Artist Interview: Comet

Posted: by The Editor

As someone whose childhood was established in the post-grunge / alternative rock movement at the start of the new millennium, it has been gratifying for me personally to see it make its return in a new and improved form. Much of the resurgence seen today is often dubbed as nu-gaze, combining elements of hard alternative rock with the swirling distortion of shoegaze and one of the most unique voices to rise out of the new era is Comet Candler. The New York based alternative rock artist is quickly becoming one of my favorite vocalists and her powerfully evocative Two-Winged EP is available everywhere today.

Born in London to American parents, Comet moved to the US at a young age and grew up going back and forth between California and Florida. She finished high school in Los Angeles where she began pursuing music before eventually moving to New York where she currently resides. “Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a musician and I come from a very musical family. Both my parents were ballerinas and stuff like that and it’s something that always interested me,” Comet shares. While she previously played in a different band in LA, Comet started over as a solo artist before finding herself playing with a full band once again. “When I came here (New York), I just really wanted a band to back me up, but I didn’t plan on really having them become part of the writing process. I ended up just really liking everything they did so we kind of just have become a band again,” she shares.

The second single “One” off the EP was my personal introduction to Comet and it’s one of the more haunting songs in her repertoire with an equally captivating music video that visually depicts her as an angel who has her wings torn off from her.  “A few days after the song was written I was just imagining what a video would be for it and it really started my thought process for the EP. I kind of imagined being an angel and having my wings off and I didn’t know how much of a theme that would be throughout the entire project,” she expresses. The cover art for the EP which shows a single bloody feather and the title Two-Winged ended up embodying the theme that “One” touched upon and evokes a feeling of loss as well as journeying through desecration. Comet’s friends Dakotah Malisoff and Alanna Nickles also assisted her with the making and editing of the video, while she directed it at a warehouse in Greenpoint. Serving as an extension of her songwriting, Comet instinctively wields her visual artistry in directing to help build worlds around her music.

Two-Winged is the follow-up to last year’s Wake Up Clean EP and showcases Comet’s growing signature style with a gravelly and penetrating voice that emulates some of the most iconic 90s artists such as Kim Gordon, Courtney Love, or Fiona Apple who were so true to themselves and their artistic ambitions that their impact today remains undeniable. Listening to the new EP, Comet’s raw honesty and morbid intensity makes for an impactful experience that is sure to leave an impression on anyone who hears it. “All the songs I wrote on my own and then I had the band come in and record parts on them. Visually, it’s all just kind of my creative vision. It’s been about two years in the making and we recorded most of it at a studio here with my bandmate / bassist Grant who engineered all of it,” Comet tells me.

Drawing from personal experiences that revolve around themes of horror, hunger, feminine rage, and vulnerability, Comet shares her experience in writing these deeply intimate but dark and powerful songs for the EP. “I feel like during this EP, making music felt kind of against my will in a way. Not totally, but I feel like songs will come to me and I just have to get it out somehow. I feel like songwriting to me was like bleeding in front of an audience. Recently, I have been trying to, not on this EP, but I’ve been trying to kind of write songs as a form of manifestation because I feel like songwriting really is a form of magic and I feel like constantly writing things that are negative kind of becomes like a negative prophecy,” she professes.

One of the most emotionally cinematic songs on the EP is “Gooseflesh” containing the bleak atmosphere of a dark wave song before escalating into a sorrowful and aching track about lust that’s most memorable because of Comet’s expanding vocal intonation throughout the song. “I was going to cut that song about five times. I went back and forth on it so much like I went to the studio and was like we’re cutting it, I hate it, take it off. But it was the last song I wrote, I believe, for the EP. I really like the final take we did on them because I did it about a week before we met and it’s my most up-to-date vocals. We were mixing it in the studio but I really wasn’t liking it and then we redid some of the guitars and made them simpler which I feel like helped it a lot and my friend Kris (Esfandiari) from King Woman came in and she was kind of advising like making this part louder and quieter and making sure that build in the end really hit the way it’s said, and after she came in, she listened to it and said that she really liked it and didn’t think we should cut it, and so we didn’t, and it is now one of my favorite songs,” Comet shares on the process behind the song. 

The seven songs written for the EP are so compelling in the bare instrumentation and intensity of what Comet unravels throughout each song, that it’s almost intimidating as well as exciting in what a full length album would sound like from the band.  As far as Two-Winged is concerned however, Comet shares what the most challenging song to write was. “I feel like guitar-wise ‘Gooseflesh’ was hard to get finished, but I feel like the one that was hard to write was ‘My Butcher.’ I feel like emotionally and lyrically, it is probably one of the most emotionally hard songs to listen to. I showed my mom the EP and after that song she was just silent and I feel like it’s probably not going to be most people’s favorite because it is kind of a grueling, long song that’s not positive anyway. But that one probably was the hardest and had the most to write because there’s so much space to fill. And it really was accidentally seven minutes. I exported it the first time I wrote a demo of it and was like, that cannot be right, but we stuck to it,” she explains.

The closing track “Sugar-Filled” is one of the most beautiful songs off the EP that opens with the lines “Torture I love you / Taught me to dance through all the black and blue” and it perfectly captures this mood that Comet is eloquent in. Despite some of the darkness found throughout the songs on the EP, there’s a certain power to them that’s unrelenting and establishes itself in the closing track as Comet’s inextinguishable spirit. “‘Sugar-Filled’ to me is a positive song in a way. It’s just like an acceptance of how people are going to want something from you in love or in life or in work or in whatever and how you can kind of give and give and give. It’s kind of accepting that like, whatever they want, they will take it. And that it’s fine. All of the things you go through I feel like you come out realizing that you kind of have a bottomless well of things to take that’s replaceable, and it’s a positive note that I wanted to end on,” Comet expresses. 

On her favorite part of writing the EP, and what she hopes for, Comet closes the interview with:

“My favorite part of writing it really was getting to expand upon it with the band. I think getting to work with the super talented musicians that I did and getting to hear what they see or hear from it and what they would add to it was really the best part of the project. I made it to put it out there and it’s how I felt and I hope that it makes people feel less alone if they feel the same.”

Two-Winged is out now and physical copies of the CD can be found in stores exclusively at Retail-Pharmacy in NY.

 Loan Pham | @x_loanp

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