Cosmo Pyke’s unique sound has been echoing through our minds since we first heard his music. He has been creating a series of some of our favourite tunes for a long time. But what’s equally as dope to hear from him is how through his music making he has ended up rolling with some legendary skaters along the way.
He’s been hanging out with Kyron Davis in London, flying to America to perform in New York, meeting skate photography royalty and doing gigs in LA and Japan and then seeing Ishod, Jamie Foy and some of his other favourite skaters in the crowd. His international trips and travels have pushed his music further and also given him the time to get on the grind at iconic spots he’s always wanted to shred and discover new ways of living and thinking for himself.
So we were hyped to find out all about that and more as we got the chance to chat to him, ahead of his second UK Tour this year to promote his new EP Curser’s Lament and also have a conversation about one of his favourite skate videos – Emerica’s Stay Gold.
Read Cosmo’s interview below to find out how his EP’s tracks came together, his song No Comply, the meaning behind his songs names and lyrics, rad news about his music videos, his conversations with his favourite skaters and collaborations with creatives, his thoughts on Stay Gold and much more.
Since we last chatted and you put out ‘Piper for Janet’, what have you been up to?
Well, I was in Gambia for 4 months in Lockdown 2021 from January 6th.
I went out on the 5th and then Lockdown 2.0 came into effect on the 6th. So I was out here with my mum and we stayed out there for about 5 months until May.
My mom is a homeopath, so she is really against pharmaceutical companies and big pharma companies, so my mom was like let’s just stay out here!
We didn’t want to go back to England where everyone was locked down because Gambia was so hot and it was amazing. I’ve got an uncle there too.
My mom’s best mate, she’s married to a Gambian man and he’s a musician. He’s got a venue in Bakau. Which is not too far from the capital Banjul.
So I was out there with my mum and my brother came and we were there for like 5 months and it was the first time that I had been to Africa, it changed my life really. 5 months is a long time. It’s like you’re actually living there, it was like a 40th of my life or something. I was there when the whole record came out.
When we were chatting that was when the single came out but when I was there, that was when the record came out.
I remember I was at my friend’s house in Kent and I’m actually going there tomorrow, so it’s funny that you’re calling me now and we’re doing this interview because I’m going there.
What are you up to there?
We’re going out mushroom picking on Sunday.
Shot by Phoebe Mayford
Yeah, I came back from Gambia, in May 2021 and since then I’ve started up working with new management.
Well, actually I think I’ve got the same management as the last time we spoke but I’ve got another new manager who works with that manager. David, he’s my manager, he’s from the adventure playground, in Dog Kennel Hill it’s East Dulwich Road.
I used to go there after school and jam with that guy. He’s from Barindi. He’s like my mentor really. He’s been working with me since that ‘Piper for Janet’ record.
Then I went back to Gambia the next year but only for 10 days that time!
Last year I was spending a lot of time in North London, kind of living in Highbury for a bit, for like nine months, making new tunes, working with people, meeting people, going to this spot in Camberwell where Kyron Davis drinks a lot. The Old Dispensary, which is this kind of Irish pub that does music on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Yeah, I know the Old D!
They do like a weekly folk jam on Mondays and on Wednesdays, they do an open mic night, so I’ve been going there quite a lot, drinking a lot of Guinness!
Have you been skating much?
I haven’t been skating as much as I would like to, to be honest, but I do skate a lot to get around.
If I’m late for something and I need to get somewhere I get on my board but it’s more for transit than for pleasure now. I think the last time we were speaking I wasn’t skating that much at all either. It’s been some time.
The last time that we spoke I remember you asked me my favourite skate video and I didn’t think I could answer that question but now that I’ve had time to think about it, I think maybe now it’s Stay Gold.That was my time.
Who’s your favourite skater?
I remember you also asked me my favourite skater and I didn’t know who to say so I said Gonz! Nothing has really changed there!
Emerica has always been on the same path. Gnarly skaters, motorbikes, rock, and hard-wearing slick looking shoes. But who has your favourite part in Stay Gold?
Yeah, he was one of a kind and for the mad tightness of the jeans he wore, he had the raddest and flexible style on his Frontside Bigspins and Backside Bigspins too.
For real man. Same. I was wearing skinny jeans in 2010 when I was 12 but then when I went into secondary school I got on the baggy flex when I started skating.
My friend Louie Dog who got me into skating and my mate Mossy too. Mossy showed me Stay Gold. All of those boys are cool and I still keep in touch with them now.
It’s funny now because so many people into rap nowadays wear tight jeans and a lot of rockers have gone back to wearing baggy stuff. It’s funny how that changes.
You’ve always kept true to your sound musically. Why do you think it’s important to be consistent with your style of music?
