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Rocky, the new king of the dancefloor

 

Numéro caught up with Inès Kokou, the powerful and jubilatory voice of Rocky, who with its pop music tailor-made for the dancefloor is already looking like one of next year’s revelations.

By Thibaut Wychowanok, Photos Jules Faure

Inès Kokou, from Rocky. Portraits : Jules Faure for Numero.com

Make-up artist and Hairdresser : Aurélie Deltour for Dmai Paris

Thanks to the Studio des Acacias, www.studioacacias.com

 

With Inès Kokou everything seems bigger than life. Starting with her voice layered over the electro-pop hymns crafted by the group Rocky, evoking soul divas and the glorious years of 90s dance music (from Corona to Janet Jackson) in equal measures. Powerful, utterly jubilatory, she takes hold of the world in one enormous joyful embrace. An exuberance that radiates from the French artist who’ll strike a Grace Jones pose one minute then admit a love for charcuterie with her girl-next-door intimacy the next, in between two bursts of crazy laughter. “I don’t have a uniform,” she smiles. “I can be glam one day and then streetwear the next. I like Céline as much as Y-project.” It’s an orgy of tastes unique to her generation of millennials who have yet to reach their thirties. On a daily basis (where she works on her career as a singer, in an office of trend-forecasters and for another at the Cité de la mode et du design in Paris) as much as on stage, on the records and in the group’s videos, Inès Kokou is definitely bigger than life.

 

“My mother listened to Adamo and Nana Mouskouri. And as for my dad, when I went to visit him in Togo, he was delighted to show me his DVDs of obscure boy bands”

It’s with the group Rocky, formed in 2011 along with Laurent Paingault, Tom Devos and Olivier Bruggeman, noticed in 2013 with their first irresistibly groovy EP, that Inès Kokou first took flight. Originally from the Parisian suburb of Asnières, she certainly wasn’t born into show business. “My mother listened to Adamo and Nana Mouskouri. And as for my dad, when I went to visit him in Togo, he was delighted to show me his DVDs of obscure boy bands.” Her apprenticeship took place alone in her bedroom, recording tunes on a Dictaphone and filling reams of paper with lyrics. At school she tried to do some “cute folk” with a friend. “It was carnage,” she laughs. Then a move to Lille for a foundation course led to the chance encounter with a trio known as TV Glory. Together the four of them formed Rocky...

 

 

 

“Back then my musical culture was all 90s radio: American rap and RnB. 2Pac, Eminem and 50 Cents were the soundtrack to my teenage years”

 

 

Back then my musical culture was all 90s radio: American rap and RnB. 2Pac, Eminem and 50 Cents were the soundtrack to my teenage years. And indeed as we listen to their first album we can hear the end of the 1990s and dawn of the new millennium. Aaliyah’s RnB and TLC as well as big dance tunes. Big South and Band Against The Wall evoke the spirits of Corona, Des'ree and Lady (with her famous track Easy Love). Rocky manages to sublimate the energy of that era to keep only the best parts i.e. pure pop efficiency and general euphoria. 

 

 

“Rocky evokes soul divas and the glorious years of 90s dance music (from Corona to Janet Jackson) in their best aspects : powerful and utterly jubilant”

 

 

But the influence of these groups goes even further and marks a big (and successful) difference between mainstream dance music and more pointed references such as garage or psychedelic house. The ecstasy of the Madchester years comes alive on certain tracks with a spectre of the Happy Mondays. But this Proust’s madeleine is just the first minty fresh aspect of Rocky’s explosive pop. The other is the coolness of a sound we associate with the electro family of Disclosure (in particular Apologize, opening the album), digital reggae, more indie nuggets and the weightlessness of Isaac Delusion (I Hate You or Love Is A Soft Machine). In short a veritable feast of flavours. 

 

“We make positive music to dance to. If that might sometimes seem easy, it’s because it’s well-made and you can’t see the stiches”

 

We make positive music to dance to. If that might sometimes seem easy, it’s because it’s well-made and you can’t see the stiches,” says she who composes long distance from Paris with the Lille-based trio. In their mission to conquer the dance floor, they knew how to arm themselves well. Guillaume Brière, one of the two magicians behind French electro pop group The Shoes produced their first EP Chase the Cool and accompanied them on the album Soft Machines.For our first concert, we supported them. We’d taken part in a contest to remix their track Cover Your Eyes. Hyper house, just like our first tune Just Away.” The group‘s first album was mixed by Éric Broucek, producer and engineer with the legendary New York label DFA (LCD Soundsystem, Hercules and the Love Affair…) “Our ultimate dream would be to have our next album produced by James Murphy [boss of DFA and leader of LCD Soundsystem].” And frankly why not? 

 

Rocky on tour :

Espace Django Reinhardt in Strasbourg on February 24th 2017

Le Romandie in Lausanne on February 25th 2017

La Poudrière in Belfort on March 25th 2017

La Gaîté Lyrique in Paris on March 3rd 2017

Les Vielles Charrues in Carhaix on July 13th

 

Soft Machines, first album, available.

 

 

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