QC INTERVIEW: BIANCA CASSIDY OF COCOROSIE

by christos m

Quiet Color: Hey Bianca, What’s up this is Christos.

Bianca: Oh hello!

QC: I’ll just jump right into it…. There’s a lot of contrast on The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn from the sparse, airy feel of “Animals” to the jumpy “Japan” and the sheer quirkiness of “Houses”. As the record goes on my emotions sort of bounce around passed confusion and sadness and often joy until there are some points when I’m genuinely smiling and cracking a laugh. Was it your plan to go on a bit of an adventure of sorts, both on an emotional level as well as narrative?

Bianca: Well, it was definitely an emotional journey for us. We don’t really set out with any plan; it’s really a process of discovery. So, I don’t know, I mean, working with contrast is definitely sort of an inherent aspect of the way that we work. And I think we delved into more extremes in that album.

QC: I agree dude and the record has an undeniable hip-hop vibe to it. Have you wanted to go in the hip-hop direction for a while? Even “By Your Side” to me has such a hip-hop feel; it’s just DYING to be sampled/remixed.

Bianca: I think it’s really been there since the beginning, but in a lot less of an overt way. Like in “By Your Side” for instance, I think structurally and in using what sounds like an old sample, that whole song was really hip hop inspired to begin with. I think the fact that we’ve ventured into cleaner production and worked with a bigger sound and made it more accessibly hip hop in a way. But it’s been an inspiration to us all along.

QC: Totally. Well, I heard you never released your hip-hop record, “Word to the Crow”. What I find amazing is that in this scary as hell information age where EVERYTHING ANYONE does is documented on the Internet somewhere, despite all my searching, I couldn’t find it. Will that album ever see the light of day? Or is that a ship that has passed?

Bianca: It’s really mysterious to us. We’ve kind of locked it away from ourselves even. It’s a strange little something that’s just kind of brewing and we’ll see if it’s something that’s matured well with time or if it’s just dissolved because it’s really just on a tape, it’s not backed up in anyway.

QC: What’s the song writing process for two seemingly different musicians and people? Is it ever a struggle?

Bianca: No, I’d say that’s why it works. We really complete each other in terms of the music, and she really brings a lot of the structure and I bring a lot of the chaos and experimentation. We kind of keep challenging each other and throwing each other off.

QC: What was your sister’s first reaction after not being in touch with you so long? It is such a wonderful story, what I can’t place is when you took the moment to say, “ok dude, let’s make a record”.

Bianca: It’s really hard to recall that moment… we were in a really creative period, working on films and taking a lot of pictures and making clothes; deciding to experiment with recording was just another extension of everything else. Then it really turned out to be a sort of remaining document of that period, so we just looked at it as sort of a sonic diary that we just conceived as a record or something other people would hear.

QC: You’ve said, “I think our music’s a little bit scary at times” and that “it’s sort of an eclectic montage”. I think that’s what makes people connect with your music that it’s very real, and sometimes reality is scary. The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn, of all of yours, definitely teeters on spooky and ethereal, was this a conscious decision? How did this come to be?

Bianca: We really felt the need to isolate ourselves again, like during the time of the first record. We went to this small farm we knew about it in the south of France and didn’t really have any particular expectations. Not fixed ones really. We spent almost two months there writing and recording and kind of took advantage of jet lag and got on this weird night schedule and did all our work at night. The whole atmosphere of the farm at night really adhered itself to our writing process, and we kind of dealt with the mythological world that was taking place at that farm. There were all kinds of creepy elements. There was a dying horse that kept crying out at night, and owls that were hunting screaming kittens. There was spookiness, but not like the creepiness of humanity, it was something that just was very natural.

QC: So you must be affected a great deal musically by your surroundings? I mean, your first record, “La Maison de Mon Reve” was recorded in Sierra’s Bathroom, “Noah’s Arc” on the road and this one on a farm? Where exactly? And are you affected a great deal musically by your surroundings?

