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Cocorosie: Tackling the Patriarchy with Freakfolk and Ecofeminism

by admin on December 1, 2016

Cocorosie is perhaps one of the oddest and most individualistic sounds of the modern musical world. The two sisters, Bianca and Sierra Casady, have been the embodiment of a new musical movement known commonly as Freakfolk. They incorporate sounds from genres including pop, blues, hip hop, folk, rock, and experimental music. As part of the New Weird America movement (a musical counterculture movement that focuses on the merging of genres), the two derived their music from psychedelic rock and transformed the genre into something much more experimental. The sisters found positive reception to their albums, which incorporate noises ranging from children’s toys to recordings of Tahitian rain, and have recorded six full-length albums during multiple residencies in Europe, North America and South America.

The Casady sisters cite their feminine pride as having roots within nature and the feminine trait of creation. In challenging the idea of a male God, as part of what’s commonly referred to as the Goddess movement, Bianca Casady told Vice Magazine “I’ve found myself going back to the basics and feeling like the earth is our creator and to be connected symbolically with the feminine force of Creation – That’s where I’m at right now, which is also making a direct connection between Feminism and ecology.” The two have expressed the need to return to more “Pre-Sky God” ideals and embrace a comfortably more pagan lifestyle, which revolves around praise to the Earth. These are themes commonly found in their more recent work, such as their song “God Has a Voice She Speaks Through Me” in which they open the song with the words “The Earth is a pretty place to be – All my deities belong to thee,” citing the Earth as the owner of all of their deities and acknowledging it as a deity in itself.

The pair go so far as to compare the abuse of the Earth to that of the female body and image. In their song “Tears for Animals”, the expression “poisoning the water” represents the killing of young girls’ potential, as well as their ideas of self-worth. The singer asks “Do you have love for human kind?” This implies that not loving woman kind is the same as not loving human kind. This same aspect of their music relates the female to the Earth; they emphasize the resurgence of the pagan witch, which empowers women through a deeper connection with the Earth and the natural world.

The sisters also demonstrate these ideas and theologies in the performance and visual aspects of their art. In most contexts of their music, the duo incorporates a heavy presence of gender-bending. The two are notorious for dressing outside of gender norms, including boyish basketball shorts, full tuxedos, small, curly mustaches, goatees, and even face paint. Bianca Casady says to ViceEvery time there’s a little bit of acting involved, it brings up this perception of male identity,” and it is by challenging male identity that the two spotlight the importance of a female identity. However, recently the two have found their costumes shifting further to the feminine side, and this shift in their costume marks a realization that, at least for them, the female identity is not as fully explored as the male identity. Bianca explains that she was previously “trying to take shape and find visibility, and … going into the male body,” in contrast to her current work to make the “invisible female” visible. Yet they still feel the need to explore their idea of “femininity in the male,” and it is through this struggle that the dysfunctional gender norms that society accepts are fully explored and expressed. The two write in their song “Forget me Not” that “They circle me with genders and colors flickering – Like demons of diamonds of nothing.” using the idea that the assigned gender and color stereotypes themselves are demons of nothing, or that they are nonexistent yet still inherently detrimental.

In their music we can find many calls to disestablish the patriarchy present within our culture. This idea is often played up in forms of irony, where we find the two exposing the depth to which patriarchal ideas have been embedded into our culture. Their use of irony fully demonstrates their points through verses such as “I just wanted to be your housewife – All I wanted was to be your housewife – I’ll iron your clothes – I’ll shine your shoes – I’ll make your bed – And cook your food,” in their song “By Your Side”, and it’s within lyrics such as these that we fully understand the wrongness with such ideas. As Bianca Casady says in an interview with Dazed Magazine “You don’t have to know what’s right to know what’s wrong,” and it is by highlighting these wrongs that the musical duo truly challenge the patriarchal norms and biophobic tendencies which we often think little of.

By Christian Smith

Anna Lee Skinner December 6, 2016 at 6:17 pm

This is some wicked cool stuff. I was vaguely familiar with “Freakfolk”, but this was really informative and nicely written. Your article got me interested enough to look up the band and all of your observations about their music are spot on. I also liked your exploration on the band’s ideas about gender and the reasoning behind their eccentric dress code.

Sarah Chao December 6, 2016 at 4:08 pm

I didn’t know anything about the Casady sisters and their influence in the Freakfolk movement. Very interesting topic and it reminds me of the unit where we learned about ecofeminism. The gender-bending aspect of their art is fascinating–how passionate they are about the female identity. I especially liked your concluding paragraph that sums up everything beautifully. You did a good job incorporating lyrics and quotations that enhance the article and bringing it full circle to the main idea.

Catherine Allen December 6, 2016 at 12:41 pm

I found this article very informative and interesting as I had never heard of the FreakFolk Movement. I thought that it was great that the sisters were challenging both gender norms and the patriarchy in their songs. One of the most interesting things I learned was how they connected the abuse of women to the abuse of the earth. I thought this was a great point to add to the article as it really connected the music to the course.

Kailey Hackett December 6, 2016 at 10:43 am

I was very unfamiliar with Bianca and Sierra Casady or the whole “Freakfolk” movement in general so I found this article to be very interesting and I gained a lot of insight after reading. Being a female, I have a lot of respect for groups that focus on eco-feminism and try to make music to inform the public about things related to this. I also think that this is a huge part of music that is overlooked, like in Lauren’s article, I think that a lot of music teaches men to treat women with disrespect and look down on them so this was really awesome to hear a group that is pro-female and discusses controversial topics such as the female God and how men are harmful to women in general.

Lea Gilbert December 5, 2016 at 9:25 pm

I think that it’s interesting that since both the Earth and women are being hurt by mankind, Ecofeminists- such as the Casady sisters- connect the two together and use metaphors about how man is hurting them to connect both together. It’s also interesting that although they are feminists and explore the idea of a female- the are known for dressing as “men.” They are making a statement that no one clothing or style is meant for one gender and that these are just assigned terms given at birth.

Emma Berg December 4, 2016 at 12:02 pm

I have never head about this group or the “Freakfolk” movement so this article was very informative. I think the groups use of eco-feminism and gender norms is very interesting. Cocorosie’s idea of a female god plays into the eco-feminist themes found in their music, this type of controversial perspective on religion is not often seen in music. Also, I like the way the use different aspects of culture and religion to highlight the patriarchy.

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