Coco Jones is R&B’s latest rising star. From shining on screen in hit show Bel-Air to her sultry single ICU, her voice is as captivating as the powerhouse singers she grew up on and outside of the spotlight she is just as enchanting. The 25-year-old is intelligent, confident and self-assured when she explains the vision she has for herself as an artist. As we chat over video call, it’s refreshing to hear a young musician so in tune with their artistry. Jones’ savvy navigation of stardom is partially due to growing up in the public eye. Since her early break starring in Disney Channel movie Let It Shine, Jones has landed the role of Hilary Banks in series Bel-Air and her debut EP What I Didn’t Tell You is an impressive introduction to the sound of Coco. What is most interesting about Jones is that she creates with intention. She wants to be the kind of artist who rewrites what you think a Black woman in R&B should be. In her interview with Schön!, the promising songstress opens up about her artistic journey, meeting Beyoncé and mastering the art of delusion.
Is there an album or performance you saw growing up that really shaped the kind of artist that you are today?
I was very engulfed in Disney culture when I was a kid. Watching The Cheetah Girls have their vibrant personalities and attitude sing, dance and act in the movie was so inspiring to me on top of Raven-Symoné having her own TV show. I was just like I would like to do that. Then my mum put me on to a lot of powerhouse singers because I would be auditioning all the time and the more impressive I could sing, the more I would leave the people impressed. I would sing Chain of Fools by Aretha Franklin, Listen from Dream Girls, CeCe Winans, Whitney Houston.
When an actor starts on Disney and branches out to become a mature artist in their own right, people like to keep them in that one box. Do you think things have changed now?
I look at somebody like Olivia Rodrigo and I’m like, alright! There’s so much more that has changed [with] social media. You can create your own audience. You can completely rebrand yourself and create a cult following.
What legacy are you trying to build with your music?
I really want to normalise dark skinned women being classy and sexy and not having to give all of themselves just to be seen. I just don’t think that that’s fair. I feel like as Black women, sometimes, we’re overly sexualised or we’re put in these boxes where we are just stuck in them forever and it’s like, who even decided that this was a box? I just want to normalise that we as Black women can have it all – without having to give it all – because we deserve it all.
As a young artist, is there any advice you’ve received that has been really good guidance?
SZA said something that stuck with me. I was asking her about her journey and how she just kept going. She was like, I kind of had to be a little delusional. And that stuck with me because there are times where I was getting no auditions, no emails, no callbacks and it looked like this was going nowhere. If I could go back, I would have a little more delusion. If this is someone that I look up to, and they’re telling me this is the mindset that they had, just separating from any reality that didn’t foster and encourage [their] dreams, then I’m going to do that.
TikTok is filled with “be the delusional girl” content so it’s a common struggle. People only see the final product but to hear that you questioned whether it would work out is quite relatable.
I try to talk about it as much as I can. At that time, I was just searching for people to say what I’m saying to make me feel OK that things were not going good but that didn’t mean that things were over. I just try to be that light for the next person, the next young girl. And honestly, if I can, through my journey, inspire somebody to keep going then it was worth the journey.
How do you maintain confidence in moments of self-doubt?
God has a lot to do with my confidence because if it was just based on people, I don’t know where my confidence would be. I have to have something consistent and God has always been the most consistent thing. Being grateful will remind me that I’m loved and that will keep me confident regardless of what people say about me. I also think your peers [matter] because there was a time when I was hanging around girls who didn’t have the same mindset and goals and I became like them, you know? I even like people around me who are more confident and smarter than me. I don’t want to be the best of the best, always giving advice. I want to be looking up to the people in my circle so I really think who you’re around can affect your confidence, as well as therapy.
What do you think you’re adding to the current era of R&B that nobody else is?
Honestly, I think positivity. One thing about R&B is you’re going to be in your feelings. While I can do that with songs like ICU, I also have songs like Caliber where I’m speaking highly of myself and saying I have standards. You’re not just going to come here and play around with me and my time. With What I Didn’t Tell You there are songs for when you want to get in your feelings, there are songs for when you want to just dance or go to the club, and when you want to speak life into yourself.
Speaking of your EP, what themes were you looking to explore in the studio?
I think the main theme was urgency. I went into every session [thinking] if this song doesn’t make you look over like what is that? then I just don’t feel like it needs to be on this on this project. There is so much music that comes out every day and if my songs don’t trigger an emotion immediately, they just are not urgent.
What are you working on at the moment that fans can look forward to?
I have a couple of cities that I’m going to be visiting so far but the goal is to really be outside doing a tour route and I want to open for a bigger artist and see what a big tour looks like. I haven’t done a big tour since Mindless Behavior when I was literally a fetus.
Who would be your ideal artist to open for?
Beyoncé, hello. If I could open for Beyoncé, I feel like that would be beyond me performing; I’m learning so much every night. I just don’t think my life would be the same after that.
And have you ever met Beyoncé?
Yes, I met her at the Roc Nation brunch and she knew me already. I was simply blown away. I’m like, if the world doesn’t say I’m doing good, Beyoncé does so they can just kiss my ass!
Coco Jones’ debut EP ‘What I Didn’t Tell You’ is out now.
This Schön! online exclusive has been produced by
photography. Mark Clennon
fashion. Oliver Vaughn
talent. Coco Jones
fashion assistant. Prerana Srikantappa
words. Shama Nasinde
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