CocoRosie never makes any sense but damn, I love them for it. Constituent member sisters Bianca and Sierra Casady have, for the last decade, been known for the whimsical rhetoric they offer about their albums and projects, speaking in a mystical manner which seamlessly compliments their ever-evolving musical style. Of course, if you’ve been following them over the years, you know this is normal. The Casadys are famous and well-loved for their cultural reclusiveness, their self-sheltering from the music industry, and their freewheeling lifestyle that seems to ignore the demands of mundane adulthood. So, I hoped that they’d bless me and this interview with the same sense of caprice that they maintain throughout their music and lives.
And, boy oh boy, did they. Talking to them is like talking to garden fairies on LSD, but I have to say it only enhances their mystique.
Their newest album, Heartache City (out September 18) illustrates why.
Written and recorded in a haunted farm studio in the South of France, it was crafted with minimal equipment, vintage toys and antique instruments, something the band is known for (yes, that was a real sentence). Whereas recent albums have taken on a more psychedelic/experimental approach, Heartache City champions what CocoRosie calls a “dusty southern feel with old-timey poetry.” I’d add to that a faint touch of hip-hop and a cubic buttload of cerebral lyrics that’ll fly high over your head unless you’re really paying attention. Engineer Nicolas Kalwill lends his expertise, yielding an album that captures CocoRosie’s intangible sense of romance, nostalgia and signature late-summer-impromptu-tea-party-Pinterest-board-ness.
I caught up with Bianca Casady to try to analyze how she manages to do this. Also discussed: CocoRosie’s insane lyrics, hauntings, and what the phrase “It’s lit, fam” means to her.
How do you maintain your youthful quirkiness? You seem so unaffected by life’s harsh realities, and I get the sense that you live in a state of whimsy which comes across in your music.
That’s a hard first question. I feel like we are always spinning tales of life’s harsh realities into our music. We follow our creative impulses into surprising circumstances. As I am getting older I’m learning to laugh.
What’s your lyric writing process like, and how literally do you want people to take your lyrics? You have some really incredible lyrics on this new album like “I think I spy a chat/ making a poo” and “I’m out shopping in my canoe/ finger frolicking the fireflies/ finger fucking firewood/ spying on the masturbating snails.”
How does one literally finger fuck the firewood? Or go shopping in their canoe. I like to walk in the wilderness and gather small things I find. I call this shopping in the woods. We used to go looking for fairies and the forest. We called this hunting for fairies. Not hunting to kill.
What’s the most important thing you want people to know about your new album and what it means to you?
It’s not important for us that people understand what it means to us. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s piles and piles of open endings. Images memories dreams desires heartbreak. Many of our songs are narratives where the Wanderer has no destination. It seems destructive for an artist to define their artwork. The work has a life to live. The purpose of this life is complete mystery. A mystery of exchange and mutation, a holy mission with no moral.
What instruments and toys did you use on this latest album?
We didn’t use much.
You’ve said the album was inspired by hauntings you experienced while living in a farmhouse in Southern France, and I’ve heard it described as a “lullaby for aliens.” Can you tell us a story of how you were haunted? How does the supernatural come across in your sound?
We recorded the whole album with the small cat on our laps. She was the judge of our tinkerings. Her ears flew back in wild surprise when we cranked the electric guitar. The electric guitar didn’t survive. The same ghost who visited us while writing our third record, stillborn revisited us on the farm one night. She sang to us “forget me not.”
Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s lit, fam?” What do you think of it?
I never heard that one.
That’s fine. What’s next for you guys?
Back in the clown suits and curly wigs.