Musicscan: Did you have any aesthetic goals for this album when you started writing and recording it?
Cocorosie: No, definitely not when we started. It took a lot of turns that we didn’t expect. Of course, we have different ideas at times but we usually have to throw the overboard because new things come up and we are pretty committed to following the mystery of it.
Musicscan: How much of that is already established before you start working on the album?
Cocorosie: Just bits and pieces. Like I said, it takes a lot of turns and it often doesn’t resemble where it started.
Musicscan: The album sounds a lot more structured, reduced and simpler in some ways to me, but then there are also moments that are more elaborate than ever? Was that a conscious effort?
Cocorosie: It was just a natural effect of focusing a lot on the narrative and I think there is some bolder and more personal communication. It is not so shrouded in the musical landscape and I think the smartest choice was to just leave things a bit more naked.
Musicscan: What does the songwriting process look like? Do you work on the songs independently or always together?
Cocorosie: There is really no rule about how all that works. A lot of things are just born when we are together and we are focusing that. Inspiration comes at strange moments and we try to pay attention to it whether we are separate or together. It could also just be one of us having an odd dream. I just try to take notes on things and be aware of what is happening.
Musicscan: Has your relationship with your sister changed since you have been creating music together?
Cocorosie: Yes, I think it gets more and more harmonious. Of course, it is difficult at times, but we have both become a lot more Zen in a way. There are less personal needs and we are learning to be committed to the present moment. It has been like a strange boot camp and it has definitely been personally trying, but the result is that is has gotten easier and easier actually.
Musicscan: What impact did Valgeir Sigurdsson have on the record and what was it like working with him?
Cocorosie: He is really talented with the mathematics of music and the complex ways in which you can arrange frequencies and the very scientific side of music. I think we really understand with our ears but we haven’t spent nearly as much time articulating that as he has. We certainly did a lot of the creative work, but once we went in there I felt that everything became physically a bit larger. He was able to make everything fit sonically together in a nice way without changing the spirit of anything.
Musicscan: Had you wanted to work with him for some time as it seems like an obvious choice for a producer and engineer?
Cocorosie: We were actually kind of unaware of who he was, but we had a strange and kind of fated meeting with him when we were in Iceland. We were just on our way out of town and he invited us to his studio and we really just went on a whim. We make a lot of our decisions that way. We worked on music for three days with him and it was like planting seeds and we all didn’t know if that would ever come into fruition. That was in the summer and it felt really right to go back there after we did a focused writing and recording period in the South of France alone. It felt like just the right thing to do, to go there and find the needles to stitch everything together in a great place.
Musicscan: When do you know that a song is finished or complete?
Cocorosie: Usually it is pretty obvious. There is a certain elated feeling that will come over the both of us without having to really explain it and when this doesn’t happen, there is perhaps something wrong. Something is not quite right. Some songs we work on for a long time and some songs evolve very fast. There is no real method to find the end of a song.
Musicscan: Have you ever achieved something like a perfect song in your opinion?
Cocorosie: No, I don’t think we have achieved it at all. There is a lot of letting go in making art, I think. You have to move on in a certain point and you have to accept what you have done. You have to accept that it is just a representation of the true essence of something. This adds a tragic aspect to art making in a way. Maybe it is not the same for other people, but that is how I have always felt. In writing, which is actually more of my background, I know that I can never really capture exactly what it is, but I do my best to describe the essence of something and then I just have to move on.
Musicscan: Is it necessary to create a certain distance between you and the music in order to get a better understanding of its inherent quality?
Cocorosie: For other people that might be important, but not for me. We don’t work with very much distance at all and I think it takes a really long time to have that objective feeling about our music, which we don’t have about this album yet at all, maybe not even the second one. We work very much from inside of it and it is a certain phase, it is working from a place of non-judgement. It is not really subconscious.
Musicscan: Do you sometimes rely on other people who are really close to you to give you an opinion on things?
Cocorosie: We are actually quite against that and I know it can seem arrogant or something, but we are pretty committed to that. Making something good isn’t our first priority. We are trying to discover something and we can’t expect everyone to appreciate what we are discovering.
Musicscan: Would you say it is primarily about discovering yourself in a way?
Cocorosie: Yes, definitely. It is largely a process of self-discovery. If I can take many turns in exploring things and exploring the source of other people even, but you are not really experiencing yourself through them.
Musicscan: What makes for a good live show in your opinion?
Cocorosie: In other people’s shows I personally really look for sincerity. I don’t know if we provide what I like in other people’s music, but I really love watching Antony (von Antony & The Johnsons – Anmerkung des Autors) perform, for example. He makes himself so vulnerable and there are moments when everyone has a chance to feel embarrassed and then he ends up uniting with the audience. I like to be broken down like that and because he is so vulnerable I think we can all trust what is happening and we are that much more open to extract the beauty that comes when he gets more serious. I am not that interested in people crashing their guitars and making that kind of scene.
