NYC-Based Singer and Multi-Instrumentalist IMANI COPPOLA Discusses Her Latest Album, ‘The Protagonist’ and More!
On October 4th, the NYC-based singer and multi-instrumentalist Imani Coppola released her latest record, The Protagonist via Ipecac Recordings. An album for a sunny day in the depths of an inevitable dystopia, The Protagonist radiates with a sense of urgency and inspiration – every song fraying at the edges from Imani’s barefaced need to deliver her message, coming from a place of love, hurt, deep emotion, or a momentous compulsion to be abrasive as fuck. As a mirror to her sense of urgency and chaos, The Protagonist shifts genres like a gymnast, flawlessly morphing from the Country hoe-down of “Blackteria” to the rhythmic 60s girlgroup of “Rattle” to the piano-led balladry of “Contributing Member of Society” without a misstep or tumble.
Featuring her graceful expertise on the violin, her fourth single from The Protagonist, “Contributing Member of Society” celebrates the release of its accompanying video today. The song dons a wistful posture and drunken country twang with lyrics that don’t candy-coat Imani’s perceptions and hopes.
Check out her music videos here-
“Contributing Member Of Society” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=pxcvPbKdV5I
“Lying To My Therapist” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2e9YqybmGs
Learn more about Imani Coppola in the following All Access interview-
So what does a typical day look like for you lately?
I’m going to use this as an exercise in radical honesty. So here goes…Immediately upon awakening I smoke a cigarette and finish my iced coffee from the previous morning. While I’m doing that I delete spam, check for anything important that needs a response, check my socials for messages, likes and comments, mindlessly scroll, completely disengaged with any of the content I’m seeing in a morning daze, briefly contemplate suicide, return to my bedroom to masturbate and then I usually either cry or feel better. Next I take a bath. Afterwards, instead of having a fight with the mirror, I put on the same clothes I wore the day before…feed cat, change water, clean litter box, go to YMCA, do lame 25 minute work out, sit in the steam room and contemplate what exactly it is that I’m doing with my life. After that I wander around for a bit deciding whether or not I should just drink myself through the day.
I’m going through that unbearably uncomfortable period after the completion and release of an album when you have absolutely no purpose or function in real day to day life. You are part of no system, no community, no work force, no relationship and you are utterly confused and terrified. This is why I have spent most of my life thus far in a studio and this is why I will begin making another record immediately.
What are some goals that you had for yourself this year?
One major goal was to get the hell out of the rat and roach infested shithole apartment I was living in. Mission accomplished. Another goal was to get out of my deal with BMG publishing. Also accomplished. Another was to release a video with each single. Met that goal as well. But these are easy goals to achieve. I’m going for the big shit next year. Stay in NYC and like it or move the fuck out. Commit to smoking and drinking or quit altogether. Find a male partner or commit to being single. Have a fucking kid or be really happy you didn’t. I’m just tired of this things eating away at my brain and stifling my creativity. “Shit or get off the pot” Not, ‘Shit or get off the pot and then eat a lot of kale and then go try to shit again later”
What are you already looking forward to in 2020?
The election. I know it’s in distant 2020 but I have a counter, and I like watching it. It’s been counting down since the day he was inaugurated, just waiting for that moment we can all say, “War is over” But the psychological repercussions will go on forever. I want to launch a campaign much like the post 9/11 one with the silhouette of the twin towers and written below is “Never Forget” Yeah, same shit, same words but with a profile of Trump’s head and torso. Never Forget.
Growing up, how important was music in your life?
Music was everything growing up. Because we were different, being mixed race in an all white racist neighborhood, music was a form of social currency. The more we excelled at things, the better we were treated by our peers, by our teachers.. etc. It gave us a sense of self esteem and self worth.
Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be a musician?
I can’t recall a moment, all I know is that it was simply just my turn to pick and instrument. I’m the second to youngest in a family of 5 children. Everyone older than me already played an instrument. So when I turned 6 I chose the violin. There really is no choice in the matter, if you’re born a Coppola, you’re going to be a musician. We’re one of those music families.
Was there ever a time when you thought about doing something else?
Hell yes, and I probably will at some point. It’s not that I don’t love music, I’ve just been doing it forever and would like to branch out and explore new avenues of expression. I’d love to write for screen, maybe write a book or two. I just gotta get all this fucking music out of me so I can create space to do so.
If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing?
Maybe crack…maybe comedy, maybe a clairvoyant. I’ve always wanted to get a pilot’s license. Maybe I’d fly commercial jets, or be an astronaut. I can also see myself on a farm riding horses. The possibilities are endless.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career?
It is very likely the more you’ve labored over a song the less likely it will make you money. Hard work and effort don’t mean a damn thing in pop song culture. Stupidity thrives.
What has been the best part about it all?
The best part is when I get messages from fans that say one of my albums got them through the most difficult period of their lives. Truly makes me feel like what I’m doing is important.
I understand that this album is your reaction to the state of the country so I am curious what it was like working on this kind of material?
I tried to cover all of the trending social issues. Missed a few biggies, purposefully, even cut out a few overtly social/political songs because I didn’t want it to come off like ‘Current Events, The Musical!’
How do you think you have grown as a musician since you first started making music?
I play a lot less now and do a lot more secretarial work. I am essentially my own manager and personal assistant.
What if anything has stayed the same about your music-making process?
I like to surprise people and keep them on their toes. I love being uncategorizable. This is the only constant in my music.