If you have ever heard JP Cooper sing, then you’ll agree that he is a force to be reckoned with. He has been hailed as the ‘Future Sound of 2015’ by Zane Lowe, he performed at SXSW 2015, has had a string of sold out London dates and he just keeps on getting better. Verge’s Tasha Demi sat down with the Manchester born singer, to take it right back to the beginning and find out how it all really began…
Looking back on his beginning, JP discussed how his musical journey began. Hailing from Manchester, it seemed hard to escape the whole ‘rock / indie band’ thing when bands like Oasis were coming through and doing so well, “It was indie rock to begin with – a lot of my friends were into that sort of thing – and then it got a little bit harder, and went into grunge and all that. I just fell into it.” He spoke about how he had to put on a bit of an act to fit into all of that, and how it wasn’t really who he was, “As far as my whole attitude and everything about it and the way I’d perform you know? A lot of the rock music I’d listen to, I used to love the acoustic sessions, like MTV Unplugged and all that. When I did rock bands, it wasn’t really cool to sing soul, it was mainly about the shouting.”
“I’ve always loved soul music you know. Whenever I heard it, I loved it, I just wasn’t exposed to it. So I started digging around a little bit…” JP soon discovered the likes of Al Green and Donny Hathaway and spoke about how he felt ‘something awaken inside’. This was around the time where he joined a gospel choir, and he was able to start expressing himself in a way that he felt free, “For me, it’s been more about the approach to the expression, rather than wanting to be a perfect singer.”
Not always sure that this was the path he could actually take, JP spoke about how when he was growing up, it wasn’t cool to be a boy that could sing, “I purposely sang out of tune in school until I got a bit older. Like, in music class, if I ever got called up, I’d sing a really bad note!” Luckily though, his talent was spotted by those around him, and that encouragement helped him to stick to his musical path, “Kids are very hungry to find out what their talents are, so when you do find something, and people encourage it, it’s amazing at what that bit of encouragement can do”.
The Island Records signee, has recently unveiled his latest visual for ‘Closer’. JP said of this track, “It just says exactly what I wanted it to say, and that’s kind of everything you’re aiming for”. The emotionally captivating visual for this track hones in on his desire to spend more time with his song.
‘Closer’ is taken from JP’s EP, ‘When The Darkness Comes’. He explains about how his EP can be divided into two halves, “Half of it is like deeply personal to me, and the other half is fictional really. The main focus on it, is one thing that I’m really interested in, and I think we all are as well – human relationships. Any kind of spectrum of emotion that goes into that – and obviously love… it’s just so easy to be inspired by that. It’s something that you really feel, and I think we look towards that everyday”.
As somebody who has worked in music for many years, JP seems to be really comfortable with where he is now and more importantly, who he is, “When I was at the age where I would have been at university, my main thing was feeling that I had to be doing what everybody around me was doing. I think that the main thing we can ever aspire to, is being the best versions of ourselves. To have that confidence to focus on yourself and develop that – different music scenes can come and go, but what you’ve got within yourself is a one time thing”.
Speaking about how he typically likes to work he says that variety is key, “I took the start of the year to be on my own and write on my own, and I love that. Having my own space! But then again, over the last year, I’ve done a few mo co-writes, and sessions where you can get together and bounce idea’s off of people”. Going from being in a band to a solo artist, can feel quite lonely sometimes, so those sessions where JP gets to collaborate with others, takes him back to his band days! “Music and collaboration is just a beautiful thing! To be in a room with another adult, getting deep into talking about a certain subject or just getting to the idea of what the song is going to be about, and how the music will reflect that… I love it. It’s like playing with your toys with somebody else”.
You can catch JP Cooper live at the Village Underground on May 21st – but hurry up and get your tickers, as there aren’t many left!