Alice Cohen

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Alice Cohen
Cohen performing in 2005
Cohen performing in 2005
Background information
Also known asAlice Desoto
Born (1958-11-25) November 25, 1958 (age 62)
OriginPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • musician
  • fine artist
  • Vocals
  • keyboards
  • guitar
  • bass guitar
Years active1978–present
Associated acts

Alice Cohen (born November 25, 1958), also known by the stage name Alice Desoto, is a New York City-based American singer, songwriter, musician and fine artist. She has performed as the lead vocalist for two major label bands, the Vels and Die Monster Die. The Vels were the more commercially successful of the two, with their 1984 single "Look My Way" peaking at No. 72 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Cohen has also pursued a solo career and has released six studio albums since 2008.

Early years[edit]

Cohen grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of two professional jazz pianists, Robert Cohen (died 2019) and Harriet Levin Cohen (died 2002).[1] Her father Robert was a respected figure in the Philadelphia jazz community, having performed for decades in the area, and he also had a chance performance with highly influential saxophonist Charlie Parker.[2]


The Vels[edit]

Cohen is best known for her work as the primary songwriter and lead singer of the Vels, a Philadelphia new wave band that she co-founded in 1980. In 1984, they signed a recording contract with Mercury Records and released two studio albums, Velocity (1984) and House of Miracles (1986). They had one minor hit ("Look My Way") and a successful MTV music video.[3]

The Vels toured the U.S. in 1986, opening for British band the Psychedelic Furs.[4]

Musical history[edit]

In 1980, Cohen wrote the disco song "Deetour" for Karen Young which was then released as a single in 1982,[5] re-released on Horse Meat Disco in July 2009.[6][7] To date this is the only time that she has written a song for someone else. The track "Souvenirs" was originally written for the Bangles but the recording deal failed to materialise and the song was instead recorded for the Vels' second album House of Miracles.[1]

After the Vels broke up in 1987, Cohen's career changed direction and she became active in the indie rock/underground and touring scene. Cohen's best-known venture in this period was the band Die Monster Die. DMD released two studio albums: 1992's Chrome Molly on Dutch East, and 1994's Withdrawal Method on Roadrunner Records.[8] The band broke up soon after. (N.B. In 2000, another band, founded in Salt Lake City in 1995 as Casa Diablo, renamed itself DieMonsterDie; this band is unrelated to the band Cohen was in.[9])

In 1996, Cohen sang a track (on camera) in the Martin Scorsese-produced movie Grace of My Heart (1996), directed by Allison Anders.

In recent years, Cohen has performed frequently as a solo act, as well as collaborating with a number of groups including LYDSOD, Long Lost, Raw Thrills,[10] Castles, and Espadrille.[11] In 2008, she released her debut solo studio album Sky Flowers on her self-owned label Crinoline. Other solo studio albums include Walking Up Walls (2009), Pink Keys (2012), Wild Vines & Tenement Shrines (2013), Into the Grey Salons (2016), and her most recent album Artificial Fairytales (2019).

With the release of Cohen's solo albums, she became active in video and animation, creating music videos to accompany her own releases,[12][13] as well as composing soundtracks for other animations and video projects.

Visual arts[edit]

Cohen's collages and paintings have appeared in galleries in New York City, San Francisco and elsewhere. She has made music videos for dozens of indie bands and musicians.

In 2008, Cohen began to produce animated music videos for artists such as Ducktails,[14] Coasting,[15] Broken Deer,[16] and Greatest Hits,[17] using found imagery and objects in traditional cutout and stop motion animation style.

Other video/animation work includes "Single Sentence Animations" for the independent publisher Electric Literature[18] as well as gallery and installation work. Cohen animated 17 episodes of the 2016 TV show Single + Swiping for Full Screen Network.

In 2010, Cohen had her first solo exhibition of visual works including video, collage, and installation, which took place at Live With Animals gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.[19][20]

Her work has been screened at Anthology Film Archives, The Film-Makers' Cooperative, Printed Matter, Inc., Microscope Gallery, Millennium Film Workshop, The New Museum, the Morbid Anatomy Museum, and the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, Poland.


Solo releases[edit]

  • Sky Flowers (2008) (Crinoline Records)
  • Walking Up Walls (2009) (Olde English Spelling Bee)
  • Pink Keys (2012) (Olde English Spelling Bee & Crinoline Records)
  • Wild Vines & Tenement Shrines (2013) (Sixteen Tambourines Records)
  • Into the Grey Salons (2016) (Olde English Spelling Bee & Crinoline Records)
  • Artificial Fairytales (2019) (NNA Tapes)

With the Vels (Mercury Records)[edit]

With Die Monster Die[edit]

