Photography by Lisa Minogue. Copyright Liberation Images 2014
Tell us about your background in music, DJing and production
Cocoa Noire combines the elements of DJing, live vocals and instrumentation. We started as a duo with Francoise on vocals and Jackson Miles DJing. With original Cocoa Noire material in the works our setup has now evolved and embraces live elements in an extended setup with Golden Cub on guitar and Winters on keys. All of us come from performance and DJing backgrounds that mould together to form the Cocoa Noire sound.
How did you find one another and what made you decide to form Cocoa Noire?
We met at a local gig and both shared interests and love for similar genres. Cocoa Noire was not something that we actively decided to form. The first “performance” was impromptu, at a friend’s party where Jackson Miles was DJing. At this point in time it was something that we had done for fun. Our friends encouraged us to pursue it and over time venues continued to book us as something different that stood apart from DJing in a traditional sense. A change in our setup to include an sp404 was the catalyst to the project and enabled us to have more freedom in performing reworks of songs and live edits.
What is your preferred set-up? Which hardwares/softwares do you use and why?
We have often been booked as a “DJ act” or in venues where the equipment is setup and geared towards DJs and not always conducive to live vocals. This has meant that we have had to be very creative in how we approach gigs due to the varying and diverse environments we perform in. As stated above, the sp404 has been extremely useful in this regard and has allowed us to set up and perform in many more spaces. The extended band setup will usually include all elements going through a portable mixer. Having a sound engineer at a gig is always preferred in these instances, however when this is not available or provided we will monitor our own sound through the mixer.
How were you discovered? Social media, networking, playing live?
Most people who have discovered our music have experienced Cocoa Noire at a live performance. Our approach to music focuses on the live aspect and face to face interaction rather than an online presence. We feel that this has led to an organic following via word of mouth or directly experiencing a show and being able to hang out with us. We feel that in this manner we have more fans of value in an age where fans are often solely digital which can be more of a barrier than a platform. We perform every weekend and as a result people will generally ask us at a show where and when we will be performing next.
Your approach to music is based on an organic relationship with your fans. In your opinion, how valuable is face-to-face networking and interaction prior to and after a gig?
Performing throwbacks and edits that people recognize and resonate with allows us to have meaningful conversations and connections with people both during and after a set. The personal interaction also enables us to break down the barriers between artist and audience. This allows us to understand a bit more about the audience we are performing to and in turn allows the audience to get a sense of who we are on a more personal level.
Do you do all your own self-promotion and marketing? If so, what has been some of the biggest challenges so far in this D.I.Y approach? If not, who handles your publicity, band booking and marketing and how valuable are they to your image and exposure?
We do all of our own self promotion and marketing via word of mouth and a minimal approach online. We look forward to having a more prominent presence online once our upcoming releases are complete. Our decision to not have an online presence has added to the allure of cocoa noire, as the only time you would be able to see us would be at a gig, which is a form of promotion in itself. Some of the biggest challenges are the balance between being creative and handling marketing or promotion for the number of performances we have each week. As creatives first, often marketing and promotion may take a back seat but we embrace the challenges of learning something new with each different experience.
What is the best advice you can give to independent artists in Melbourne?
A lot of emerging artists often feel that their exposure or development is due to some external opportunity or being “discovered.” If you look anywhere but yourself for value and worth, you will find it hard to shake off the negative narratives of the “music industry” that weigh down and discourage a lot of artists from pursuing their art. In our opinion what matters more is the day to day refining of what you would like to put out in the world. Be you, be authentic.