Musicscan: I saw you last summer twice in New York and I got the impression that you pay very close attention to the details of your performance, including the visual effects.
Cocorosie: We are just trying to offer a little more in a way. The focus being on us visually and physically the whole time…we don’t identify our music visually with ourselves all the time. There are more celestial elements and more cartoon aspects and other worldly things that have a little more room to breathe. For instance, when the lights are lower and you can get lost in something else. We have a hard time playing when the lights are burning down on us.
Musicscan: Can a live show a communal or social impact even?
Cocorosie: That is hard to say. I don’t know about the social impact, but some of our tours have been more about a family thing happening on stage and it has been a lot more celebratorial in a way. I don’t know which phase we are moving into, but I think probably something a little bit more serious.
Musicscan: What is the difference between art and entertainment in your opinion?
Cocorosie: Maybe art is emptier in a way and it is asking more of you as a spectator. It is maybe asking to look at the world in a particular way. With entertainment you can just kick back and everything is done for you.
Musicscan: Well, would you call yourself an entertainer or an artist?
Cocorosie: That is funny, because I have thought about that lately. I have never thought of myself as an entertainer and I do identify more as an artist, but it is more fun to be an entertainer (laughs).
Musicscan: Would you say your music has a political dimension?
Cocorosie: Yes, I think there is a lot of social commentary and there is a lot of criticism in a way, but it is also abstract and expressed through the perspective of a child. It is not really preaching a message but it is regurgitating what is. It comes out in a naïve but blunt voice that I think can be shocking a bit like when kids speak and they don’t know anything about being politically correct. They tend to reflect a lot of the social incorrectness in a way and I think we speak from that voice a lot and it is telling people to look at things, but it is not telling them how to look at them.
Musicscan: Do you ever read reviews or features about yourselves?
Cocorosie: Very rarely, here and there.
Musicscan: Do you think that influences the way you perceive yourself to a certain extent?
Cocorosie: It maybe makes me a little more vulnerable because I realize that people are even aware of us. However, our sense of self is pretty rooted in a place that is very removed and I think we have been developing ourselves, our creative lives and our sense of identity a long time before and it is not really in dialog with the world or our responses to other people.
Musicscan: The next question is implicitly related to that. In how far do you connect to the New York and the Brooklyn music scene in particular?
Cocorosie: I don’t really connect artistically to what is going on in Brooklyn. I mean I have friends there, but I am not really sure what bands you are referring to. I don’t know if we have anything in common with TV On The Radio for example. I guess there is a certain freedom in our music.
Musicscan: Well, don’t you think if you lived in Alaska or Texas your music would sound quite different?
Cocorosie: Well, there are definitely moments where you can trace different muses and maybe something in Indonesian music would find its way into our music, not in any obvious way like dancehall or hip hop, which definitely rubbed off into our music. However, I would never claim for us to be hip hop or dancehall. Maybe there is a certain atmosphere in Brooklyn on the street and what sounds come out of cars and I think there is a part of our music that is contemporary but it is very much mixed up with ancient things and things that aren’t part of the place.
Musicscan: Would you feel comfortable if someone called your music “transgendered”?
Cocorosie: That is a funny term for music. I mean if someone called me transgendered I would definitely feel comfortable with that.
Musicscan: What is your relationship with Touch & Go like?
Cocorosie: It is really great. It is a mystery to me how we fit into the roster and back catalog, but they have really supported us as artists to just be ourselves entirely. They have never tried to influence us in any way. We are just pretty touched by the fact that Cory was really moved by our first record and didn’t ask us to change anything about it. A lot of other people at that particular moment would probably think: maybe they have something here, but we’ll have to get them a producer.I mean not everybody loves the album now, but at that moment there were very few people who saw anything in it. It took someone very special to recognizes that. We hadn’t even thought about sharing it with the world.
Musicscan: I am sure you must have had plenty of offers from other labels at this point. Have you ever considered working with someone else?
Cocorosie: We have been going about things very intuitively. We are really open towards the unknown and change. So far it has just felt right. It is just very-open ended for us.
Musicscan: Your music has been featured in several advertisement campaigns. Where do you draw the line between the different offers?
Cocorosie: That is hard to explain, but we have decided case by case. It is very much based on the song that they choose to use. I think our music can be kind of sweet and timeless and sometimes I feel like people don’t really realize that content of the music and the lyrics, because English is not their first language. So people have sometimes chosen quite controversial lyrics and in a way we feel more comfortable with those. We feel like it is a strange opportunity for these words to get out there.
Musicscan: What do you think you’d be doing if the whole music thing wouldn’t have worked out?
Cocorosie: I imagine I would be involved in art because that is what I had been doing before. Music was just another experiment with a new medium. I thought I was more headed towards film and I thought I was going to take that to another level. I also really love teaching, particularly creative writing and poetry. If I wasn’t moving around so much, I would probably be teaching.