Cocoa Sarai – The Black and White [INTERVIEW]

French Kissez recently got the opportunity to interview a wonderfully talented, up and coming musical artist. She’s having a release party THIS Thursday for her second album “The Black and White” at Dominion NY.

We love her already! Read the interview below.

French Kissez: How would you describe your music style to those that aren’t familiar with you yet? Do you have favorite artists right now that you pull inspiration from?

Cocoa Sarai: I use to call it pop-soul, Now its just me. Most people call it R&B some call it soul, some call it pop. I call it Cocoa lol. Its Soul dipped in chocolate. I’m listening to a lot of Stevie Wonder right now. Ive been on a serious Stevie Wonder binge for the last month or so. Hes a musician so I guess its been me wanting to be inspired so that my live shows with the band can become even more dynamic then they already are.

FK: This is your second release. What are your hopes for this album? What is the biggest thing you would like for people to take away from listening to your music?

CS: My biggest dream would be for the album to spread wide enough for me to be able to do a world wide tour and have millions of fans everywhere. Maybe that’s every artist’s dream but if it is then I share the exact same sentiments. I want people to walk away feeling as if the product is worth every penny. I want them to appreciate the lyrics, vocal performance, production, artwork, etc. For them to not feel robbed. I put a lot into this Ive learned a lot and I hope that people love it as much as I do…

FK: Your first album was self-produced and independently released when you were just 21. You’re still so young but you already have so much experience under your belt. What major lessons did you learn when putting your first album together and how did they help you shape your upcoming release, “Black and White”?

CS: Well, I definitely learned how important a team is!!!!! I did not know a lot of the things I know now about marketing and PR (public relations) and promoting. I did everything on my own the first time because I had to. This time my management and PR made it much easier to just create. They were like “Cocoa stay in the studio and we’ll handle the rest” I’m extremely hands on with EVERYTHING but they make it easier wayyyyyy easier. I definitely understand now that being a songwriter is different from being an artist. So just because I can write it, it doesn’t really mean I should be the person to sing it. I always prided myself on being able to write every genre and I’m still learning, but now I understand myself as an artist even more. I’ve grown, I’M grown, I’m not afraid to be completely myself because I know who that person is now.

FK: How did you arrive at the name “Black and White”?

CS: Its actually called “THE Black and White” Black and White to most are merely colors, Its used to describe something being THIS or THAT. A lot of people strive to be that “Black and White:’ type of person because its safer not to feel. LIFE is about the colors, the ups and downs. Naming the album The Black and White is my proclamation of the “Colors” that make us human. Not to mention my hair has been black and white for 10 months, I guess it was the universe’s way of foreshadowing..

FK: What song on this album do you consider “your baby”, the one you feel most connected to, and how does it pertain to your life?

CS: That is such a a hard question because I love them all. My favorites change every day depending on my mood. One minute Im in a “”black and blue” kinda mood and the next Im in a “Memories for suckers” kinda mood. Thats probably my favorite right now, well today at least!

FK: Ok, so this wouldn’t be French Kissez if we didn’t delve into love, relationships and heartache! After listening to “Raining in My Room”, I couldn’t help but wonder; what is the story behind it?

CS: Ill try to condense it. In 2010 my house burned down, I went through a bad break up and I was staying in a Loft. There was a tornado in Brooklyn around that time and it was raining really really hard. I was coming back from a meeting with my old manager and he had a cd of tracks. The irony is that I was telling him about my issue with my ex before he put the cd on. I talked about my issues all the way up until track 6, the music came on I stopped talking and started freestyling the way I do most of my songs. i told him what the title was going to be and that was that. My loft had huge windows so the thunderstorm looked and felt as if it was in the middle of the room. I started writing the song. Lost the track and called it a lost cause. A year later the producer finds me on facebook and sends me the record, Fellow songwriter Rich Lowe stopped by and we finished it. When I began writing it, I missed my ex and wanted to be back with him, We didnt get back together and Im so thankful now that he let me drown lol, Someone better came along to save me 🙂

FK: You’ve also done some modeling, you’ve been featured in VIBE VIXEN; does being in front of the camera feel as organic to you as standing behind the mic? Have you noticed men approaching you differently now?

