by Holly Day
Recently, my younger sister came to visit from Las Vegas. I hadn’t seen her for over a year, and had talked to her maybe three times over the phone during that period of time, mostly just to pass the phone over to my son for him to thank her for various Christmas and birthday presents. Over the years, she’s drifted solidly into grown-up, businesswoman territory while I’ve made an art of floundering around in life in the most uncommitted and immature of ways. I drive her crazy. She might as well be some strange pod person my parents found underneath a cabbage leaf and raised as their own.
put it bluntly, we haven’t been really close for decades. There have been
times in our adult relationships when we have gotten along tremendousl—like
when I got my first apartment, and she thought it was really cool to come over
and drink beer and eat boxed macaroni and cheese with my crazy roommate and me—but
those times have been really short and too fleeting to take into consideration.
So bands like CocoRosie, composed of sisters Bianca and Sierra Casady make me
scratch my head and wonder, “Where did I go wrong?” “Writing
music, recording music, is like, pure bliss, completely harmonic,” says
Sierra about her relationship with her sister. “There’s this oneness
we have when we’re in the studio, or just playing together. Outside of that,
touring and working in the world and everything else outside of being purely creative
is a nightmare.”
It might be a big show, something to drive alienated siblings like myself crazy.
But after listening to both of CocoRosie’s albums—their debut, La
Maison de Mon Reve, and, more recently, Noah’s Ark (both on Touch
& Go Records)—it’s hard to believe that anyone but the most intimate
of persons could have made this album. La Maison …, especially, sounded
so spontaneous and claustrophobic and slumber-party confidential that one got
the feeling that this is what you get when the CIA decides to release recordings
of things people say and sing in the privacy of their homes.
“We never really intended for that first album to be,” says Sierra.
“It was made as a journal, more or less, unintended to enter into the world
in any sort of way. But we copied it onto a CD, and had given it to a couple of
friends, and not long after, Touch & Go contacted us about releasing those
recordings as an album.”
Noah’s Ark still retains that feeling of impulsive gaiety that marked
the first album, this is definitely a more polished collection of songs. The rattling
of chains and ringing of bells and random synthesizer blips and beeps is fully
incorporated into the songs, and the tunes have a more finished feeling to them,
as though they were written as songs and not just creative explosions that manifested
themselves straight to tape.
“We bring along just about everything,” says Sierra about the wide
array of musical and non-musical sounds on their albums. “Actually, a lot
of the little noisemakers we first started making music with, we brought along
on tour with us this time. We really try to re-create that atmosphere that you
hear on the record, that intimacy—but yeah, there is a matter of restructuring
the songs. Live performances are completely different from writing and recording
music at home.”
The sisters also invited a cast of fantastic guest singers and musicians to join
them on this album, including the reclusive and hairy Devandra Banhardt, Spleen
and the always stunning Antony of Antony and the Johnsons, with whom they’re
continues to be incredibly challenging and bizarre,” admits Sierra. “Totally
bizarre. In one sense, it’s quite unnatural, and kind of crazy. With me,
it’s a little bit different than it is for Bianca. I’m kind of a performer
at heart, and I’ve always performed in front of people my whole life. For
her, it’s a completely new thing. She’s never done it, ever! It’s
strange. We try to create a very personal space on stage that we can enter into,
and kind of dissolve into, really, to more or less forget that there’s an
audience there that we’re performing for.”
She adds, “The crazy costumes, the things we wear on stage, that’s
part of it for us, dressing really comfortable. For other people, they look at
what we wear and think that we’re complete freaks, or very theatrical, or
very dressed-up in an elaborate manner, but for us, yeah, that’s what’s
comfortable for us to wear on stage, to help involve us in our personal myth.
The way we dress is designed to help us completely surrender to the commitment
of being on stage.”
“You know, that must be a woman thing,” says my husband when I tell
him about this later, how the Casady sisters essentially try to re-create their
living room on stage so they can feel comfortable enough to perform. “I
can’t really picture a man having to
do that.” ||
CocoRosie perform on Thu., Oct. 6 at the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis
with headliner Antony and the Johnsons. 7:30 p.m. All Ages. $19.50. 410 Oak
Grove St., Mpls. 612-870-8001.
For more information on CocoRosie, visit their label’s
site at TouchAndGoRecords.com.
Download an mp3 of CocoRosie’s song “Noah’s Ark.”