Artist Stories, Stories

Interview: Coco Carbomb

Elaby Mackenzie followed up with elusive Cape Town artist, Carmen Incarnadine (Coco Carbomb). Her work in the progressive Porto-witch house net-sphere has gained an impressive amount of popularity; more so internationally than locally – the beauty of the internet as a borderless setting for music and art. Dabbling in a genre and context fairly unknown to the still-quite-conservative South African music scene, Coco Carbomb offers us an introduction to a fairly unfamiliar world, which is growing in popularity as internet culture continues to entrench itself throughout net-capable society.


EM: Coco Carbomb is a what, two year old project now? With a strong fan-base around the world, it has asserted itself as an integral player in the Porto-witch house net-sphere. It’s all quite an achievement. How did it all start? And how has it been working your way through the Internet to get where you are now?

CC: Yes it’s a little over two years that I have been Coco Carbombing. It started while I was in London after I left NMM (Neurotic Mass Movement). I had collaborated with Witchboy in the past on a few songs and I wanted to do vocals again, I collaborated with Oliver Ho on a few songs and then with Mater Suspiria Vision in videos, performance, cover art and vocal performance, this was all in 2011. I came to South Africa in Feb of 2012 and that’s when Witchboy and I started the album Siamese Inside on the beautiful jungly South Coast (South of D’urban jungle). It was released by Blvck Bvs Records in April with a limited edition of cd’s with nice printed covers and a poster. We have a lot of musicians who are friends online and besides being so friendly and supportive I believe there’s so much creativity and appreciation in this underground music scene online which is great. I didn’t plan for the music to blow up in any way. I collaborate with many people from all over this planet, it’s a really fun way to interact! I say ‘us’ because Coco Carbomb is interactive and there are many other great musicians/projects involved in all the songs.

20140327 Coco Elaby 2

EM: Earlier this year you got features in a Jody Rosen’s ‘Songs of the Week’ pick on Vulture, as well as on MishkaNYC, which described you and your music as being “brash, feminine, sexy strong, and graceful with base notes of alt. Class.” You were also featured in a South African Rolling Stone article, along with Nikhil Singh, where he spoke about the importance of the Internet, as well as your collaborative debut album, Siamese Inside. It’s definitely interesting to see the amount of international exposure you have been getting, while at the same time maintaining a relatively underground status in the South African music scene. What is your view on the music scene in South Africa compared to the music scene elsewhere?

CC: Hmm I’m not sure if I have formulated an opinion on the S.A music scene that is very grounded in reality as my time I have spent here I have been pretty much making things in my bedroom. I have noticed that people here are much more guided by the mainstream stuff that’s all up in everyone’s face/ears, but also that that seems to be changing as people here become less ‘blinkers on’ with the internet. The ‘underground’ music scene online is so strong and always growing with a lot of the same people still making music and getting better and better, it is what the mainstream feeds off of more and more these days, it’s nice that people in S.A are catching onto that, it’s inspiring and damn this place needs more fire in its belly, perhaps more interaction musically with the rest of the world would be great. Also there is so much local African and Coloured music here that the middle class masses don’t seem to be aware of or give a shit about.

I think people here can be threatened by new or different thing in their midst because of a repressed and/or conservative and/or brainwashed effect of being…20140327 Coco Elaby 3

EM: How much do you think your relationship to the Internet and to the people on it has affected your music?

CC: Like i said it is a way of communicating or interacting for me to collaborate musically with people. When somebody sends me a song to collaborate on with vocals it’s always different and the results are always different. It’s exciting. A little like having a shared dream. I’ve only just begun and I’ve learnt so much already from collaborating and listening to lots of music. Url is not much different from irl except that it can expand reality and can cut out a lot of time-wasting social protocol crap. Its become a place where people can express themselves freely and it’s cool.
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EM: You often include a self-portrait of yourself alongside your music. Each portrait is extremely captivating and often beautiful, and even disturbing at times. What is the significance of these portraits, and how important is visual art to your creative process?

CC: I don’t know, I thought it would be a fun thing to do. I’m a selfie shellfish and I’m coming out of my shell into your cell..

