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Coco Solid - Square

Coco Solid - Photography by Todd Karehana

Coco Solid’s Biography

Last Updated:
4/02/2021, 10:33 am
Musician - Writer - Artist
Arts Foundation Laureate 2019
Arts Foundation Laureate receiving the award for mixed media

Coco Solid is musician, writer, director, producer and artist Jessica Hansell. Born in Auckland, of Maori (Ngāpuhi) and German Samoan heritage, her work is driven by her desire to make visible diverse life experiences. In 2015 she said: “I just want a variety of stories to be told, I’m sick of getting the same old stories told to me over and over again. The same authoritative, white male perspective … It’s the 21st century, where the women at, where the brown people at, where the different genders, different orientations, different class perspectives, different struggles? I’m sick of it.”

She entered the Auckland music scene aged 19, as part of the all-girl, band The Pussies. She writes on her blog: "We just wanted to dress up and tell people to get lost. If you were on K' Rd in the noughties we were there being annoying, negotiating sexist, racist, classist shit...we were young, brown and bored." Her persona Coco Solid dates from this time, one of her bandmates gave her nickname Coco because of her distaste for low-fi chocolate and enthusiasm for Black and Polynesian Panther literature.

Her independently-produced albums include, Rap N Roll (2003), Denim & Leather (2004), Gentlemen Prefer Bombz (2006), The Radical Bad Attack (2008), Parallel Dance Ensemble (2009), Possessions & Obsessions (2011), Pacific Rims (2011), Underwater Pyramids by Badd Energy (2013) and Cokes (2018). She describes her sound as “a mix of psychedelic raps, 80's electro, booty-bass, dancehall, grime, punk and experimental noize.” In 2017 she partnered with the Spinoff and fellow musician Trixie Darko to launch Equalise My Vocals, a campaign calling out sexism and racism in the music industry.

Part of the Piki Films collective, she is creator of animated TV series Aroha Bridge, which she started as a comic strip, writer on TV series Ahikāroa, director of documentary Heaven’s Gate (2014), alongside writing and performing on Only in Aotearoa and Brown Eye.

She completed her MA in creative writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters in 2012 and was named the 2018 recipient of the Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writers Residency. As part of her Fulbright residency, Jessica produced a body of writing at the University of Hawai’i in August 2019.

Milestones & Awards