"These songs are very personal, the most personal songs I have ever written" We chat with CoCo O'Connor
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Hey Coco, how’re you doing today?
I am well, thank you for asking.
Where are you right now?
I am south of Nashville in Thompson’s Station,, TN
What have you been up to today?
Rehearsing for my upcoming show(s).
Introduce yourself to our readers.
Well, I am a singer/songwriter born and raised in Alabama and CoCo is my real name, not a stage name...my dad liked Coco Chanel and I am Irish by marriage.
What can you tell us about your new mini-album, This Ol’ War, in two sentences?
It deals with the battles we fight within ourselves and in the personal relationships that we may have between our parents, lovers, children, jobs and even the Creator.
If people could hear just one song from the album, what would you choose for them? And why? 'This Ol’ War'. I wanted to write a song that expressed my frustration with the battles that go on in a relationship. You have arguments and they are essentially the same old fight or war just a different topic. I think alot of people can realte to feeling this way...especially nowadays.
How did you go about writing and choosing which songs to record?
The same way I always do. I am always writing either on my own or with co-writers so the songs kinda have their way of appearing. Parker Cason produced , engineered and recorded the record so even though we had more songs... we just had come to a place where we both felt like we had the songs that were needed, even though it was only seven songs. We definitely knew we had the right songs and it was quality not quanity.
You lived in Nashvile, then left, now you’re back. What’s different second time round?
Everything... Nashville has grown leaps and bounds and was very different when I was here before. It was not as cosmopolitan as it is now. I myself have grown as an artist and living out west in Santa Fe, NM well let’s just say I am a country girl who became a pioneer woman.
And was being in Nashville necessary to make the record you wanted to?
Yes. These songs are very personal, the most personal songs I have ever written. I grew up only two and a half hours from Nashville, in Cullman, Alabama, so I feel like it was very important to make the record close to where I grew up. I needed and wanted to tap into that energy geographically, emotionally, culturally, and musically.
One of my favourite songs on the album is ‘Crenshaw County’, what can you tell us about that track?
I was on tour a few years ago in Missouri and saw this old shoe factory. I thought about the people who had worked there and how interesting it is that they make shoes and people wear them all over the world. But yet they never really get to go anywhere. I brought this idea to Mark Narmore (also from Alabama) and I told him I wanted it to have a Neil Young kind of feel musically. He actually knew someone who had never left the county they grew up in in Alabama, so we just weaved the story and song and it became 'Crenshaw County'.
‘Free State of Winston’ is also a cracker, can you tell us what that song’s about?
It’s about alot of things. The inspiration behind it was my great, great grandmother who was Cherokee. She had to lie about her Native American heritage so she could keep her land. She called herself and my grandpa and his siblings “Black Irish”. Winston County was a/is a county in Alabama that seceded from the Confederacy during the Civil War and I grew up 2.95 miles from that county... just like the first line of the song says.
Obviously there’s a lot of talk about equality in general life at the moment, have you ever felt you were treated differently as a woman in your industry?
Well, I don’t really pay attention to those things because I'm pretty confident in myself as a creative, but the only time I really got a sense of being treated differently because of gender was in Nashville. There was a publisher with some other songwriters in the room and we were pitching our songs and the publisher, who was a woman mind you, and she said…"before we even get started if your song has a female vocal we will pass on it. We don’t need any songs for female artists." Well, since I sing all my songs/demos and of course they've got “female vocals" I was done before it began.
When was the last time you were starstruck?
I think I saw Kenny Chesney in Whole Foods here in Nashville. I just remember it was the dead of winter like February and he was very tan….especially for February.
Can you tell us the best and the worst thing about your hometown?
The best thing was that it was small and everybody knew everybody else’s business... the worst thing was that it was small and everybody knew everybody else’s business.
You’re touring at the moment, what’s your favourite thing about being on the road?
Meeting fans and sharing my songs and stories behind those songs. I also like to drive my van cause it clears my head and I get song ideas when I drive.
And what do you hate about touring?
Being away from my daughter. Sometimes she comes along and it’s always better when I have her and my hubby along. I will have her on the dates I have coming up so that’s gonna be fun.
What are your plans for the rest of 2018?
Touring in support of the record...I’d love to get over to Europe this year but I may be too late. I am also learning encaustic painting (painting with wax) so I will be doing more art as the winter approaches.
If you could recommend one song to hear this week, what would it be?
'If We Were Vampires' by Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit.
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
What’s my secret to making great Macaroni and Cheese.
Finally, how do you take your coffee?
Only with cream.
To find out more about CoCo you can visit her website, follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook, or see what she's up to on Instagram.
Her record, This Ol' War, is out now and avaialable to stream or buy online.