“Things really happen in L.A.” Quadron prepare to reinvent modern soul, with a little help from Odd Future and Pharrell
At last month’s Jazz Café gig, during one of lead singer Coco’s signature acapellas, the crowd let out a very audible collective gasp. This is the sound of Quadron – a voice that has garnered online love from the likes of Adele, Mark Ronson, James Murphy and Jay-Z. Tyler The Creator recently took a turn for the mushier, tweeting that “Coco has the voice of an actual angel”. Quadron are the most famous band you’ve never heard of.
Quadron’s self-titled debut album was released in Denmark back in 2009. It’s characterised by the ’60s-tinged, polished production of Robin Hannibal and the part-early MJ, part-angelic (thank you, Tyler) vocals of Coco Maja Hastrup Karshoj. It caught the attention of the West Coast U.S. soul scene and before you could say ‘major record deal’ L.A Reid was on the blower, Pharrell was joining them in the studio and the afterparty was back at Prince’s house.
Clare Considine met up with Coco before a one-off London gig to chat about the move to L.A., that difficult second album and being the only Danes in the village.
So much of Quadron’s sound is about your voice. When did you first start singing?
“I went to a kind of creative school, so I had music early on. And I was a fan of Michael Jackson, so I just wanted to do what he was doing. He was it for me. And all of the girls in my class actually.
“But he wasn’t the only influence -I grew up with my parents playing a lot of good music. A lot of soul music. Like Michael Jackson. But also the basics, you know. Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Sade, George Michael. All of the neo-soul stars. My mum was really into those artists.
“I was always interpreting them at home – trying to sound like them. That was what I spent all of my time doing. I wish sometimes that I still did that. It was good practice. I just tried to sound like Mariah Carey as good as I could. She’s the hardest one, but it’s good practice ‘cos if she’s the goal then everything that you do below that is OK!”
“I started off being in a cover band with some friends at school – we sang a lot of Michael Jackson. Then when I was 16 I joined a gospel choir in Copenhagen and had some solo lessons.
“After that I started to perform with this DJ. I was on his instrumentals, singing in nightclubs, doing soul covers. He introduced me to Robin actually. Robin was working at a second hand shop in Copenhagen and he introduced us. Robin was releasing an LP with a group called Boom Clap Bachelors.
“They were a collective of guys – just music geeks at first and then they started to make music. They wanted to perform live and they needed someone who could sing. Robin was performing a lot of the songs on the recordings but he’s not like a singer singer. So they wanted to have somebody else singing the songs. So they invited me and another girl and that was the first real band that I played in. I enjoyed it a lot, it was a lot of fun.”
How did you and Robin go from that to forming Quadron?
“There was a Danish film director [Hella Joof] who asked us to do some songs for her new film [Hush Little Baby]. That was kind of the point of no return ‘cos I asked Robin to do that project with me. We knew that we had to do an amount of songs, so we did 12 songs and that became the album.”
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