Skating taught me that. Definitely taught me to be a perfectionist. I blame it on skateboarding. Haha. That shit was so beautiful you know? When I was young everything was so beautiful, when I found skateboarding and my friend showed me it…well actually to be fair I did start skating when I was really really young but when I started rollerblading and stuff going to Peckham Rye and going to Bay66 when I was 11. But when I found skating when I was older and watching video parts when I was older, it really inspired me artistically, to practice and hone a craft.
So yeah skateboarding is definitely a part of the reason why, I try to remain stylistically forward-thinking with ingenuity.
Also, the music I grew up listening to it’s quite old stuff.
I’m really into Bob Dylan now, Tracy Chapman and people who were themselves, they went by their real names and they had a guitar and a voice. So, I don’t know, I’m just really happy that you think that about me man.
I know a Cosmo Pyke song when I hear one. You released your Curser’s Lament EP and you’ve done some tours to promote that and you’re planning on doing more?
Yeah man, and we’re going to Birmingham on November the 20th!
Rad, yeah I saw you’re playing Hare and Hounds in Brum, that’s dope!
We’re doing another UK tour, we did one in May, where we did two nights in The Social in Little Portland Street and now we’re doing it again in November.
So, it’s two UK tours in a year, it’s pretty cool man and I’m playing Scala in King’s Cross and we sold it out! I’m really looking forward to that one on the 24th of November!
Sick! Yeah, you’ve picked good spots. Has there been much change out playing post-lockdown and what’s it been like for you to get back on stage after such a long time?
Yeah man for two years I was not doing shit! Just kind of being in Gambia and in London. It’s only just started picking up for me really this year properly and last year when I was in Highbury.
I went to New York and LA. I played some little shows out there and that was amazing. I met so many fucking skaters, this year and last year. It was fucking crazy. People I really look up to.
Who did you meet?
I met that skate photographer Atiba Jefferson in New York!
Sick. Where did you meet Atiba in New York?
I bumped into him in a dive bar on 2nd Avenue and I was just like yo yo and said what’s up to him because I had met him before when Palace had their skate park in Peckham. So that was really cool.
Two months ago, I was in Japan in Tokyo, and I was playing a gig in this bar. And it’s like Ishod Wair, Shane O’Neill and Jamie Foy just all in this bar that I was playing at. I was like yo! What the fuck, so yeah, it was crazy.
So yeah man, it was crazy bumping into people you’ve looked up to your whole life in America and Japan.
What was it like in LA?
It was really cool to go to America last year. It was my first time in L.A.
I’d literally just left Gambia for the second time when I went there for ten days.
So I went from Gambia to London and then back to L.A. So it was like a big shift. I could not believe it really. It was sick man.
Did you skate out there?
I skated Venice Beach and El Sereno skatepark, it’s a famous skate park out there. I’m not really sure where it is, I think it’s near Echo Park. I’m not sure, it’s so vast out there.
Then when I was in New York last May I went to LES skate park. So yeah man wherever I go I try to bring a board along too.
It sounds to me like your mind is so much on your songs and travelling and obviously staying on point to play these events. So what was it like seeing Ishod, Shane O’Neill and Jamie Foy at one of your gigs? Did you get chatting to them?
Yeah! I was playing in this bar because of my friend Casper who I met in 2018, in Japan in Tokyo, he was putting on a pop-up shop and he flew me out to Japan and I was in this AirBNB about half an hour outside of Shibuya.
How long were you there?
I was there for about a week, last May and they booked me for this gig in a bar called Music Bar Lion and Ishod, Shane and Jamie were there at the bar.
I was like, “What are you guys doing here!?” and I think there was a Palace party that night or something, I was like rah! Or maybe they were out there for some X-Games shit, I don’t quite remember why they said they were out there.
That sounds great. I’ve seen so much rad footage of all three of them and for you to see them come to watch you perform, that’s dope, that’s a proper role reversal.
I don’t think they were though! I think they were allowed in and they were just there drinking because it’s quite a famous spot. But yeah, I did feel like wow, these guys are at my gig and they probably did listen to me because I did play. I was like oh shit Ishod, Shane and Jamie! Yeah man it was cool.
Cosmo in Glasgow
Yeah just hopping back to meeting Atiba. How did that go down? Did you have a good conversation with him out there?
Yeah, he’s seriously nice man. He’s really lovely. I was a bit drunk, so we had a good chat.
Do you have a favourite Atiba photo or did you ask him about photos he’d shot?
I started skating a bit later in 2010 so kind of when magazines were phasing out you know? So I’m not sure.
You must have seen his Thrasher cover of Tyshawn Kickflipping the NY subway?
Atiba shot a lot of photos from tricks in Stay Gold too so I know him from that.
Atiba is a legend, he’s shot so many legendary photos and even had a video part in Chomp on This and he was shooting all these basketballers at the same time. I think it’s crazy how he was shooting Koston in the morning and Kobe in the Afternoon.
