Interview: Gocco Opens Up about ‘COSMOSIS,’ Her Influences, and Belonging

Brooklyn, New York-based artist Gocco unveils her film, COSMOSIS, which was filmed at Studio 111 before a live audience and strict health protocols. COSMOSIS premieres June 2, followed by a launch party on June 11.

COSMOSIS explores growing up bilingual in Japanese and English, a duality resulting in shyness and an imaginative inner world that eventually found expression through visual arts.

Blending elements of electro-pop and R&B with Gocco’s spectral voice, the performance includes V. Jeffrey Smith (sax, guitar), Howard Alper (drums, production), and Leon Gruenbaum (keyboards), who invented the SamChillian, and Jason DiMatteo (bass).

Born and raised in London, Gocco’s musician parents met David Bowie, followed by her mother teaching Bowie Japanese. Bowie loved Gocco’s mother’s voice so much, he asked her to perform on his Scary Monsters album.

While attending Central Saint Martin’s School of Art, Gocco began playing in underground prog and noise bands.

CelebMix spoke with Gocco to discover more about the person behind the music, the inspiration for COSMOSIS, and her writing process.

What three things can’t you live without?

Marks & Spencer’s Luxury Blend tea bags.

Legend of Zelda games.

10-layered harmonies.

What inspired your new film COSMOSIS?

I’ve often written around themes of isolation and the complexities of emotional distance in my music, but the last 2 years really put into perspective what it truly means to belong and how your identity changes perceptions of who you are and how people treat you. I wanted to create an experience through my sound and visuals that invite those who long for that sense of connection, to the conversation. An astral space where we can share, be inspired and come together through all the chaos of the cosmos.

How did you get started in music?

I’ve played instruments and sung from a young age, but really started performing in public when I put together a fake band (of Rock n’ Roll ninjas) for a film project in Art School that I eventually ended up singing with. My professor told me he was confused about why I suddenly lost interest in Illustration, but it was more that music and songwriting became another medium for me to experiment with – this journey has shaped the kind of artist I have become today. I believe anyone can be an artist, and any medium of expression can be creative.

Where are you from?

London, United Kingdom!

Did your hometown impact your sound?

Growing up around World music, jazz, and percussion in my family deeply influenced the way I engage with music, but the prog-rock, grimy, noisy music that surrounded me as I became more enthused with pursuing a musical career has impacted the kind of sounds that I love.

Which singers/musicians influenced your sound?

Al Jarreau, Bobby Caldwell, Radiohead, Cocteau Twins, Thundercat, Anderson .Paak.

If you had to explain your sound to the uninitiated, what would you say?

Lots of reverb-y, gentle harmonies layered on to chill, sometimes dancey RnB vibes.

Did your sound evolve naturally, or did you deliberately push it in a certain direction?

When I moved to NYC in 2014, my sound drastically changed when I realized the cultural relevance and importance of hip-hop and rap music. I became more aware of how the stories told by pivotal artists captured the history of the cities they lived in, like true folk music. I instantly became enamored by this genre that in all honesty, I hadn’t really had too much exposure to growing up. Then again, I don’t think many people grew up listening to taiko drums, so I think I’m well-rounded all in all. I think the mash-up of all these influences has inspired the sound I have today.

What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, or other media?

I write about my experiences and interactions I have with people and places I travel to. I deliberately try to listen to and consume inspiration from things that deviate from my natural inclinations to see whether they can push me into doing something different. I only got into Metal later in life after I went to see a DOWN show and I loved it!

What can you share about your writing process?

Often, I’ll start a song with a feeling or vibe from those experiences and interactions with people and places and I’ll start writing lyrics and melodies together to find a hook. There’ll usually be different sounds I want to experiment with, so if there’s a natural match, I’ll bring those together to create the bones of a song. Lately, I’ve been collaborating with various producers to bring those different elements together and I love that collaborative creative process. I also carry a notebook everywhere and write down signs and words that I see, and I love the articulation of. One day I’m going to write a song called ‘Pepe Tropical’ after a fruit warehouse I walk by all the time in Brooklyn.

Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?

I already mentioned Anderson .Paak- every project he touches sounds like a chef’s kiss

ÌFÉ was one of the first shows I saw when venues started opening up again and I was blown away by the musicianship and sheer richness of the soundscapes created by the musicians on stage that it made me really re-think my own performance!

Kali Uchis- I just love her beautiful voice so much!!

What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? New material? Live gigs?

My film ‘COSMOSIS’ premieres on June 2. It’s a live performance film complete with a spaceship, poofy costume, laser beams, and a full band! I’ve got a couple of new songs in the works and will be performing at a musical fundraiser event in the Fall – more details to come!

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Written by Randy

Randy Radic is a Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.