“Everywhere I go I’ll be screaming about Sheffield” – Interview with Coco
After joining forces with fellow Sheffield lad Toddla T, Coco has been flying the flag for northern grime on a wider level for a few years now – with a slew of red-hot singles receiving national airplay and appearances at festivals across the globe cementing him as a force to be reckoned within the scene.
Matic Mouth caught up with the MC ahead of a much-anticipated homecoming show at underground music venue Plot 22, organised to promote the release of the artist’s debut EP ‘No Rehearsal’.
You’re currently living in London and have returned up north for the release party. You’ve always kept a close eye on the local activity and artists based in Sheffield, too. After being away for some time and experiencing things from a different standpoint, is there any knowledge you can pass on to upcoming musicians on ways in which you think they may be able to improve and progress their careers?
At the moment it’s looking very good, man. Obviously I come to Sheffield every so often to try and play my part, it’s not a place that I can forget easily, so I always try to stay in touch with the artists here and everywhere I go I’ll be screaming about Sheffield. I think a big part of it all is networking; don’t be afraid to go to places like London, and I’m not saying it’s an ultimatum thing, but it’s thriving and other people are out here in the same positions actively looking to network with others. A lot of music stems from there and it’s the capital, so there’s always going to be opportunities arising.
Another thing: make sure your body of work is cared for, don’t just be slapping out too much for the sake of it. One thing Toddla always told me was to make sure people digest what you’re doing and can easily stay up to date. When you’re dashing out bare tracks it can sometimes confuse listeners, as they don’t know what’s new and what’s old. So, show your work attention and be professional because there’s no rush, you know what I’m saying? You’ve always got to develop as an artist and if you’ve got to wait two to three months to get something right, then do that – because there’s a level out there right now and a bar that man have got to hit.
How did you come across Plot 22? Did you know about them already?
It was through a friend I reached out to in Sheffield, and he told me he had some friends that had started a new thing that I think initially worked with or for charities, I’m not 100% sure, but I liked what I heard about the direction they want to go in. They’re not just about events: they want to do more with the community, but at the same time try to be a sort of creative hub for artists in and around Sheffield. These types of places are good for the scene, people can feel like they belong in a place like that. It used to be the old Castle Market, as we know, but there’s some refurbishment happening in the area and they’re trying to bring it all to life. I heard it’s just these guys doing it alone so I just wanted to help and be involved in any way really; it seemed only natural to have the release party there, bring more positivity to what’s happening.
because there’s a level out there right now and a bar that man have got to hit.
It’s good to see these empty spaces being used for creative uses, as we have so many unused buildings and hopefully will see more things like this. How were your experiences in finding studios and creative spaces in Sheffield? Was it easy? Difficult? You’re also a producer yourself, so can I guess and say that you started at home?
Yeah, the producer thing started at home, just being alone and having the time and love for music. I had a mini studio there – well, I say studio, but it was my laptop and speakers which I used to make beats with all the time. In terms of recording, in the early stages I used to go to the studio with Youth Camp and NoXcuse. Seven [NoXcuse] had a place which we used to go and record at. After that, when I broke off and started doing the Remz & Coco thing, that was just at Remz’s yard, and that’s when the DIY thing really came into it. It was around these times that I started understanding a need for quality in the music and the recordings, so I started going to Bok Bok Studios with a guy called Titch. There was never really an issue in getting a studio for me; there was always somewhere we could go to express ourselves and put it down on a track, and again the networking helped me a lot back then.
Tell us about the motives behind the EP. We saw you smash single after single out: ‘Big Bou Yah’, ‘Big N Serious’, ‘Waters Run Deep’ featuring Shola Ama & Deep Green, ‘Ova Here’ featuring Protoje. There was a great level of consistency right up to the EP. Was this just the natural order of things?
Yeah man. I mean, if you’ve followed my journey from when I linked up with Toddla you will have seen I’ve done the whole single thing, and there was quite a bit of direction in regards to doing all that – there were reasons why we dropped certain tracks or whatever. Off the back of that, instead of just giving it in doses, it’s now about letting me give the people a collection of good tracks that I’ve spent some time on and are worthy of an EP and the response has been good.
And you’ve got videos for ‘Tellin Em’ and ‘Gimme The Mic’ out now. Give us some background on these tracks.
‘Telling Em’ was produced and shot by Manakin [MNKN], someone I’ve worked with for years and I feel we always get something special when we work together. The other is produced by me but shot by J.Mal from out of London. Big up J.Mal, still.
Where can people find you for those that want to hear more of Coco?
The people can find me on all the socials through the handle @TheCocoUK. Connect with me, talk to me, let’s get things popping.