This CocoRosie interview was everything I’d imagined/hoped it would be and so much more. Fairies were a recurring theme in my conversation with Bianca, one half of the sister-duo. But before I get too ahead of myself, let’s just start out by saying that it was kind of chaotic trying to phone Bianca (somehow I wasn’t really surprised). The first number I tried led me to what I can only assume was their home answering machine. Bianca’s voice instructed me to either leave a message, or that if I was trying to get a hold of Bianca and Sierra (I mean, why else would I be calling them?) I should call their cell phone. I was a little caught off guard when all of a sudden the beep sounded, indicating I should either leave a message or hang up awkwardly. In a very choose-your-own-adventure fashion, I obviously opted to leave a very awkward message at the last second. So that’s great, now they have that little keepsake for always. My speech went as follows:
Me: Hey Bianca…it’s Megan from BYT. You know, because we have this interview at 10:30 so…well I guess I’ll try you at the number you guys left on the recording…I hope it’s not Domino’s or something not real! (awkward laughter)
I can only hope that one day they will create a song that uses my voice in some weird and distorted way. Perhaps they will loop my voice saying ‘Domino’s’ and then insert some awkward laughter here and there. Okay, you get it, I’m a really big freak. So let’s move on to the interview.
Alright so I called the phone number from the recording and sure enough, Bianca answered. She sounded distracted (not that I am qualified to make this kind of observation since I don’t know what she sounds like apart from singing), and she kept asking me to hang on a minute. In the background there was some muffled yelling and what sounded like people and/or animals fighting each other. The only things I could really make out from the recording were, “No, you take it outside!” and “You’re not doing that with me!” followed by silence. Yes, she hung up on me. At first I was concerned about the interview, but then I felt like maybe I should be concerned for the well-being of CocoRosie. After about ten minutes Bianca called me back. As it would happen, she and Sierra were beating each other up. And here is exactly what she told me:
Bianca: Yeah sorry about that, we were punching each other. We were in an argument.
BYT: Yeah, that’s what I thought was happening, I wasn’t really sure. I’m just glad it wasn’t like…I couldn’t tell if it was like an animal attacking you guys or what, so I’m glad it wasn’t that. But anyway, how’s it going other than the sisterly love?
Bianca: Everything is going great.
BYT: Awesome. So tell me what you were doing prior to showing up on Sierra’s doorstep in Paris.
Bianca: I was teaching and I was really involved in the literary community here in New York. This was like, 1999-2002. And I had a small press, was making books and hosting book clubs and curating shows in my home, stuff like that.
BYT: And so I know you and your sister were doing a lot of different creative projects at the beginning, but how did you decide to…I mean, was it like you just woke up one morning and decided that making music was the thing to do?
Bianca: Pretty much. We were doing a lot of photography and started to just sort of document our daily adventures, and recording was just sort of a natural progression of that. And at no point were we, you know, aware of the goal of making a record. Although, we intuitively really kind of stuck to that format without knowing it, like by making twelves songs and kind of thinking of it as that structure.
BYT: How do you balance your personal artwork and CocoRosie? Or is there any need for a balance? Do they sort of overlap?
Bianca: Yeah, they completely overlap. I mean I’d like to just get away from definitions a lot of the time and not think of myself as a musician or in a band or anything, and just focus on working and then that works, you know? It always funnels back into our music project through projections and costumes and lyrics…you know, all the themes can be traced and whatever we’re working on visually.
BYT: Do you enjoy performing? Is it ever difficult? Because some of your songs are very…I don’t know, I guess pretty raw. I just feel they would be difficult or maybe kind of weird/uncomfortable to perform live in front of an audience.
Bianca: At first it was fairly challenging. We were both really shy I think, and that takes some getting used to. Besides that we’ve just taken on live performance as something totally separate. It’s not similar in any way to how we record or produce music, so we just take it on as a whole different thing. So yeah, it’s not really weird.
