music journalist since 1992 | educator since 2004 | podcaster since 2020 | Iranian American since birth
Quadron interviewed for their self-titled album for Venice Magazine:
Listening to Quadron’s Coco O.’s vocals, one pictures a lithe, ebony-skinned, soul sister, perhaps from Philadelphia, maybe Atlanta. Instead, upon encountering Coco, one finds a comfortably fleshed out, 22-year-old Dane, who looks like an 11th grader—hooded sweatshirt and all. Along with musical partner 28-year-old Robin Hannibal—also a Dane, who looks like an IT guy, shirt buttoned all the way to his Adam’s apple, hair begging for some product to give it some definition—Quadron are in the wake of the release of their self-titled album.
Unlike their fellow Danes who have ventured outside of Denmark by replicating the sounds of English-speaking counties, Quadron is putting its own spin on things. Coco sounds like she should be crooning over R&B rhythms and soul melodies. Robin sounds like a 50-person orchestra, or a one-man pianist, or like a drum machine—whatever is called for at any point in time. The music feels entirely live, but rather than trying to fool the listener into thinking there is a seven-piece band playing together, Robin takes advantage of the live and the simulated to produce a downtempo sound that sounds as live as it needs to—but not deceptively so.
“We are the only [Danish] band trying to do our own thing,” Coco acknowledges in perfect English—which she attributes to watching The Ricki Lake Show from an early age. “The other soul people in Denmark are just making what American people already made. They’re trying to sound almost as good as [Americans]. The twist is singing in Danish, but the way they use their phrasing is American, so why bother?”
“It’s a quick way to get attention and money,” says Robin. “There is a tradition for it. Decades ago we would take the exact track and do Danish lyrics for it. Now it’s more copying the general feel of production and style and doing a Danish vocal on top. People feel like they know it or like they’ve heard it before.”
Funnily enough, if Quadron wanted to do what its fellow countrymen are doing, it has all the ingredients built in. Robin has the musical know-how with intensive lessons in music theory and composition. Coco was born with the chops—part Diana Ross, part Jill Scott. But that is not what it is about on Quadron. Coco manages to tug at that part you have carefully kept hidden from everyone, for a long time. Robin provides just the right arrangement of elaborate—or minimal—instrumentation to draw out that squashed emotion you have been denying.
Both of us are going for emotion,” Robin says. Coco adds, “You can get emotion out of lyrics and instruments. We go for the melody first, over the lyrics. And we start with a theme. I would love to say every time I see something beautiful I get inspired to write a lyric…but that would be a lie.”