By HAZEL REID

La Coco is a soulful Samoan/Māori artist who hails from South Auckland and has a Waiata Māori Music Award under her belt for Grateful. We caught up with La Coco to talk about her new music release Gone, collaborating and creative inspirations.

Talking about the early years, La Coco started her musical journey by singing in church alongside her grandmother Fitu Leuluai who sang every sabbath, “a 10 piece choir all on her own she was, my first teacher of Gospel hymn music and song”, she shared. In her young adult years, La Coco was a regular session backing vocalist for NZ artists in studio on record plus in clubs and festivals, she has been creating her own music as a solo artist since 2017. “I had my own story to tell, and music is a way of healing for me and a creative outlet. It was time to step out and do my own thing, I was ready to explore.” 

“Letting go of something or someone is a hard thing to do, especially when it is who or what you love most… memories keep them alive in your mind, the dreams of them returning keep you awake at night, it is never an easy thing to let go,” La Coco shared with us about her single Gone. She went on to say “this is my explanation and what is meant when linking this song in with Polynesian Panthers, when our people migrated and moved away, they had left People, Land and Precious things behind, and this is hard to part with let alone live with the feeling that they may never see these again.” 

Gone showcases La Coco’s incredible vocals and songwriting talent while also being a tune you can vibe to – she collaborated with Malachi Samuelu (M4) on the beats who is her “baby cousin and we’ve been doing music since he was in nappies. I love keeping it within the family when making music choosing people close to home to work with, this is important to me.” The song also features backing vocals by Freedom Setu who La Coco met at work. La Coco also mentioned she loves collaborating when people add their creative flair to the music she’s given them and “what I hear in my head is exactly what is being played back to me, that to me is magic.” 

La Coco picked up a Waiata Māori Music Award for Best RnB album for her record Grateful. She mentioned, “the highlight always is in creating music with my family, little cousin and bestie Malachi Samuelu (M4) – something we and our family can be proud of.” While creating the record, La Coco and Malachi had an opportunity through the 37 Hz – 48-hour music challenge to record live with instrumentalists from the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (APO). They had 48 hours to write the song plus record their vocals and all live wind, synth and horn instruments. “Malachi had the opportunity to direct and work alongside APO players which is quite hard to afford. It was an amazing experience and one we were so blessed to have taken up,” La Coco told us about the special opportunity. 

La Coco’s next body of work, the Too Far Gone EP is due for release soon. We spoke about what music fans could expect from it, “as La Coco ages gracefully with the times, her sound palate and feel for music starts to evolve. She is exploring in her interests of Dance, Electronica, House and Lounge as she feels her vocals have a lot to give in this space and sits perfectly.” 

It’s a bit of a difficult time to plan ahead but we talked about what could be on the horizon over the next 12 months. La Coco hopes to make a stamp with her upcoming EP/music releases in the NZ lounge/house/electronica/dance genre and approached to share this on summer festival lineups. La Coco told Tearaway that she would also love to tour internationally, “The UK, US, Asia, Canada – all of it with my band family!” 

La Coco’s single Gone is out now and look out for her upcoming EP, Too Far Gone, you can keep up with her online.

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