Born in India, raised in London, Coco is a humanist, artist, producer, DJ and composer, always defying genre categorisation to being a pioneer of multiple musical movements since the late 80’s. From his origins at infamous UK record label Street Sounds where he co-produced tracks for the first British Hip Hop album to be made outside the United States, Faze One Heroes (1987) and remixing artists such as Scott La Rock & KRS 1 of Boogie Down Productions to selling out the Sydney Opera House with his band earthtribe, early new millennium. Coco remains an eccentric entertainer and genre defying producer.
Coco qualified as a sound engineer in 1985 when analogue studios and reel to reel tapes were the tools of the trade. London at the time was in the grip of Thatcher and her war on the emerging Rave, UK Hardcore and Hip-Hop music scenes. Coco experimenting with a Commodore 64, Ensoniq SQ80 and the ubiquitous Atari 1040 began releasing a series of 12” Electro and UK-Hardcore hits under the moniker T.A.S (The Altered States) that he started with Lee Bennett of Faze One, on Profile Records. Profile was home to the likes of Run DMC, Twin Hype and Rob Base & D.J. E-Z Rock.
Coco concentrated on exploring electronic music production and immersed himself in the cultures he grew up with, Reggae, Ska, Soul, Motown and Jazz-Funk by frequenting clubs, sound systems and buying up vinyl. In his family home, Coco couldn’t escape the soundtrack of Bollywood, Indian Classical and Qawwali. Sadly, elements of the Skinhead subculture and football hooliganism in London were on the rise back then, often isolating people of Indian or Asian descent. Physical abuse, too often came with that stance, with Coco, like many others, unfortunate enough to experience it.
Alchemy is instinctive to Coco whose broad influences, combined with quirky creativity and production wizardry meant many T.A.S tracks like Forever in Your Dreams, Make Some Noise, Circles and Must Be the Music stormed pirate radio, charted number one in record stores and broke barriers in the UK Rave scene ahead of later seminal tracks, like Prodigy’s Charlie. Always ahead of the artistic curve with T.A.S which was on rotation at infamous dance music institutions like Fabio & Grooverider’s Rage at Heaven nightclub, Interdance at Sterns and the infamous Dungeons (Hackney) in DJ Ellis Dee’s selection box.
Coco effortlessly used tabla (Indian percussion drums) alongside electronica as early as 1990. Synthesising traditional timbres from around the globe with a London bass sound that became a hallmark of Coco’s sound. In 1991 the CD was released called Dr. Fourier’s Friendly Vibes EP by MadQ & Coco (Q Brute Records), when he also collaborated with DJ Vibes and DJ Rock on the V.C.R EP (King Meat Records). Around this time there was also a rebellion amongst young British artists, DJs, mixers, producers and entrepreneurs of Indian/Bengali/Pakistani extraction who wanted to be heard and taken seriously by the music business.
THE ASIAN UNDERGROUND ERA
Having had more than a helping hand in pioneering UK Hip Hop, Hardcore, Rave, Bigbeats, Jungle and Drum & Bass, Coco was a lead conspirator for what became known globally as the genre - The Asian Underground - very much looked upon & respected as it should be, two decades on, consolidating it’s artistic place in musical history!
For Coco he didn’t want a label or a genre box to be confined by. The music he was producing at the time was just evolution, natural sound selection, but the mass media couldn’t see beyond his origins. Instead labelling him, “The Asian Leftfield”, “The Asian Prodigy”, “The Asian Underworld”, “The Asian Misty and Roots meets James Brown”… and so on and so on.
Coco’s live concept, one earth, one tribe aka earthtribe broke down racial barriers and musical stereotypes. Always innovating and collaborating with residencies at Scala, 333 Club, The End, Blue Note, as well as performing at Shepard’s Bush Empire, Ministry of Sound, Fabric, The Dog Star and Brixton Academy. Alongside Joi, Talvin Singh, the late State of Bengal, Badmarsh and Shri, Asian Dub Foundation and later Nitin Sawnhey, Coco was at the forefront of the now globally recognised movement of heavy bass, breaks and bigbeat with a swathe of Eastern instrumentation.
Some sceptics laughed off the music success of these originators, brown people making something new by melding East and West music cultures as a novelty trend. Fast forward to Chase and Status’s Eastern Jam to pop icons Black Eyed Peas, M.I.A and Timbaland and Missy Elliot’s effervescent Get Your Freak On the sounds of tabla and Bollywood samples have climbed main-stream pop charts ever since. Luckily, punters, fellow artists and the surgencies of individual music makers forged an infectious sound that continues to impress audiences today.
Coco also formed the seminal label, club night and lifestyle ethos, Sitarfunk (1997), their first compilation featured Bi-Polar, Mo Magic, Up, Bustle & Out, Transglobal Underground, TJ Rehmi and Indian Ropeman.
Coco’s versatility moved from Eastern infused dance music to a British Bass sound that was in tune with his peers, environs and his own musical tastes. He has also shared the stage or played alongside most modern luminaries, to name a few: Lee Scratch Perry, Mad Professor, Kenny Larkin, Ananda Shankar, Underworld, The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy, Squarepusher, Nile Rodgers, Kula Shaker, Nigel Kennedy, Funkadelica, Fat Boy Slim, Zion Train, LTJ Bukem, Barry Ashworth, Kraftwerk, Sister Nancy, DJ Patife, DJ Vadim, Chase and Status, David Rodigan, Aries, Afrodite, Hospitality, Johnny Osborne, London Elektricity, the late Andrew Weatherall… the list goes on.