Since recording their debut album (La Maison de Mon Reve, released in 2004) in their Parisian apartment’s bathroom, American-born sisters Sierra and Bianca Casady have continued along a fanciful path on which their freakish folk has consistently mutated in multiple directions. As that original approach would indicate, as CocoRosie they’ve created an insular musical world where no idea is too weird, no sound too out-there or antiquated, and no lyrical notion too odd. While 2005’s Noah’s Ark indulged the duo’s most long-form idiosyncrasies and 2007’s The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn went in the opposite direction to incorporate bass-thumping global anthems into the sisters’ peculiarly enchanting vernacular, the pair’s most recent release, Grey Oceans takes all the quirks of the past and shines them to a bright hue. The record was made in multiple locations—from Buenos Aires to Melborne and points in between—with honorary third band member Gael Rakotondrabe collaborating with the sisters. In many ways, it seems like the logical next step in the band’s evolution, only there’s no telling what they might do next.
I caught up with Bianca via email to inquire on the hows and whys of what makes the band tick. It’s important to note that this exchange took place before Mexico’s elimination from the World Cup at the hands of Argentina.
Having recorded your first album in an unconventional recording setting, has it been hard for you to adjust to making albums in professional studios?
Bianca Casady: It’s been a gradual thing, getting more “hi-fi” with each record, although our favorite track from Grey Oceans, “Undertaker,” was recorded in a barn where many of our previous records were worked on.
There’s a degree of wonderment to your songs. How have you managed to sustain that as you’ve become more experienced musicians?
BC: I don’t think we feel like more experienced musicians. We seem to keep unlearning things. We let our sense of wonder carry us everywhere, and the technical stuff always come after.
You used a tape of your mother singing on the new album. Was she a singer? Did she encourage you to pursue music?
BC: She is still a singer, though she hasn’t sung much in public. She has encouraged us to pursue any and every creative inclination. She believes art is a commune with the angels, as do we.
You recorded a good portion of the album in Buenos Aires. Did that location influence the way the album turned out or do you think it would have turned out much the same way if you happened to start recording somewhere else?
BC: We were not so aware of the cities we were in, other than the great ice cream. We mostly picked places for their specific microphones, pianos, etc. The windowless rooms didn’t invite in much of the culture from outside.
You’ve been involved with several visual art projects. Do you view those projects as an extension of your music? I mean, do such things share the same aesthetic or goals?
BC: They play with the same themes and ideas. You can find many connections between the two, and our costumes, make-up, press photos and tour videos all utilize the visual aesthetic explored in my personal visual art.
Do you feel like being sisters you’re in tune with each other creatively? Like, are you able to work without a lot of discussion?
Do you each have defined roles or are there no limitations?
BC: We have roles from time to time, but we always switch it up and play musical chairs. It’s quite a mad tea party.
The imagery in your lyrics tends to be kind of fantastical. Is it at all rooted in the real world or does it all just stem from your imagination?
BC: Imagination and dreams are where we really get off.
Do you view each of your albums as being separate thematically or are they all part of a larger story?
BC: Both. I would say the last album, for instance, is more timeless than the one before it. The subject matter is more expansive and less personal.
It seems like your music mostly draws from pop music from other eras than the “rock era.” Is rock music something that interests you at all?
BC: No, hate it, especially men on guitars.
Still, I think Ghosthorse was the closest you’ve come to making a pop record. Was that your intention?
BC: Maybe certain moments, but I don’t think we could make a pop record even if we set out to do so. We sabotage things too much.
Your music is pretty intimate. Is there anything you do differently to make it work in a live setting?
BC: It’s a whole different thing. We wear PJs onstage—I think that helps.
Having lived in different countries, do you have a favorite team in the World Cup?