Artist: Coco Reilly
Hometown: Buffalo, New York
Latest Album: Coco Reilly
Personal nicknames: Coco
What other art forms — literature, film, dance, painting, etc. — inform your music?
Oh, literature definitely. I buy books way faster than I can read them. I rotate books during the week depending on my mood. I’m usually working my way through 3-5 books at any time and they’re usually a mix of psychology and science with an occasional biography sprinkled in. I know it’s not very cool to say that science informs most of my songwriting, but it does trigger a lot of the introspection and curiosity about how things work and why we do what we do. Aside from that, comedy is my go-to in second place for most inspiring. It helps balance out the heavier parts of my brain and there’s also nothing better than making fun of yourself, which, as a musician, is really easy to do. It’s healthy for the ego.
What rituals do you have, either in the studio or before a show?
I usually do some quick stream of conscious writing in the morning to clear my head. I do that every morning, but it’s extra important on show days, because I get pretty anxious about performing and have to work really hard to keep my inner critic at bay. Any other middle-aged activity such as drinking tea, exercise, or a nice walk also helps. If I’m feeling really locked in I’ll meditate and try to set an intention, remind myself to relax and enjoy the moment.
What’s the toughest time you ever had writing a song?
If a song isn’t working I usually just let it go. I don’t fight too hard for them because it takes the fun out of it. Sometimes ideas just need more time to grow so I come back and check on them later without rushing them. That being said, arranging the songs in the recording process can be really tough for me, because I like to hear a lot of options before I settle on the thing that feels best. I struggled to arrange “Oh Oh My My” and “Mirror” the most. It was hard to find the balance of organic sounds and the bigger, more cinematic parts without tipping the scale too far in one direction. I think we recorded “Mirror” four or five times with different tempos and the band almost died from boredom. It’s a very long song. They have the patience of saints.
If you had to write a mission statement for your career, what would it be?
Well, the last song on the record, “Be True,” was really written as my personal mission statement. Be true, no matter who surrounds you. Regardless of what I choose to do in my life I just want to do it authentically, and try to leave the world better than I found it.
Which elements of nature do you spend the most time with and how do those impact your work?
Water and fire. I light a candle at my desk every morning and I am lucky enough to have a view of the sea for the first time in my life from my apartment in Reykjavik. I think fire helps soothe and keep me focused. It adds a nice warmth to the work space. Water helps me think. I could sit by water for hours and never get bored. There’s always so much going on beneath the surface, especially in the ocean. I do my best thinking near water and always leave it with inspiration and new perspectives.
Photo credit: Juliette Rowland