• About A Band: Cotillon

    A familiar tune comes on in the lobby of the Ace Hotel in midtown New York. After a minute of subdued piano and introspective downer vocals–the precise opposite of typical hotel lobby fare—the song registers. It's “Left Bank” by Cotillon, the reasonably newish New York project on Burger Records led by Jordan Corso. 

    But Cotillon's music doesn’t share a whole lot with the trademark California garage rock record label. In fact, it sounds more like a New York band: sometimes mopey, sometimes Velvet Underground-y, and wholesomely gritty. It’s music that goes for the gut if you’re listening close enough. Here in the lobby of the Ace, as the Saturday morning coffee crowd assembles under a photo of Harry Smith (a former resident of the hotel), it feels right at home.   

    When we first spoke with Corso last year, just before the release of his debut album, he was living out in San Francisco working a mindless labour job on a film set. It was the first time he was making music for anyone other than himself and, having never played a show outside of his hometown, you could sense that he seemed unsure if he even belonged here. But after releasing the album into the world and taking his live band on a series of road dates last summer, Jordan's music began to catch on. A few months later, he packed up and made the move to Brooklyn, where he just finished recording his sophomore album with the help of Quilt’s Shane Butler. 

    Today, you can tell Jordan and his music have found their place—at least for now. He’s no longer working on a film set, but rather booking a series of shows in basements around New York in between recording new music. We chatted with him about his forthcoming album, The Afternoons, which was inspired by the meandering hours he spent wandering when he first moved to New York. 
    Photos by Laura Lynn Petrick, words by Sam Davis

    When did you start performing under the Cotillon name?
    After spending most of my life playing guitar and writing songs but never fronting a band of my own, I decided one day to finally play a show as Cotillon—I wanna say around the fall of 2012. After one show I was hooked, I quit my desk job to spend more time writing, and ended up with a month long residency at the Echo by the Summer of 2013. I then relocated to San Francisco after JR White from Girls offered to produce my debut record and let me live in his house. 

    Since the release of the debut Cotillon album in 2015, you’ve relocated to New York and taken your band on the road. How has life changed for you since then?
    When we last spoke on the phone I was living in San Francisco, on the verge of releasing my debut record. Fast forward a year later and we are pretty much doing the same thing here, but in New York. I moved here to try something new. San Francisco was inevitably too difficult to survive in for people that didn't work in tech and I had no interest in working at Facebook, so it was time to go.  

    What was the direction you took with the new record—were there any specific influences?
    I came to New York to make a New York record, no doubt about that. I've always been into the music here and wanted to take in the city as inspiration. Tom Verlaine's guitar tone and angular attack are things I will probably always pay homage to in my music. I also got very involved with synthesizers after I was introduced to a multi-instrumentalist named Jon Nellen. When we began collaborating he introduced me to Japanese-inspired textures that I felt would be a compelling direction, so I ran with it. 

    On the last record, you said that the lyrical themes were largely centred around emotional escapism and melancholy type feelings, and, that you saw your music as an outlet for those emotions. Are you still writing from that place?  
    My approach is the same, yes. My process is very selfish. I write for me, to deal with things. Most of the songs on The Afternoons were written in the moment, about someone I was truly in love with. So, again, this is something very close to my heart. I only sit down to write a song when I have something to say, and I had a lot to say about the difficulty of trying to make a relationship work under impossible circumstances. I’ve had a guitar in my hands every night the past few months, so people can expect another record fairly soon.

    What was it like working with Shane from Quilt on the new record? 
    For me, working with a producer is romantic, and requires a lot of trust. Shane and I had numerous in-depth conversations about direction—and over at least 1,000 IPA's—and did all the necessary homework before we went into the studio, which made the process flow well. He was vital in making the record happen by convincing Mexican Summer to let us borrow the keys to their studio. Shane appears all over the record—guitar, bass, vocals, synth—but was primarily the bass player in the tracking band. One interesting thing about Shane that people may not know is that his musical scope is far wider than the sound of Quilt. He is very much into punk, and shoegaze; most notably Galaxie 500, who we both share a deep love for.

    Are there any other collaborators involved in the project? 
    The Cotillon cast is always rotating but this trip is going to be with my long time bandmate Bret Leinen on bass, Kevin Figueroa on drums [of Tiny Head/Conversation], Christian Peters on guitar [of Deep Fields], and Adrian Pillado on Guitar/keys [of Sea Lions]. I'm very grateful to have these guys in my life.

    Tell us about the new series of New York basement shows you are booking. How did you get involved with that and what is the aim of opening up basements to music happenings?
    I ran into the General Manager of Lower East Side venue Berlin one night after she offered to book Cotillon, and we really hit it off. I spent a lot of time booking and promoting shows in Los Angeles during the band's initial growth and was interested in getting back into it under the right circumstances. The goal is to offer bands something more unique than playing in the same "black box" club every night. Berlin has class and style but also a ghostly presence of the old Manhattan rock scene, especially when artists like Lydia Lunch and Tommy Stinson show up for improv performances on any given night. 

    Are there any albums you are particularly enjoying right now? 
    I've been revisiting Alex Chilton's Like Flies on Sherbert a lot lately, and I've gone really deep into the Velvet Underground’s Matrix Tapes, specifically after reading the piece that Dean Wareham wrote on them. I've also spent some time with Brian Eno's Music for Airports as I have been traveling a lot recently. As far as contemporary albums, I’m enjoying the new Quilt record—which is dropping soon, Jon Nellen and Joe Manzoli's unreleased Ginla record, the soon to be announced Mystery Light's record that is top-shelf garage. 

    What about films, do you have time for those?
    As far as movies, besides my eternal love for french classics like Au Hazard Balthazar, and Pierrot Le Fou, I’ve been traveling a lot and watching movies on the plane. The two most notable ones I've remembered amidst my standard, muddied flight cocktail of Xanax and wine are Youth with Michael Caine, and Woody Allen's The Irrational Man.  

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