For many female musicians the relationship between talent and visual representation is fraught with claims of the music industry’s ingrained sexism, exploitative nature and need to reinforce stereotypes. It’s often hard to disagree when the powers that be seem to draw inspiration from such a limited imagination as to what and who a female musician can be. If she’s not a sexed-up teenager, she’s an indie-darling, an old soul or a quirky fashionista, leaving little room for debate and development. However, outside of this sartorial rubric exists CocoRosie, a familial duo of multi-talented musicians Bianca ‘Coco’ and Sierra ‘Rosie’ Casady, who are known for their theatrical mixing of gender, age and subculture. On stage and film the sisters are often seen wearing exaggerated blush, facial hair or carnival-inspired accessories paired with oversize basketball jerseys. This mixing of the ethereal with the grotesque is also evident in their musical styling blending operatic, electronic and folk into a unique sound that’s both hauntingly beautiful and, at times, rather unpleasant. For CocoRosie, this uncategorical styling is also part of their charm. For the last decade, the Casadys have worked collaboratively to tread the line between seduction and repulsion in an effort to question and redefine female expectations. Devon Caranicas had the opportunity to speak with Bianca of CocoRosie via email as they sat in Mexico at the tail end of their world tour for their fifth studio albumTale of a Grass Widow.
Can you talk a bit about your new album? How have your style and artistic practice evolved in the ten years since your first and the three since your last?We just finished this immensely long tour. I’m now in Mexico City washing off the months of backstages, stages and hotel lobbies. This album has seen many intimate moments shared with our audience singing along to the more heartbreaking lyrics. It seems our fifth record has been perceived as more political than the rest, but it’s also very personal. Finding that interception between compassion for others and compassion for your (child) self is something we’ve experienced in writing these songs. Artistically, I can’t really tell how we’ve changed. I think its sound’s very much like the rest and relates to all of our records.
The CocoRosie aesthetic, as seen in your stage performance and highly crafted music videos, is such a vital part of your identity. What’s the importance of costume and set design and the role you each have in developing your look?
I feel that images are much harder to serve than music. Music has a wonderful open-endedness that images don’t. I feel our imagery’s much more clumsy, only hitting at the essence, where in music we can achieve it, at least in moments. Our style and look reflect the contrasting amalgamation of our music, where we cross all the un-crossables, eras, genres and genders etc. We like to mash things up and find a new creature and beauty in the monster.
Read the full interview with CocoRosie in our Spring / Summer 2014 issue of DASH Magazine, scheduled for release in mid-February 2014.