Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Interview - Coco Malone

Ladies and Gentlemen; introducing Coco Malone - Jazz songbird and Cabaret darling. Based in the North West of England she can often be found travelling the length and breadth of the country gracing many a stage. She also performs with her fabulous band "Root and Groove Element"
Trained in song and dance from a young age and having had much experience performing for both intimate and large audiences she can soothe away your cares with classic jazz or knock you off your feet with a dazzling showtune. You'll certainly be left wanting more...

You'll certainly be left wanting more...
Photographer Credit: Kate Donovan

What was your first experience of Burlesque and Cabaret, and what inspired you to start yourself?

I've always been fascinated by years gone by and it probably stems, in part, from my love of old Hollywood musicals. From a musical point, my love of jazz goes right back to listening to my dad's vinyl when I was young. I can remember being about 5 years old and dancing round the living room to Ray Charles and Nat King Cole. Putting all of that together, I was one of those children who annoyed their parents by always wanting to put on 'shows', which they'd politely have to endure on a regular basis!
About 5 years ago, my interest lead me to burlesque and the first show I attended was Carnival Divine in Manchester - I LOVED it! Then followed a burlesque workshop with Bella Besame, which I also loved!I'd always planned on going to study dance and performing arts but my life took a very different turn and I ended up having my two children by the age of 19. After staying at home with them for their first few years, I trained to be then worked as a neonatal intensive care nurse but never really felt that was what I was 'supposed' to be doing. I was desperate to sing and dance again but I'd lost pretty much all of my confidence and self belief. To cut a long story short my dance teachers (I still attended lessons) showed faith in me, supported me and put me back on a stage to sing. One of the the most terrifying, yet liberating moments of my life. The rest, as the saying goes, is history!

"(My debut) was one of the most terrifying yet liberating moments of my life."
You are one of the premier Cabaret singer on the scene – how do you choose which songs to sing?

One of the premier cabaret singers on the scene? Haha! That's nice! Oh, songs! There are so many of them! Plain and simply, the songs I sing are the songs I love. I feel very lucky in that I'm rarely asked to sing songs that I don't identify with. I suppose because I'm a jazz / soul singer, people expect me to sing jazz and soul. I've never, thankfully, been asked to sing any N-Dubz and I don't anticipate that happening any time soon!
Sometimes, people will ask for specific songs, but most of the time I'm left to compile my own set lists and that's sometimes down to the kind of venue / show / audience but mostly down to what I fancy doing on the night! My current favourite to sing is 'Teach Me Tonight'.
My current favourite song is 'Teach me Tonight'
Photographer Credit: InaGlo Photography

Not many people realise you also used to perform as a Burlesque Dancer. What brought about the move away from dancing to performing solely as a Singer?

Ah, you have a good memory. I did indeed do a short spell, performing as a burlesque dancer, right back at the beginning. It was probably only for about six months – one year. It felt like there was too much to focus on - choosing songs, singing, rehearsing, choreography, costuming, etc. Also, I wanted the audience (and myself) to be clear on who I was as a performer - I felt like I was spreading myself too thinly so decided to focus solely on singing. I did used to sing a lot of show tunes too but unless I'm specifically asked, I now just stick to jazz and soul. Even though all of this was a big reason for moving away from burlesque performing, there was another underlying reason - my propensity for being a perfectionist! In pretty much all areas of my life, I'm a person who will do something to a ridiculous degree and want to be the very best - or I won't do it at all. And burlesque performing was no different. I had a pretty solid background in dance, in the form of ballet and jazz, and I considered myself to be 'ok' when it came to burlesque but if I couldn't do it as well as the performers I loved (namely Anna Fur Laxis, Missy Malone and Vicky Butterfly) then I didn't want to do it at all. And that was that.
"I'm a person who will do something to a ridiculous degree and I want to be the very best."
Photographer Credit: InaGlo Photography

Who are your biggest influences and inspirations?

My biggest influences - they would be Billie Holliday, Sarah Vaughan, Ray Charles, Dinah Washington, Bessie Smith and Amy Winehouse. I love so many more but theirs are the songs I listen to the most. It's their music that frequently moves me to tears and makes me feel something that I couldn't and wouldn't want to put into words. And that's one of my biggest motivations for songwriting and performing - I want the audience to be able to share in that feeling. I hope they do.......
Billie Holliday ** Sarah Vaughan

Ray Charles ** Dinah Washington

Bessie Smith ** Amy Winehouse

Tell us a little about your favourite experiences so far

Wow, trying to find favourite experiences is hard! I love so much of it. Getting to perform in places like Paris and Rome has been amazing but I've had equally wonderful times here in the UK. Being able to walk into a dressing room anywhere and instantly being able to have a wonderful time with people - I've made so many good friends whose creativity is so inspiring. Although, Julien Macdonald was in the audience once and gave me some personal styling tips after my performance - that was pretty cool!

"Julien Macdonald...gave me personal styling tips!"
Photographer Credit: Scott Chalmers Photography

Tell me something no one would suspect about you

I can tell you a couple of things no one would suspect about me! I'm afraid of the dark and have slept with the landing light and the radio on and the covers right over my head ever since first watching ET when I was about 5 years old! Also, I am a MASSIVE Whitesnake fan. I think I just felt like I needed to confess that!
I'm afraid of the dark!
Finally; any words of advice for newcomers to the scene?

I always feel flattered and honoured when a new singer comes to me for advice. I give them as much support as I can - because of some negativity I experienced when starting out. It can be a daunting experience, moving into the performing world and I couldn't do anything else but try and make that a little easier for someone else. I would say, though, know your strengths and limitations and work with these. In my opinion, everyone has a talent, they just lie in different places. Keep working on your performance, watch the performers who inspire you, go to see lots of shows, ask lots of questions and be prepared to work hard - it's worth it!
"Know your strengths and limitations... be prepared to work hard - it's worth it!"
Photographer Credit: Darkstar Imaging

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