CocoRosie is an American musical group formed in 2003 by sisters Bianca "Coco" and Sierra "Rosie" Casady. The sisters were born and raised in the United States, but formed the band in Paris after meeting for the first time in years. Their music has been called "freak folk", and incorporates elements of pop, blues, opera, electronica, and hip hop.
CocoRosie began as a duo, with Sierra singing, playing the guitar, piano and harp, and Bianca singing and manipulating various children's toys, electronic and percussion instruments, as well as other exotic noisemakers. They subsequently added various backing musicians, usually a bassist, keyboardist, and beatboxer. They have been a very active touring group, playing across Europe, the United States, and elsewhere. They have released five full-length albums: La maison de mon rêve (2004), Noah's Ark (2005), The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn (2007), Grey Oceans (2010) and Tales of a GrassWidow (2013).
Sierra Casady was born in Iowa, and Bianca was born in Hawaii. When Sierra was about 5 years old and Bianca 3, their parents separated. The girls lived with their mother, Christina Chalmers, an artist and singer of Native American and Syrian ancestry who grew up in Iowa. They moved to new towns almost every year, living in Hawaii, California, New Mexico, and Arizona. Because their mother believed that the girls would learn more doing art in the "real world" than in school, neither sister finished high school. Chalmers nicknamed her daughters "Rosie" (Sierra) and "Coco" (Bianca), from which the musical act takes its name.
The Casady sisters are now estranged from their father, an Iowa farmer who became interested in American Indian religion. As children, the sisters spent summers with him, while he visited Native American Reservations and took part in vision quests. The girls did not enjoy these experiences at the time, but later came to appreciate some of the things that interested him.
In 1998, at about age 18, Sierra moved to New York City. Two years later, she moved into a tiny apartment in the Montmartre district in Paris, France, to pursue a career as an opera singer, studying at the Conservatoire de Paris. During this period, Sierra lost contact with Bianca, who was living in New York City. Bianca studied linguistics and sociology, and pursued her passion of visual arts and writing.
In 2003, Bianca joined Sierra in Paris. The pair spent a summer producing music in Sierra's bathroom, chosen as the most acoustic and isolated room in the apartment. The songs feature vocals from both women, acoustic guitar played by Sierra and various other improvised instruments. The songs were compiled into their debut album La maison de mon rêve.
La maison de mon rêve was originally intended to be distributed among a close circle of the artists' friends. However, in 2004 the group was signed to the independent label Touch and Go Records which released the lo-fi album.
CocoRosie released their second album, Noah's Ark, in 2005. The album includes collaborations with Antony Hegarty from Antony and the Johnsons ("Beautiful Boyz"), Devendra Banhart ("Brazilian Sun"), and French rapper Spleen ("Bisounours"). The album was recorded in a variety of locations as the sisters traveled. The album's cover, a drawing by Bianca of three unicorns having sex while one of them vomits drops corresponding to the color spectrum, was selected by The Guardian and Pitchfork Media as one of the worst album covers of all time.
In 2006, Sierra started a side project, Metallic Falcons, with friend Matteah Baim; they are signed to Voodoo Eros Records, a new label started by Bianca with business partner Melissa Shimkovitz. Bianca also opened the Voodoo Eros Museum Of Nice Items, an art gallery and performance space in New York City (123 Ludlow St) most recently home to an exhibition of Bianca's art Red Bone Slim VS. Itself: an Exhibition of Drawings.
CocoRosie's third full-length studio album, The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn, was released on April 10, 2007. It was produced by Valgeir Sigurðsson, Björk's longtime collaborator. The songs are about the Casady sisters' family and their deceased brother. It was recorded at their mother's farm in the Camargue region of France. The album's cover is a photo by Pierre et Gilles that features Sierra as two women, and Bianca in drag. In a 2008 interview with AfterEllen.com, Bianca expressed surprise that many people do not realize she is queer, given that she frequently performs in drag.
In May 2007, while touring in support of The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn, the band was involved in an incident which resulted in the cancellation of the remainder of the North American leg of the tour. No official explanation was released; vague and unconfirmed reports claimed that unidentified members of the band were arrested and deported while crossing the US/Canadian border.
On May 13, 2008, CocoRosie released a new single entitled "God Has a Voice, She Speaks Through Me". The song was released digitally and as a 7" picture disc single (limited to 3000 pieces). The B-side of the 7" features a short and untitled song, which merely consists of noises. Though the picture on the B-side of the vinyl has lyrics from the song "Hairnet Paradise", which was previously only performed live, the actual song on the recording is very different.
The duo spent much of 2008 writing and recording in various locations such as New York city, Réunion, Paris and Berlin where they also teamed up with artist Neda Sanai, Alyssa Frontz, that are the spoken word voices on the song "R.I.P Burn Face". In 2009, CocoRosie's relationship with Touch and Go Records became unclear. A self-released EP entitled Coconuts, Plenty of Junk Food was made available for sale exclusively at CocoRosie shows on June 3, 2009. The band was named the 16th most influential artist of the decade by betterPropaganda in 2009.
CocoRosie signed with Sub Pop records in 2010. Their fourth full-length album, Grey Oceans, was released on May 11, 2010.
On June 5, 2012, CocoRosie released their double A-Side 7" single, "We Are On Fire", with Touch and Go Records. The cover art for the new single was a Twin Rivers collaboration between Bianca and Jesse Hazelip. Their latest album, Tales of a GrassWidow, was released in the United States on May 27, 2013 on the City Slang record label.
In 2005, Frederic Sanchez used "Brazilian Sun", "Not for Sale" and "Good Friday" as part of the soundtrack he created for Miuccia Prada's spring 2006 show. The piece was called "Coco Rosie Through the Looking Glass". In 2008, music by CocoRosie was used in a Swedish rendition of Shakespeare's Hamlet at the Royal Dramatic Theatre (Dramaten), with Jonas Malmsjö playing Prince Hamlet. The song "Werewolf" is repeatedly sung by Ophelia and Hamlet throughout the play.
CocoRosie has composed two film scores, in 2005 for the French movie, Frankie and, in 2007, for the German movie, Haus der Wünsche (international: Paperbird). In 2007, their song "Candyland" was used in the film, Anna M., by Michel Spinosa. The songs "Bear Hides and Buffalo" and "Bloody Twins" are featured in the gay zombie film, Otto; or Up with Dead People (2008), by Bruce LaBruce.