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Artist on Artist: Cobrah x Only Fire

In conversaton with each other for 1883, Cobrah and Only Fire discuss their approach to music, performing, and more.

There aren’t many artists who can boast the success that Cobrah and Only Fire have been able to achieve. Swedish rapper and singer-songwriter Cobrah and electronic artist Only Fire create music that is equal parts transcendent and transformative. Both are groundbreaking artists in their own right within music by ushering in new eras in their respective genres, so it makes sense that the pair would collaborate in some capacity — especially since Only Fire recently supported Cobrah on her Knockdown Center show earlier this year.

To better understand their artistry, Cobrah and Only Fire sit down for a conversation with one another for 1883 to discuss their approach to music, performing, what’s coming up in 2024, and more.

Only Fire: Hey what’s up, where are you in the world right now?

COBRAH: I’m in Sweden, and you?

Only Fire: I’m in Berlin.

COBRAH: Oh yes you told me you live there, is that also where you are from?

Only Fire: No, I’m actually from Croatia originally and only moved to Berlin last year.

COBRAH: Nice, and how do you like it in Berlin?

Only Fire: I love it here, think it was definitely the right decision to move, it’s for sure way more fun than Croatia and the club scene here is amazing.

COBRAH: Yes Berlin does seem fun, what’s the club scene in Croatia like?

Only Fire: It’s not really fun, at least from my experience. It gets fun during summer when there are a bunch of festivals happening, but other than that I found it quite boring. The clubs there are not really giving. It’s not fun usually from my experience. 

COBRAH: Well I think it’s always like that where you’re from. You’ve done everything already because you grew up there! You had too much time in one place. 

Only Fire: Yeah for sure. How do you feel about Sweden and the clubs there?

COBRAH: I don’t know. In Gothenburg where I grew up, I didn’t feel like that was a big scene. And then I moved to Stockholm to do more music and stuff. I think in the beginning, I really liked going out. But then, you know, I work too much now. I go out for work now. So when I get home, I barely go out anymore. You know, I mean, you know.

Only Fire: Yeah, I feel bad. 

COBRAH: Like the club is more work than free time off. 

Only Fire: Yeah, to be honest, but I only started really like going out when I moved to Berlin. That’s also when I started DJing and stuff so I feel like I still don’t see it as work that much but I do feel like it will get too much probably really soon and I will just only be going out to DJ and then leaving.

COBRAH: Yeah, I recently started DJing and I feel like that’s the best way to do clubs. Because I mean, you know, before we did the big shows, I did the club gigs, but as a performer, it’s actually a little bit shit because the sound is really off and stuff. But when you when you come and you DJ, it’s so much easier because you can dance and have fun and mix, you know, your music. 

Only Fire: Yeah, for sure. 

COBRAH: It’s way more fun. You get a bottle of tequila, it’s all good! (laughs)

Only Fire: Yeah, like I could never be like… I don’t know how you performers do it, I could just never, because even DJing feels too much for me. I don’t basically have to do anything except just playing songs, but then putting on an actual show for people, it just seems a lot. 

COBRAH: Are you on tour right now? 

Only Fire: No, I mean, I have some dates coming up in the middle of the month in Berlin and I have one in Toronto and New York. 

COBRAH: Oh, nice. 

Only Fire: But other than that, yeah, I’m just like chilling here. You just finished your tour, right? Like New York was one of the last dates for it, right? 

COBRAH: Yes, that’s true. I think we only had two or three more dates after the New York one and then I was finished and I’ve been off the tour for about a month. But it’s been good. I feel like when we did the New York show, it felt like it was in the middle of a bender because we did four shows in a row. And New York was the third one. I remember after the show, I was up editing pictures that were gonna go out to all of the magazines in the morning. And so we didn’t go to sleep until like five in the morning. And then we had the show the fourth day and I was like I can’t take it anymore. 

Only Fire: Yeah, I guess that’s the tour life. I guess. 

COBRAH: Yeah, for sure. Absolutely. 

