Bringin’ it Backwards: Interview with Josie Cotton

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We had the pleasure of interviewing Josie Cotton over Zoom!​​

​​“JOSIE COTTON makes the unlistenable unforgettable,” wrote legendary filmmaker/actor/artist John Waters about the New Wave icon’s upcoming album INVASION OF THE B-GIRLS on which she covers the theme songs of campy cult films. When you have a quote like that from the supreme King of Cult Classics, you pretty much don’t need to do anything else in life but dig a hole and lie in it. Thankfully, however, the illustrious and gorgeous Josie Cotton has other plans.​​

​​Instead of grabbing a shovel and heaving soil, Josie Cotton released her new album on May 1, 2020 via her label Kitten Robot Records. Originally released on CD only(no vinyl, no digital, no downloads, no streaming, no cassette, no nothing!) in 2007, Invasion of the B-Girls has been meticulously remastered and includes, for the very first time, the single “Female Trouble” from John Waters’ infamous and celebrated 1974 cult classic of the same name. ​​

​​Along with new artwork and packaging, Invasion of theB-Girls finds Josie revisiting the themes from obscure and ofttimes subversive midnight movies like Russ Meyer’s 1970 camp classic Beyond The Valley of the Dolls(Days of Now And Then“),”Green Slime” from Kinji Fukasaku’s 1968 film of the same name, and Koji Hashimoto/R.K. Kizer’s 1985 creature feature reboot Return of Godzilla(“Goodbye Godzilla”).​​
​​“I was obsessed with science fiction movies since childhood, a lot of which you could call B-movies, but seeing Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! as an adult was a kind of Come-to-Jesus moment for me,” explains Josie about her inspiration to cover these forgotten “classics.” “The whole world of B-movie culture opened up…  the demented humor and in-your-face irreverence toward society all spoke to me. And the best ones all seemed to be from the 1960s and 1970s for some reason.”​​

​​Produced by Josie Cotton, punk legend Geza X(Black Flag, Dead Kennedys), and Bill Rhea(Del Rubio Triplets), Invasion of the B-Girls includes liner notes written by John Waters. Among the guest performers on the album are David Kendrick(Devo, Sparks), Paul Roessler(Screamers, Twisted Roots), Geza XKenny Lyon(Spain), and Tower of Power‘shorn section which appears on the single “Female Trouble.”​​
​​As an artist who experienced a huge surge in popularity with such massive international singles “Johnny Are You Queer?,” “Jimmy Loves Maryanne,” and “He Could Be The One”, Josie saw the exciting potential in digging deep into these annals of pop culture cinema and pulling out some fun covers for Invasion… “You kind of have to abandon your idea of what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in this genre. The acting and writing and cinematography are horrendous yet wildly entertaining. It’s the same feeling I got watching bad science fiction when I was a little girl… minus the sex and violence. It’s an acquired taste if ever,” she laughs.​​
​​From the built-for-hot-rod-cruising first track “Get Off the Road” from She Devils on Wheels (1968, dir. Herschel Gordon Lewis) to the slinky noir of “Who Killed Teddy Bear?” from the film of the same name (1965, dir. Joseph Cates), to the psychedelic and trippy “Shiawaseo Yobo” from Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster(1964, dir. Ishiro Honda), Invasion of the B-Girls is immersive in its cinematic glory.​​

​​”I first got the idea one night when I was watching Ghidora the Three-Headed Monster,” she recalls. “I had seen that movie so many times, but there is a moment in that movie when these tiny twin princesses who live in a flower are singing the most heartbreakingly beautiful song to Mothra… pleading with her to save the world. It was strange and beautiful and funny and sad all at the same time.” From a Godzilla-sized seed grew a sprout that eventually turned into Invasion of the B-Girls.​​

​​“It suddenly occurred to me that I could do a whole record of theme songs from B-movies,” she says excitedly. “So I went on a search and watched an insane amount of movies for about a year. That’s the time frame I was indoctrinated into the cult of Russ Meyers. My criteria was it had to be a ‘great’ song from a ‘bad’ movie… ‘bad’ meaning ‘good’ and ‘great’ meaning it was a fantastic ‘song‘.”​​

​​Re-emerging last Fall with the release of a critically-acclaimed new single “Ukrainian Cowboy,” Josie reignited a music scene that had been in the dark for too long. praised, “Subtly reminiscent of Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots Are Made For Walkin’,’ the song blends flavors of country, pop, and new wave, along with tints of traditional Russian folk music, into a tasty sonic confection.” The Tinnitist chimes, “Uncork the new sounds of Josie Cotton” and says of the fun technicolor video that is  “set against a twangy spaghetti-western backdrop and a colourful video to match. Saddle up.” Essentially Pop adds, “Josie Cotton’s vocals betray her new wave roots, and her devotion to film noir; the melody meanwhile harks back to girl groups, Nancy Sinatra…and the Bolshoi Ballet. It’s a true merger of east and west, and crosses cultural boundaries as much as musical ones.” ​​

​​Her previously unreleased album Everything Is Oh Yeah!likewise received thunderous applause which had All Music Guideraving, “Cotton’s voice is a thing of wonder that’s alternately heartbreakingly sincere and gum-snappingly playful, the songs are endlessly frothy and fun.”Boing Boingadded, “[Everything Is Oh Yeah! is]both a time capsule and a time-travel fantasy that bounces from new wave to surf to girl group to neo-rockabilly… there are some fun, mid-‘80s gems in here for sure.”​​

​​So slip on your white go-go boots, your polka dot shift dress, stack your hair up in a Brigitte Bardot beehive, and get that popcorn ready… This B-Girl is going to invade your space!​​

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