Interview Coyoco: “My sound screamed for an all female band!”

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Coyoco is an exciting new Dutch pop artist who has a truly unique sound to bring to the table. She describes it as ‘alternative pop with Afro-Brazilian influences’. Her melting pot of genres and sounds is as eclectic as it is catchy and her latest single ‘Hell No’ is proof of that statement. Coyoco just released the video for the track, which depicts an abusive relationship in which the man is the victim. “If we truly strive for equality between men and women, we should also address this toxic idea of masculinity.”

You are releasing music under the name Coyoco. What does it stand for for you?
“Coyoco is a name that could come from many places; Japan, Colombia, Brazil… It is hard to put your finger on it. The same thing goes for my music. I listen to many different styles from all over the world and you see that reflected in my music.

Why did you choose to specifically form an all female band?
“I recorded all my music before I had a band. The result was just screaming for an all female band, because the songs are heavily based on female vocals. I thought it would be stupid to have an all male band and 4 backing vocalists. Lately it has also become more of a statement because of the reactions I have received. People seem to be surprised when they see only girls playing the instruments. One guy actually once asked me: “So, they’re all girls, but are they any good?” When you get those kinds of questions you know it is time for more female bands. Get used to it.”

Your music is an eclectic mix of a lot of genres. How would you describe it yourself and what is the influence of Brazil on your sound?
“I would describe my music as alternative pop with afro-brazilian influences. Many styles have influenced me. I grew up in a house where only classical music was allowed. My parents are both classical singers and pop music was considered off limits. Later on I had an old school hiphop fase to piss my dad off but also because the samples of classical pieces, the poetry and energy in it really intrigued me. I went on to study jazz vocals in the conservatory and ended up singing Brazilian samba. Brazil had touched my heart even before I went there but when I did (for 3 months after I graduated) something clicked for me. There I really soaked up all the rhythms. There is so much beauty in their music. It’s the music but it is also the culture, the energy in the air, the way everybody enjoys music in such an intense way. For me music is a way of communication and in Brazil you can feel that very clearly.”

What artists did influence your way of creating music?
“If I would have to give some names I would say the biggest influences have been Debussy, A Tribe Called Quest, Rio Maracatu (I had some lessons with this band when I was in Rio de Janeiro), Ibeyi and Fatoumata Diawara. On my spotify I made a playlist with inspiring artists, which features many more. I like to hear unfamiliar and surprising sounds and I love folkloric music. I tried to make my own mix of the two, like many of my inspirators have. Sound is everywhere; our furniture, water, children toys, you name it. I used many of these sounds to stay playful and stay off the beaten path.”

Tell us all about your new single ‘Hell No’. What inspired you to write it and what was the process of creation like?
“‘Hell No’ is a song about letting go of someone you love but can’t be with. It is actually not autobiographical but I have seen these situations around me throughout my life. I wrote the song when I was at Oosterhouw, an amazing mansion in the North of the Netherlands. I was alone in this huge house and sat in the music room. There was a unicorn on the grand piano and I had surrounded myself with all my percussion instruments; the conditions were perfect! I usually start with a loop. I began with vocals and percussion and I used a slightly disturbing doll that makes a kind of alarming sound. The lyrics usually come after and are inspired by the vibe of the music.”The video for the song tells a story of domestic violence that is not often talked about. Why is it important to you that people see this?“Domestic violence from women towards men is a subject that is often not taken seriously. I think if we truly strive for equality between men and women, which I do, we should also address this toxic idea of masculinity. Being abused doesn’t make you less of a man. Being vulnerable, crying, asking for help or walking away in this case does not make you any less of a man. Men and women come in many different editions and all are equally worthy of respect and appreciation.”

A lot of what is written and said about dynamics in relationships, but also about male and female artists in the music industry, is still rooted in gender stereotypes. Would it be the ultimate goal to try and break some of that down?
“The ultimate goal would be not having to talk about that stuff anymore, but clearly we are not at that point yet when people still ask if girls can actually play instruments. I hope to add something to that discussion by having this amazing female band and releasing this video now.”

After releasing this single, what is next for Coyoco?
“I have an album ready, that will be released in 2019. I look forward to playing with my girls and find likeminded people who also love this potpourri of styles. I want to start writing some new music in september and who knows, start working on a new album already. The world is my oyster.”

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