Cobrah: With­in min­utes I was naked, and she was oil­ing me up ready to slide into latex!”

Experimental artist Cobrah recalls her initiation into Stockholm’s queer and fetish scenes, charting the city’s kinkiest clubs, performers and events.

Two years ago, Cobrah was asked to cre­ate some­thing that would fit the K-Pop mar­ket” along­side her friend and pro­duc­er, Hannes Roover. What they cre­at­ed instead was IDF­KA, a brood­ing debut sin­gle which com­bines indus­tri­al sound effects with heavy bass and a repeat­ed refrain: I don’t fuck­ing know any­more”. To say it didn’t fit the brief would be an under­state­ment. It didn’t sound like K-Pop at all,” she laughs, but it was the first thing we had made that I felt could def­i­nite­ly become something.”

Cobrah’s soon moved from her home coun­try of Swe­den to Berlin in search of new pro­duc­ers, a jour­ney which yield­ed exper­i­men­tal results. We mixed tech­no and vogue music with Ara­bic melodies, and the lyri­cal themes ranged from the lives of gay men in Sau­di Ara­bia to Paris Hilton’s sex tape. It was way out there!” After per­form­ing new mate­r­i­al dur­ing live sets, she realised she hadn’t recre­at­ed the mag­ic she felt with Hannes – so she returned to Swe­den. I recon­nect­ed with him and a new pro­duc­er, Gusten Galqvist. [Debut EP] ICON came real­ly quick­ly after that.”

The con­cise, high-octane EP has earned praise for its fusion of atmos­pher­ic pro­duc­tion and per­cus­sive, rapid-fire vocals. I actu­al­ly have two main lyri­cal inspi­ra­tions: Urban­Dic­tionary and The Jer­ry Springer Show,” she explains. I find fun words and key phras­es that you can make sto­ries from, and then I write lyrics like they’re instru­ments. I think they rhyth­mi­cal­ly sound bet­ter than these real­ly amaz­ing, pro­found statements.”

Root­ed in sex-pos­i­tive themes and tex­tur­al descrip­tors (WET, GLUE), Cobrah’s music is as erot­ic as it is evoca­tive. A search to cre­ate visu­als that matched these sound­scapes led her to the bed­room of pho­tog­ra­ph­er Katrin Unge, where she was first ini­ti­at­ed into Stockholm’s fetish scene. I didn’t have any­where to live at the time,” she says, describ­ing a peri­od spent crash­ing on friends’ sofas. I turned up to the pho­to­shoot with noth­ing but a bik­er jack­et, so she showed me a room of her cre­ations: there were fan­ta­sy horns, cat­suits, furs and gloves – basi­cal­ly every­thing. With­in min­utes I was naked, and she was oil­ing me up ready to slide into latex!”

This chance encounter led to her becom­ing a fix­ture on Stockholm’s queer and fetish scenes. “[Drag queen] Qween Dede was the first to play my music at [pop­u­lar gay club] Back­room, and I got my first gig dur­ing Stock­holm Fetish Week,” she recalls. With that in mind, we asked Cobrah to curate her own con­cise guide to the city’s kinki­est clubs, per­form­ers and events.


I’m used to fetish clubs now, but I was a real prude grow­ing up and didn’t real­ly start explor­ing sex­u­al­i­ty until lat­er on. Then I moved to Berlin, and when I came back I was booked to play DekaDance dur­ing Stock­holm Fetish Week – that was actu­al­ly my first ever per­for­mance. I remem­ber going to the sound­check Ben­jamin, the DJ I was per­form­ing with. It was the mid­dle of the day, so obvi­ous­ly in the club you can see every­thing – I remem­ber think­ing wow, this isn’t what I expect­ed to be doing in my 20s!’.

Then the night itself came. It was so amaz­ing and so eye-open­ing for me. The fash­ion and the looks were incred­i­ble, and there’s some­thing so spe­cial about walk­ing through a crowd full of club­bers dressed in latex. You rub against each oth­er in this very strange way, it’s so cool! It is mem­bers-only with a dress code, and obvi­ous­ly every­one is there because they share a com­mon inter­est in fetish, but DekaDance attracts such a wide range of peo­ple of all class­es, body types, ages, gen­ders. I thought that was super cool, and that’s what I start­ed to love about the fetish scene.”


So this isn’t an offi­cial club – in fact, they’re not real­ly allowed to have it! It’s actu­al­ly a fetish night inside a sauna, which is real­ly fun. It’s held on the out­skirts of the city cen­tre, and you need some sort of con­nec­tion to be able to get the address. It closed for a while, but it’s just start­ing up again. It has such an aura about it too. Lots of celebri­ties were going there and it was known as a real­ly cool, inner cir­cle-type event, but it’s the per­fect place for any­one who wants the free­dom to just live and express them­selves how­ev­er they like.” 


FOMO is sim­i­lar to DekaDance, but there are no strict codes and the empha­sis is real­ly more on the music. They high­ly encour­age guests to wear fetish gear, and they’re real­ly LGBT-inclu­sive – they make a huge point of talk­ing about those issues. I love the idea of nights like these; they’re all about let­ting go and not being so seri­ous, so posh – so restrict­ed! Clubs tend to be so spe­cif­ic, and they come with these implied rules about how to behave, how to fit in. Fetish clubs just tend to be so free of those pres­sures, that’s why I’m so drawn to them.”


It’s real­ly hard for fetish clubs to stay open in Swe­den, but there are oth­er nights that embrace that same ethos of free­dom. Trådgår­den is one – it’s only open dur­ing the sum­mer, and it’s a bit of a walk because you have to go under this bridge to get there. It’s this crazy space, with a ceil­ing filled with speak­ers that you can only real­ly hear on the dance­floor. You can play video games against the bridge pil­lar, and there’s the prop­er club’ inside, where they some­times have vogu­ing bat­tles and hip-hop concerts.”


As well as clubs, there are some amaz­ing per­form­ers here. The Vill­bergs have had inter­na­tion­al suc­cess, but not many peo­ple know they’re Swedish – any­thing tied to queer cul­ture or the fetish scene doesn’t tend to be picked up by main­stream media here. They start­ed out mak­ing their own clothes and then pho­tograph­ing them, but they want­ed to do more with their shows, so they added music. They real­ly inspired me to do more with my own artistry; to real­ly be in con­trol of the whole thing, includ­ing what I wear.”

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