Singer-songwriter, guitarist, and film composer Anto Cossu fronts the London-based dream-pop/shoegaze outfit Anto Dust, which recently released their new single, “Sinners Sing.”
From the island of Sardinia, after moving to London, Cossu began her musical journey. As her vision for her music expanded, Anto Dust took shape: Antonio Perry (lead guitar), Dave Roberts (drums), and Eleanor Gall (keyboards, backing vocals).
Anto Dust has shared the stage with Lee Mavers from The La’s, Pete Doherty and Carl Barat from the Libertines, Jon McClure from Reverend and The Makers, Jonny Borrell from Razorlight, Drew McConnell from Babyshambles and Liam Gallagher’s band. The band also supported Fleetwood Mac at London’s O2 Arena.
The band is currently recording their debut album, which they hope to finish by next spring while simultaneously writing new material for their sophomore album.
Guitar Girl Magazine spoke with Anto Cossu to discover how she got started in music and to delve into her guitars, amps, and pedals.
What three things can’t you live without?
Books, records, the sea.
Why do you make music?
Well, I am not very good at painting so…
What inspired your latest single “Sinners Sing?”
Living in London is hard, and if you want to be a musician it is even harder. I’ve seen so many people fail and be affected by it but what shocked me the most is seeing those who on paper seem to have it all, all the fame and all the money and yet they just end up wasting it all. This is a song for the fragile ones, the talented, the sensitive souls who feel crushed by the weight of daily existence and cannot cope with reality without self-medicating through drugs and alcohol. No judgment, I only have love for them.
Walk us through your mindset as you entered the studio to record the single.
It’s all fun and games until I have to get in the sound booth and record my vocals. I love the writing side of music, producing comes naturally to me and I enjoy all aspects of it. Sitting at the mixing desk with Dave, our drummer (who is a brilliant record producer by the way), tinkering away with my dials, obsessing over the smallest detail, and hearing the others perform their parts is absolute bliss for me. When Antonio put down his guitars on ‘Sinners Sing,’ I felt like floating in space, in a cloud of pure happiness. And then I had to sing. I hate singing, I hate the sound of my voice. I think I broke down in tears a couple of times. Pretty sure there is some footage of me banging my head against the soft wall of the booth. Funny how sometimes the most powerful tool we possess is also the most fragile. I keep promising myself that I’ll get singing lessons…one day!
How did you get started in music?
It was completely accidental. I moved into a flat in North Finchley and soon after I realized that I was living with members of Babyshambles, Ladyhawk, Chemical Brothers, Noisettes, and Lee Mavers!
Each time I was left alone in the house, I would sneak into the recording studio/rehearsal space and try out various instruments. I wasn’t good enough to play other people’s songs, so I started writing my own, making up chords as I went until one day Fionn Regan caught me playing and told me I had something unique. Drew McConnell and Carl Barat started taking me everywhere they went, and I would often perform at their show. People seem to love my tiny voice and even tinier guitar, so I kept at it until I found my sound and started touring France with Pete Doherty and co. But I wanted to be my own person and do my own thing, so I cut ties with the Camden scene, and soon after I was joined by Antonio on lead guitar duties. Our sound kept growing as did our friendship, and finally, our vision met Dave and later on Eleanor, our beautiful and talented keyboard player. We then felt like we had all the right elements to take this band more seriously and here we are.
Talk to us about moving to London from Sardinia, what was the first thing you loved about London?
I loved that I could speak multiple languages on the same day to different people. I loved the diversity and the challenges that come with living in a big city. I was completely infatuated with the music scene and the glamor that comes from being in the presence of the best musicians at the time. I now love it less, perhaps I don’t love it all. I dream of moving to the seaside with my partner James, getting 10 dogs, and planting some stuff in the garden.
Anything you miss about home?
My mum, every day. She is the most inspiring person I have ever met. She started a medical degree at the age of 64 and saw it through despite a brain tumor. The love she has for me kept me sane and she is the reason I am resilient and strong. I also miss my dad, my brother, the seaside, and surfing. I miss surfing a lot.
Which singers/musicians influenced your sound?
I worship Lana Del Rey; she is by far the best songwriter of her generation. David Bowie is also a perpetual source of inspiration for my music and writing. More recently, I have been listening to the early National, Weyes Blood, and Cass McCombs incessantly.
What kind of guitar, amps, and pedals are you currently using?
I have several guitars; my favorite is a baby blue Fender Strat from the custom shop in the US. Some random guy sent it to me as a gift, saying he loved my music, and he wanted me to have this guitar that he had made for his son who no longer wished to play. I never met this person, he never replied to my numerous thank you emails. He gave me the greatest gift of all and then simply vanished. I use a lot of pedals, as you can imagine. Lots of different brands and different effects, and my favorites are anything from Empress, Walrus and Hudson Electronics. Vox AC30 is the perfect match for my sound. ‘Sinners Sing’ was recorded on a Gibson Firebird V going through a mixture of Hiwatt Custom 20 combo and Vox Clubman 1960s. We always run a few effects like reverb, delay, and echo, but tend to keep it pretty clean during the recording process which gives us more leeway during production.
What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, TV, or other media?
All my songs were poems first. Most of my lyrics recall some of the finest poets such as Philip Larkin to whom I dedicated an entire song. Dylan Thomas, Scott Fitzgerald, and Dante are also ever-present in my imaginary world. I write about what matters to me, my mum, my grandparents, my island, and my best friends. Thematically, there are quite a few songs about being an immigrant, Brexit, and climate change. Books inspire me the most while television only inspires me to turn it off.
What can you share about your writing process?
It starts with a couple of sentences – ‘In darkness we sunbathe, over frozen lakes we swim’ – that keep ringing through my head until I put them to rest in between two chords. Words always come first; the music is an embellishment. Once I have a structure and a whole melody, I start thinking about drum beats, strings, bass, and guitars. Each instrument is doing its own thing, it’s singing its own song and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. People often say less is more, but I don’t believe they ever said that to Mozart.
Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?
I love listening to unsigned artists. They are the ones who despite zero support from the industry are actually killing it. It’s easy to be successful with the right support system around you, the more you chuck money at something the more you can see it grow. But this is not the case for independent musicians, they work a million times harder and oftentimes the quality of their music is far superior to that of mainstream artists. You just have to pay attention, you just have to stop and listen, and I do. ELDR is absolutely killing it at the moment, also Cosmic Strip, Industry Standard, Maya Lakhani, and Holly Henderson are ones to watch!
How do you define success?
Success is marrying the love of my life, having lots of dogs, and living by the seaside surrounded by family and all those I love.
What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? Music videos? Live gigs? New material?
We have so much coming up! First of all, another single and a headline show at The Lexington in London on the 1st of Dec. We are also planning a music video! We aim to finish recording and mixing our debut album by April 2024, and we have already started writing album number two!