Best known as the “Coco” of CocoRosie, Bianca Casady with her sister Sierra established an esoteric realm of sound, often as discordant as it was heart-wrenchingly beautiful. Their world of pastiche, poetry and childhood nostalgia situated them as part of the ‘freak folk’ movement, along with Devendra Banhart, Sufjan Stevens and Animal Collective – as if such artists could ever be contained within a single genre.
With CocoRosie’s sixth studio album Heartache City released in September, Bianca Casady continues an incredibly productive year with her new solo project ‘Bianca Casasy and the CiA’. She has just completed a European tour of the work, presenting material from upcoming solo album Oscar Hocks through a unique theatrical show combining video, performance art, ‘back-alley jazz’ and a healthy dose of the macabre.
The stage show Porno Thietor seems to have found its ideal audience at festivals including Rock en Seine in Paris, Pop-Kultur at Berghain in Berlin, and David Byrne’s Meltdown at the Southbank Centre in London. We caught up with her at the end of the tour after her headline slot at the Brighton Dome’s celebration of audio-visual art, Earsthetic.
The Metropolist: In what ways do you depart from CocoRosie, in terms of your stage experience?
Bianca Casady: On starting this new project, my instinct was to be more in the shadows – that was the first thing. I didn’t feel this project obligated me to be in front of the audience in this kind of traditional singer-audience kind of relationship. It’s more like I’m part of a scenarial underrealm that the audience gets to witness.
TM: How does the CiA support this?
BC: The band – the CiA – is kind of an anonymous group of people. I had this idea of having a band where there were black suits in view as a hired band in a way – hired men. I like this kind of background and it touches on the paranoia of the audience in a way.
TM: The figures of ‘the auctioneer’ and ‘the dancer’ seemed to support you – almost like your role was spread over three people – what are your thoughts on those relationships particularly?
BC: I suppose, going back to this thing of not having to confront the audience as an entertainer in a way. Not in theatre – but more in a traditional concert setting – I’ve experienced a new relationship with the entertainer. It’s usually you standing at the edge of the stage facing forwards, whereas in this show I see the whole stage as an opportunity to build up the realm, and it’s so easy for me to avoid the front edges of the stage. It’s more like a kind of relocation to do this. I guess having people for different parts of the cycle allows me to be more of a narrator and put more focus on voice, kind of ‘puppeting’ in a way to voice.
TM: The Dead Season at the end of the show was incredibly cathartic – is there a journey you hope the audience has undertaken during the show?
BC: Well, I definitely don’t have any specific journey in mind. I guess any kind of journey, any moments where people could maybe forget where they are… I’m interested in dissolving the frame and also dissolving the boundaries between what’s real and not real, what’s theatrical and what’s natural. When those limits have dissolved it brings a new perception.
TM: You’re coming to the final dates of the tour. Is there anything you’ve learned through performance?
BC: There must be things! (laughs) Every night is totally different for me. In a way, for me, I feel like I’m on a slightly blind journey every night. It might have something to do with the way that the band plays on through the structure of the songs…feeling lost in a way. What have I learned? That’s a good question. I don’t know; I might have to see if I can make sense of it.
TM: Your solo album comes out in the New Year. What can you tell us about it?
BC: It’s a pretty insular album and doesn’t have as much of the extroversion that is happening onstage – the audience digs into the rock, the colour – I’ve dug into it a lot more on stage. On the album it’s kinda held back in a way. It’s a very cinematic album, I think. It’ll have a video for every song, which seems to be a necessary complement. I explored a lot of being insecure, and having – kinda combining – the most untunable instruments and finding that to be really narrative in a way. It sometimes gets a quality that inserts more art, more imagery for me.
Bianca Casady’s solo album ‘Oscar Hocks’ is due for release on January 29th.