Only Fire: But now that you’re done with it, you must feel like, oof. It also went really, really great. I mean, I haven’t seen the other shows, but the New York one was amazing. 

COBRAH: The New York one was so good. 

Only Fire: Like, yeah, it was like so full. 

COBRAH: Thank you for coming to our show. 

Only Fire: No, of course!

COBRAH: You don’t really understand how many people there would be until you know you go on stage you’re like, “Oh shit.”

Only Fire: Yeah it was really crazy.

COBRAH:  But I think people liked it, I think it was good.

Only Fire: Yeah everyone was living for it because after I finished DJing and stuff I went to the audience to watch your performance. Everyone was just like living for it so yeah you did a great job for sure.

COBRAH: What did you do after?

Only Fire: I went to Basement with some of my friends, which is like right in the same thingy as Knockdown Center. Yeah, so I just went there and stayed until the end. Yeah. 

COBRAH: Perfect, the best one. 

Only Fire: Because I was just in New York for that one weekend, so I wanted to make the most of it, even though I was kind of exhausted and stuff from the traveling but I just wanted to do it. 

COBRAH: Yeah, you have to do that. I think Basement was the thing that was underneath Knockdown. 

Only Fire: Yeah, yeah. 

COBRAH: Yeah, because I remember a bunch of people in my crew were there. And then my tour bus driver, we had to drag him down there because he’s, you know, he’s from the southern states. He’s not really like into that thing. So everybody was dragging him down. I was like, “No, you have to go. Like, you have to try it.” But I didn’t go, I didn’t want to intrude and I didn’t want the attention I guess. It would be awkward.

Only Fire: Yeah it was like a bunch of your fans there just going out after your show and then all the attention would be on you probably. 

COBRAH: Yeah exactly. Okay, so you’re currently not touring then?

Only Fire: I’m just like playing here and there, but it’s not like a proper tour. It’s like dates lined up after dates, then I’m just on plane after plane. I have some time to chill in between. So I just see it as random dates that I’m DJing, not really a tour. 

COBRAH: Yeah. How does it feel now that the new EP is out? Have you gotten some good feedback?

Only Fire: Yeah, it’s been really nice! I’ve been getting a lot of good feedback. With this EP, I’ve been preparing it for like quite a bit now because I don’t know, I was just stuck with some songs, and then finally put it out.. So it’s been just kind of a relief and now afterward I’ve been able to work on a lot of new music that I’m also putting out really soon so it’s been just like a relief.

COBRAH: I love the artist who made the cover art for it. 

Only Fire: Oh yeah, I love him too. 

COBRAH: What’s his name? I follow him on Instagram, but I can’t remember the insta name. 

Only Fire: Jason!

COBRAH: Jason, yeah. I love it so much. I remember he did like a big crocodile… You can really tell when it’s his work and it fits the music perfectly too. So I think that was such a good move. 

Only Fire: Yeah, thank you. Yeah, I really like how he was able to work out the color and everything. And I agree that it really fits the music, just like the aesthetic that he does with the faces and everything, and just the hyper feeling of his style.

COBRAH: Yeah. Have you ever wanted to put your own face on things because you make the music? But then again it’s a computer. I don’t know how you do it actually. Do you put it through Google Translate, that was my first thought. And then you record it? 

Only Fire: Yeah, it’s not really Google Translate, but that’s it. It’s basically like something else where you put in the words and then it just says the words out loud. And that’s basically what I do. I just take that one voice and then I edit it out and put it on the songs. Because I always wanted to do lyrics and stuff in my songs, but I never really wanted to do it with my voice and stuff. Also, I always thought that the female vocals sounded better, especially on the electronic bits. So I saw the writing from a female perspective and kind of saw that it would make sense with a female voice. And so, just because of that, I don’t think it really like makes sense for my face to be on the cover since I feel like I create a character in the songs if you know what I mean.

COBRAH: Yeah, but would you say that Only Fire is a character, or is Only Fire like the DJ producer and the person on the cover art, and the person singing is like the character for Only Fire? 

