“Raw, I basically made that as I was leaving Melbourne, and that was the feeling,” Cottrell says. “I just gave the songs what they wanted. I just do what the songs command. Basically, I’m living in a very beautiful place in the Northern Rivers near Byron, so now it’s very different to Melbourne. It’s very peaceful here, and also my relationship and my year was very good while I was making this album – it was very relaxing.”
Though he loves Melbourne (“It’s my home and it’s where my heart is,” he adds), Cottrell found himself leaving due to health concerns. Since that time, he’s found himself absorbing the serenity of nature and channelling the course of his consciousness into his creative passions. An ode to love, strength and letting go, Islands In Mind continues Cottrell’s spoken word style – where his location and headspace dictate the form of his work, and anything is possible.
“Basically, the love part’s just about my partner,” Cottrell explains. “The strength part is about dealing with a health problem, and the letting go part is about letting go of things that my family have done. It’s a positive album, but I have a lot of words. I’m a poet, so people who don’t like words are not going to like anything that I do.”
Authenticity and mood drive Cottrell most, and he loves to explore emotional landscapes. In one particular interest, he tries to achieve a state of euphoric sensation known as Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response – or ASMR, for short. It’s an unknown reaction, an audible or visual stimulus unique to each person that gives pleasant tingles up the spine – a sign of truly living. It moves him, and he uses his music to achieve and deliver that state of intense joy.
“You can even experience it when you’re listening to the saddest, gut-wrenching song,” Cottrell explains. “To me, happy or sad is not actually about experiencing that quivering sensation of being alive, but to me, that’s what drives music as an art form – because when you see good art, that’s what you experience.”
Primarily, Cottrell does everything for “the story” – the artistic expression of feeling and journey. Unsatisfied with what he views as a clean, “untarnished” musical landscape, Cottrell is working night and day to put his own character into the world, free from the constraints of unnecessary influence. Assuring he’s no slave to genre or convention, he’ll be following Islands In Mind with completely different creative offerings. For Cottrell, it’s important that artists make their own art the way they want to.
“I focus my priorities on content, so I have another 23 songs that I want to put through the studio,” Cottrell says. “I have a ‘punk-funk’ album coming out at the end of the year, because I landed a band for six months in this really cool place called the Tweed Creative Studios in Murwillumbah. They were like, ‘Hey man, you’re amazing, where did you come from? It feels like we’re making Led Zeppelin songs and all this stuff.’ It really was very cool. I really loved the experience.”