20 Jun 2018

Fulbright Residency a ‘Polynesian nerd dream’ for Auckland rapper Coco Solid

From RNZ Music, 11:27 am on 20 June 2018

Rapper, writer and visual artist Jessica Hansell - aka Coco Solid - has received the 2018 Fulbright-Creative Pacific Writer’s residency.


Coco Solid Photo: Pati Solomona Tyrell

The Auckland-based artist will head to Hawai’i in August, where she says she will use the time to write a book.

Hansell called the opportunity a “true Polynesian nerd dream”.

Her recent work includes being part of the writing team for Taika Waititi’s and Jemaine Clement’s upcoming television show Wellington Paranormal.

Her work is known for looking at Pacific life through a pop culture lens, and other credits to her name include Māori TV comedy sketch show Only in Aotearoa, animated web comedy Aroha Bridge, and bilingual web series Ahikāroa.

The Fulbright Residency begins in August and will see Hansell working at the Center of Pacific Island Studies at the University of Hawai’i in Mānoa, Honolulu, where she will be based until November.

“I am of course stunned to be able to research and create in Hawai’i, a place I regard as the mothership of so much Pacific magic and history,” she says.

The Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer’s Residency is for a mid-career or senior writer of Pacific heritage to work on a creative writing project exploring Pacific identity, culture or history.

The annual award is valued at $30,000.

Previous recipients of the residency include poet Tusiata Avia, filmmakers Sima Urale and Toa Fraser, and author Sarona Aiono-Iosefa.

Sharing news of the residency on Twitter, Hansell said she will be working on a book. However, she didn’t elaborate on what it would be about.

“I hope to provide a work that grounds and speaks to my creative Māori and Pasifika communities, especially those challenging the narratives we have been given throughout history and those living in urban upheaval and change,” she said in a statement.

The Auckland-based artist, who releases music as alter-ego Coco Solid, let loose her Cokes mixtape earlier this year to widespread acclaim.

“I am happiest when I am pushing the boundaries of what is possible within a medium,” she says.

Coco Solid is also part of the recently formed rap collective Fanau Spa alongside Queen Kapussi, Joe Kori, Big Fat Raro, Hamishi, Manu, TH1R§T3EN, Brown Boy Magik and Yumgod.

The collective released new single ‘Glitch’ a few days ago via “not real label” Kuini Qontrol.