Coco: “We all have a healthy respect for how ephemeral creative energy can be…” (4/10 at MilkBoy)

Earlier this month Coco released their second full-length, and next month they kick off their first-ever headlining tour.  The band is a supergroup of friends, comprised of Dirty Projectors’...

Earlier this month Coco released their second full-length, and next month they kick off their first-ever headlining tour.  The band is a supergroup of friends, comprised of Dirty Projectors’ Maia Friedman, Pavo Pavo’s Oliver Hill, and Lucius’ Dan Molad.  Their aptly named sophomore LP, 2, dropped courtesy of First City Artists, which prompted CLASH to say, “Moving between glacial shoegaze aspects and something more direct, and pop-centred, ‘2’ picks up on the eclecticism of their debut and injects fresh ideas.”  Their tour kicks off April 9th, with a stop on Wednesday, April 10th at our very own MilkBoy.

Coco’s self-titled debut album dropped in 2021 after the three came together to explore sounds without any expectations or boundaries.  I recently got a chance to chat over the phone with Oliver Hill, who was featured today in SPIN’s annual “Musicians Predict The Baseball Season” talking about the Mets, although we’ll forgive him, especially considering his “prognosis for the season”’ was, “I think they’re gonna be a middle-of-the-pack team with lots of talent and a propensity for choking.”  The Mets fan explains the band’s process of creating, which he says provides a major influence on the music itself: “We record in a retreat type of environment for two-three weeks at a time and always at a new place.  For this one, we recorded half of it in Joshua Tree, which has a very strong feeling to it… it’s a dry, inhospitable, but beautiful place with these big horizons…”

The band’s time in Joshua Tree saw them self-producing in an informal desert setting, while they also spent time recording in Richmond – whose environment Hill characterizes as, “lush and overflowing” – at Montrose Recording with Adrian Olsen, known for his work with Dan Croll, Molly Burch, and Lucy Dacus.  And the atmosphere of the respective settings has not gone unnoticed, with Paste calling 2 an “album of warm and seamless tracks, imbuing elements of humor and grace into their poignant introspection.  Hazy harmonies float above the pastel-coated instrumentals, wandering and twisting into unexpected passages of vivid sound.”

When I ask Hill about the album’s most significant influences, he tells me, “There’s almost too many musical influences to say, but Brazilian music was in all of our stereos throughout all of this, and we’re all children of the ‘90s, so both ‘90s rock and ‘90s R&B were shining through a little bit more on this one.”  He also tells me that he feels like the new album displays a notably wider range of sounds than Coco’s debut: “The overall impression is that this is a more diverse record than the first one.  For the first one, we did it really quickly, but the sound of this one is across more of a palette.  This is a bit more of a journey record, as opposed to the first one, which was more of a single vibe.”

While Oliver tells me that fan responses to the new music have been great, he’s especially excited to hear the reactions from live audiences: “I’ve been really touched across the board.  I’m anxious to see how it translates into live, because that is a really touching way to experience reactions.”  Coco has previously toured supporting Kevin Morby, in addition to playing headlining shows in places like NYC, LA, and London, which Hill says have been some of the highlights of the band: “Our first shows were really magical, because we started as a studio band, so to be able to share music and have people know it is incredible.  Having people sing along to your music is so touching.”  However, these upcoming dates will be Coco’s first-ever proper headlining tour: “We’ve headlined in some major markets, but this’ll be our first time in the van and playing some smaller cities.”

For those coming out to the shows, Hill says that you can expect to hear the new album in its entirety: “You’ll have this thing happen sometimes when you’re touring where some songs on the record never make the setlist…  And everyone in the audience has their own favorite song, so you don’t wanna not play someone’s favorite song…  I think we’ll start the set by playing the whole album, and then maybe play like the singles from the first album.”  He also tells me that he’s a big fan of intimate, standing-room venues like MilkBoy, even if they can sometimes have setbacks: “I love playing small rooms.  I love playing any room, as long as it’s an engaged crowd… with not too much action at the bar [laughs].  I’m often confused, because there are bars everywhere and people will spend their hard-earned money to come to the show, but then sometimes just talk at the bar, and it’s like, ‘Why don’t you just go to the bar next door?’”

In addition to playing live for fans, Oliver also tells me that making music videos together – they’ve made official videos for all five of the album’s singles – has been a major highlight of the band, allowing them to explore and create in a different medium: “Something that’s been really fun is we’ve started making our own music videos together.  And I’m by no means a filmmaker, but we’ve been doing it with the same spirit that we bring to the studio, and I think we’re discovering together, as a band, making videos is just another outlet for creativity.”  Hearing that the three have found this kind of groove working and experimenting together, I have to ask Oliver if Coco has plans to continue, and he has the answer that I suspect many fans were hoping for…

“Emphatically yes, there’s gonna be more.  We’ve broken ground on the third record and we’re gonna try to see in summer when we could get together to work on it.  I mean, we all have our own lives and Maia has a daughter now, but it’s important to the three of us to keep the fire burning.  We all have a healthy respect for how ephemeral creative energy can be, so we want to strike while the iron’s hot and keep the train going.”

*Get your tickets here.

Band InterviewsLive EventsMusic

During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.