CS: I have never considered myself a model, I never wanted to be, I still dont want to be lol. I always felt like the ugly duckling growing up. I just knew I could sing. I only began taking pictures because its apart of being an artist. My makeup artist Londyn- Nikole and I met when I was 19 and she had me do a few shoots, people always said I was a natural so I guess its almost as simple as singing minus the ugly soulful faces lol. Im thankful for the features and the people that admire my look. If the woman I am now would have told “3rd grade Cocoa” that Id be a model, I wouldn’t believe her lol. Men are men, Men do men things. By high school I gained a lot of attention. I sang all the time and I wore heels almost everyday…I just love shoes so Im use to it now but always thankful. Im fully aware that no on has to take time out of there day to say “I think you’re beautiful”  What surprises me now is the women that actually approach me, it always catches me off guard

FK: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!

CS: Thank you for liking my music and actually reading my bio, for feeling that Im interesting enough to even interview, this interview was fun and I appreciate the opportunity 🙂

I’ll definitely be in attendance for her album release! I posted the flyer below. Come join us in support.

Use these links to check her out. Follow her on twitter, she’s definitely one to watch!

www.cocoasarai.com
www.twitter.com/cocoasarai
www.myspace.com/cocoasarai
www.youtube.com/cocoasaraitv
www.facebook.com/cocoasarai

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So, I Changed My Life

. . . and now I’m back! I don’t know if you all noticed, but I’ve been missing from the blogosphere since July. I was really unhappy about a lot of things (life, career, love… all of that!) In the past few months my life has turned in a completely different direction. I feel more confident about where I’m headed.

If you follow me on Facebook and Twitter you may already know that since my last post:

  • I moved back to New York – I love and miss Baltimore and the DMV but I’m HOME now!
  • I got my real estate license – I’m sooo excited about the flexibility this will allow for all of my side hustles : writing, events, just all around creativity.
  • I haven’t stopped dating – it never stops being fun and weird to me! Stories to come.

I haven’t been posting, but the ideas haven’t stopped flowing! There is so much I want to share with you all. I even came up with a new series I want to incorporate called “Letters to My Exes”. It would be a bunch of letters from me to men I’ve been involved with, I don’t want it to be depressing more like a romantic comedy where I don’t end up with the guy in the end! LoL but I have to figure out to present it in a way that creates the least amount of pissitivity among them. I can’t take the hate texts I tend to receive when my blog gets REAL! Men are sensitive too 😉

Also look forward to more art, fashion, interviews and events on French Kissez in 2012. I figure I’m in NY, why not take advantage of surroundings?? So, HAPPY NEW YEAR (almost 3 weeks late) and all that jazz. I promise I’ll never leave you for this long ever again (for real this time)!!

Rememory

“If a house burns down, it’s gone, but the place-the picture of it-stays, and not just in my rememory, but out there, in the world. What I remember is a picture floating around there outside my head. I mean, even if I don’t think about it, even if I die, the picture of what I did, or knew, or saw is still out there.” – Sethe (p 36) Beloved

 

One of Toni Morrison’s most famous uses of imagery is the concept of “rememory” in Beloved, described by the protagonist Sethe.

Often, feel like in life I’m walking in a circle and I keep passing through the same rememory.

I’m Grateful

I don’t usually write Facebook Notes. I started to tell this story on Twitter and realized that my 140 character tweets were making me cut things out of my story… So here Goes

My birthday is Saturday. I’m turning 26. I don’t think I’ve ever dreaded another birthday as much as I’m afraid of this one, for so many reasons. I even found my first gray hair … but that’s not the point of this note.

Today was an unusually active day for me. Most days I sit in my office in the museum with very little interaction. But today I got to see so many people I actually know because of the convocation being held in the Fine Arts Building I work in. Several friends and new acquaintances were in attendance! Afterwards we had a pleasant group lunch. Really a treat for me since I rarely leave the building for lunch or anything else! I was feeling so good that even my work study students said “Tiffany, you’re glowing! And you’re smiling!” LoL

When I got back from lunch I got another visit from someone. It was really quick just 5 minutes. But until just now I didn’t even realize how much it impacted my day.

I was still feeling pretty good when I left work, I had an appointment to get my hair done then I was supposed to hang out with my friend at the mall. The girl who does my hair is really nice and I just made my appointment yesterday and she said she would fit me in as her first customer when she got there. But today, for reasons beyond her control she was over an hour late. Then it took a lot longer than she predicted for my hair to be done… so needless to say I missed my friend. Well I saw him but we didn’t get to hang out or talk really because he was rushing to get home and I was in sort of a pissy mood since my hair cost a lot more than I expected it to.

