Diggers Directory: Coco Maria

Credit: Theo Amman

Coco Maria‘s enthusiasm for music can be traced all the way back to childhood. Family parties took place most weekends, usually culminating in a singalong lead by her dad on guitar, while the radio soundtracked most days in her parent’s house.

It’s no surprise that this passion went on to become her vocation, and continues to motivate her hunt for interesting, ear-pleasing sonics today. Most reputed for her knowledge of Brazilian, South and Central American goodies, Coco’s weekly morning show, ‘Club Coco’, on Worldwide FM remains a prominent fixture on the station, and serves as a platform for her to spread the gospel on warm rarities from across the pond.

Opting to celebrate sounds from Latin America, her Diggers Directory mix moves through sun-soaked funk and soul gems that, for the most part, all hold a special sentimental value for her. This is accompanied by an interview that digs deeper into her formative musical experiences, the record shops she can get lost in and her hopes for the year ahead.

We now premiere all our mixes a week early on Mixcloud Select. Subscribe to our channel to listen first, download the mixes, and ensure that the artists included in each one gets paid.

DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you? Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?

My parents and grandparents have always been very musical people and I think they have good taste. Some of my favourite memories are listening to my parents’ music selection while sitting in the back of the car daydreaming on our road trips through Mexico. At home, the radio was always on, still is. We are really the radio kind of humans. My dad is a musician and when he is at home he is often playing his guitar. Almost every weekend at family or friend’s parties there was lots of loud music and dancing involved. Usually, at the end of the night my dad would pull out the guitar and everyone sang along until very late. As kids, my siblings, cousins and I slept on a lot of other people’s sofas, on chairs put together in the corner of a room, with music playing in the background and people singing, chatting and laughing loud. I still find that sound very comforting.

People buy records for a multiple of reasons. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?

I have always been into finding music. I guess way back in the days buying an album was the only way to play it whenever you felt like it. When I was in kindergarten I got a cassette player and cassettes for my birthdays. I was a fan of Selena, Gloria Trevi and later Jamiroquai! My whole collection was stolen and then I slowly moved into CDs. When I was around eight I was into tapping my favourite songs of my favourite radio shows on cassettes.

In my city, I didn’t find record stores so interesting so I was looking forward to going to Monterrey or to McAllen (Texas). In the north of Mexico, there is the “mall culture”, once in a while I went to Texas with my family. They gave us a budget to buy clothes and a certain amount of time “let’s meet at 7 here at this bench”… I spent the whole time at the music store and ended up just having enough money left to buy a cheap t-shirt and a pair of socks.

Where do you store your records and how do you file them?

My records are in my living room, together with my partner’s records. I filed them for the first time in years during lockdown. I realised I was losing too much time trying to find them. I have them classified by genre and by ambiance.

What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?

I love the messy, unorganised, unclassified record stores the most. It is more exciting. In Berlin there was a shop called “The Record Loft” sadly it closed because of the building being sold or something like that. In London, I liked Lucky 7 or The Music Exchange shop. I love the record fair in Utrecht (twice a year) and also I like going to the houses of record dealers, there you can hang out for hours, have tea, ice cream, meet their families. I had very nice moments like these in Peru and Mexico. Amsterdam also has a few very interesting record stores.

Digging isn’t just about the records you find, but the people who help you find them. Who are some of the colourful characters you’ve met on your travels in record stores round the world? Any unsung heroes you’d like to shout out?

I would like to send saludos to señor Morelos in Mexico City. The people at Discolombia in Barranquilla, thanks to my friend Marilyn who took us to super cool spots in her city. And all the lovers of music in Amsterdam that I am getting to know better—the Vintage Voodoo team, Antal and Rush Hour and Raoul and Bas in Platypus.

Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be illusive over the years?

I fantasise a lot about finding Ron Everet’s “The Glitter of the City”. A couple of months ago, I finally managed to get a copy of a rare record from a Latin-funk/ soul band from Florida. Not a happy ending yet, though: it is currently lost without me (sad). The last time it was tracked it was somewhere in Brazil (completely the wrong address)… if it doesn’t arrive at my house asap: that record will continue to be illusive. 

Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search or strange sounds together? If the latter, who do you like to go digging with?

I like doing it on my own. But once in a while, I have the chance of going record shopping with friends who love the experience as much. For example, my last memorable record shopping trip was in Barranquilla, Colombia (Feburary, 2020) with my friends Marilyn, Ken and Pierre. We met every morning, drank juice while waiting for Discolombia to open, spent hours there, we went to get lunch and came back. After record shopping, with our hands and faces full of dust we left to meet our other friends and went to a street party. Those kind of days are perfect!

Walking into a record shop can be quite a daunting experience. Do you have a digging process that helps you hone in on what you’re after?

I first go to the sections I am familiar with, pull out some potentially interesting records, then I like to check the boxes without labels. First I take out the titles and covers that look like something good. Listen. Maybe I like them or not. Then repeat the process. I usually can spot straight away if I like the song or not, there are some sounds I definitely don’t like: when the sound is too clean or there are too many crazy guitars. I love the sound of Fender Rhodes for example, that is an instant coup de cœur. It is very important to feel comfortable with the people behind the counter. When I feel observed, tension in the air or a grumpy seller, I would not stay long for my own mental sake. In shops like Platypus (Amsterdam) I could stay a whole afternoon.

How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?

When I don’t know what is it, really helps. It shouts “hey, is it me you are looking for?”

Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?

I made a funky mix with soul from Latinamerica and I sneaked it a couple of Brazilian and Spanish songs.

Any standouts in the mix you’d like to mention?

Most of the songs I’ve included in this mix have a special emotional meaning to me. It is very cool to share them with you, maybe they can also become the soundtrack to some emotional moments of yours. It felt great to play a couple of tracks I had not played for a while: “Cuentame cosas tuyas” for example. I was obsessed with that song years ago and while recording this mix I danced to it as if it had been the first time. I also included one of my classics “Choca las caderas”. That is always in my bag, haven’t got tired of it (yet). Also a song by FA5, it is a gift from a very special friend.

Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?

I admire my friend Florence Mambo Chick ́s passion for music. She is pure music and spreads joy and love for what she does wherever she goes. And since I was a teenager I have been admiring Gilles Peterson’s work and enthusiasm for music. When I finally met him in person, I was fascinated by his enthusiasm and how he keeps fresh without losing his spirit. He is an inspiration to me.

Are there any young collectors emerging who we should keep a close eye on?

My friends Loris and Sabotaje Media from Monterrey, Mexico. They are creative and passionate people who are reinventing the musical and cultural landscape in the north of Mexico. They have interesting projects in the making and are documenting culture in that part of the world.

Anything on the horizon you’re excited about?

I am very excited about my upcoming Worldwide FM show in J-Wave, an FM station in Tokyo. A compilation coming up on Bongo Joe Records called Club Coco, we are putting together bands from all over the world who are reinventing the Afro-Latin sound: end of May. In general, looking forward every Wednesday to my morning show and crossing fingers for the summer festival season to be a blast!

We now premiere all our mixes a week early on Mixcloud Select. Subscribe to our channel to listen first, download the mixes, and ensure that the artists included in each one gets paid.

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