Goth, cheerleader, dominatrix: you could say COBRAH has always had a thing for uniforms.
“My mom really wasn’t into the whole goth thing,” grins the Gothenburg-raised singer, born Clara Blom Christensen. “I used to hide all my [goth] clothes in my backpack and change into them behind this garage on the way to school, and then change back into my school clothes on the way home.”
A decade or so on, the 24-year-old has long since moved past masking her passions in polite society. In fact, she’s quite literally putting them front and centre in her work as COBRAH, a multidisciplinary pop project steeped in Stockholm’s thriving fetish scene.
“You’d think that I’d have got into BDSM when I moved to Berlin,” she laughs, discussing the roots of her career over Zoom. “Actually, it was when I moved back to Stockholm and hooked up with this photographer who was really, really into the fetish scene. There was a stripping pole in the kitchen and a swing in the living room, and she had a whole room full of latex. So I tried it on and I was like, ‘Shit, this is so fucking cool.’”
Curiosity officially piqued, she approached legendary fetish club Dekadance about performing music at one of their parties, and was immersed in the scene soon after. Today, COBRAH’s eyes light up reliving the thrill of those early encounters.
“I remember I had purchased my first latex suit and I was walking through the crowd, and we were just sticking to each other, you know, latex against latex… It was just this awesome experience of being free within this very cool aesthetic.”
As COBRAH explains, her love for the fetish scene is about much more than just kink – it’s about freedom of expression. “I feel like we all grew up with a similar feeling of not really fitting in, and now we all have this space to be freaky, whether that’s about sex or not. It’s different for everyone, but it’s this safe space to really come to life.”
She underscores the influence of fetish aesthetics on her songwriting too. “A lot of the textures [I use] come from that scene. You know, the sound of rubber and of chains – all of that is very much translated into the music.”
Certainly, the music she makes today stimulates all the senses. Hitting a sweet spot between hyperpop, house and the transgressive synth-pop that characterised the early 00s electroclash scene, COBRAH’s compositions are packed with whip-crack beats, wipe-clean synths, bone-juddering basslines, and brilliantly gooey, rapped bars which see her firmly asserting her dom status. It’s a sound she debuted on 2019 single ‘IDFKA’, and that she’s continued to develop alongside long-time collaborator Gusten Dahlqvist, across the course of two fantastic EPs, the most recent of which dropped in May this year.
Looking back on that self-titled record’s year-long gestation today – which was begun before she quit her job as a primary school music teacher – COBRAH describes the process as transformative. “When I released the first EP I found lots of different communities and different music genres that I didn’t know about before – stuff like PC Music. Making the second EP, it was like, ‘Now that I’ve accumulated all this knowledge: where am I in all of this? Who am I? What’s the thread?”
The answer is an utterly magnetic, multidisciplinary artist. As inspired by the theatrical scope of her childhood hero Kate Bush, as she is the sex-positive messaging of a pop provocateur like Peaches, COBRAH funnels a lifetime of experiences into her work, be it the years she spent honing her craft as a teenage singer-songwriter, or the gymnastic skill she employed as a competitive cheerleader.
Lyrically too, she’s intent on being her authentic self by speaking frankly about sexual experiences (see ‘Good Puss’, ‘Gooey Fluid Girls’ etc). In doing so she hopes to help dismantle societal norms in the process. “I want to normalise queer identity in a way that’s very casual,” she explains. “Because I felt like people were just identifying me as this lesbian who happened to make music as well. And that’s the wrong order of things: I want to be a great musician, who’s also into women… And into most people in general.”
Combine this unfettered approach with electro-pop bangers of biblical proportions, and it’s easy to see why Charli XCX is already a huge fan. Having joined her onstage in Stockholm pre-pandemic, COBRAH is set to open for the star at an intimate London show next week.
Beyond that, COBRAH has her eyes firmly trained on expanding her creative horizons. “I’m kinda over being an independent artist,” she grins. “I want to move to LA. I want to own a mansion and do the whole mainstream artist thing.” One thing’s for sure, if anyone can shake up the system, COBRAH can.
COBRAH will support Charli XCX on tour at Lafayette in London on October 24 2021.
READ MORE: The best hyperpop songs ever made