Getting To Know: Coex
We caught up with Ireland-born, West London-raised Cormac Crehan, who's musical moniker is Coex. His music sits firmly in the Electronic musical landscape, inspired by the music he heard and artists he met when studying in London. Coex first developed his musical talents as a teenager playing piano and acoustic instruments. Coex recently enrolled on the 7th year of Giles Peterson-backed artist development programme, Future Bubblers.
Having been involved in music from an early age, his latest project feels without doubt his most sincere and meaningful project so far. We caught up with one of our favourite artists around.
Tell the people a little bit about Coex
Coex is this electronic music project I’ve been working on. It’s in the leftfield alternative spectrum. Part of it is me expressing myself and working with my brother as a producer, trying to explore various avenues of underground electronic music. But equally, I’ve always grown up playing acoustically and songwriting, so it’s a combination of these two things. Sometimes it could just be an electronic track, whether that’s a dance track, or something a bit more intimate and soulful. And sometimes it can just be acoustic as well. I listen to all kinds of music, and what I listen to really depends on my mood, like a lot of people. And that is reflected a lot in the same way with me creating music.
Coex has been going for about 4 years now.
It’s been a while since we last spoke. You were performing under the moniker Gringoh. What prompted a change in direction musically?
Yes exactly so the Gringoh project I was working with my brother as well, and that was really good to be working on. We were both really into Latin music at the time, and I still love Latin music. The rhythms in it, and just the liveliness are just so vibrant and powerful, and so different to the kind of music you would hear on London radio for example.
I guess a series of life events just lead me to shift towards music that felt a bit more intimate and personal.
I just felt I wanted to make music that was more transparent to how I was feeling and didn’t have to fit into any kind of box. And I also started getting into more abstract kinds of music that I’d previously not given the proper time and understanding.
And I guess that’s what Coex is. It’s just a project that just allows for music that is completely honest. Something that is allowing for the musical creation that can just emit what I’m feeling whether that’s an exploration in sound, or a club track, or a completely depressive acoustic raw track, or a combination of the two.
Coex is an underground electronic project – were there any particular artists, clubnights, labels that have influenced the project?
In terms of if there are any club nights or labels, I’m not actually that much of an outgoing person. I spend most of my time behind a computer screen trying to make music. But I think the biggest change in direction or influence for the project was when I started this course in electronic music in Goldsmiths a few years ago, and I was just surrounded by such interesting experimental musicians that had such a different taste to me. It was all so different, and I fell in love with how vast the scene was and the more I started listening to it the more experimental stuff I got into, and it really just opened my mind up.
As a project it feels like a step above previous endeavours. Particularly based on the depth of lyricism, production value, etc. Was this project a conscious effort to expand sonically?
Thanks, I appreciate that. I guess it was a conscious effort. I decided that I want to make music that is more open and honest, and write stuff that stood a lot closer to me musically and that better represented me as a person and an artist. That’s I guess what changed with the songwriting and lyrics. This is what I really value in other artists, so I hope to be doing a similar thing.
It was quite hard to do this change as well, and so for a while I was writing all this stuff and keeping it to myself because firstly, most of it feels a lot more personal. Also, I just wasn’t sure if most of the people I knew would be interested in listening because it’s a bit more abstract than the other stuff. It was only after I got selected for this ‘Future Bubblers’ Giles Peterson scheme that I thought wow, I guess some people do want to hear this, and that actually gave me a lot of confidence to start releasing it.
Sonically, it kind of just naturally evolved from listening to different kinds of music and just taking more of an interest in understanding the kinds of music I don’t understand, which changed my taste a bit and focused me more on things like production, and sound design. And now I just want to purely make music that explores new sounds and that just feels real and raw. Feargal’s always been coaxing me towards the electronic/experimental side, so it’s nice to be moving in the same direction.
Your brother directed the video for Ascending To Heaven. How did you find the process of making the video and what was it inspired by?
So, this video was actually directed and produced whole fully by my brother Feargal. He’s got a great eye for film and visuals.
Feargal said, “The main idea of the music video came from looking at the theft of 'Lady Writing A Letter With Her Maid' one of the 2 Vermeer paintings not in a gallery. It was a really interesting story about a wealthy girl Rose Dugdale who ended up joining the IRA and stealing this priceless painting. After sitting on the story for a while and changing it up we thought there was something interesting there matching the song Ascending to Heaven in this kind of trippy metaphorical heist. I got a lot of the inspiration from the Winding-Refn and Gaspar Noé type neo-noir, but a big part was trying to nail a big 90s feel after watching the Vanilla Ice's ‘Cool As Ice’. All the directing and colouring was done by me which was mostly just out of convenience - but having already made the song, it made it pretty interesting to go back to and look at in a different way in terms of just visuals. Obviously, we owe a lot to Danny Jackson Venetia Taylor and our bro Finbar for doing an incredible job on the acting. I think it can be easy for an artsy piece like this to come out slightly cringey, but they smashed it and gave it so much more depth”.
You’ve collaborated with your brother Fergal with Coex. Do you often find yourself going to him for advice with music?
Yes, so we’ve grown up playing and making music together and so we always will. He’ll always be my go to collaborator when he is around. I guess the fact we’re brothers just makes it very seamless working with each other. We have such a similar thought of musical direction, but also have a very different working process and skillset so we play off each other very naturally.
Do you have any other artists you go to advice for with your music?
I’ve got some friends that are great artists, and I love our demo sharing sessions, but we all have such an appreciation for each other’s styles that we don’t often critique each other. If any of them did suggest something, I would definitely note it down, but most of the time it’s more of an environment to seek inspiration from each other instead of trying to make each other’s work better.
We loved the filmed piece on Brownswood. It’s really clear how well the Coex music translates live. When producing music how much do you consider the live audience when making music?
Ah thank you I’m really glad you like it. To be honest, it’s not usually something that’s on my mind when creating. Unless I’ve been going out to see club/live music a lot, which naturally shifts the way I’ll listen to music to an audience’s point of view. So, I guess ‘Ballydehob’ was a mix of both. I actually wrote it at a point where I felt I needed to really distance myself from people, and so I was actually staying in Ballydehob (a small rural town in Ireland) by myself at the time. Although at one point when I was mixing it back in London, I was going out a lot to see a lot of live classical music, and this is when my brother suggested to rework the sample cello with a live cellist (Sophie Adams) and add a live vocalist (Matilda O’Mahony). And that really did transform the track giving it that live warmth that it needed. They are both such amazing musicians, it was so nice having them add their own elements of expression into the track.
Do you have any shows/releases we can look forward to?
Yes, so we’ve got some releases almost ready to go, and I’m trying to keep the releases coming as regularly as possible for as long as I can keep the fire burning. There’s a couple which I’m really exited to release that will be coming soon, so stay tuned for these coming months. Also, we have a gig on the 15th December in 21 Soho, so I’m really looking forward to that, our last gig was so much fun. We have such a great band to play with too, with Tom Cronin on the guitar, Vili Keszeg on the drums, they bring such good vibes and energy, it’s bound to be a good show.