On a cold Monday morning, Christian Cohle has tucked himself away in his makeshift home studio, nursing a cup of coffee. Behind him, an abundance of instruments, microphones and other gadgets are thrown together into this small space, in a slightly hectic way.
“It’s a bit all over the place at the moment,” Cohle remarks about the room. “This place really came together over the past couple of years. I wrote most of my upcoming album in my kitchen on my laptop with a crappy MIDI keyboard, so it’s nice to work in a dedicated space.”
Drown Me Slow
Throughout the past year, Cohle has established himself as a mature and polished addition to the Irish music scene. His dark, indie-electronic sound has caught the attention of notable outlets in both Ireland and the United Kingdom, and he impressed with his brooding Ireland Music Week performance.
Cohle released four singles in 2020, all of which have been critically praised, and his debut album ‘Holy Trouble’ is set to be released this February 19th. It was the kind of year many new artists would dream of having. However, Christian Cohle prefers not to focus too much on the success of his own work.
“I try not to hinge myself too much on the results to be honest,” says Cohle. “I try to stay grounded as much as I can because I’m just going to put myself into a corner creatively and spiritually. But you know, I’d rather choose that it goes well than it doesn’t go well!”
"... I had found something that was giving me a sense of life and a sense of excitement, and there was this desperation for it, and I was clinging to it."
Cohle’s debut single Breathe, which was released in February 2020, truly captured the essence of his style as a writer and musician from the get go. The song’s pulsating synths captivates the listener, while lyrics like: “Breathe life into me, I’m broke can’t you see” invoke a dark feeling of desperation.
“Breathe just came from a really heavy time in my life,” says Cohle. “It was coming from a time where I had found something that was giving me a sense of life and a sense of excitement, and there was this desperation for it, and I was clinging to it. But at the same time, I could recognise that it wasn’t particularly healthy. It was like this artificial sense of happiness.”
As a songwriter, Cohle garners his material from a very personal place. In all his music released so far, there is a sense of vulnerability as he expresses struggles he has faced in his life. Songs like Ghost explore an internal conflict, presented as a “voiceless feeling” living inside him.
His latest single Drown Me Slow describes not wanting to let go of something hopeful, and the repetition of the lyric “Drown me slow” invokes a sense of dread along with this. Writing on such a deep and personal level takes courage, however for Cohle there is something therapeutic about the process.
“Whatever it is I write about, it’s usually heavy stuff so it’s not easy,” says Cohle. “But it’s very cathartic. I’m not just bathing in misery! I think ultimately I’m just trying to make a frame of reference from my experience in life, and trying to make sense of the world around me.”
"Everything is about feelings when I’m making and writing music. It’s not very intellectual, it’s all about the feeling."
When it comes to song writing, Cohle also says the only way he knows how to write is autobiographically. Everything he puts into his music comes from something personal, whether it be an experience or an emotion.
“I often marvel at some of my friends or just other people I know that can step out from themselves and write about something that’s not biographical,” he admits. “I’ve always been a feelings-based person. Everything is about feelings when I’m making and writing music. It’s not very intellectual, it’s all about the feeling.”
Cohle’s upcoming debut album ‘Holy Trouble’ is also set out to explore personal themes surrounding anguish, obsession and infatuation. The title of the album itself brings forth a spiritual element that Cohle says he is drawn to in his everyday life.
“All of my music has a spiritual or mythical element to it,” Cohle remarks. “I wouldn’t say I’m religious, but I definitely regard myself as very spiritual. I find that I’ve been instinctually drawn to it.
“Being a recovering addict, I’ve been sober now for around three and a half years, even just the nature of addiction is kind of a spiritual thing in a sense. It’s like you’re giving yourself over to whatever it is.”
On this album, Cohle worked alongside producer Michael Heffernan who has previously worked with Irish music heavyweights such as Dermot Kennedy, The Script and Æ MAK. They first met while Cohle was studying at BIMM, they have since formed both a professional and personal friendship.
“Michael is great,” Cohle says. “I really take him for granted because he’s my best mate. I’m a bit of a weirdo because I like to really have a connection with someone. If I’m working with someone on such a deep level as I do with Michael, you really want to trust the person. Without Michael, I don’t think it would be possible. He’s such an important ingredient.”
Off the back of a successful 2020, there is no doubt that Christian Cohle’s career can only excel in the coming year. The body of work displayed so far shows an artist with an organic capability to create gripping music, and who is not afraid to put himself out there and be vulnerable, a trait one shouldn’t take for granted in an artist.
With the release of ‘Holy Trouble’ this February as well as his second album almost complete, it’s safe to say the best is yet to come from Christian Cohle.
The title-track from Christian Cohle’s debut album ‘Holy Trouble’ is out Feb 12th with a special pre-release performance of the album live at The Set Theatre, Kilkenny available to stream from the same date; ahead of the album’s release on Feb 19th.