BYT: How is Voodoo Eros going for you?
Bianca: Umm, it went really well…it had sort of its heyday in a way. I tend to take on a lot of different projects and I’m kind of out of control with taking on new things and filling up my plate. I like to be involved in new things all the time and so, you know, it had its heyday I think. I don’t really see it having a big resurrection. I’ll probably end up focusing on the new project, but it definitely served its purpose and it represents a period of time and a community that has dissolved in a way. Like everyone in that community has kind of gone in different directions but it definitely represents that moment of music and art.
BYT: Right. So tell me about shopping in the woods. Are you guys still shopping in the woods?
Bianca: Yeah, we definitely shop in the woods. We’ve been doing these things called fairy wreaths where you just pick lots of dry grass and you twist it into sort of a long rope and then you make it into a wreath. Once you have the structure of a wreath you can put feathers or eggshells, acorns…you can really just fill it all up. Flowers…
BYT: That’s cool I’ll have to try that. So tell me what’s your take on the afterlife? Because I know a lot of your artwork deals with that theme.
Bianca: Well, I think just, you know, part of it is being in such an apocalyptic, sort of a threatening time as far as the destruction of the earth. And it’s like stepping back in a way and seeing the earth as having a more important destiny than just housing human beings, and imagining a sort of hopeful future for the earth without human beings. And maybe the elemental beings like the fairies and things will have to take over for a while before biodiversity can happen again. And also just, you know, celebrating death in a way that’s really taboo in our culture. Like, people are really uncomfortable with even talking about it, and through our own experiences in the last two years with death we’re just taking a different approach to talking about death and thinking about death. Just thinking about things from a more spiritual perspective.
BYT: What’s the importance of playing around with gender roles for you?
Bianca: It’s always been a sort of innate part of our creative process. I mean, like especially as a writer, and the sort of books and the characters I felt connected to growing up, they were all male characters…male characters who travel the world and have spiritual adventures, and there was a moment where in a way I realized that I was female. And it was this weird shock because I was so absorbed in my writer persona in a way, and it didn’t make any sense. And it kind of started there. Like I have a literary persona which is very male. It turns out most of my creative personas were male, and so I was just sort of trying to deal with that. The first way of dealing with it for me is to sort of transform those imaginary characters into real life characters. And then I finally developed a female creative persona named Vicky in the last two years. In a way though she’s not really an artist, she’s more of a witch, coincidentally. Just trying to work out all that weird stuff.
BYT: What was the last thing you dreamed about?
Bianca: Well, I’m not sure. I do a lot of flying away from bad guys. I pretty much fly every night. Like I rocket straight up right before a bad guy gets me.
BYT: So where do you guys get your clothes? I know that probably sounds like a weird question, but really, like what’s going through your head when you get dressed in the morning? What are you going for? Comfort? Things that look interesting?
Bianca: Well, we’re always searching for new characters, so we’re just trying new things all the time. Even things that are really unattractive, and just seeing where they take us. I think it’s all about the personal mysterious experience for us. I mean we’ll get into runs where we’ll be int he same theme or style, but I think within a week it will be pretty different top to bottom after seven days have gone by. We’re all about the constant change I think.
BYT: What’s up next for you guys? Any big plans?
Bianca: Yeah we have lots of plans. We just finished our fourth record and we also shot a movie two months ago that we’re in the process of editing. And you know we’re about to start this tour, we haven’t toured North America in a few years, so we’re pretty excited about that. And just kind of thinking about resettling, coming back and living in New York.
BYT: Well, I wish you the best of luck when you guys meet with the Canadian border again…
BYT: (Laughs) We’ll be fine.
Make sure you head over to the Black Cat September 3rd (tomorrow night) at 8:00 PM to see CocoRosie w/ Katie Stelmanis. Tickets are just $15 a pop, and you’re guaranteed a fantastically bizarre and wonderful experience. For now, check the sisters out on MySpace.