I called my mom in tears of frustration because I feel like at my age $100 shouldn’t have the power to completely throw off my spending for the month. But some months it does, and I hate that. She pretty much yelled at me.

Me: I just hate that I can’t afford to do anything and I still have no idea what I really want to be doing. I can’t get another degree without another job and I can’t get another job without another degree!

Mom: Well you have to figure it out! Don’t let schooling stop you. It’s not the amount of schooling you have that determines how successful you are. You have to make a way for yourself and figure out how YOU are going to do it. There are plenty of people with less schooling than you who are making it! I have half the schooling you do but I figured out what was going to make me money and I did it!

(Have I told you all that my mother is my hero?? She is. I admire her so much. I tear up just thinking about her sometimes.)

What she said started to put things into perspective for me. I still got on Twitter though and started my rant about my horrible messed up evening, then moved on to complaining about my new next door neighbors who will probably just become an additional nuisance to my silently declared Cold War with “The Upstairs Neighbors”. (If you follow my personal account on Twitter you already know!)

I was watching Grey’s Anatomy and a patient with twisted legs reminded me of my last visitor in the museum today… And suddenly it was clear how RIDICULOUS I was being for complaining about a late stylist who wasn’t late on purpose, a wet sweater and not getting to hang out with a friend I can see next week… Here’s why:

The guy who delivers mail to the museum used to always come in angry about the way people treated him at work. I never really was too interested in what he was saying, but he usually ended it with “I’m too blessed”, “Thank God” or something about church. It was so odd to me because his stories were sooo “woe is me” or just apparent that he was living a hard life. But he seemed really involved with his church and would offer to pray for us even though he was the one talking about his issues. We just kind of smiled, and said “It’ll get better” kind of things.

I noticed he didn’t come back after winter break. We got a new mailman but he didn’t seem to know what happened to our other mailman.

Today our old mailman was my final visitor at the museum. He knocked on the door to the back area of the museum where my office is located. The light in there is operated by a sensor and he hadn’t walked in far enough to turn it on. So I knew who it was, but I can’t see him completely in the doorway. I started walking towards him from my office to say hello since I hadn’t seen him in so long. I got closer and my motion turned on the sensor and I saw that he was on crutches.

I asked him “Are you okay?! What happened??”
He responds simply with “I had my foot cut off”

Usually I wouldn’t ask anymore questions in fear that I’d offend him, but I couldn’t help it. I asked he if he was sick. He said no, that he’d gotten an infection in his foot that started to spread through his leg. But he’s telling me that and he still had a smile on his face. I said “Wow, but you’re still smiling” he said “yeah I’m blessed!”

Imagine how much your life can change without your consent! This man lost his foot because he hit it on something and it became infected. He was fine and working up until the last day before winter break, making his living WALKING and driving to places to deliver mail. And in an instant that he probably didn’t even realize he can’t do it anymore. But he can still smile and know he’s blessed and be thankful for something. And he even made the effort with the snow and the ice still on the ground, while on crutches, not even 3 months after losing a great portion of his leg to come and visit ME, someone who doesn’t even know his name and never really took the time to get to know him, other than to just listen to him in passing. How awesome that is.

I’m sitting here complaining about these things that I CAN control and make better. I should be celebrating the end and beginning of another year of my life. I don’t even know this man’s name, I feel awful about it. But really, I wish he could know how much his visit affected me today. I’m tearing up as I type this because I feel so bad for how selfishly and entitled I’ve been thinking about things today… not even just today.

So, I’m a day late but for lent I’m sacrificing my “glass is half empty” way of living and thinking. And I’m going to strive for a better me. Not in the cliche’ way, but in actual actions! Prayer, fasting, meaningful planning and just plain being positive and aware of what I do have and not focus on what I do not have (yet)!

I know this note was long, but it was in my heart and I needed to relay it. I wish I had thought to make this a video… I hope my sincerity was apparent in my written words. Thanks for reading.

“Almost Doesn’t Count . . . and Neither Does This!” ( Part II )


Hopefully you read Part One posted earlier today. Please don’t be mistaken by what I said though. Even though I encourage not telling men exactly what your “body count” is, you definitely need to keep track of the accurate number. Women should know when enough is enough and you’re teetering on the line between sexually liberated and just plain loose.

Here are some tips and helpful hints for you ladies who wish to alter your number, but aren’t quite sure how! There are some guidelines. You can’t just pick an arbitrary number, because some of them just don’t make sense.

