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Cosmo Jarvis

(AUST/NZ)

Cosmo Jarvis is an artist for whom one word will never really be enough.

Cosmo Jarvis does what he wants.

In an age when musicians either seem to be manufactured popstrels, media-trained to banality, or self-consciously blog-hyped ‘underground’, the 22 year old from Devon is a breath of fresh air. Cosmo speaks his mind and, musically, he’s a magpie who’ll go anywhere, regardless of ‘cool’, from hip hop to punk hoedown to gorgeous ensemble orchestration. His music and films have made him an online phenomenon. His YouTube shorts, usually observational comedy skits about small town life, have been viewed over two million times, his contagious shanty ‘Gay Pirates’, beloved of Stephen Fry, has almost a million YouTube hits, and he has tens of thousands of fans around the world, especially in Australia where his shows sell out fast.

Cosmo’s last two albums, 2009’s  ‘Humasyouhitch/Sonofabitch’ and 2011’s ‘Is The World Strange Or Am I Strange?’, have seen him hightail between almost too many musical styles, but with his new album, ‘Think Bigger’, he decided to adhere to a singer-songwriter template tinged with alt-country sensibilities. This is Cosmo Jarvis, though, so it’s never straightforward or predictable, everything is imprinted with his personality and effusive imagination.

“With ‘Think Bigger’ each individual part, each individual component of each individual song can be listened to with more scrutiny,” he says, then laughs, mischievously adding, “Some of these songs come from different periods in my life, but they’ve just been arranged and presented to give the illusion of a cohesive album.”

It’s more than an illusion as the tone of the album maintains a steady musical course but the subject matter is intriguingly varied. There’s the roaring folkabilly of ‘Sunshine’ about contemporary society’s damaging sense of entitlement; the poignant elegy for ‘The Girl From My Village’ (“about my loathing at the fact she was taken when others who I am certain will do less good with their lives are allowed to keep on breathing”); the catchy strum-along ‘Train Down Town’ about a dystopian future akin to one of Charlie Brooker’s ‘Black Mirror’ satirical dramas; the love song ‘Lacie’ to his computer’s external hard drive (“because I am unable to express how thankful I am that while I sleep the contents of my brain are being guarded.

Cosmo Jarvis has had his own family issues. Born in New Jersey to an Armenian-American artist mother and an English sea captain father, the family moved to the West Country when he was very small. His parents split in initially acrimonious circumstances and Cosmo spent his formative years in Totnes, Devon, with his mother. His teens were spent sparring with her and getting up to all manner of Jackass-style pranks and small town trouble. He also developed a sideline in writing songs and making films. By the time he was in his late teens local appreciation had bloomed into a MySpace following. Before long his talent was spotted by Mark Jones, MD of Wall of Sound Records who signed him for the debut double album ‘Humasyouhitch/Sonofabitch’, which devoted one disc to jovial songs and the other to harder-hitting material.

It was clear from the off, with domestic drama numbers such as ‘Problems’ and ‘Mummy’s Been Drinking’, that while Cosmo could write wonderfully catchy melodies, he also had a lot on his mind and was happy to say it, possibly against a backdrop of multiple genres mashed together - whatever took his fancy.

He went on to part ways with Wall of Sound and set up his own label, 25th frame, which also acts as a production house for his films. As well as the shorts films he loads on YouTube and which appeared on the DVD second disc of his last album ‘Is The World Strange Or Am I Strange?’, Cosmo has written, starred in and directed the feature length ‘The Naughty Room’ which will be premiered at South By South West 2012 in Austin, Texas. He already has another film project lined up, a comedy about a Devonshire metal band and their travails, but right now he’s focusing on ‘Think Bigger’, on making the live show better, on writing more of the songs that just seem to gush out of him.

A down-to-earth, maverick talent, Cosmo Jarvis has bloomed into a word-of-mouth one-man industry who might just be about to receive the recognition he deserves. Cosmo’s work is unique, forthright, human and involving, he’s an artist, in other words, who’s proving truly exciting to follow - you never know quite what’s coming but can rest assured it will be filled with exciting ideas and contagious tunes.
Thomas H. Green

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