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:: Spotlight :: Cosima De Vito - Back with a vengeance

By: Johann Huang

After an absence of nearly three years, Cosima De Vito is back with a new attitude, new album and new lease on life. The Perth born singer fiddles with her Appletiser bottle as we chat about the events that bring her to the release of a new album. For Cosima, this new album marks a change in pace and direction for her career. “I know a lot more this time around so I’m enjoying it more than the first album,” she says.

Cosima is prettier in person but taller than you’d expect. What stands out the most is her Perth girl charm and generous personality. Just moments ago, Cosima offered to get me a drink and looked on amused as I grappled with my voice recorder. When I arrived at her manager’s office, she remembered me from our last interview – greeting me by name and casually asking how my flight was. Success came at a time for Cosima when she was ready to stop trying for a music career. Cosima’s debut single When the War is Over hit number one on the Australian ARIA Charts in 2004 – the first independent artist to ever do so. The single was followed by an album which has so far sold more than 50,000 copies.

While Cosima attributes much of her early success to the hype of being a finalist on Australian Idol, her new album is about positioning herself as a long-term artist.

“Obviously it’s not going to be as big as it was the first time, but the momentum we’re doing this time is a lot more solid and respected in the sense that we’re taking it slower,” she says.

Cosima launched her new album This Is Now as headlining act for this year’s Sleaze Ball, a gay community event.

“I’ve always had quite a big gay fan base, but they’ve never had anything to actually latch onto,” she says.

For her new album Cosima has taken the task of writing the majority of the tracks.

“I’m really excited about this album finally coming out. The songs are a reflection of where I’ve been and where I’m feeling myself to be at this point in time,” she says.

Her new album moves the singer away from her previous reputation as a ballad singer and brings her to a more authentic and carefree place. The reputable singing skills have in the past drawn invitations to perform for Prime Minister John Howard and record an album written by US songwriter Diane Warren. Cosima was first inspired to sing when she heard Whitney Houston’s Greatest Love of All playing on the radio as a child, and the American singer has remained her idol ever since.

Her favourite Whitney album?

“Shivers, I really love The Bodyguard soundtrack,” she says.

Cosima really does say ‘shivers’ several times during our interview when she struggles to find an answer. The singer’s shift in musical direction has received positive responses so far.

“A lot of the fans have expressed how much they like the new stuff. You can connect more with your audience when they’re actually listening to words that you’ve written. When you start writing your own music, you move away from wanting the notes to be perfect and it becomes more about the emotional deliberation of the song. You grow as an artist in that respect.”

In June, Cosima achieved an underground comeback of sorts with her club banging first single Keep It Natural – and more notably, it’s remix receiving heavy spins in Australian nightclubs.

She said, “I was overly excited as to the success of Keep It Natural. It did extremely well and we made the club charts for the first time ever.”

While she was never in a club to hear her song first hand, the single spent eight weeks in the ARIA Club Charts largely due to a remix by Sydney DJ Alex Taylor. The commercial copy of the single was similarly successful, holding position in the top ten of the independent ARIA charts for ten weeks straight. Feedback from live performances has prompted Cosima to release another fast track, Movin’ On, as the second single from the new album.

Getting on with life is a recurrent theme on the new album, with song titles such as I’m Free, I Deserve Much Better Than That, and I Forgive You Not pointing towards sour experiences. Indeed being in a position to finally move on has been a struggle for Cosima with a very public and bitter management split still pending.

“It’s probably public knowledge that we are going through a lawsuit at the moment,” says Cosima, unable to elaborate further due to the nature of the proceedings. “Speaking positively, it was something I went through and I’m hoping it will be resolved in an amicable way so we can all move forward,”.

Negative experiences aside, Cosima truly soars on her new album in a stylistically mature collection of pop/rock tracks. ‘This Is Now’ features songs with a real rawness and emotional depth, perhaps as a result of the personal and career challenges Cosima has faced since her last album. Indeed the strongest tracks on the album seem to be the songs Cosima had a hand in writing.

She explained, “I have to stress it’s a very positive album. The songs have a very clear positive message about where I’ve been and just moving on.”

From the luscious country ballad Take Me Back Home – a song Cosima says tells the “personal turmoil” of her desire to be back in Western Australia with her family, to the chill-out Café Del Mar throwback I’m Free – a delectable farewell to her ex-manager.

‘This Is Now’ features faster, edgier songs – a style missing from her previous work – and Cosima pulls these off with ease and credibility. I Forgive You Not is a grunting rock song with attitude, based on her pre-Idol experiences with an American producer who told her she would “never make it as a singer”. Superstar twins The Veronicas are even credited on the album, having written the rock ballad Left Waiting – the very first song chosen for the album.

While Cosima may not have written Left Waiting, she tears the song up in the vocal department with her booming vibrato and powerful upper register. A standout on the album is So Alive – the last track selected to complete the album. She said, “It encompasses everything this album is about, the beauty of self-metamorphosis that results from your own personal journey. We cannot dwell on the mistakes we have made because who we are today is a product of all decisions we have made wrong and right.”

The album ‘This Is Now’ is out now through MGM Distribution.

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