Tom Gallo is the host of Look At My Records! on Radio Free Brooklyn
Bushwick is home to quite a number of musical acts, but the story behind the local psychedelic pop outfit, Coco Verde, reads like a neighborhood fairy tale.
Founding members Julian Anderson (affectionately known as JuJu) and Koko Susa Williams met while working at Blue Collar, a “burger joint” in South Williamsburg. They rounded out the lineup by recruiting their own coworkers Ryan Laetari, Jonathan Sacca, Lee Chang Min, and Karys Rhea, after bonding over their strikingly similar tastes in music. The project initially took some time to ferment, but took off after Anderson picked up a guitar again after a prolonged hiatus from music. The songs flowed for Anderson.
“I just started writing all these tunes,” Anderson remembers. He then recruited Susa Williams, who had minimal prior musical experience, after he recognized her natural aptitude for the keyboard. Susa Williams recalls, “Julian asked me to tap a rhythm. I was able to do it, so he asked me if I wanted to play keyboards.”
“I got home one night and Koko started playing something her grandmother had taught her. It was like Hot Cross buns on steroids,” Anderson said. “She got a white canvas pad and started drawing a keyboard and we learned the songs through visualization.” The seeds were planted for the group’s debut EP, Marathon, which the band released last September.
The songs on Marathon evoke a distinctly warm and retro psychedelic pop sound, which resulted from a bit of an arduous process. The group recorded the EP entirely to tape, eschewing Pro Tools and a computer entirely, which was essential to capturing their vintage, psychedelic sound, but required near constant rehearsing. Despite the challenges, the band was highly pleased with the finished product, as it enhanced their retro sound.
What’s next for the Coco Verde? They’re attempting to secure the rights to record a cover version of a Leonard Cohen song, but they’re also sitting on a plethora of new material. Nevertheless, the band is keeping an open mind as to how they want to approach their next release, and taking it slow. Anderson said the band “wants to put another single out” and plans to approach future releases as a single at a time. So, stayed tuned for the next Coco Verde tracks.
Coco Verde kicked off 2019 with a highly successful residency at Carmelo’s on Dekalb Ave. They enjoyed support from some of Bushwick’s best acts, including Miranda & The Beat, Native Sun, Fruit & Flowers, Gustaf, and more. Coco Verde will continue their tour of Bushwick this March with the following performances:
Saturday, March 9: Burger Records Presents Coco Verde, Native Sun, Rose Cologne, and Tommy Volume at Our Wicked Lady, 8 p.m.
Sunday, March 17: Fauxmo Fest At Rubulad, 4 p.m.
Sunday, March 31: The Lo-Fi’s (EP release), DA Pop, Coco Verde, and Ryan Laetari at Trans-Pecos, 8 p.m.
You can purchase Marathon via Bandcamp.
Another great week of shows in Bushwick is upon us! Here are some of the best happening this week:
Wednesday, March 6
Nick Cage, Daddies, Darkwing, QWAM at The Glove, 8 p.m.
Wednesday’s show at The Glove showcases some very loud and fast punk acts. Brooklyn band Nick Cage get their namesake from the Academy Award-winning actor, and their musical stylings are an aggressive brand of hardcore punk that could soundtrack the actor’s infamous bee scene in the Wicker Man. New Jersey’s Daddies released their debut EP last month on King Pizza Records, and if you’d fancy a preview of their raucous live show, check out their recent BTR live session. Arrive early to see Darkwing and QWAM, two punk-oriented groups who released ferocious EPs in 2018.
Thursday, March 7
The Prits, Kevin Hairs, Psycho Pat at Alphaville, 8 p.m.
Brooklyn Tape Collective GP Stripes are celebrating their latest release, a cassette EP by The Prits, a group that prides itself on its sonic similarities to Television Personalities. The tape comes complete with a 23-page comic book by Ben Jaffe, which contains five illustrated songs from the album. Kevin Hairs, another GP Stripes stand out, is also on the bill, along with Psycho Pat, a Queens-based musician who released a grungey EP in December of last year titled Art Rat.
Friday, March 8
Sister Nancy, Love Always, Queen Majesty at The Safari Room at El Cortez, 8 p.m.
Celebrate International Woman’s Day with legendary Jamaican dancehall DJ and singer, Sister Nancy, who is making a rare appearance at El Cortez on Friday night. Nancy, who is the artist behind the legendary reggae song “Bam Bam,” will be joined by Love Always, a local group that blends rocksteady, ska, and soul. Queen Majesty, a local Jamaican reggae DJ, will be spinning 45s from her personal collection all night long.
Saturday, March 9
Ghostly Kisses, Ellis, Pearl Sugar at Trans Pecos, 8 p.m.
Trans Pecos is hosting two Canadian dream pop artists on Saturday night, as they make their rounds in New York City before heading down to Austin for the South By Southwest Festival. Hailing from Quebec, Ghostly Kisses woos listeners with her dreamy, ethereal stylings, a sound prominently featured on her stunning 2018 EP, The City Holds My Heart. Ellis, a more shoegaze sounding songwriter from Hamilton, Ontario, also released her gorgeous debut EP, The Fuzz, in 2018.
The record is about to receive a proper vinyl release on Fat Possum Records later this month. Pearl Sugar, the moniker of Hartford based synth-pop artist Chris Bugnacki, will open the show.
Cover images courtesy of Coco Verde.