Only Fire: Yeah, I would say Only Fire is me, but the person singing like that’s the character that Only Fire created.

COBRAH: Oh got ya. Oh, that’s cool.

Only Fire: I want to be honest, when I started doing it I was bored and I did it out of fun. I didn’t expect for people to be bopping to the songs and releasing merch and stuff so I never really thought more of it. When I started out with the name and everything, if I knew people would actually be listening to it I would’ve thought way more about a better approach to it and everything. To create like actually a better name and everything for it, but then it happened to be like this so I stuck to it. 

COBRAH: I kind of feel the same. When I started doing music I was like, “I just want to put it out. I just want to be experimental I just want to people to listen to like what I think sounds good.” Then, I wanted to be serious and I was like, “Oh shit I would have redone all of that if I knew it was going to be more serious.” But I think that’s also the charm of making music because when you become more serious, sometimes you kind of lose that spark. That’s the reason why people like you because it’s fun and creative and you know, you don’t want to get too serious with it. 

Only Fire: Yeah, for sure. 

COBRAH: No, because that was what I liked about “ASMR” and it’s my favorite song of yours. It was also the first one I heard and I was like, “This is so stupid!” 

Only Fire: [laughs]

COBRAH: And no, not in a bad way, but in life, it is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard on a song. And that’s what makes it so good. And so fun and so enjoyable is that it is so stupid. And so easy. And like, when I play it, when I do the after parties on the tour, people go wild for it. Like it’s become such a classic for people in the scene. Everybody knows about it. Everybody knows every word. And that’s the, I guess, I don’t know, for me that’s the core of your music. It’s an instant hit in that way because it’s so fun. 

Only Fire: Yeah, I definitely agree. And I also get what you mean, because when I was working on that song, I had like no listeners and stuff. And I would just put it out, not thinking what people would think of it and stuff, just creating music for fun. And now that I have a following that’s mostly because of that song, everything that I’m trying to do I’m thinking, “Hmm, will people like it as much as they like this song? Blah, blah, blah.” I get what you mean, I feel like every artist starts overthinking stuff and they’re not as free as they were when they started out and had no listeners and everything.

COBRAH: Exactly. I think you’re right. 

Only Fire: Yeah. I feel like that also because my favorite song of yours is “GOOD PUSS” and now from the last project, it’s “BAD POSITION.” I really like “BAD POSITION” because it doesn’t sound like anything else that you’ve done before. 

COBRAH: Thank you!

Only Fire: That was definitely my favorite from the first listen. Wow. And just the vocal production, like on your songs and stuff, and especially in “BAD POSITION” when it gets to that part, like before the drop, you just like… 

COBRAH: We had to do so many edits of that one because I had that whole panning, like when something, you know, it’s when it feels like it goes into your head, like a little bug, like it’s into your head. It’s really, really hard to kind of make that sound. And then when you send it to a mixer and you try to explain that to the mixer of the track like this is the vibe and that, we had to do lots of back and forth to kind of get that sound. But, I think it’s the same. I think what we share is the humour in the music like in “GOOD PUSS,” because it’s also silly, you know, and it’s fun to be silly, especially when you’re so explicit vocally, I think. I think it has to come from a place that it’s not a joke, but that, you know, it’s charming. 

Only Fire: Yeah, like it has to be, it has to be there. 

COBRAH: Like, you know what you’re doing. 

Only Fire: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I feel like your music definitely captures that really well. And yeah, I just really like everything that you’ve been putting out. So when I was invited to do the opening for you in New York, I was like really happy and stuff. 

COBRAH: (laughs) It was a really good show. Do you remember what you wore? Do you have any favourite designers that you like to wear? 

Only Fire: I just like to wear casual stuff. Like I don’t really like to dress up too much, but I do like seeing fashion on other people and just looks and stuff. I like Jonathan Anderson, for example, [the creative director] of Loewe and JW Anderson, I also did a lot of DJing for at his events and stuff so I really love what he does and everything. What about you?

