Coco & Clair Clair Stay Playful Together on 'CHERUB'

Coco & Clair Clair Stay Playful Together on 'CHERUB'

by Kenna McCafferty

Coco & Clair Clair still record songs in their closet. The wine-drinking, Taylor Swift stanning duo reimagines their sound by staying true to themselves, even if that means recording on a USB microphone in a fully-tricked out studio. They haven’t let fame change them.

On "CHERUB," the lead single off their forthcoming album, SEXY, the two get silly and serious at the same time — a perfect expression of where they are in their career. Their rambunctious sound takes listeners back to the crumb-littered seats of their first car in some nondescript American suburb, while hard-hitting lyrics put the pedal to the metal.

Keys jingle in the ignition, frayed black converse press on the gas and a green apple tree freshener hums to the rhythm of the vibrating speaker. "Fuck the NRA," they sing. "I’ll blow your fucking house down." Full speed ahead.

But SEXY is more than the best-friends-next-door. Adding nuance and lessons learned over time, Coco & Clair Clair's next albumis what happens when "PRETTY" comes of age. Now, the two are taking "this music thing" seriously and staying playful together while they do it.

They are still the Sims-obsessed, karaoke singing, camcorder cuties we met in 2017, but SEXY asks why we’ve reduced their sound to an aesthetic. As disaffected, irony-steeped artists are lauded by the mainstream for their innovation, why have Coco & Clair Clair been relegated to the realm of blinged-out nostalgia? "CHERUB" proves that the girls can do both.

Announcing their 12-track project SEXY, with eclectic features from Porches, DETO BLACK, Marjorie Sinclair and DEELA, it's clear that Coco & Clair Clair are going to do that and then some. Pre-order SEXY, here, and stream "CHERUB," below.

How did "CHERUB" come about?

Clair Clair: That is the first song we made for that album. It was definitely during COVID and we had just got the beat from a friend. We were both at home trying to add lyrics to the beat and get a start on what the next album could look and sound like. We were just brainstorming. When we got this beat, it came together really quickly. I remember sending Coco a demo, and then probably the next night she came over and recorded it. It was really fast and short. It kind of kickstarted the rest of the album and we immediately knew we wanted it to be the first single. It was our first little gem.

It feels like it’s a shift for your sound. What tone is it setting?

Coco: I feel like it's not starting any new shift, but it's solidifying our sound. Like, hey, we are some rap girlies, you know? Hopefully, this album helps people take us more seriously on that route.

Clair Clair: I feel like it’s a lot cleaner than a lot of our tracks. The chorus and the verses are all pretty simple. It’s not a ton of reverb or singing. It’s not a huge song, so it feels like a nice palate cleanser to get people ready for the new sound, which is such an improvement upon our old stuff.

"You’re not giving us much room to be intelligent and visionary the way people who are doing the same thing we do are consistently praised for."

What feels "new" and what’s a continuation or improvement of the old?

Clair Clair: I think the beats we've been working with have been really all over the place in a cohesive way. I know that sounds crazy. Like influence-wise, there's an indie song. When we came together to make the album, we both had a lot of different songs and artists we'd been listening to. But it was most important to us that we got back to our roots of making some beats and recording at home in a closet and going from there. Like COVID really let us do that. We've been able to spend so much more time together and remember why we started doing this. So a lot of the songs feel very true to us because they were made the way we've always made our songs. They’re still really silly and fun, but the beats have much bigger influences, the production is a lot better. We're working with real mixers and there's a lot more thought going into it. There’s less of what we used to do, which was make the song and love it and just put it out. And that was it.

What were some of those influences? What were you listening to for this album?

Coco: I wasn’t really listening to anything, I just realized. When we were working on it, I was listening to our stuff because I didn’t want to be influenced by all the good music that’s already out there. For me personally, I realized when we finished the album that I hadn’t listened to anything all summer, which was crazy–

Clair Clair: Oh, but the new Future album.

Coco: Oh yeah that.

Clair Clair: I was gonna say, Taylor Swift. I’m a really, really big Taylor Swift fan. But we really got into Future, so I was sort of oscillating between those two phases which like, both genius songwriters in such different ways. That was pretty influential, but it’s hard thinking about influences in music. Nowadays, especially following certain artists who’ve had success on TikTok, every song sounds the same. So many people are doing drum and bass, and we’ve made this conscious effort not to let ourselves go there. It was even inspiring to see what everyone else is doing and, whether we’re listening to it or not, whether we love it or not, we don’t want to do it like everyone else.

Which Real Housewives do you watch?

Clair Clair: Oh my gosh, I stopped Atlanta, but the trailer for Salt Lake City looks insane. We watched Salt Lake City during making this a little bit and Potomac.

Coco: I had never watched Potomac, but we were stuck on the beach with a friend who had COVID and that was like our life. So good.

Outside of musical influences, what are some of your comedic influences?

Clair Clair: When I actually think about how I consume culture, I don’t really feel like I do a good job. Twitter, I guess, is the place where we get jokes and obviously TikTok a little bit. I have no idea.

Coco: We just naturally are funny.

Clair Clair: I feel like Sag rising, I heard that’s a funny trait. I have a little Sag in me.

Coco: I’m Pisces sun, Cancer moon, I lost track.

Clair Clair: Aquarius sun, Sag rising, Scorpio. Is it Scorpio? I feel like I forgot that on purpose. I have this embarrassing folder on my phone of Zodiac notes. I used to be really into it and would go read it for myself, but then I got out of it. But I’m anti-CoStar. Fuck that app.

What's the significance of the name SEXY?

Clair Clair: We realized that every trip we go on, or like a chunk of time we spend together, there's a joke that covers the whole trip or something we’re always saying. We should start writing them down, actually. But "sexy" was one of the ones at the time we were making this, and it was just like, wouldn’t that be funny? Because, on the one hand, we're starting to take it all so much more seriously, while trying to still use our funny little touch. Like I feel like sexy is that in way. Kind of intense in what it means, but it’s such a funny stupid word.

"Let the girls have fun!"

So how is SEXY more serious?

Coco: Even before this call, we were talking about some of the emotional baggage that comes with trying to lean into this as your job because it can feel really silly. Even though we’re not famous by any means, I can tell people don’t know how to talk about us. It just feels weird. I want to take it seriously, but you have to get used to everything that comes along with it, like being a "pop star" and getting my photo taken.

Clair Clair: Yeah, it’s been hard to get taken as seriously, like a lot of the early press we got was just like "bubbly, pretty girl rap" stuff or even articles that have been written before it’s like "glitter cellphone 2000s Paris Hilton vibe." Yeah that’s a cute vibe, but that isn’t necessarily a cool vibe. You’re not giving us much room to be intelligent and visionary the way people who are doing the same thing we do are consistently praised for.

If you were to pick an arbitrary object that you would associate with your vibe, what would it be?

Coco: Vodka.

Clair Clair: Yeah, vodka.

[Coco gestures to her shirt, which reads "Welcome to New York," with an illustration of a gun.]

Coco: Weapons.

Clair Clair: I don’t know, maybe we’re still figuring that out, too. That’s the hard thing about getting frustrated when we’re reading headlines. It’s like, I don’t know how I would’ve said it better, but it just doesn’t feel too true. So I think that’s a lot of this album. It’s trying hard to make sure all the visuals and sounds are all something we’re proud of. Hopefully, it becomes easier for people to understand.

Coco: Also we’re just doing this to have fun.

Clair Clair: Let the girls have fun!

Photography: Shervin