Coco Jones Studies Beyoncé Before Going Onstage

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images, Everett Collection

Coco Jones isn’t new to this. Since the age of 9, she has been a performer, steadily working her way up as an actor and singer on the Disney Channel for years before moving into adulthood with a role on Peacock’s Bel-Air. Jones hasn’t shied away from discussions about just how hard growing up in the spotlight can be — she’s spoken publicly about getting dropped by her label in her teen years and returning to the music industry with a renewed confidence.

While she has released several singles over the years, Jones’s latest EP, What I Didn’t Tell You, made the world really take note of the music she was putting out. Released in November 2022, the EP — nostalgic and rich, especially on the standout track “ICU”earned her five Grammy nominations, including Best R&B Album, Best R&B Song, and Best New Artist. “I feel new in different ways. And it’s definitely different when you’re succeeding,” says Jones, calling from Los Angeles a week before hosting a big Grammys blowout party with Grey Goose. “I’m learning a lot from that process, honestly.”

Between starring on Bel-Air, arranging multiple successful music collaborations with artists like Reneé Rapp and Justin Timberlake, and all these Grammy nominations, you’d think it might be time for a break, but Jones has another idea. “Ideally, I would love to have my album come out this summer,” she says. “I want my music out there while the weather’s warm and people are outside to dance.”

You’re nominated for five Grammys. Who was the first person you called after you got that news? 

I called my mom first. I was on a plane so I missed pretty much everyone’s call. I was asleep and my phone was vibrating like crazy. And it woke me up. I was literally catching up on all the congratulatory texts, but my mom was the first one I called back.

You’re working on your debut album now. How different is it from your EP?

I feel like my EP was like my freshman year of high school. I was learning so much and was unsure of how people would perceive me, how my project would do, and who my fans would be. I did a lot of trial and error, releasing a bunch of different songs that are in different fields and taking in that information for the future. Now I feel like I have a lot of information, and I have more experience with releasing music. As for the inspiration, a lot of that comes from what’s going on in the stage of life that I’m in with my friends and the conversations that we have, while also being intentional with how I want my show to feel. Having that concept in mind and a tour in mind really helps me pick the songs that I want on my album so I can control the narrative of my show. And I want to make a lot more music that is up-tempo and mid-tempo.

You’ve already done a couple major collaborations, like “Tummy Hurts” with Reneé Rapp and a remix of “ICU” with Justin Timberlake. What makes a good collab? 

I think bridging the worlds of each artist makes the collaboration the most successful. When both artists can bring their worlds into a song that combines them really beautifully, that’s when I think you get the best work.

What makes your tummy hurt?

Putting pressure on myself to hit specific timelines really makes my tummy hurt, because it just doesn’t work out that way. I used to do that all the time, and I would get so anxious closer to those due dates when it was really like, The things that need to happen will happen in God’s timing, so why do I keep torturing myself? 

What is your pre-songwriting ritual?

I like to get inspiration from my favorite songs. Typically, I’m just jamming out on the way to the studio, or if I have a subject matter that I really want to write about, I’m just thinking about them and taking myself back to that moment to really channel those emotions.

What is your pre-performing ritual?

I definitely am watching a Beyoncé performance, because the way she entertains is the epitome of how I want to entertain. I feel like an athlete watching film or something.

Where do you get your best culture recommendations from?

TikTok puts me on to a lot of what’s happening right now, but I would also say Twitter. Oof, as much as I get intimidated going on there, it be in the now. Who I follow is more focused on whatever I personally am interested in, whether that’s music, beauty, or cooking. And my best friend, we talk about shows a lot because we’re both actresses, so if there’s something good and she likes it, I would probably like it too.

What is your comfort rewatch?

Oh my god, The Office so easily has been, and will forever be, my comfort show. I love dry comedy, so anything serving me that on a platter, I’m probably gonna eat it.

What is something that you will never watch, no matter what? 

Probably a documentary about the ocean. I don’t want to know what’s in the water because I don’t want it to touch me if I’m at the beach.

That’s fair. I will say there was that documentary about this octopus teacher and apparently it was really good. People were raving about it. 

[Singing] No thank you!

You’re getting in an Uber XL and can bring five celebrities, dead or alive, with you. Who’s coming?

Beyoncé, Whitney Houston, Aaliyah, Ice Spice, and Brandy.

If you’re in an Uber, are you on the aux? 

I don’t prefer to be on the aux because then if somebody calls me, it ruins the whole vibe.

Do you have a specific playlist that you like to listen to when you’re alone?

I like lo-fi still beats. Typically when I’m by myself, I’ve just finished work, so I’m probably musiced out by then and I just want a peaceful environment.

Ahead of a performance or a night out, what are you listening to?

I’m listening to a lot of Ice Spice because I’m trying to dance and get hyped.

What’s your favorite cocktail to make before heading out?

I love a refreshing cocktail, so I would easily do like a Grey Goose vodka cucumber martini or maybe even a lemon drop.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

To run your own race. Comparison is really the thief of joy. And I can’t compare because music isn’t a formula; it’s a lot of different things lining up, and your journey is completely different than someone else’s.

Who do you think is your biggest cheerleader in life?

Definitely my mom. She’s been on the team before there was a team.

On the other hand, what is the worst advice you’ve ever received?

Probably that if you want more attention from a guy, argue with him. That is a waste of my time.

What’s one of your favorite meals? 

I’m not, like, a crazy foodie, but I’ll say my favorite guilty-pleasure food is ramen.

If you were going to a dinner party, what would you be bringing?

I would probably bring a bottle of alcohol. Most likely Grey Goose vodka.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Coco Jones Studies Beyoncé Before Going Onstage