Drawing from all the decades, Cosm takes the stage with a sound that we’ve heard before but never in quite this way.
Singer Wendy Jernigan has a thick, sexy voice that crawls over the electronic breakbeat and drum and bass rhythms produced by her bandmates.
It sounds like club music echoing off the walls of a concrete warehouse, and in the center of it all is a pouty-lipped woman in a tight satin evening dress.
The message is simple: Cosm doesn’t believe that a band has to be defined by guitars, drums and vocals anymore.
“My idea is to bring electronic music to the masses, to the mainstream,” Jernigan said. “It might be hard for people to grasp, but it’s all about great music. We’re just playing it in different ways.”
Cosm started with drummer Daniel Day who formed the band as an avant-garde jazz group. He took the band from Los Angeles to New York and then moved back to Salt Lake City, Utah, where he played a regular gig at Mechanized Records, a store that marketed vinyl to DJs.
The gig introduced Day to drum ‘n’ bass and breakbeat, fast-paced, rhythm-focused electronic music.
He started to redefine what he wanted from his band in the summer of 2001. He wanted to turn it into more of a drum ‘n’ bass sound, but he wanted it to be a live act, not premixed or preprogrammed.
His new band combined electronic drumbeats with live drums, a guitar, keyboard and preprogrammed sounds.
In August of that summer, Day found Jernigan when his other band, The Kingdom, opened for her band, Uber Faction, an electro-industrial band in the style of KMFDM.
“We were really impressed with each other,” she said. “He told me that he was going to do this instrumental project and would like to include a female voice.”
Jernigan wrote the melody lines and lyrics to match Cosm’s songs, and it worked.
The final project has live drums paired with electronic drums, a live keyboard, vocals and turntables.
Before Jernigan met Day, she didn’t know much about electronic music.
“My main influence is Jane’s Addiction. I’m a rock ‘n’ roll kind of girl,” she said. “I didn’t know what drum ‘n’ bass was, but I like it now that I’m exposed to it. Great music is great music.”
Cosm recently released a six-song CD. They plan to release a four-song vinyl record in January. Even though it costs more than twice as much to do a pressing on vinyl than it does to make a CD (it costs $5 to make a record compared with $2 to make a CD), Cosm wants its music to be accessible to the DJ population.
“The idea is to flood the nation by giving a test press of vinyl to DJs and have them play it in clubs,” Jernigan said.
Each record has an intro and an outro to make it easy for DJs to mix it into their set.
For Tuesday’s show at Levelz, Cosm is paired with DJ dotcom, aka Peter Blick, who is spinning at the beginning of the show to warm up the crowd and during the set break.
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