  • "Planet b/w Blackwater Trailer Park Blue" 7" (Deadbolt Records) (1992)
  • "Slumber b/w Pennies" 7" (Roadrunner Records) (1993)
  • "Barknuckle b/w Wallflower Garden" 7" (Funky Mushroom Records) (1993)
  • "Chrome Molly" (Johnson Brothers Music/Dutch East India Trading) (1993)
  • "Withdrawal Method" (Roadrunner Records) (1994)

With Espadrille (Spare Me Records)[edit]

  • "Swimmeret" (2001)
  • " Bikini Girl" b/w Hollow Sidewalk 7" (1999)

With Moroccos[edit]

  • "3D Sound B/W Soul Safari" 7" (t.m.i Products) (1982)
  • "t.m.i. 015 A Compilation" (t.m.i Products) (1982)

With Helivator (Lungcast)[edit]

  • "Gasoline T-Shirt" (1994)

Appearing on[edit]

  • "Radio Scenic Glow Vol. 1" (Upstairs) (2009)
  • "Africa Germany Germany Mexico Turkey Australia" (Olde English Spelling Bee) (2009)
  • "Breakout" (Chrysalis Records) (1979)
  • "Deetour" (songwriter) (Atlantic Records) (1980)
  • "Greetings From Port Authority" Benna Evil Teen Records (1996)
  • "The Best of Nilsson" BMG (1998)


Music videos[edit]

  • "Landrunner" — Ducktails (2009)
  • "Ichthus Hop" — Talbot Tagora (2009)
  • "Black Pepper" — Alice Cohen (2009)
  • "Memories of Glaciers" — Alice Cohen (2009)
  • "White Woman" — Broken Deer (2010)
  • "Kids" — Coasting (2010)
  • "Ambulance" — Greatest Hits (2010)
  • "Totem" — Weekends (2010)
  • "Marsupial Shenanigans" — Linda Hagood (2010)
  • "The Gutter" — K-Holes (2011)
  • "The Phantom's Theme" — Ruckus Roboticus (2013)
  • "Black Magic" — Maria Minerva (2013)

Art videos[edit]

  • "Spools" (2009)
  • "Trance Actions" (2010)
  • "Mirror Moves for Private Eyes" (2010)
  • "Ear Candy" (2010)
  • "For Claire" (2011)
  • "Perfumes of Venus" (2014)
  • "Elegant Interiors" (2014)
  • "Spirit of the Magpie" (2015)

Other commissioned work[edit]

  • "Three Girls" — Single Sentence Animation for Electric Literature (2009)
  • "Baba Iaga and the Pelican Child" — Single Sentence Animation for Electric Literature (2010)
  • The BJ Rubin Show — Cable Access Television Show (2014–2016)
  • Single + Swiping — TV Docu-series (Full Screen Media Network) (2016)


  1. ^ a b Pelly, Liz (October 29, 2015). "Alice Cohen's House of Mirrors". Impose.
  2. ^ "ROBERT COHEN - Obituary". legacy. July 4, 2020.
  3. ^ "The Vels - Look My Way". 2006-07-22. Retrieved 2020-04-10 – via YouTube.
  4. ^ "The Vels". Retrieved 17 June 2020.>
  5. ^ "Karen Young - Deetour". discogs.
  6. ^ Roberts, Andy. "Lost n Found - 'Deetour' by Karen Young". TheVine. Archived from the original on 2009-10-10. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
  7. ^ "Horse Meat Disco (2009, CD)". discogs. Retrieved 2020-04-10.
  8. ^ "Die Monster Die | Album Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2020-04-10.
  9. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Die Monster Die | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2020-04-10.
  10. ^ "Music". Gunktvrecords. 2011-08-24. Retrieved 2020-04-10 – via Bandcamp.
  11. ^ Anderson, Rick. "Swimmeret - Espadrille | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2020-04-10.
  12. ^ "Sightings: Alice Cohen, 'Memories of Glaciers' Video". January 2010. Archived from the original on 2011-09-10.
  13. ^ "Alice Cohen 'Black Pepper'". Chocolate Bobka. Archived from the original on 2012-08-08. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
  14. ^ Stosuy, Brandon (2009-04-27). "New Ducktails Video – 'Landrunner'". Stereogum. Retrieved 2020-04-10.
  15. ^ "video premiere: Coasting | 'Kids'". Gorilla Vs. Bear. 2010-06-10. Archived from the original on 2012-03-27.
  16. ^ Gordon, Holly (2010-05-27). "Screening of Broken Deer/Alice Cohen Video". The Coast. Retrieved 2020-04-10.
  17. ^ "Premiere: Greatest Hits: "Ambulance" Video". Altered Zones. Archived from the original on 2010-11-24. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
  18. ^ "Electric Literature media". Electric Literature. Archived from the original on 2010-11-17. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
  19. ^ "Alice Cohen at Live With Animals". Live With Animals. 2010-08-07. Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
  20. ^ "Christian Holstad". Artforum. 2010-11-01. Retrieved 2020-04-10.

External links[edit]