In our journey to explore the overlaps between creative work and music, we reached out to Priyanka Muniyappa, a.k.a Cosmic Disco, to discuss her multi-faceted practice, which experiments with macro photography, textile design, and illustration. We discuss her playlist (and it’s a BIG one!), as well as the role it plays in her creative process. Her fluid aesthetic finds space at the intersection of entomology, the architecture of fabric, supported and elevated by her ability to weave together a multitude of conceptual themes seamlessly. Here’s what she has to say!
So you do everything from Illustration and macro photography to textile reconstruction. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your practice?
A couple of years ago, I got into insect photography. I just started shooting and documenting insects. I’m crazy about nature. ‘Cosmic Disco’ is an expression of that. I’d say it’s an obsession, but I don’t make money off it. However, I do give resorts the option to let me stay there in exchange for photographs I take for them. If you scroll down my IG feed, you’ll see pictures of insects & hundreds of illustrations as well. These are a result of sitting, incubating, and creating. Each photograph captures my journey, process, and expression.
After graduating from NIFT, I focused on traveling. I went for a couple of Vipassana courses to meditate and get away from everything. The four years after college have mainly been about my spiritual growth & healing. I’ve just invested in that.
‘Grandma Would Approve’ is the only thing that brings in the money. It was only last year that my partner and I came together and decided to start the brand. I felt like a cicada coming out of its molt.
It’s great to know that other people are on this journey as well; Just investing time in themselves. Do you feel like this whole situation of the pandemic has been an extension of that, or has it changed your approach to the way you nurture yourself?
Once we started GWA, I had NO time! I’ve had to design, sell, model, and even edit. I’d work with my tailors from ten in the morning to ten at night every single day. Some weeks on Sundays as well. It was absolute madness from the month of October to March. It takes ten vintage pieces and six days to make one reconstructed garment. Restoring means changing the inner lining and the elastic too.
When the pandemic hit, I felt like I finally got a breather, you know? The pandemic has helped restore some balance. Whatever I’ve been feeling through the pandemic has been channeled into my art.
When I came across your page, ‘Cosmic Disco,’ I fell in love with the illustrations. It was only after that that I discovered GWA. I see a lot of connections between the two in terms of aesthetics. You said that ten garments go into making one reconstructed garment. If you look at entomology, the visual aesthetics are mind-blowing. Insects bring together patterns, colors, and palettes that you would never imagine work together. I feel like that happens a lot with GWA because you’re working in a myriad of aesthetics, right? Can you tell me a bit about how your fascination with entomology influences your work with textiles and vice versa?
I really appreciate that you noticed that. That is such an underlying element of our personalities and who we are, Anugrah and I. It’s amazing that you noticed the connection between the two. Because I spend so much time in nature, I don’t have a problem with colors. I believe that I can even put a hundred colors together, and it will not be out of balance. I’ve been able to draw a sense of balance easily because of the space I’m in.
It’s so interesting to hear you say that because navigating color is something many artists struggle with… But, you’re fearless in your approach.
I don’t feel intimidated by it at all. In fact, I’ve been telling my partner that we should use more garments for our reconstructed pieces. “How about 20?” And he’ll just look at me in disbelief. (laughs) I’m always thinking, “How many more patterns and colors can we add?.” I’m crazy about color! Even in my room, I have maybe 100 different colors. I’m always surrounded by color. I’ve made a lot of art in my room and it’s just bursting with colour
When I see your illustrations, what stands out to me is the intrinsic connection between humans and their natural environment. I see strong themes of intimacy, sensuality, and sensitivity to one’s existence and environment. As the creator, can you tell us a bit about how you approach it and your perspective when you make these works?
The pandemic made me miss the tactile nature of things. I missed being in the arms of a lover, hugging people, and holding hands. Most of the parks were closed as well. I felt stripped out of my natural environment, you know? My mom grows many plants, and we do have mantises in our garden, but I missed going out to places like Lal Bagh or Haralur lake.
I missed intimacy, as well. I never let my mind decide what it wants to do, especially when I’m creating art. I treat my thoughts as clouds in the sky. I do not give them any weight. If I want to pick something off, I will. I let the art flow out of me. For me, its absolute surrender. So, Whether it’s GWA or Cosmic Disco, I don’t think about it in advance… Whatever I’ve created until now are entirely in-the-moment artworks.
Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on currently? Something you’re working on with your illustration or GWA that is coming up?
Once my tailors come back on the 1st (October), we’ll start working on reconstruction again. I’ve been working on this in the meanwhile.
Seven Hundred plus songs on your playlist! It’ll take me a few weeks to get through it all. A lot of Jazz, Blues, and French pop, among others. How does your playlist direct your workflow? Do these tracks play in a particular order, or is it just random?
I just shuffle it. When I was around 18, I came across Bonobo, Nightmares on Wax, and the whole downtempo realm. The first time I heard Bonobo and Nightmares on Wax, it felt like the frequency of my soul or something.
I felt like this music was in perfect harmony with who I was. Until then, I was trying to navigate my way through different genres. What downtempo did was that it made me feel very grounded, and it helps me when I create.
What’s an album artwork you like that goes perfectly with the music?
‘Trippin Jaguar’s Arecibo EP. Yeah, that artwork just did it for me. It’s beautiful. I love the abstractness of it. And just like the whole vibe.
Thank You, Priyanka
Words by Shraddha Nair & Akhil Hemdev