EM: This brings me onto your music video for your track ‘Reel Aligata’, which features you in various states of undress. In the Mishka NYC article, it states that you’re one of the few people who have got sexual expression in 2013 right. Is this a theme you’re interested in conveying through your work, both artistically and musically?

CC: No it just kind of happened, I was just having fun in my bedroom and I thought everyone should have fun too.20140327 Coco Elaby 6

EM: While in London, you featured as the leading femme-fatale in a future-cult film directed by Cosmotropia de Xam, who is the leading figure behind witch-culture project, Mater Suspiria Vision, as well as the founder of net-label Phantasma Disques. From what I can gather, you’ve worked with him a number of times. Can you tell me a little bit about the film, Discoteca Droga, and how your involvement with him came about?

CC: I met him in London when they came to play there and he asked me to do some filming work with him. We did ‘Inside The Clock of the White Rabbit’, and also recorded the vocal for ‘A Giant Snake That Eats Itself’, featuring a few other girls from different parts of the world, where I was reciting a part of a dream that I had. Two days later, myself and two other girls Lyla Bambi and Marina Dellamore were the veiled dancers for their show at the Old Blue Last. While he was back in Germany I sent him vocals for the Twin Peaks tribute that we did called ‘She’s on Drugs’. Later on I did a vocal performance with Mater Suspiria Vision at Electrowerks..Both shows we did were oooodles of fun. I met quite a few musicians from online who also performed or attended on these nights including Burial Hex, CRIM3S, Pet Cemetary, Church of Synth etc.

We worked on some more filming in London which we didn’t use until I came back to South Africa. I wrote and recorded a vocal piece and he put it to music for the film which is Ekstasia Discoteca Droga about a kind of labyrinthine 70’s noir drugged underworld discotheque. Spills its sparks on my eyes, makes the kaleidoscope of fire rise, a birthday cake in full flame melting the icing off my brain.20140327 Coco Elaby 5

EM: There’s a lot of talk about the whole URL/IRL distinction. Is the separation of the two something that is quite important to you in terms of how you order your life? Or are you more interested in breaking the distinction between the two?

CC: Y is a crooked letter and zeds no better (Keep it unreal).

EM: Your set at the DVRK SYNTH party was awesome, with a performance artist joining you halfway through to give it quite a disturbing edge. You also spoke about a performance in London where you wore a full veil (correct me if I am wrong?). It certainly provides a really interesting dimension to any live performance. What does live performance mean to you and what is your thinking behind your own performances?

CC: Tnxyu! Theres not much thinking when it comes to performances… I don’t think when I’m having sex.

EM: You were involved as a synth player in an act called Neurotic Mass Movement. How is this Coco Carbomb musical outlet different to your previous work?

CC: There’s not much difference, just different kinds of fun. I am writing my own lyrics and things now as Coco Carbomb.

EM: You mentioned that you knew Charlie XCX and Aluna George from when you were younger. They have both risen to become beyond-blog success stories in their respective singer-songwriter projects. You spoke about the transparency of the scene these days, which is fueled by big labels. Would you like to expand a bit on this?

CC: I don’t really want to talk about them in an interview, it’s just a bit weird…20140327 Coco Elaby 4

EM: Can you perhaps describe your creative process and the influences of your style, both in your music and in your art?

CC: I’m not very conceptual and dislike explaining creative processes. I work quite spontaneously and instinctively.

EM: You worked on an album with Nikhil Singh (WITCHBOY) this year, entitled Siamese Inside, which was released via Black Bus Records. How and when did you and Nikhil both start working together?

CC: In Ancient Egypt.

EM: You mentioned that you’re hoping to move to London in the next year. Is this a place where you feel like you can connect more with a concrete scene? And what future collaborations and work can we look forward to in the next year?

CC: More people are doing more interesting stuff and are culturally cross-pollinating from different countries. People are generally way more productive and inspired and the quality is more refined.

I will be working with Mater Suspiria Vision again. I am currently working on a small E.P with H3X3N from L.A who are doing the music and production for myself and BLAM LORD’s vocal collaboration. I have quite a number of collaborations with various people lined up.

You can find Coco Carbomb on Soundcloud here and on Facebook here.

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