Seattle’s DJ Lady Coco is taking the Middle East by storm.
Bahrain – It’s a warm 70-degree Thursday afternoon in Manama, the capital of the Kingdom of Bahrain and DJ Lady Coco is listening to music and preparing for her set tonight at Cavallo Club. The weekend in the Middle East is Friday and Saturday, so tonight she is expecting a capacity TGIT crowd. The Kingdom of Bahrain is an island nation located in the Persian Gulf about a 45-minute flight northeast of Dubai (which I am sure you have heard of). Bahrain is also home of the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, which means there are thousands of Americans on the island all looking for a little taste of home.
Coco has started a 4-month residency in which she is featured at several nightclubs and performance venues in the country. This is a big leap for the 24-year-old DJ from Seattle, who just some months ago was spinning at nightclubs on Capital Hill. Now 7000 miles away from home, DJ Lady Coco is living in a luxury condo, collecting a check, all expenses paid, and her only job is to make the music move people, it is safe to say that DJ Lady Coco is in a very happy place right now. However, Coco, although young, is not an overnight sensation, she earned her stripes under the tutelage of an iconic Seattle DJ.
Each one teach one
Coco was literally handpicked and groomed by the legendary Seattle based DJ, Supreme La Rock, who while developing his protégé imparted decades of knowledge not only about music, but perhaps equally importantly how to understand a crowd and play to the room. According to Coco, Supreme La Rock’s influence and mentorship has well prepared her to DJ on a global stage. “Supreme is one of the best international and overall DJ’s you will ever meet,” says Coco. “He is such a student of global sounds which in turn makes him a great teacher,” added Coco.
Supreme La Rock, perhaps most famously known for his record collection that numbers over 50,000 vinyl’s’, as well as his works on many TV shows including the HBO show, The Wire, has literally spent the majority of his career spinning around the world and collecting records. Supreme says that it was Coco’s work ethic and eagerness to learn the fundamentals of DJing that caught his eye and compelled him to take Coco under his wing. “Today everybody want’s to be a DJ, they download an app or two and mix from a computer. Believe it or not they even have programs that actually mixes the music for them, but Coco is much different, she literally carried crates ,setup speakers and mixers, and most importantly learned how to DJ on 12 inch Technic turntables’ on real vinyl records” says Supreme. Although Supreme has Serato, he prefers playing vinyl and with 50,000 records why shouldn’t he? “Coco is doing well now because she learned the fundamentals of the craft, she didn’t rush and is still learning, which ultimately means that she will continue to rise as a DJ” added Supreme La Rock.
The Seattle Connection
DJ Lady Coco is managed by Daemeon Burrell of Seattle based Converge Media. Northwest hip-hop aficionados might remember Burrell as the MC, Diopolis, of the rap group C.I. (Central Intelligence) which found regional and national underground success in the late 90’s and early 00’s. These days Burrell has stepped from behind the mic and into the boardroom booking DJ’s and recording artists for gigs all over the world. However, Burrell admits that he is partial to DJ’s from the Emerald City, he has booked DJ Kun Luv, DJ Supreme La Rock, DJ Topspin as well as DJ Berry, all well respected Seattle icons on gigs globally, including Bahrain. “I would by lying if I said I don’t look in my own backyard first,” said Burrell. “Seattle has so many talented people in the music industry as a whole, it always has, so although I do work with artists all over the world, Seattle is always a great starting point for me when someone is looking for talent, especially DJ’s” added Burrell. It should be noted that West coast Hip Hop Icon, E-40, first time to Bahrain and Dubai was with Burrell. Burrell has also booked Tyga into the island nation and manages several contracts to provide talent in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
I can make you dance
Bahrain, perhaps like no other city that this writer is aware of has a unique nightlife ritual in which the US Service Men & Women on the island (mostly US Navy and US Marines) are under a 12am curfew which requires them to be out of all nightclubs by midnight or face disciplinary action. This means that from 9pm – 12am the clubs are full of Americans the majority of whom hail from the South and whose musical tastes equally trend that direction. However, after midnight, when the Americans leave, the same nightclubs fill up with local Bahrainis as well as other foreign nationals working on the island whose musical tastes vary widely. Because of this, one-dimensional DJ’s do not work out very well in Bahrain. According to Coco, having a very wide understanding of the global music scene is key. “In Bahrain there are people from all over the world here, so it is important that we don’t alienate club goers, this is a good thing for me because I am able to dig in the crates and catch the crowd off guard by playing a banger from their home country, that always gets the crowd hype,” said Coco.
Life in the Middle East
When most people hear the words “Middle East” they tend to think of a restrictive and closed society that is difficult for women to navigate. According to Coco, she has found the exact opposite. “Bahrain is a very open country, I have not encountered any gender bias and I am able to do everything here that the guys do so I feel like very much an equal not only at work but also in the community as a whole,” says Coco. Coco has also become “one of the guys” by bonding with other DJ’s on the island such as DJ Swing from Chicago, widely recognized as one of the top club DJ’s in the region as well as DJ Cartoon from California and DJ Santi representing the Boogie Down Bronx. “These guys are all like my big brothers here, they have made the transition easy and have taught me a lot about the local culture as well as the nightlife scene overall,” says Coco.
When not hanging with the bros, Coco has been spending the majority of her time soaking up the Sun, (Coco says she is definitely not missing the cold and rain in Seattle right now) and exploring the softer side of the island by checking out the latest spas and getting in lots of shopping in with her friend Claire Malpass who is a singer from the United Kingdom also working in Bahrain. “It is important that I have some balance in my life here, it can’t always be nightlife and clubs. It is important to take some time to slow down and breathe a little bit,” says Coco.
However, it appears that slowing down is not currently in the plan for Coco. She has just started spinning at a new Disco/Boogie/Funk Night (Genres that she learned well from Supreme La Rock) at CODA lounge in Manama and will soon as well launch a ladies’ night in the city. Coco’s residency is 4 months in length and by the looks of things she is savoring every moment.