Releasing a sea shanty about rather intense male-bonding on the high seas isn’t your typical road to alt-pop stardom, but that’s how Cosmo Jarvis got his big break in 2011. “Gay Pirates” became an instant viral sensation and established the 22-year-old as one of the quirkiest singer-songwriters on the planet. Since then, the free-thinking Brit has carved out his own niche with experimental tunes about radio-unfriendly topics like his relationship with God and general disenchantment with the world.
After the shortest of breaks, Cosmo is back with a third album and a new, slightly more commercial sound — that is, until you pay closer attention to his razor-sharp lyrics, which remain as refreshingly blunt and cynical as ever. Think Bigger positions the budding filmmaker as the highly-opinionated man’s Jason Mraz – especially on the album’s catchy lead single “Love This”. You might have even caught the song’s eye-popping video on some rather unlikely sites due to that fact that he forgot to wear underpants before donning a crimson skintight lycra bodysuit. It could happen to anyone!
Real name: Harrison Cosmo Krikoryan Jarvis
Hometown: Devon, United Kingdom.
His influences: “Everything from The Bronx to Frank Zappa, Grateful Dead, Tallest Man On Earth and Destiny’s Child,” he tells us.
On Azealia Banks, who he digs: “It’s really cool the way she has all these different voices on the record. There’s like that grimey, distorted thing, then there’s that other accent when she’s talking — which sounds totally sweet — and then, there’s the singing, which is like this evil, bluesy voice. I was like — is this all her?”
Who he’s listening to now: “I like that single from Emeli Sande — the first one [“Heaven”]. But I haven’t heard much of her other stuff. That song reminds me of the Fine Young Cannibals, which is really cool. I like Corinne Bailey Rae. There aren’t a lot of other people. Generally [popular music] is shit.”
His Kylie cover: The usually serious Brit showed his lighter side by covering Kylie Minogue’s “Spinning Around” on Australian radio. She expressed her appreciation in a tweet after hearing the stripped-back rendition (below).
Cosmo Jarvis — “Spinning Around” (Kylie Minogue cover)
The inspiration behind “Gay Pirates”: Jarvis tells us, “I just kind of thought — if I was in love with a dude and we were two dudes on a boat, how would it happen? I was very worried that people would see it as me trying to do a novelty song about gay men and I was very careful I just wanted it to be like any other love song — it just happened to be about a gay couple.”
Cosmo Jarvis — “Gay Pirates”
Why Think Bigger has a more commercial sound: “It was inevitable. It’s album number three,” Cosmo says. “The last two had done terribly in the UK. Well, my fans liked them. But outside of that it wasn’t really growing as much as it should. So, the third one had to be as low a risk as possible, while still maintaining some kind of musical diversity and still being a legitimate record.”
On new single “Love This”: “The concept was basically, if you met God, if he manifested as a human-being, should you choose to follow his example, which could be really good but could also limit you from finding your own way of doing things and making your own choices. That was the question. God versus good.”
Cosmo Jarvis — “Love This”
Why his manhood is an Internet sensation: Cosmo’s outfit in the “Love This” visual left little to the imagination. He explains: “We watched the first take back and we were like fuck – that sticks out quite badly! So I tried duct-taping my dick to the inside of my leg but that just kind of made it look a little bit abnormal. I didn’t really know how to get around it, so in the end I was like, fuck it, just leave it.”
The American situation: “I’ve got some really fucking hardcore fans. They’re small in numbers but I’m hearing from people in different pockets around the US. It would be good to get out there. A lot of people over there seem to like my music and The End Records are doing everything they can.”
How he gauges his prospects stateside: “It’s a good time because I’m not doing as much raw, English-speaking music at the moment. I’m doing a lot more – not American songs – but less-specific-to-me-as-a-little-English-boy type songs because I’ve grown up a bit. Definitely. It would be great to tour out there. I’d fucking love to.”
Cosmo Jarvis — “Sure As Hell Not Jesus”
He’s working on a film: “It’s about a kid called Subaru who lives alone with his mother. After the death of his father, he just gets stoned every day. Then you get introduced to this other guy — who I play — and he’s been locked in a bathroom for 18 years by his mother.” Sounds riveting, Cosmo!