Home Music Music Features

‘More Feeling, Less Overthinking’: Cosmo’s Midnight Want You to Have Fun With Their Third Album

"This whole album feels like stepping outside after being indoors for so long, like a wash of serotonin," the electronic duo tell Rolling Stone AU/NZ

Cosmo’s Midnight are hitting the refresh button with their new album, aptly titled Stop Thinking Start Feeling.

“We wanted to write music that was about putting all those clinical, critical brains away and getting back to being fans of music,” the electronic duo, brothers Cosmo and Patrick Liney, tell Rolling Stone AU/NZ. “We’re writing from a space of real excitement and a little bit of nostalgia as well.” 

With a decade of refining their craft and establishing themselves as innovators in Australia’s electronic music landscape, through their debut album, What Comes Next (2018), and the ARIA-nominated Yesteryear (2020), behind them the brothers are ready to shake things up once more with their third studio release. They’re throwing out the rulebook and embracing a fresh perspective, fuelled by their recent travels post-pandemic.

Venturing beyond the confines of their hometown of Sydney, Cosmo and Patrick soaked up inspiration from bustling cities like London and LA, collaborating with a diverse array of talents – from local favourites like Tkay Maidza and KUČKA, to international sensations like London duo Franc Moody and rising US R&B singer Kyle Dion.

Drawing from the sounds of their formative years – influences range from Fatboy Slim, Chemical Brothers, and Underworld – they’ve distilled a wealth of experiences into an eclectic yet cohesive collection of infectious and groove-worthy tracks. 

But Stop Thinking Start Feeling aims to be more than just feel-good weekend listening: it’s a manifesto for surrendering to the power of music and living in the present moment.“We want people to feel transported to this world we’ve created, where they can forget about everything else and just be lost in the music,” they say.

As Cosmo’s Midnight get ready to kick off a headline tour across Australia this July, featuring an exciting new live show, they’re ready to elevate audiences to new levels of euphoria.

Intrigued? So are we.

Read more about the making of Stop Thinking Start Feeling, their collaborations, creative process, and what lies ahead for the duo, below. 

Cosmo’s Midnight Stop Thinking Start Feeling is out this Friday, May 24th via Sony Music Australia / RCA Records. Find dates and tickets for the duo’s upcoming Australia tour here.

Rolling Stone AU/NZ: Congrats on the new album! The singles have been so strong. You’ve been teasing them since 2022, right?

Patrick: Yeah, it’s been about two years of dropping tracks while we created the album, writing and releasing it at the same time. It was a new approach for us, and it was really fun. As it started coming together, things sped up. The first year was hard, just trying to gather ideas and figure out where we wanted to go. But once we had a clearer picture, it all started taking shape quickly.

What inspired the album’s early stages? I know you began writing at home, then ventured to places like LA and London. How did those locations shape its direction?

Patrick: I think when you’re writing at home, it can get a little insular, where you’re sort of stuck in your own head. Being able to travel overseas, meet new people, and write in different spaces was just incredible. It felt like we were creating a collage of experiences instead of just sitting in one studio space.  Like when we were in London, and we had a studio in Lower Clapton, and we were just in there writing with different people every day. It was so nice to write with no expectations.

Cosmo: Just writing with different people is such a major opportunity. They can bring you into their world, and vice versa. But it’s even just the routine. You know, back home in Sydney we’d just walk out the back to our studio. But in London, down in Lower Clapton, we’d go out and get some Jamaican food, walk around, and just enjoy being in a different space. And it just makes you so excited that when you come back into the studio, you’re just refreshed and energised.

Patrick: In London, it was during a heatwave at the time, so it felt really Australian. It was like 28 degrees or something, and we were just loving it. It felt really comfortable. And in LA, we were on tour, but we had like three weeks off halfway between the tour. We stayed posted up in Atwater Village and wrote with artists like Kushco and Kyle Dion, and a lot of other people.

Some of the songs were really good, but they just didn’t fit the vibe of the album. I think the hardest thing with writing an album is letting songs go to get the big picture. We probably wrote like 50-plus songs or something and then filtered them down to this record. It’s really part of the challenge of writing an album.

How do you navigate new writing sessions and studios? Is it familiar or are you out of your comfort zone? 

Patrick: It’s about building that connection. We might start at the studio, but the first thing we do is leave and then go for a walk, or have a coffee, or whatever – just chat and get to know each other and sort of see where we align musically.

I feel like some people approach it from this really clinical standpoint where they’re like, “I have this song, it’s finished, and I want you to sing over it or something.” Whereas we often say, “Let’s write something from scratch,” and meet in the middle of these songs. Compared to our other albums, where we were mostly emailing people and they’re like, “Can you sing over this?” These new songs have this real lived-in feel. It was so exciting to write in a way that was so much more organic and free-flowing. And I feel like it just finds its way to this album, more feeling, less overthinking. 

That sense of fun really comes across on the album. Is there a particular collaboration that stood out to you as you were working on these tracks?

Patrick: We have this one song with Kyle Dion on the album. When we were writing with him, he was essentially just going crazy with these huge vocal stacks with tons of harmony. And there was this other writer in there who was like, “You’re going too far, this is too much.” And we’re like, “No, just keep going, keep going, keep going.” And we kind of loved that he was just like, “Let me cook.” It was absolutely crazy.

We just loved how people were getting really swept up in writing music together. Sometimes music can feel a little clinical, or like you’re trying to think a lot about the end goal more than just enjoying the journey of writing and getting really optimistic and excited about it. We wanted to write music that was putting all those clinical, critical brains away and trying to get back to just loving and being fans of music, and writing music from a space of real excitement and a little bit of nostalgia as well.