COBRAH: I was just at Acne today and when I grew up, I didn’t know what Acne was, but I’m going to the Swedish Grammys on Wednesday. And so I’m going and they’re dressing me. And when I was there, I was like, “Oh my God, actually, I haven’t looked at Acne in a long time.” And actually, they’re pretty good because normally I go for like the more classic goth fashions like Dillara and Balenciaga, you know, those that are more famous because they’re a bit gothic, I guess. But I’m really into Acne. I’m gonna say it was it was good. It was nice. 

Only Fire: Yeah, you’re more into the black leathery stuff, I would say.

COBRAH: Oh hell yeah.

Only Fire: Yeah, I feel like they also have a kind of look like in the Balenciaga way, but I did see looks similar to that from them too. So I definitely feel like it also like fits your image. 

COBRAH: Matches. Yeah, I think so too. 

Only Fire: Yeah, but do you also have some new music and stuff that you’re working on after your last project?

COBRAH: I mean, I’m in the studio all the time. So it would be wrong to say no, but I can’t say anything else than no, not yet.. You know, it’s always like when something’s in the making, it’s too early to say, but I think like the day after I got home from tour or something, I was back in the studio. I’m actually in the studio now. And I just asked my producers to go outside for the quick call that we’re doing. 

Only Fire: Okay, I’m sorry for being in the setup.

COBRAH: No, don’t worry! Do you have any favorite venues that you want to do when you come back?

Only Fire: So I would definitely love to do Basement in New York, I’d like to play there. Yeah, it just seemed like the sound system there was really nice. And it’s just my kind of go-to place, like, because all my New York friends, they’re always going there and stuff every week and so when I’m in New York, I always like go with them. It always seems like fun to just play somewhere where you have been like going out with your friends. 

COBRAH: Exactly. I agree. It means so much. When you can come back and be like, I actually used to go here as a visitor. Yeah. Yeah. 

Only Fire: Did it happen to you? Like is it anywhere like that when you’ve played it? 

COBRAH: When I played in Gothenburg for the first time in February this year, it was the first day of the European tour. So it was all my parents, my mother and my aunts came and you know like that was a really big thing. And then I remember when I was there, I was like, “Shit I used to go to clubs here all the time. I used to go to school around the corner!” It was a really weird thing, but also really good. It was very good in the way that it felt like I conquered my hometown, but at the same time, I don’t know, I woke up on the bus and I saw my favorite vintage store outside the window. I was like, “Oh, this is so strange”. Normally I’m always in the U.S. and everything is always just like not my home. I’m there for work or you know I’m there because I love the music and I’m doing a great performance, but I never recognize myself wherever I am. It’s always a new place all the time so it was a little bit spooky almost like waking up and knowing where you are in the world is more unusual than usual I’d say. Are you doing anything for Pride?

Only Fire: Well, I have a show lined up in New York, in June, I think, but I’m not sure if it was confirmed yet.

COBRAH: Oh yeah. 

Only Fire: And then other than that, I don’t think I have anything else. Do you have any shows that you are doing?

COBRAH: It will probably come. I think I have a bunch of shows. But the problem with me is that I never know what shows I’m gonna do until it’s like a week before. And then I panic. 

Only Fire: Oh really?

COBRAH: Just like, “Oh shit, I’m gonna do this show, I forgot. What am I gonna wear? What am I gonna do? But it always works out in the end, I think”

Only Fire: Also, I just want to say that I’m really excited for the “TEQUILA” remix to come out and everything. Yeah, I was really happy to remix a song of yours. 

COBRAH: The remix is so good. It’s not out yet but I played it in my set last week and people really love it. Yeah, yeah, people went crazy for it.

Only Fire: Thanks so much. Yeah, I think it really makes sense for us to have a remix. I’m really glad it was for “TEQUILA” too. Yeah. I can’t wait for it to be out!

COBRAH: Me neither. It’s going to be so sick. Thank you so much.

Only Fire: Yeah, thank you. Thank you for hopping on this call with me. Yeah, hope the rest of the studio session goes well. Thank you so much. All right. Speak soon!

COBRAH: Thank you so much. Have a nice day!

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