Talking to Yellowbirds: An interview with Sam Cohen

By Ross Owen, Muse Staff Writer

Sam Cohen, member of the band Apollo Sunshine, fashions a vintage sound in his latest project—Yellowbirds. In his first solo album, The Color, Sam introduced us to his unique sound that ranges from tones of psychedelic, vintage rock and folk to electric harp and echoing.

Photo courtesy Kevin Calabro

“The Honest Ocean” feels as if it’s right out of the ‘60s, and highlights Sam’s diversity in his songs. Brilliantly blending multiple layers of sound together, along with well-written lyrics, Yellowbirds will draw you in after one listen. This Wednesday, on the one-year anniversary of The Color, Yellowbirds will be performing at The Great Scott in Allston.

This weekend, Sam was kind enough to answer a few questions about his upcoming plans, his writing process, his dog bozo and more for Muse Staff Writer Ross Owen.

RO: Your music has a bit of a vintage rock feel to it, along with a nice psychedelic twist. Is this a style of music that you grew up with and always wanted to make? Or is it more of an evolving sound?

SC: I think my sound is a collection of a lot of different influences.  Some of them feel somehow related to my childhood and there’s a comfort and warmth when I’m in that pallet.

RO: After releasing The Color and now going on tour, what do you have planned for Yellowbirds this year? Or is your primary focus on Apollo Sunshine?

SC: I’ve written most of the next Yellowbirds record and will be recording over the next few months. That’s the biggest thing on my plate, coming up. We don’t have any future plans for Apollo Sunshine as of now.

RO: If you were releasing a new Yellowbirds single, and could get anyone to feature in it, who would you get? And why?

SC: I’d love to get my dog Bozo to play an instrument because it’d be cute and amazing.

RO: Do you have a process for writing your songs, and drawing inspiration, or are you more of a spontaneous writer?

SC: Inspiration comes pretty spontaneously. I guess I have some habits for harnessing it when it shows up. I also feel like it’s important to check in regularly – grab a guitar or whatever instrument and noodle around, see if something comes out. It always feels like magic when it appears, but I feel like I wouldn’t necessarily find it without looking.

RO: I hear you’ve got some Boston roots from Apollo Sunshine, and you also reside in New York; but you’re from Texas. So what’s your pick? North or South?

SC: Yep, I lived in Boston for six years and Western Mass. For two more, but I grew up in Houston, Texas, and I’ve been in Brooklyn for about six years. I guess I’ve chosen the North to live for now, but I don’t really care to make generalizations about either. We all get enough stereotypes. I’m glad to have first hand experiences of both.

RO: How does your work with Yellowbirds compare to your work with Apollo Sunshine? Did you find it more difficult to tackle a whole album yourself, or do you enjoy the freedom solo work gives you?

SC: It’s definitely been liberating. Apollo was really active for about eight years and after so long, I think a change in the creative process is very welcome.  When we started the band in 2001, I found a freshness in collaborating.  Now there’s a freshness to streamlining my creative and life decisions.

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2 comments

  1. Pingback: Yellowbirds – Artist Introduction [Interview] | PastaRun Music
  2. Pingback: Yellowbirds – Artist Introduction and Interview | The Music Annex

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