Bianca: I’d say with the third album, it’s particularly true. Before that, I argued against that a little bit and found that we really drew directly from our imaginations. But we sort of projected our imaginary realm into this very specific landscape at the farm. I think it’s the grounding element to that record. There’s all these autobiographical tales that don’t really come from the farm, but all the different stories are interacting in the same landscape.

QC: You describe your parents as gypsies at times, and on the song “Werewolf” in particular, a sense of your father is clearly felt, “I’ll shake you off though, get up on that horse”. Were you surprised at how much he came up on that record? Did it feel good getting that stuff out?

Bianca: Definitely it was. It was really new for me as a writer, well not so much as a writer, but writing something that I was going to sing that was personal was really new for me. So, it’s been interesting performing those songs live. It has a whole different vitality, and I have a different emotional connection to the work than in the past when it was more exploring other people’s stories in a way. It’s not more intense actually. I feel like even though the music itself is a bit more pop and more polished, I feel like the lyrics are a lot more raw than ever.

QC: I almost get a stream of conscious feel from it, which is really refreshing, as well as inspiring for writers and singers. There’s a lot of freedom and fearlessness on this record.

Bianca: Thank you.

QC: Your welcome. And what’s with the crazy sounds on the records? I know you play a slew of unconventional instruments, right? Which ones? Did I hear a kazoo?

Bianca: Yeah. I’m having a hard time answering that question because we do so much experimenting and we’re really not attached to the instruments or any of the objects, they’re kind of insignificant when we make a song. I don’t have too interesting of an answer for you, as in; it’s kind of insignificant for us. Definitely things aren’t what they appear. There’s a lot of layering and processing and a lot of experimentation. It’s all kind of lost in the rustle along the way really.

QC: David Kleijwegt’s documentary “Eternal Children” blew me away. What was it like touring with Antony? Personally, his music really touches me. When will he be dropping something new? And can you PLEASE tour again. Antony has said nothing short of amazing things about you in the press, which I think is great. Just that you’re surrounded by this warm and supportive group of musicians. He described yourself and your sister, and your generation, saying, “This new young generation they really brought a lot with them, there’s something very magical about them. They brought something to the table I never imagined that they would. They were able to navigate through all that crap my generation was almost unable to. All the shit, and not take it on.” How does that feel? Hearing him speak so highly of you guys is really cool. What’s it like to be in this supportive community?

Bianca: It’s been a really amazing relationship for us, especially with Antony, what we found through music, and other artists that aren’t necessarily mentioned in the particular circle that we get cast to… artists of a little bit of a different generation.

QC: In that same documentary, your sister says, “I have a couple fairies in my house that are there just to drive me nuts, and they cut my hair when I sleep. You’ll see my hair all over the pillow… Damn they got me again.” Do you have fairies playing tricks on you or was it you?

Bianca: I have done that before. Oh, and there’s another artist in that documentary William Basinski that we feel really close to and also Kembra of the Voluptous Horror of Karen Black. Do you know her?

QC: No is she signed to Voodoo Eros Records?

Bianca: Not officially but we’ve definitely been collaborating and she performed with us at the Warsaw. She’s really, really incredible.

QC: Yeah man, I really wanted to congratulate you on, Voodoo Eros Records, specifically because your sister’s band Metallic Falcons is so awesome. Is Patrick Wolf on that label?

Bianca: He’s on the first record, he’s not officially on the label but he’s kind of a part of the whole Voodoo Eros community because I put together a compilation of peoples’ really old, precious unreleased tracks and he was one of the artists from that first record.

QC: Oh yeah, speaking of Voodoo Eros, one of my buddies, Leyla has been recommending one of your acts, Bunny Rabbit. How did you link up with her?

Bianca: Well, the producer of that record and sort of partner is Black Cracker, who I have collaborated with for years, not musically but in all kinds of projects, we’re both writers so we did a lot of work together writing and curating events and fashion stuff, and we both were involved in teaching poetry here in New York. So, I kind of bumped into her.

