The Story Of Our Album: I Wanna Be A Mermaid

Melbourne vocal & percussion quintet Coco’s Lunch give us a glimpse into the making of their recent children’s album, *I Wanna Be A Mermaid*


Our musical journey began a few years ago when we were approached by the Victorian Arts Centre and asked to be involved in a new festival for children called Chookas. They invited Coco’s Lunch to compose new songs and an interactive show for children with an underwater theme. We were up for the challenge and each one of us knuckled down to write a song or two to premier at the Arts Centre.

Writing songs for children was something we’d always been passionate about. After our close shave with the ARIAs (we were nominated for our albums Blueprint and Rat Trap Snap!), we were inspired to keep creating something that was a more organic and satisfying alternative in the children’s music genre – a sort of jazz for kids!

Turning up for the rehearsal to hear everyone’s new songs for the first time was really exciting. Lisa’s innocent and sparkly title track ‘I Wanna Be A Mermaid’, Sue’s exuberant ‘Do The Goofy Foot’ retro surfing song, Nicola’s quirky commentary in ‘Paradox’, Jacq’s African and Celtic inspired ‘She Sells Sea Shells’ and Sue’s stunning lullaby ‘It Will All Be There’.

Lisa Young, a well known creative vocal stylist, says of her title song: ‘Grandparents and grandchildren have such a special relationship, I loved working with this theme in 'I Wanna Be A Mermaid’, in which grandparents offer children such a link to their imagination, encouraging them to be whatever they want to be.‘

Jacqueline Gawler’s contribution was inspired by her stint in West Africa, where she trained as a percussionist: 'When the idea of writing a song around the tongue twister ‘She Sells Sea Shells By The Sea Shore’ came to me, it felt like a nice contrast to pair it up with a lilting 6/8 West African percussive groove. I drew elements from the traditional rhythms Tirriba and Fula Faré.’

Recording I Wanna Be A Mermaid was no different to our past albums - long hours in the studio with delirium creeping in, and never-ending vocal takes that stretched into the wee hours of the night. At one point way past our bedtime, during the recording of Lunchbox Rap, our improvised fruit-inspired piece deteriorated into an extended scene of monumental giggling fits, wild food improvisations, and a sound engineer who literally gave up and lay on the couch while we hooted and howled and fell about like a group of teenagers.


Rehearsing the new songs with our theatre director Vanessa Chapple is always a confronting and exhilarating process, as we watch our lyrics slowly transform into choreographic moves and our songs take visual shape. The I Wanna Be A Mermaid songs travelled to Melbourne, Brisbane, New Zealand and Sydney, where the show became a favourite at the Sydney Opera House Babies’ Proms series.

The album’s just as much for grown-ups as it is for kids. That’s what is so successful about writing from our hearts: the songs seem to speak to all ages.

I Wanna Be A Mermaid is available now at $21.95