The name Nicole Morier may not ring a bell, but you’re likely familiar with her work—whether it be the songs she’s penned for pop stars like Britney Spears and Tom Jones, the tunes she played as touring guitarist for Charlotte Gainsbourg, or the music she performed with her electro-rock band Electrocute. But her latest project is one that hits a little closer to home: Coco Morier. “I was kind of growing out of Electrocute, in a certain way; I had done it for a long time and wanted to do new music stylistically. Simultaneously, I had been getting deeper into writing songs for people and felt I was writing songs that never see the light of day,” explains the Los Angeles-based musician of her decision to launch her own solo project. “It kind of felt like it came together very quickly, but also felt like it was something I was working on for some time without realizing.”
Whatever led her to keep songs like “Ambulance” and “My Satellite” for herself, we’re glad it happened; the resulting EP, Strangers May Kiss (out this week), is a short but sweet collection of pop songs with an edge. Morier pulls together different sonic textures—from icy electronic beats to moaning ‘60s organ loops—tying it all up in a way that only someone with Top 40 experience could master. But don’t confuse this with mainstream; Strangers May Kiss is nuanced, restrained, and wholly complex, begging for something more than just half-distracted Spotify listens (in particular, Morier recommend you listen to the EP “on a good stereo—play it loud!”).
Between her musical tastes and her professional experience, Morier does feel like she’s straddling the indie and conventional music worlds. “I love catchy songs, I love pop music, so I’m always going to be in the middle somewhere where I’m trying to make something that has a timeless feel but also doesn’t sound like everything else. I always want to see if I can push the limit of that and still have great songs.” It helps that she has support from the talented folks at Ingrid, the new artist collective she founded with Lykke Li, Miike Snow, Peter Bjorn and John, and a handful of other individuals who are pros at writing indie hits. It’s a nice change from the major labels she’s dealt with in the past while writing for singers like Miranda Cosgrove and Sky Ferreira. “[Labels] have opinions on everything—cover art, song titles, song order—and now nobody tells me what I can and can’t do,” says Morier.
That freedom is one of the perks to starting the solo project, but for Morier herself, the other upside is that she’s making music that means something: “When I was writing, some of the songs I didn’t necessarily know where they would go, and I would have been happy if another artist picked them up. But the songs I chose were very personal to me, and I’m glad I’m releasing them myself.” So, you don’t see Britney getting all German new wave-y any time soon? “Some songs I give to other people because I know I wouldn’t do justice to them like they would… but these songs were so me that it made sense that no one else covered!”