Interview by Brian Lee Hughes
Image & Video by Jan-Willem Dikkers
“I am influenced by people who pursue the shadow alleys
of the worldand choose adventure over comfort.
People who carve their own paths, master their crafts,
Cotillon is the solo project of musician Jordan Corso, who is releasing his sophomore album The Afternoons, produced by Corso, Shane Butler and Al Carlson and released via No Roads Records. The album follows his self-titled LP (2015) out via Burger Records and White Roses EP (2013). Corso currently resides in San Francisco.
Brian Lee Hughes
Peripatetic co-Founder of Gallery Sade LA, Castle Face Records, Do Not Disturb Records, Skunk Films and Public Production, Brian Lee Hughes is a Director and avid storytelling apologist who craves anonymity. He barely survives every single day by self-medicating his crippling fears of everything through supporting underloved artists of all mediums—forcing him to endure yet another day cursed by the never-ending horrorshow of begging for death’s sweet embrace.
I was once in a big, dumb pool with a lot of dumb, mean people. It was at night in the desert and the pool was illuminated, but the people in it, and the creepy silhouettes surrounding it, were more comfortable with the dark vibes than I was. As I suspiciously side-eyed them and cautiously side-creeped away, I made it to the furthest edge of the pool. There, I encountered a man who shared my state of aversion to the others. This person happened to be Jordan Corso, singer of the band Cotillon Flowers, which in time became the band named Cotillon.
Assuming he shared my social anxieties, I mumbled a rhetorical offering as a test, “This is a weird party.” To which he nodded, “The weirdest party in the world.” As per American conversational norms, there was a name exchange and then a, “So, what do you do?”
He shyly, dryly replied “Musician.” I asked which genre and he shrugged. I asked if he liked what he was making and he said, “Not really.” I asked why not, and he mentioned that he wasn’t around the right people.
Formed in San Francisco in 2007, Girls comprised singer-songwriter Christopher Owens and producer and bassist Chet “JR” White. Their debut album, Album, released in 2009 and their second full-length Father, Son, Holy Ghost in 2011, both to critical acclaim. The group broke up in 2012 with a public announcement by Owens.
I asked what I hoped would trigger a positive turn, “What’s your favorite record?” When he replied with, “The first album from Girls, the album called Album,” I felt weaponized. I actually knew the boys of Girls from my own SF days and directed a video for their song “Laura.” I knew Girls producer and bassist JR White well enough, and I offered up connecting the two. Jordan was probably dubious of me, but nonetheless he wondered, “Is that possible?” I offered up my hunch: “All of your heroes share your own self-doubt and would love to hear that anyone wanted to make music with them.” Turns out it was truer than I knew.
A year or so later, I was in SF and Jordan invited me over to his Precita Park apartment. It wasn’t just any Precita Park apartment, though: Jordan was living in Chris Owen’s former bedroom and was indeed JR’s roommate in the very home where Girls made their musical magic. Jordan shared with me some of the truly transcendent Cotillon tracks that made it onto his first record, released by Burger Records.
What started there has only sharpened and progressed. His new Cotillon record, The Afternoons, is a deeper dive into intelligent innocence in a corrupt world. Poetically, he’s an elegant fighter for his own subset of like-minded people. Melodically, he’s an expert at exploring the interesting wrinkles on the edges of previous masterpieces. I can say with full confidence that he will be sought after for advice by seekers like his former self.
Jordan Corso played the track “I Like People” from The Afternoons in my Silverlake backyard.
Where are you from?
I was raised in south Orange County and have lived as an adult/perma-teen in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City.
When did you start making music?
I started playing music in high school after my dad forced me to take music as an elective.
“I’m into China right now—
I’m actually doing this interview
from a dark
bathroom in Beijing.”
Who did you listen to growing up and who is your music influenced by today?
Growing up, my parents were so generous and confident, and I’m so grateful to inherit their approach to life. Today, I am influenced by people who pursue the shadow alleys of the world and choose adventure over comfort. People like yourself, who carve their own paths, master their crafts, never settle.
How would you describe your music?
Pop music mixed with shoegaze, bubblegum, power, grit and glitter, made by someone who doesn’t overthink it.
How and when did you decide that this is what you were going to do?
There was never a decision. It’s a natural way for me to communicate my thoughts and emotions. Never a decision.
What’s your story of getting started as a musician?
I played in other people’s bands, and felt like I could write better songs by myself. I had a lot of fun performing and writing and got addicted to the lifestyle. Not sure what else I would do without this outlet—probably be so bored.
How does it feel to have finished your album?
Feels great. It came together so naturally and wonderfully. I love it.
What was the process like?
I had the most intelligent people in a room with me for the span of a summer, with the fanciest gear, best beer and the love and support of the best people and pets ever outside of the studio. I cannot say enough about these people and how much they elevated my work: Shane Butler, Jon Nellen, Al Carlson. Straight-up geniuses with the best taste. A totally surreal time.
Who would you most like to collaborate with and why?
With Hua Dong in re-TROS, a seminal krautrock band from Beijing that kills. I’m into China right now—I’m actually doing this interview from a dark bathroom in Beijing as we speak. Also you, Brian, and this other wonderful human Amber Carew—people who understand me or make a real effort to.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on being a good person to those around me, supporting other people’s art and visions. Trying not to only focus on myself—it’s one of life’s great challenges, but makes me feel the best. I’m facing some demons this year, making things right. I want people to come to my funeral and miss me when I’m gone. Ya know?
“I’m facing some demons this year,
making things right.”
What’s your favorite book, film, and music right now?
I’m into these swanky plays by Richard Greenberg that an incredibly tasteful human turned me onto recently. They remind me of my fancy Orange County childhood in a good way.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the film Days of Being Wild by Wong Kar-Wai. I feel like I can relate to York’s character lately.
I’m mostly listening to Chinese bands right now: re-TROS, New Pants, Queen Sea Big Shark. But also love these people in Seattle that make the best music: Chastity Belt, So Pitted, Dude York, Eleanor Petry. We all just had the best time playing in Seattle on Saturday night and drinking tequila and eating tortas.
What are your interests and passions outside of music?
Pickling vegetables, making curries, Chinese food, growing cilantro, minimalism, hanging out at your house with Damiana and mezcal guy, eating tacos with mint in them, making new friends, being out there.
What’s next for you?
I’m living in like three different places and am single and feel like ten years have passed since the start of the year. I’ve been around the world twice; got lost on an island in Vietnam; fought a snake; barbequed a crocodile; got robbed and kidnapped by a taxi driver; jumped off a moped. I’m touring behind a new record right now in China. I’ll make a new record this summer and keep this thing rolling.