Exclusives Interviews 22 March 2023

GRM Exclusive: Coco Jones Talks New EP, ‘Bel Air S2’, Transitioning from A Child Star & More

22 March 2023

Despite being only in her twenties, Coco Jones harbours over 10 years’ experience in the industry, the glamorous multi-talent in her prime. Starring in Bel Air, signing a joint venture with High Standardz/ Def Jam and shaking tables with her latest EP, What I Didn’t Tell You. The past few years have seen her swept up in new heights of stardom, the Disney alum nonetheless remaining perfectly poised – we caught up with her to discuss it all.

A self-described girl next door with the energy to match. When asked how she would define herself to someone unknowing she says:

“She’s fun, funny, honest, she’s talented. She’s been in the industry since she was a kid. And she’s just good vibes […] you feel like she’s that girl that you could like kick it with. But then her music is powerful. She also acts”.

Having got an early in the entertainment industry, auditioning in her pre-teen years and getting her start with Disney. She’s one of the coveted child stars that went onto see success. This coming with its pros and cons, we asked Coco how she’s found that journey.

“I mean, I liked it. Because I am very competitive. When I say I want to do something that means like right now. Obviously, things don’t always work that way. But I’m very much a go getter. Why isn’t it happening? What can I do like to speed up this process to like, make these things happen. So for me, I was one step closer to my dreams, every opportunity that I got every, every little guest star that turned into a main role and turned into a movie, it all felt like pressing towards the goal. Even though I was a kid, I knew exactly what I wanted; and these things are all happening now, I’ve been wanting them since I was 9”.

Let It Shine was her first breakthrough. The film showcased the Tennessee native’s vocal and acting ability. Many artists and film stars alike straddle both lanes nowadays, we touched on the power struggle between the two.

“It was always whatever was hitting. Because I feel like they were both kind of on a smaller scale in a way. So I could do literally both. But now it’s like, okay, I’m doing both, but I really have to be strategic with my energy and my effort […] real companies, real people, real expectations of quality. I can’t really go into the studio and just do whatever. Because I’ve got to compete with the album that I just put out. I gotta be intentional. But now it’s more like they’re both a thing”.

Coco features on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air reboot, Bel Air as Hilary. The core premise the same but the show delivers a new age, more dramatised watch. Season 2 out now, we had to get the drop on what we can expect from the new episodes. Coco letting us know we see more of Hilary character’s growth, romance with Jazz and an exciting but messy turn of events.

Our interview in the midst of International Womens Day (9th March), we touched on playing powerful roles as a black woman and how important it is to her.

“I definitely gravitate towards representing black women nicely. Even though there’s plenty of stories that are true stories. Me personally, I like that I get to play Hillary and dress up, be a boss, be confident and have my way. That’s a fun role to get to play. And I do think that even seeing that as a young black girl will change the mentality of someone and that storyline. You know, media is so powerful. If I didn’t have Raven Symone and the Cheetah Girls and be able to see that I want to do that too. Who knows […] I love getting to play those roles. I know how significant they are for women who look like me who are coming up”.

Coco’s musical timeline starting with Radio Disney to then her first projects in 2017 and 2019, age a more obvious factor on in the sonic progression of her music. Touching on how and why there’s been a shift since her last EP Let Me Check It, Jones says:

“I would say I’ve made a conscious effort to explore new things. Because being a child in the industry, you’re very sheltered, like, I didn’t go to real high school, I started being home-schooled. So I even my younger siblings were just way more outside. […] So I made a conscious effort when things started to move slow for me, musically, I was living.  I found these girls that became some of my besties, they all went to USC, a popular College in LA. So I’d be outside with them, trying things, meeting people. And like, what was cool is that they knew who I was, but they weren’t pressed about who I was, so I really felt normal. And I really got to catch up to what people my age were talking and cared about. Life experience”.

Expressing that her most honest music didn’t come until 2019, her focus shifted to making music for her as opposed to making music to do numbers. As well as defining her artistry outside of her acting roles.

Her latest EP What I Didn’t Tell You and its deluxe her first project following her first offering via High Standardz and Def Jam. It undeniably a smash, it boasts multi-million streams. Talking on how she has found it thus far she tells us that its been great to not be fit into a box and her gratitude for the real effort to elevate her to be her best self. “I’m just learning a lot too. I’m the type of artist where I’m like why is this going on in the background, put this in the foreground because I want to learn to, I want to be educated”.

Talking on the EP and writing from real life experience she says:

“I always try to write off, real things. I also think the song can bring out the story. Like with “ICU.” When I heard the track, I wasn’t going in there trying to make such a soulful, vulnerable record. But when I heard the song, I was like I know exactly what I have to say. Because the song demands that level of authenticity. I would draw on stories in my life, from the past, in things currently happening in my life. Something that me and my girls talk are the plights of being a woman, a black woman, there’s so many topics to say. And then sometimes it’s more like an intention, like I want to dance”.

RnB legend Babyface featured on the deluxe. Coco described her experience working with him as amazing and he being a icon for longevity. Him giving her the keys to his creative process and how important a good team is.

From killing Busta Rhymes’ verses on Wild N Out to churning out top tier impressions of Rihanna, Coco continues to surprise us. Touching on experimenting, she gushes about tapping into Latin music and all the genres that have shaped her, gospel and country included.

As we closed out we of course wanted to know who she’s been listening to.

“I like the Don Toliver project, Sabrina Claudio, RAYE – I just listened to her whole project and really liked it. Jozzy is really fire […] I really love Savannah Re and Alex Isley too”.

Keen to tour properly at some point for now the 25yo songstress is doing some festival performances and intimate pop ups this year. The real focus for 2023 a debut album. Check out What I Didn’t Tell You and Bel Air S2 now, both out now.