful Awkward is based on an actual story, when Alex and I went to a club and came up with this conclusion about how people could be so uneasy about the idea of introducing yourself to a stranger and just let loose. So that was enough to inspire the words.

On Fallin we had to dig a little deeper and create this dystopian world that we’re just okay with, so it was really all of us brainstorming on what this futuristic world would be like for us. References to films and scenes helped influence that process. I guess you could call it some kind of combination of our real lives with fantastic imagination. That was the source of our main inspiration.

How long did you work on the EP and what’s with all the sci-fi references?

This EP took around six months to finish, including all writing, producing and mixing mastering. We wanted something that sounded futuristic. When it’s came to the track called 42, fans of The Hitchchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will know that its author, Douglas Adams, came up with that number as the “answer to life, the universe and everything” for no particular reason other than it just sounded right. We wanted to honour that.

What about your remix for the Theme from The Terminator?

That track is a story in itself. We got a call to open for the shows that Arnold Schwarzenegger was holding in Leeds and London a couple months ago, through our friend Rocco Buonvino, who promotes these kind of events. Playing our own version of the theme for the man himself ended up being our debut gig.

Will you be moving out of the studio any time soon?

Yes… gigs are definitely our next priority.