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Coco Solid

Coco Solid

Thursday 30th June, 2011 3:15PM

Coco Solid has just released her latest full length album, a mega mix tape called Pacific Rims. UTR caught up with this creative powerhouse to discuss how the the cassette came about, what's happening with her other projects - Parallel Dance Ensemble and Badd Energy - and what drives her to undertake all these creative projects.

So you're on tour for Pacific Rims at the moment yeah?

Yeah I am, we played the Hamilton show last night and we’re playing the Whanganui show tomorrow, Wellington Saturday and then Queenstown and Dunedin next week, and we finish in Auckland in a couple of weeks.

Awesome, how did last night go in Hamilton?

It was awesome! I have a real soft spot for H-town so I thought it went off, they were really sweet.

So tell me a bit about the mix tape and how it came together.

Um, yeah I’ve been wanting to do a mix tape for a while and I’d been subtly doing music in the background the whole time and there were tracks that weren’t getting released or didn’t find the right outlet and I’d have random ideas in the middle of other projects. So the mix tape was a really good vehicle to get these out there. It was a good forum for lots of eclectic stuff that I got together, because that’s what mix tapes are; a mash-up of stuff. Some tracks on there are from 2008 and some were written a month ago, so it’s a really good reflection of a time in my life and a really good musical reflection of where I’ve been and where I’m at now and where I want to go. It was more challenging to assemble than other records I’ve done.

Yeah, tell me about the assembly of it; how did you put the tracks together? How did you decide what to and what not to include?

I think I could have included quite a lot of stuff, and it could have been a lot longer, but it was pretty dense for me and I chose songs that not only reflected the musical vision I was trying to achieve but I also chose them for the way they went together. I wanted it to be this big eclectic, single track from start to finish. Somehow – I don’t know how – I think I’ve achieved it.

Do you have a favourite track or a favourite collaborative moment in there?

Ummm, that’s like picking your kids but I really did enjoy the stuff I made with Jizmatron in Auckland, I thought we had a really good time. He was one of the influences of me deciding to put it out on cassette tape; we were just talking about different mediums and ideas – vinyl, serato - and we got talking about cassette tape and it dawned on me that that would be a really good avenue for this.

Some of the tracks are older so they bring back such intense and amazing memories. 'Up in smoke' - I did that with a Czech Republic producer and it was when I was going through a really bad time in my life so hearing this moment in my life among these light hearted moments is really emotionally eclectic as well, and there’s heaps of jokes and upbeat stuff, and there’s heaps of dark stuff with references that only I understand.

You've touched on this, but what was the onus for putting it out on cassette?

I like to experiment with every part of music making and that includes the medium that I work in. I really get into the music video, how tracks are released, and I get into the different places I can tour and travel and you know being an independent artist you have a bigger picture vision and control. I just thought it was a really good chance to put out music on a medium that I love, no-one believes me, they think I’m joking, but I really do respect the cassette tape. When I put out Rap and Roll that was on a cassette tape and I’ve always had a hang up about it but it just seemed like good timing. I’ve said it to a couple of other writers I’ve talked to but when I was walking along during an organic rubbish collection and I saw people putting out their cassette tapes and VHS tapes and felt really sad, and I didn’t want to take part in cassette genocide, I wanted to be part of the survival.

And who did the artwork for the cassette tape?

Tony Williams, he’s an amazing artist, he did a lot of art direction for my music video ‘Shopping Cart’ and he does a lot of album artwork and stuff for other people, he’s a really great talent.

You mentioned before that you like to explore all areas of the musical creative process, you have so much stuff going on, tell me what other balls you’re juggling at the moment. Parallel Dance Ensemble? Badd Energy?

Yeah, Parallel Dance Ensemble put out their record in March this year and that was a long process putting that together but it came out and that’s been really cool for the last couple of years putting out regular releases and videos with Robin, and you know it’s a pretty international project because he’s from Denmark and the record label is German so it’s this whole other world that I have outside of New Zealand.

Badd Energy is kind of the opposite where that’s all my friends from around Auckland City who are really tight and it’s more grass roots or punk. It’s more experimental. And I do zines as well. I think all it is is I’m always trying to find outlets to communicate something very specific and that’s why I feel I’m multi-disciplinary and I love the collaborative process. I like to find as many ways to communicate and learn different things as possible. I can’t channel all my energy into just one thing, it’s just really not my nature. I’ve tried and it makes me miserable.

Yeah because all of these projects are inherently collaborative. Having these experiences with other people must drive you?

Yeah, totally, I think you know it’s my chosen way to communicate with the outside world in a weird way and I find working and creating with other people is one of the easiest way to communicate and it’s my favourite way to form bonds with people; you go n a real functional journey with them in order to make something that a whole new set of people can enjoy, an audience. I’m kind of different to the way people might perceive me. I’m low key generally but I find that the music and creating is just such a good way to try different ways of thinking out and it’s a great way to meet people. That’s basically how me and all my best friends met; we have creative harmony as well as personal.

Tell me a little bit about the zines you do, too.

Yeah I put one out called Philosofly Girl this January. I lived in Korea last year and was taking a big break from music and anything super artistic and when I got back in January I thought I’d kick things off with a collection of writing I’d built up and some photos and artwork. It was a really great experience and before that I did a newspaper called Fight the Fight and before that I did a comic called This is Not a Comic. So zines and independent press have always gone alongside the music for me I’ve been doing both for just as long, it’s just that music gets a lot more heat than underground press.

You say that all of your creative outlets are ways to express ideas for you. Are there any idea that your particularly concerned with at the moment?

I think the same themes keep re-occurring. One is independence and I mean that on a multitude of levels; political independence, personal independence and any kind of way in which people don’t have to justify themselves or defend themselves to other people – that’s a big thing that I covertly put into stuff. I feel like the only type of person that I want to be phobic against is people who are phobic. I always go for the underdog, I’m always sticking up for people who are less representing – maybe it’s a personal issue of mine but I think it’s worth implanting into your feel good tunes.

You mentioned before that you were a low key person naturally which is the opposite to your stage persona. Do you think your creative persona allows you to present ideas that you may not touch personally?

Completely. The reason I started doing Coco Solid was a way and a means for me to open up and I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be ablet o do that in a healthy way if I wasn’t making music, I would have lost my mind maybe 7, 000 times. The evolution of my music is a diary of another kind of evolution as well under the surface. You know it strengthens and it gets more intense or if it kind of drops back and recedes you can tell that’s where I’m at personally; they go hand in hand.

- Courtney Sanders

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