COOL FANG on Beginnings, Influences, and Writing Process (Interview)

Photo: Sebastian Ortega

Originally conducted by Gabrielle Miranda

When did you start making music?

I think I was around five years old, just learning to play keys in preschool with a friend. I remember doing a few piano performances. In middle school, I was really into making up original songs with the 90s version of Acid Music, cutting loops up and kind of working against the program’s limitations. I got into playing drums at that age and that really got me into playing and coming up with my own music.

How did COOL FANG come to be and when did this start?

COOL FANG started in 2014. I was writing stuff as Dark In Europe before COOL FANG, which was straying away from its original sound over time. I was listening to more bands again and less bedroom-produced stuff. I did an EP with Balam Acab's 32jnqwn label two years ago and I feel like the experience really got me into writing more COOL FANG demos. I was feeling a lot of good strengths and positivity in that time of my life too and COOL FANG really came out of some grounded, newfound understandings of my sense of self. I got to put Sparring out with FilthyBroke Recordings last month. It’s been rad seeing it all come about.

Do you have a certain writing process?

I think usually I improvise around a guitar or drums and track a part when anything “clicks." All the material has been pretty performative which is awesome. I’m excited to work out more preconceived ideas for new songs, though. I multi-track all the instruments and sing over it, sometimes the other way around. I love to lay out each element of a song and watch it grow.

Is there a certain sound or genre you find yourself drawn to?

I love a lot of different stuff. I feel less drawn to music with genre in mind these days, probably more so than ever. I love a lot of rhythm-heavy bands or acts that riff a lot on their guitar equipment. I tend to not know what I’m doing on guitar in a technical sense, so maybe no wave and noisy punk styles appeal to me a lot because of that. The Dreebs, Lizzy Mercier Descloux, the first couple of HEALTH albums, ESG, Glenn Branca, The Channels, Nisennenmondai -all that stuff inspires me a ton. I dig Show Me The Body a lot, too.

Beyond just noisy music though, I grew up being really into screamo-y bands that had soulful, R&B-indebted vocals. There was a uniqueness in that pairing of styles that felt really niche. A few bands in and just outside of that style messed with pitch correction on their vocals in an odd or crude way. It was cool how they’d toy with the production on the singing so much to totally gloss out the vocals tonally. Not the easiest thing to describe but it's something I'd never heard in other music and I always liked it. A lot of them were unsigned bands. Lately I’m into those noise rock and no wave aesthetics the most, but I still hear that R&B-scenecore pairing coming into stuff I write for COOL FANG.

Do you have anything that boosts your creative process?

I don’t know that I do. I usually go with how I feel and that goes into a recording or performance.

Is there anybody who influences your music?

Those aforementioned artists for sure. Also Cold Pumas from Brighton have inspired me for a long time. I’m very into Communions, LA RACE, Joanne Robertson, Gauntlet Hair, some old demos from Razing Alexandria, all the stuff WU LYF did, lala &ce 67, and some of those earlier Coheed & Cambria records and their previous band, Shabutie. Some of the themes, cover art, and lyrical ideas on Sparring took a little inspiration from listening to For The Beasts by oklou & Casey MQ.

Where do you see yourself in the next year?

I’m excited to play shows. I’m looking forward to COOL FANG growing into a band lineup. I can’t wait to release more of the material I’m sitting on.

Is there anyone that you’ve wanted to work with? 

I really want to write an acoustic guitar record with my Dad one of these days.

How do you get over any writers block?

Luckily I’m pretty inspired lately. When I do get stumped I’ll take a break or go to an event my friends will be throwing, usually techno stuff in the Bay. I miss hitting up punk shows in Oakland. Venturing out into all the nature where I live is always fun, taking little trips. Sometimes it's refreshing to stray out of the loop with scenes and local music for me personally, but I live further from the majority of my closest friends, so it’s rad to kick it with them of course. I’m eventually back writing songs though, very engaged in the creative process and tracking new stuff.

When did you know you were interested in music?

My parents played a ton of music for me growing up. I think getting exposure to a bunch of stuff early on was rad and allowed me to appreciate different musical artists. Everything from Tom Petty, Angélique Kidjo, Yellow Magic Orchestra, the Gin Blossoms; a lot of Hawaiian music, too. There was a huge variety of stuff they shared when I was young. Post-punky pop and rock stuff too, like Joe Jackson, Big Country, and XTC. Some of the first artists I found on my own were Nirvana, The Goo Goo Dolls, P.M. Dawn, and a band from the UK called The Music.

Did you see yourself ever being in a band/making music?

I think after learning the drums I always wanted to write stuff and play in bands. Some of the earlier groups I was in didn't play live more than once or twice. When I was living in Santa Cruz, I was playing in a really lowkey noise punk band that later performed in Oakland; I preferred letting my friends take the lead for that. It’s been amazing watching COOL FANG grow into itself, even just for me personally—I’m really stoked and happy to be sharing my work.



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