Cosmo: The energy we had together was just so infectious, it was hard to even stop. We were like, “Let’s do another and another…” 

Patrick:  We’re just having the best time writing with these people. Like, writing with Franc Moody for “Fantasy”  was almost like this insane yin yang thing where they were just like completing us musically. It was crazy to have someone who was just so in the same headspace as us, but they just had like a slightly different way of doing things that was just so complimentary. 

Cosmo: We often work with artists who are primarily singers, rather than producers. But working with them was so fun because they have such a big bag of tricks. They’ll bring in things that we never thought of.

Patrick: I think it’s really awesome writing with people who are more producers, like someone like spill tab. She was like, “Let’s add the soul Casio organ here, and do these vocal things here.” It’s so refreshing to write with people who just want to take our song and run with it in a certain way. And then when it comes back to us, we’re like, “Well, we did not expect that.” It just made the whole thing have this really free-flowing, organic feel that you kind of hear on the final record. 

RS: That song with spill tab really stood out for me, her vocals are amazing. 

Cosmo: Yeah, she’s really great.

Patrick: She was on tour at the time. She came over to our studio and we just hung out for the day. It’s so good to start these songs with people in person. It was so refreshing after two years of the absolute opposite, being on emails and stuck in these tiny spaces. This whole album just feels like stepping outside after being indoors for so long, and the light is so blinding. It’s almost too much, but it feels so good, like a wash of serotonin.

I love that. You mentioned that nostalgia element before. You guys tapped into some music you loved as kids. I was wondering what some of that music was and how you captured that feeling in this album?

Patrick: I think nostalgia brings back feelings from when we first started writing music, like that innocence where you just don’t really know, and there’s this big mysterious magic to figuring out why a song makes you feel a certain way. When you’ve been doing music for like 10 years, you kind of know the tricks and all these things that make the songs.

I remember when I was younger, driving to school and a song came on, and I was like, “This song makes me feel a certain way, it’s just so good.” Now, I listen to it and I know every drum sound, every synth, it takes away some of the magic.

Cosmo: Basically, with this album, it was about recapturing that feeling of discovery even when you know the tricks of the trade. It was a challenging approach because it’s less about thinking and more about feeling, looking beyond technique and skills.

I think it took releasing the last album [2020’s Yesteryear] and coming to this one to really have that moment of time to think about, you know, what do you want to achieve with music? And how do we want to do it? So yeah, it was a really fun experience. And it’s definitely something that I can’t wait to put into music in the future.

Patrick: It’s just like we’ve got a new philosophy or way of thinking about writing music that we can carry forward from now on. 

RS: That’s really exciting. It’s almost like after 10 years of hard work, you’re starting fresh again and getting back to basics. But I guess you had to go through all of that to reach this point…

Patrick: Absolutely. I remember reading an interview with Tame Impala where he [Kevin Parker] said a very similar thing. He had gotten a bit jaded because he knew all the tricks, but what rekindled his excitement for music was listening to music that he felt like he’d lost a bit of. I think for him, it was a Queen song or something, and that’s when he was talking to Mark Ronson and writing “Let It Happen”. He was almost not going to put the song out because he thought it was so boring or something. But Mark Ronson was like, “No, this is absolutely incredible. Like, you just can’t see it because you’ve had your head in the game for too long.”

For us, a way to pull ourselves out of that headspace was simply becoming fans of music again. We focused less on writing and more on enjoying listening to music. We curated a massive playlist of thousands of songs from the ’60s and ’70s, covering all genres without any expectations. It could be ambient, jazz, soul, anything, but it kind of ended up gravitating towards funk, disco, and then turning towards millennial house like Daft Punk, Chemical Brothers, Blaze, that kind of vibe.

How cool to experience that together. Did your bond as brothers and collaborators evolve during the making of this album?

Patrick: On prior records, I would typically take control of the second half of writing a song, hyper-curate and finesse it. On this album, it was more of a 50/50 collaboration, with us bouncing off each other until we reached a point where we were like, “This is perfect, don’t touch it anymore,” before sending it off for mastering. Instead of overcooking and over-polishing the tracks, we wanted to keep them feeling fresh and exciting.

The hardest part was unlearning that hyper-perfectionism from the last two albums and going back to when we first started music and thought, “This is perfect, it’s finished.” That feeling of freshness is what you hear in the final song. We had to hold back, knowing when to stop and say, “It’s done.”

Cosmo: In the past, we would delegate ourselves into roles. Using a sculpture analogy, one would smash away at the marble, and the other would chip away at the details. But this time, we both took turns fulfilling those roles. One person might realise the song, and the other would add the glitter or that final 5% on top to give it an extra push. 

Excited for the upcoming tour dates across Australia? How does it feel to be back on the road again? And what can fans expect from your live shows?

Patrick: It’s definitely a bit daunting since it’s been a long while since we’ve done a full-blown tour. For the last few years, it’s only been a few festival dates. We haven’t headlined a tour in Australia since 2019. We wanted this album to be escapist and transformative, taking you to a place where you can forget everything and be totally absorbed in the moment. It’s a tall order, but we’ve been working on it for a long time. 

Lastly, given the album’s title, how do you hope people will experience Stop Thinking Start Feeling when they put it on?

Patrick: I hope that when people put it on, they’ll really get into it. If they have the vinyl, I hope they’ll play it on a Saturday and listen all the way through. We want it to be an immersive experience from start to finish. We want listeners to feel transported to this world we’ve created, where they can forget everything else and just get lost in the music.

That idea was our mantra while writing the album, inspired by Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories and their song “Lose Yourself to Dance” with Pharrell. We want people to lose themselves in the music.

Get unlimited access to the coverage that shapes our culture.
to Rolling Stone magazine
to Rolling Stone magazine