How many skate photographers have done that? There’s only one. So out of Ishod, Shane and Jamie, who’s skating have you watched the most or which one of them has done a trick that you thought was the sickest?
Probably Jamie Foy in King of the Road, either in 2014 or 2016. He was killing rails. He came out of nowhere. Actually, I think it was even later, it might have been 2017 KOTR. Yeah out of the three Jamie Foy.
Yeah, Jamie Foy can Front Crook anything. Sounds like you’ve had all of these rad skate experiences through your music, that’s dope. So, I’ve been wondering, the track No Comply off your new EP, did you name that after The No Comply Network?
Yeah, No Comply after The No Comply Network!
That’s unreal, sick man
Yeah, it is No Comply. It’s just about No Comply, as in this does not comply. It’s obviously a skating reference but yeah man!
That’s next level. It’s cool to hear you made that connection with us, honoured man. Really hyped on that.
That’s cool man, anytime, any day man, I got you.
Same. So of all the tracks off your new EP, is there one track that stands out to you as the most personal?
No Comply man.
Sick. That’s amazing man. So on your writing, previously you were working with Fraser T Smith, on that side has the writing process been different for you?
Since the last time we spoke, I started working with other people, mainly 30-year-olds who are my mates because I feel like they’ve got good life experiences.
The next EP we’re working on at the moment has some other writers on it who’ve helped me with it. It’s cool man, working with other people.
So I’m not just bearing the weight all on myself and I’m going to continue to do that, more often I think, try to get more people involved, always trying to get people to help out because I think no one man is an island, and you always need help from your friends, if you want to get anywhere.
Definitely. It’s always unexpected where and how help comes in. So for you, the EP is the release of that, the melding of the moments and experiences all together. Is there anyone in particular who helped you to write and you would like to mention?
My manager David, he’s got the studio on Peckham Road opposite Camberwell Uni. He recorded Piper for Janet and Curser’s Lament. He’s been really supportive of me and puts up with a lot.
Also Milo McKinnon, my keys player, he was introduced to me by David. He does the arrangement for the string and the horns on Piper for Janet and on some of the new record.
There’s a new song that’s coming out in November or December, we’re doing a new music video for that.
What’s the new music video for?
It’s for a new track off the new EP that we’re doing. Milo McKinnon has written some string parts for that.
I could not do that if I tried man. I’m not really a music theory type of guy, I’m more play by ear, so a big thank you to him.
Your other music videos have been really well produced. So what track is this new music video for and if you can tell us, what’s the new video going to be like?
Yeah for sure man. I just put out a new video the other day, you probably would not have seen it. You probably would not have seen it because I put it on a new YouTube video that only has a small amount of subscribers or something. I shot it four years ago when I was 21. We shot it with a 16MM film camera. I think it’s the most beautiful thing that I’ve done. I put it on a new channel because I thought I don’t want to make any money out of this. I just want it to be the art. I really think it is great. I would love for you to link it in this interview.
But in terms of the video we are doing next week. The track is called Outlaw. So the video is going to have Cowboy western vibes. We’re getting a horse and we’re shooting it in Bury St Edmunds which is where my filmer and editor Ryan McKee is from, it’s his hometown. So we’re going up there to do that.
I’ve got a place in Suffolk by the sea, which is an hour away from Bury St Edmunds so we’ll be up in Suffolk for a week. It’s going to be shot in a pub, saloon style with all my mates there. It’s got the strings that Milo has arranged so I can’t wait to put that out. That will be out sometime early next year in 2024.
Visually that sounds sick. So to bring it back to the intersection of skating and music, we’ve been thinking about videos more musically recently and your favourite video is Stay Gold. Did many tracks in that video catch your ear?
Yeah in Stay Gold, that first tune I will never forget that first tune, “Sleepy Silver Door” by Dead Meadow. Kevin Spanky Long has got Captain Beefheart’s Electricity track in his section. The music is probably another major reason why I love Stay Gold.
What about Bryan Herman skating to Tom Waits ‘Top of the Hill?
That’s what I mean, Bryan Herman’s part is probably my favourite part. He was just doing mad fucking Nollie Inward Heels over picnic table benches.
Herman also skates to a Black Sabbath tune, clearly a homage to Birmingham there
Marquise Preston skates to John Cale’s ‘Big White Cloud’, which was a tune.
It’s really riffy, psychedelic stuff. Who else’s section in Stay Gold were you into?
Braydon Szafranski’s section was sick. I was really into that.
Reynolds skates to something classic at the end too.
Yeah, Reynolds skates to Om Nashi Me by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros in that, he’s got the ender. That’s the part he does a Kickflip down The Davis gap and a load of gnarly stuff in Paris.
