“I Like Pushing The Boundaries” Cobrah Interviewed

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Born out of the electronic club world and fetish underground community, Clara Blom Christensen debuted under her alias Cobrah in 2018. With singles like ‘Good Puss’ and ‘Brand New Bitch’ she quickly found her core audience. But being an independent artist, the workload eventually became too much. Her decision to sign with a label has meant that she has more time for the fun stuff – and doesn’t have to answer as many emails. 

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Recently back to her hometown of Stockholm from touring America, she spoke to Clash about the new phase for Cobrah. She has only just recovered from jet lag when I reach her over Zoom. But she’s not home for long, in only a few days the tour picks back up again. “I’m home for about a week. The last few months have been a lot of back and forth, but it’s a lot of fun”.

Cobrah’s third EP arrived in October on Friday the 13th – the obvious release date for a project called ‘Succubus’. “The Succubus is a folklore demon. They come out at night to have sex with men, and at the same time they eat them or parts of their soul. Often they will also take their sperm and give it to their male counterparts which are called Incubus, who get women pregnant with demons. Back in the day, these demons used to be ugly and scary monsters. But with the passage of time, with influence from fantasy and video games, they are now portrayed as hot, demonic women. The EP is called ‘Succubus’ because I thought it was a fun and exciting story about women who use sex in a very aggressive way, as I do in my lyrics and visuals”.

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The EP comes in seven different covers – one for each song – all representing a different succubi. “They kind of look like normal women in the pictures, but when you look up close you can see that something is off. On the main cover I’m naked and leaning away from the camera. It looks like I’m on the hunt, crouching over a possible victim. When you zoom into the picture, you can see that I have long, curved claws almost like a bird. I also have a spine that comes out of my back. Soon we’re gonna release collectable cards for all of the different characters. They are kind of like Pokémon cards that explain where each character comes from, what their origin story is and what their strengths and weaknesses are”. 

Even though this elaborate gallery of characters is a new concept for Cobrah, she has always been very fond of marrying her music with the visual aspects. This next step feels like a very natural part of her evolution as an artist. “I really went for it with this theme. I play a lot of video games and they inspire me. I like to build stuff around the music, it’s just as much fun as writing the music. When I’m not writing I spend all my time thinking about what the visuals will look like. So it was really fun taking it one step further. I will incorporate these characters in my tour and I would love to be able to turn them into characters in a video game”.

When Cobrah released her latest self-titled EP in 2021 she described it both as a presentation of herself and the end of an era. Soon after, she decided to sign with Big Beat Records and leave her independent days behind, a move she describes as inevitable. “Before I did it all by myself in my bedroom in Stockholm, on my own record label and without a manager, a team or a booking agency. It came to a point where I couldn’t do it all anymore and I wanted to tour more, so I had to bring in more people to be able to continue making my music. I have a whole team of people around me now. It also means I am able to create the more upscale music videos that I have always wanted to do”. 

While she sees a change in her music, the transition has mainly come with greater possibilities. “This is my first debut on a record label, and there’s a pretty big difference in what you can do and what’s possible. I make the music with the same people, but it is a bit more mature now and a little less experimental. I tried to use a more classic verse and chorus structure and do poppier arrangements. I’ve previously wanted to make poppy music, but then it hasn’t turned out that way. I have always struggled creatively with what I think is fun to do, and what I feel I should do more of. I really like when you’re able to do something a bit more avant garde within a pop structure”.

Cobrah has mainly built her audience in England, the US and Australia. “I’m still shocked by it. I live and work in Sweden, I feel very much at home here. But I haven’t played here in four years, so when you travel abroad and play in cities like San Francisco and 3000 people show up I’m like ‘what?!’. It’s crazy. So it has definitely been more of a smooth ride abroad. When I’m at home I feel very relaxed and private, and when I’m away I’m very focused and in work mode. That contrast between the two is very nice – having that balance”.

She has become closely linked to her stage outfits, which often feature latex, leather and chains. Cobrah first came across this aesthetic in the underground fetish scene. “My love for it grew as I started making music. I did photoshoots with my friends where I tried different clothes to find my visual language. One photographer that I found on Facebook was a latex fanatic and she had a whole room filled with just latex clothes. It was very playful and I had just brought a stupid, simple lacquer jacket, so I got to try on her clothes and I fell in love. It made me all tingly and encouraged me to get out there and play shows”.

Soon she found herself doing her first gigs at fetish parties. This was even before she had released any music. “I was so nervous, but it was so much fun. The clubs were filled with cages, beds and gynecological chairs. I have always been drawn to the extreme since I was a teenager – that thrill. Usually you’re told to imagine your audience naked, but my audience really was. They were a very open and a forgiving crowd, there’s very little you could do that they would find strange. I don’t do shows like that anymore, but I have some great memories from doing them”.

Cobrah has always felt a sense of belonging within the counterculture and alternative music scene. “I really like the gothic look and always have. I don’t really know exactly where it comes from. It’s hard to explain. The mainstream just feels like a very narrow mold. There’s a million different ways to fit in, but when I was growing up I didn’t feel like any of them were attainable. I felt like an outsider very early, so I think I reasoned it would be easier to try something else instead. There didn’t seem to be a point in trying to fit into something that you don’t understand”. 

At the same time that Cobrah started her music career she was also living a double life as a teacher. “When I was finished with my songwriting education I had to make a living, so I worked as a teacher up until the fall of 2020. It was a bit strange, I couldn’t tell them what I was doing because I didn’t want to get fired. I also had to get myself a clean-cut teacher’s wardrobe. When I told them I made music they all thought I was making music to compete in Eurovision. Eventually I realized I couldn’t do both at the same time, I had to commit to my music and I was very happy to quit teaching. I don’t know if they found out, but nobody has reached out to me so far”. 

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Being an artist has always been about pushing boundaries for Cobrah. But when I ask what the themes of her music are, she doesn’t have a clear cut answer. “That’s always the hardest question to answer. All the lyrics are so dumb and vulgar that it feels a bit weird to try to explain what they are about. They’re not about anything – it’s more of a feeling. The most important part is that it sounds good. I use the Max Martin approach with the shaky English grammar. Music is supposed to be listened to – not read. Generally speaking I like music with a sexy vibe, when it feels a bit exciting, scary, dangerous and creepy. That tingly feeling excites me. I want the listeners to feel confident, in the mood to party and a bit cunty. The purpose of this EP is to connect with yourself”. 

Whatever the intention, Cobrah is on the forefront of female artists creating a bigger space for women to express themselves. “In the beginning the lyrics felt more like a statement. But the more music I make, the more this language feels like my own, for me to have fun with. It’s more about evoking feelings than making a political statement. I like pushing the boundaries of what you’re allowed to say – and getting away with it. If it’s not controversial it’s not fun anymore.”

She doesn’t want to jinx it and it’s still too soon to say, but she’s aiming for an album next. But before that she is heading out on her first world tour. “I’m really looking forward to it. Of course you can listen to the music in your headphones, but that can feel like something is missing. It’s much more fun hearing the songs live and seeing the artist come alive with the music. It is only then that the experience is complete”.

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‘Succubus’ is out now.

Words: Emma Thimgren
Photo Credit: Ninja Hanna