Itasca :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

Last year, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Kayla Cohen released Open to Chance under her Itasca banner. In his review for Aquarium Drunkard, Tyler Wilcox admitted the temptation to call the album's slow burning, psychedelically-tinged folk rock "the perfect autumn soundtrack," noting the album would sound just as good in the spring or summer. And he's been proven right. As the seasons have passed, Open to Chance has continued to reveal and offer new beauty.

On the occasion of her current tour with Dylan Golden Aycock and Lake Mary, we caught up with Cohen to discuss the dreamlike nature of her songs, and the current cultural moment that finds young artists synthesizing disparate influences into a cohesive, subtle new whole.

Itasca :: Buddy

Aquarium Drunkard: Open to Chance was one of my favorite albums of 2016. Have you started working on a new record?

Kayla Cohen: I’ll get totally into [the process] and get pretty far, and then take a couple of weeks off, and basically start over. That’s happened a few different times. It’s been slow, but I don’t think there’s any rush with anything.

AD: You worked with a full band on Open to Chance. Are you planning to do that again?

Kayla Cohen: I’ll record with a full band, but [for now] I’ve been working on it by myself.

AD: On Open to Chance, the word “dream” appears often. Is dream logic something you seek out in your own music?

Kayla Cohen: I think it’s part of music for me, just in general. The dream world is where you can access symbols that don’t necessarily make linear sense, but that can be really evocative. Lyrically, that’s perfect. That’s what you want. When I was working on that record, I feel like the dream world was more of a thing I was working with in a way that’s more hazy and mirage-like than I’ve been thinking about it now. I’ve been reading a lot of poetry centered on dreams. For example, this one poet, William Ferguson: the way he uses the dream vocabulary is more straightforward, serious, and concrete. That’s something I’m discovering now. But dreaming...that’s super fertile ground. And it’s easy too: you can just be like, “I have a night, now I’m going to drink some weird tea and go to sleep and see what happens.”

AD: I like that idea of dreams as a laboratory for songs. Do you have pretty vivid dreams?

Kayla Cohen: [Laughs] Yeah. I have phases where they are and they aren’t. But if the waking world isn’t providing you with the kind of inspiration you want, you can go to bed and see what happens, too.

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