Yeah, Reynolds Frontside Flips a 16 in that in a line. I remember seeing a photo of that by Atiba, that’s the one I really liked
Andrew Reynolds, Frontside Flip a 16 stair, Shot by Atiba Jefferson
Stay Gold really has stood the test of time. Is there anything else about it that stands out to you?
Just the music, the skaters man. Jerry Hsu’s part was crazy. I really liked him in that and yeah, It’s also nostalgic, it was like before the internet was really popping skate-wise. It was 2012. I probably bought it. I’ve got the DVD in my house that I’m looking at, just the nostalgia of it all and after that, I never really watched another physical skate video, I just went on to YouTube you know?
Yeah, I understand that totally. After 2011, everything was coming out online. That’s why it had so many easter eggs and bonus sections on it to encourage people to buy the DVD. It had the Reynolds Madness section.
Yeah man, I totally understand that now that I’m older, trying to perfect things. I am trying to stop taking everything too seriously, releasing more, doing more. Life’s short.
Yeah, nothing has to be how you envision it, it can become something even greater. So speaking of unexpected events, staying in Gambia for 5 months was a surprise you enjoyed. What is it about Gambia you liked and that made you want to go back?
My mom’s best mate lives out there as I said. My mom goes there every year. We’re going to try again. I didn’t go last year, unfortunately, but I want to go back again man. I just went back because I loved it the first time. It was the first time I ever had true freedom. I bought a motorbike, went down the coast, no sat nav, just kind of followed the sea to a beach hut that my friend, who had been to Gambia years prior, told me to go to and I just went down there and the freedom of it man. It was beautiful to have that freedom to drive around, go fishing and eat all of this amazing food.
How much was it to get a motorcycle out in Gambia?
What, that’s so cheap, that’s sick!
My friend was working security at my uncle’s venue, he was a local, and we still chat on WhatsApp. I miss him a lot. I love to go out there. We were going to dub reggae nights. Big pirates on the beach. Big sounds.
I’ve heard good things but do you have any advice for readers thinking of going to Gambia?
You should definitely go. It’s one of the most up-and-coming African countries right now. Elon Musk is trying to buy the country or some shit. It’s really safe, for the most part, it’s a beautiful country, it’s really small. It’s surrounded by Senegal. I didn’t get the chance to go there but I want to go to more places in Africa because that’s the continent where I’m from you know?
I feel like we’ve talked a little about where you’ve been, your new music and tours but is there anything else that you want people to know about your upcoming EP?
Well, I think this Cursers Lament EP that came out earlier this year, that was the first song I ever wrote.
So I just held it and held it. It was on SoundCloud 6 years ago. I do a lot of my music like that. I like to resample. It’s like that 16MM music video, we shot that four years ago and I put it out last week. I like to hold on to things and put them out. I don’t know why I didn’t put it out. It was a bit of an Andrew Reynolds moment for me.
If it wasn’t perfect you didn’t want to put it out there?
Yeah but then I realised, like, ah what the hell, I spent so much money on that film camera and that film, better put it out! Yeah man so Cursers Lament, it’s like old songs. That whole EP. ‘What Can I Do’ I wrote that with Yussef Dayes, who’s doing really well at the moment. He’s getting nominated for a couple of Grammys I think.
I will have to check him out. What about your track ‘Awful Dawn’?
I wrote ‘Awful Dawn’ a while ago. I wrote that in Lockdown with Remi Kabaka who is the drummer for Gorillaz.
I like the name and its twofold meaning. It really sounds like you’ve managed to get a lot of songs and ideas out there that you’ve been waiting to release for quite a while. It’s going to be interesting to listen to it again knowing it. Just to loop back to the start of the conversation, I think it’s sick you and Kyron have been going to an Irish pub, and listening to tunes. Do you have a favourite trick or part by Kyron?
I really like The No Comply Network remix that you made of him, where he’s just skating all this gnarly stuff.
He’s a legend, we had to make it. Where did you originally meet Kyron?
I met him at The Montague Arms, it’s this old pub in between Peckham and New Cross in South London, that’s all boarded up now. I had a gig there years ago.
He met my mum and dad first, they were sitting at the merch desk and he got chatting to them and then I was like Oh my God Kyron. Obviously, that was because I grew up looking up to him, Casper Brooker and everyone. So I was really starstruck. He was so nice and chilled.
Ever since then, he’s always looked out for me. He’s lived around South London ever since then. Obviously, he’s from West, so he’s just a really good person to know. Whenever I see him we have a great time. He’s hooked me up with boards. I saw him the other day and it was fucking great in the Old Dispensary in Camberwell. So big up Kyron, he’s like my big bro.
I didn’t know you had that history with him and had known each other for that long. Any shoutouts or last words you want to make Cosmo to people reading this?
Just keep going, no matter how dark the days seem, there’s always some kind of light at the end of the tunnel. There’s always good and bad you know, so keep on going and don’t give up.