For years I tried to make my writing more contemporary, but really my natural style is in a much older language and dealing with nature and not dealing with modern objects and things…
Incendiary spend some down-time with CoCoRosie
Its freezing walking the streets of Amsterdam in February and the promise of a beer or two in a nice warm and apparently very posh hotel on the Herengracht in the company of CoCo Rosie is a very appealing idea indeed. We like CoCoRosie as artists and people.
Once inside the hotel however, the Incendiary crew at once notice that there has been a gargantuan amount of money spent on some of the most jarringly awful decor seen in any hotel lobby, anywhere. The jazz age carpet looks like the stuff they decorate coach seats with in East Lancashire, and sits very uncomfortably with the Art Deco aspirations of the rest of the lobby... This place could drive you to drink.
That said, so could the wait for the interview, as the lobby is packed with people fiddling with cameras and other bits of electronic equipment. CoCoRosie are nowadays a big proposition in Holland. So much so that the interviews have taken two days and involved a great deal of fussing and preening and self important mails between various intermediaries, all jealously guarding their "access" to the band. That semi drunken talk in the sun about wigs and scones with Sierra seems a long time ago... Sierra and Bianca are split up as round after round of interviews mean it's a good 90 minutes before we get the chance to sit down with a shattered looking Bianca. And believe you me she is shattered.
B: I'm really, really tired Richard, I mean I haven't slept and we've just not stopped for five days, so this is not going to be a great interview...
IN: I promise to tell you a story later to send you to sleep. It's from the Dictionary of Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics.
B: Later? Okay, that's a relief...
IN: Some serious stuff to start with. The new LP (The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn) you're bringing out. In our humble estimation it's easily your best record. It seems the music is more expansive, more fluid and more confident.
B: We couldn't have predicted how we were going to do what we set out to do, and you know I think its really hard for us to actually hear that, how things fit together, we still need a little distance to hear what you are saying about our LP... we are too close to appreciate the entirety of the songs' beauty I think. I think it takes a lot of time to get away from a record to even know what you think of it yourself, you know?
IN: Is this LP a form of travelogue? There are songs about Japan... Is there something in that?
B: Hmm. I don't know about that... I really don't know about that... (Laughs). There's nothing inaccurate about what you said, but I suppose a lot of things that you might be hinting at might stem from a particular territory, we spent a lot of time again the south of France, but the period we spent was much more in-depth, the atmosphere clung on and maybe has got into the roots and tendrils of the songs...
IN: It's a very piratical LP, I envisage you two as brigands on the ocean on this record.
B: I guess I feel like that a lot of the time anyway when we make music. I do feel like we're travelling and there's definitely a lot of adventure when you record an album. Eccentric stuff is happening on a subterranean level, when we record anyway.
IN: The cover artwork is reminiscent of Manet's Dejeuner Sur L'Herbe or a Goya Maja painting, and what's this with the 19th century French military uniform you wear nowadays?
B: Yeah I think we collected a lot old French stuff in the farm. Sierra developed this character you see on the cover, and continues to be... She is one of what we call the bloody twins, deranged Siamese widows and the soldier you see was the suitor of the widows and the other was neglected and kind of miserable...
I don't know... even though I'm pretty uneducated, my slight knowledge of literature always draws me towards French literature of the late 1800s and I always see myself as the romantic male, kinda gay, a Beau Geste figure that just keeps going, and I go through so many phases with this idea, but it keeps coming back... Suddenly when we started making this record I saw myself re-embracing this whole thing. I am not trying to fight it anymore. For years I tried to make my writing more contemporary, but really my natural style is in a much older language and dealing with nature and not dealing with modern objects and things... The Bloody Twins and Black Poppies led me back into this older realm.
And yet there is this totally contradictory side of the LP that thing that sounds contemporary! It does feel karmic though because it' so repetitive and insistent, all these (French) things coming out of me and I can't explain it! It's weird!
IN (Zoe): Maybe you were a French political officer who was gay...
IN; On a more flippant note, how would you redecorate this lobby Sierra?
B: Arrgh... no I don't know, scrap it and start again, knock down the ceilings and make the place cavernous. I don't pay too much attention to hotel lobbies. I like the room though 'cos it has a really large bathtub (laughs)
IN (Zoe): What's going on with your label and stuff? Did you go to Bunny Rabbit's party?
B: Erm no we were doing press, here I think; or Paris... God when was that? I have lost track of days... but yeah it's exciting and it's getting attention. I'm excited because they're just starting and they are beginning performing, and they are getting written about and I just know how much I've changed in the performing experience. Its funny to see a picture of us performing two or three years ago where we are both sitting on chairs... and now I never sit down and I leave my mic on the stage anywhere... moving my body more!
IN (Zoe): You are over here now?
B: My base is such an ephemeral thing now... Well we sort of moved to Paris, and there's a place we've been renting because we send so much stuff over here anyway and it made sense to. We have exhibitions in Warsaw and Paris and we might do some stuff in Rotterdam... And we got a space in New York for some reason. I kind of like the idea of having New York as just somewhere to work... sorry my brain is beginning to unwind... waagh...
IN (Zoe): Your clothes... do you have a designer for your look?
B: No! No one has really offered! Well someone did and then didn't send anything... Everything we wear is junk shop/dollar store. I sometimes give clothes to friends to work on, which is cool because I can give them things I already worn, because I don't think I'm putting my personality at stake. We shop a lot of dollar stores. There are a lot of these very cheap Chinese shops where we get silk pyjamas. The costumes on the LP cover we got those in Paris in the antique market. That French officer's uniform is the real thing, I can tell you that.
IN (Zoe): Do you go to the market at Port Du Clignancourt in Paris?
B: Yeah we go there, we love it; I love how they are selling like, one shoe; there's an area under the freeway selling nothing, all these men doing serious business, trading with nothing, maybe an old joker card from a pack. Often watching people trade with the one shoe is way out. I mean, I mix and match shoes as long as they don't mess up my body. You can get serious back problems just from wearing the wrong or inappropriate shoes. Never put heavy things in your back pocket.
IN(Zoe): Yeah, its like skaters; they walk in a certain way after wearing skates, because their muscles develop in a certain way...
B: Oh shit, I'm so tired... do you remember that last interview, you were telling us about the whisky distillation process, and all we talked about was that and bloody scones! We're on a sober kick right now, we have to be I guess (looks disappointed).
At this point things are terminated and Zoe goes to photograph a by now very weary looking Bianca. Incendiary are most definitely not on a sober kick and set out to discover new bars to eradicate the suffocating atmosphere of the hotel lobby, leaving CoCo Rosie to escape the many tentacles of the press as best they can We wish them luck.
Words: Richard Foster and Zoe Gottehrer.
Photos: Zoe Gottehrer.