QC: Yeah, you’ve had a ton of jobs. You’ve been a model, a lingerie designer and a poetry teacher. Are you comfortable with your niche officially?

Bianca: I feel like my niche is really open and it’s really just being able to come out as an artist and music has definitely been my invitation into that; music has just been the most appropriate way to put all that together right now.

QC: So, not sure if you read reviews, but New York Magazine says, “Coco Rosie’s new CD is more than just the freak-folk album of the year. It’s the album that will make you care about freak folk in the first place.” What do you make of a comment like that? How do you feel about being pinned “Freak Folk”?

Bianca: We thought it was pretty weird. I think that music is kind of conservative at times to be honest, and a lot of terms get thrown around in music, and we really just think of ourselves as artists more than musicians. Because we’re working in music we get type cast as being weird and stuff like that. In the art world, you wouldn’t be considered weird for having a kind of non-traditional approach to what you make. I don’t know; there’s an interesting eclipse happening with a lot of artists coming out at the same time, and it’s hard to see what we really have in common. I think there’s a lot of particularities to our vocals and maybe a more unique approach to lyrics as well, or what we think of as standard. The folk thing is always strange. Lately, I’ve really been describing our music as pop more than anything because we are really taking from every style of music and putting it together and I think that’s kind of what pop music does.

QC: I know people screw up their facts all the time, and I try to at least make an effort not to believe everything I read. But I read somewhere that these were some of your dreams – are they? Did any come true?

Dreams for the future include:

* Making an album with RZA
* Write and produce an opera
* Disappear as vagaries in North Africa
* Retire as lesbian welders in New Mexico
* A marriage with Antony!

Bianca: Those are all true! We wrote those ourselves. They’re a little out dated. We like to kind of refresh our fantasy list.

QC: By all means refresh!

Bianca: We would still totally be down to marry Antony. I’m kind of over the lesbian welder fetish; it was a little fetishy for a while. There are all these really strong women living in New Mexico, they’re all covered in like car grease, living in this sort of utopia community working on bikes and stuff, but that’s a little of an old one now. Everything still sounds pretty good, but maybe we need to publish an updated list.

QC: You have this great quote in Anthem, that “telling stories from a child’s perspective can reveal a lot about our culture.” That comment really hit me and I couldn’t agree with you more. Do you feel like Ghosthorse and Stillborn came from that place?

Bianca: It did but not so much in the same way as the other records. I think a lot of it’s coming from who we are now and definitely looking back a lot and maybe using the vulnerability and emotional innocence of a child, but I think there are more reflections of time. It’s a little bit more adult.

QC: What albums are you looking forward to this year?

Bianca: Well, whatever Anthony puts out I’m really looking to.

QC: Have you heard his stuff with Bjork?

Bianca: I have heard a few things, it’s really, really magical. It’s a little bit, almost difficult to have two singers like that, two such emotional singers at the same time; it’s kind of heavy duty.

QC: Yeah, what was it like working with Bjork’s producer Valgeir Sigurosson?

Bianca: It was interesting. We’re kind of protective of the production and stuff of our music. We used him for a lot of the technical aspects, and he’s really technically talented, just sort of bringing all the frequencies to life and making everything bigger and highlighting small things. He’s really talented at what he does. We weren’t looking for anyone with a vision necessarily. He has very sensitive ears and an ability to translate exactly what we want. But we weren’t that open to creative input.

QC: Touch and Go really wanted you. They sought after you? What was that like having a record label pursuing you?

Bianca: We were totally naive to the indie rock labels, we had never even heard of them. We tend to walk into open doors, and we met them and the owner of it was so wonderful that we just really went with our intuitive impression of him and didn’t know anything about the label or their history. We didn’t necessarily relate to the catalog, but I felt really supported by them, and so far it’s definitely been the right thing for us.

QC: Bianca, thank you so much for your time. I was stoked to do this interview. I wish you the best of luck and I’ll see you at the show. The record is GORGEOUS.

Bianca: THANK YOU.

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