  • One Night Stands – this one may seem obvious, however not all one night stands can be eliminated. If it happened once, and you never spoke to them again, or you see him/her and always walk the other way avoiding eye contact, you don’t have to count it. [An exception to this rule is if you steadily have one night stands with people… you can’t eliminate them all!] BUT, if you’re friends with this person and you had sex with them… when you get into your next relationship, you have to tell your significant other that you’ve had sex with this “friend”.
  • If you don’t remember it, you can’t count it!– I don’t mean the times you got super drunk and went home with someone (although some of you might want to exclude those times from your number as well). I’m talking about the time you just weren’t sure penetration occurred. If it started and finished before you had full knowledge of the interaction… it doesn’t count! LoL trust me this has happened to me more than once… it was just over before I even knew he’d begun… you better believe that those 2 encounters have been crossed off my list!
  • All relationships count!- Even if you hate him now, if he was once considered the man in your life. You MUST count him. It doesn’t even make sense (for most adults in 2010) to have a lower sex count than relationship count. AND if you’re like me, and you always get stuck in the “talking to” stage for years at a time, all of those count too. I don’t think anyone would believe me if they knew I was seeing this guy for 1.5 years and we never got it in… if we weren’t having sex, I probably would’ve left! LoL
  • Oral Sex/Hand Jobs/Toys (Manual)- If there was only tongue/hand action and especially if it wasn’t my hand or mouth, it doesn’t count. If the woman is the one doing the penetrating and he doesn’t penetrate her. . .It counts!! No matter how much he denies it. (LMAO!! This is CocktailJay’s input) Toys… that’s not real sex… LoL ß this entire bullet was meant for my amusement.
  • Time- Honestly sometimes I just don’t count it if it was a really long time ago and I don’t care for the person. They don’t make it onto my public count. However, time isn’t an eliminator for everyone. Of course people like your “first” do count, and like I said already, your exes always count. But I’m not telling my current interest about that “one time, in high school. . .” ::band camp voice:: He just doesn’t need to know that.

Okay, I’m done for now. But PLEASE keep in mind that not all of these apply to my own life, and these are hypothetical situations! I don’t follow these rules to the T.  I haven’t even experienced all of these situations. I am just putting out my opinion (with a few embellishments & some humor). ALSO I think that in an actual relationship you should feel safe enough to divulge your actual number with your partner. I reserve my Public Count for people who are just being nosey and for men I’m just dating/flinging with. I guess any man I get into a relationship with better wait until we make it official to ask me the big question if he wants a definite answer!

P.S. – I got a few angry men contacting me today about Part One… maybe this will answer some of your questions, maybe it’ll make it worse… Please leave ALL concerns in the COMMENTS section. Do NOT Facebook me, google wave me, email my personal account, or Twitter me on my personal Twitter account (hit me up on @FrenchKissez is you must)!! It’s just a blog people.

Vacation

Happy Holidays People!

My family truly has something to celebrate this year. My mother’s mother (my grandma) is turning 100 years old on the 19th of this month!! Luckily for all of us she lives in Montserrat (the Caribbean)… soooo the whole family is going down to visit and have a big party! I’ll back back with something new for you when I get back. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks getting ready for this trip.

God willing I’ll have something to tell you when I return! Until then, enjoy your holidays and be well!! 😉

-Frenchie

Thanks & Giving

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. . . mainly because of the food. I may only weigh a couple of pounds, but I LOVE to eat!

The reason I’m really into this holiday is not because of the legend of how it started. . . I know better than that. Those pilgrims weren’t thankful for the Native Americans. If they were, they had a funny way of showing it! But that’s a history lesson for a different blog.

I will always celebrate a reason to give thanks though. So here goes!

(in no particular order after the first sentence)

I’m THANKFUL for: Family, a small group of good friends, and health. I’m thankful for this blog being a creative outlet for all of the craziness that can sometimes surround me. I’m thankful for being able to see through these SUCKA MCs, laugh and move on (LoL).  Grateful that I’m allowed to make mistakes and learn and grow because of them. This next one is shallow but I’m thankful for my makeup collection and my figure.  Thankful that I’ve been allowed an education and the potential that I know is in myself to be an asset to whatever part of society I choose. My friends making families of their own… there so many new babies, husbands and wives around me lately! Past loves – they’ve all come with their own lessons. I’m thankful for what I’ve been able to give to others whether I could afford it at the time or not, God has always provided for me.

What are YOU thankful for??