As Posted on NeonNettle.com
Meet JP Cooper, Bringing The Soul Back To Britain
His ‘Keep The Quiet Out’ EP is available now
New artist JP Cooper is Manchester’s latest export of acoustic soul music. Critically acclaimed by the likes of Wonderland Magazine, MOBO.com, Idol and Hypetrak; the singer/songwriter’s latest offering ‘Keep The Quiet Out’ exposes the artist’s vulnerable side in a mesmerizing way.
His soulful vocals and raw lyricism make it easy to predict the rise of this growing star and judging by his already sold out EP tour, audiences are recognizing his talent too. JP recently performed his favourite track ‘Colour Me In Gold,’ as part of the YouTube Mahogany Sessions and also has a show coming up with George The Poet.
Neon Nettle’s interview with JP Cooper serves as a formal introduction to the talented artist, as we spoke to him about touring with Angie Stone, dream collaborations, the process of songwriting and whether he’d ever indulge in spoken word poetry.
NN: You recently signed with Island Records that must have been a pretty epic moment for you. How were you feeling when you signed the contract?
JP: It was quite surreal to be honest. It’s such a huge step in my career, but it’s still slowly sinking in. It really hit home when I told everybody about it. The support has been amazing!
NN: How would you describe your sound for people that haven’t heard your music yet? What genre would you classify your music as?
JP: It’s a difficult one really. Particularly since I have been experimenting a little lately. It’s definitely soulful. I love soul music, but I wouldn’t call myself a soul artist, if you get what I mean. I just try to write songs that people will relate to and wrap them up in melodies that move me.
NN: You recently supported Angie Stone on tour, did she depart any words of wisdom on you? How was it being a part of her tour?
JP: Ah, it was an amazing experience for me. Angie is such a warm and encouraging woman and she was really good to me. She even called me onstage to sing with her during her set most nights. It was an honour. There wasn’t any one conversation in particular that sticks with me, but the whole experience of watching her and the band work has definitely influenced me and inspired me.
NN: Your music seems very pure and organic, which artists inspired you growing up in Manchester? Any UK acts in particular?
JP: Coming from Manchester, it was very hard to not be inspired by the likes of Oasis, the Stone Roses and the Happy Mondays; but I’d say these bands influenced my friends more than they did me. However, if it wasn’t for these bands my friends wouldn’t have bought guitars and I wouldn’t have started singing. It was really as simple as that, it rains a lot so we’d sit around learning Oasis songs.
As far as music that really got me, it’s been a real journey. The first thing that I really fell in love with was the grunge scene. I loved the expression and the voices were amazing. From here I got much more interested in voices and naturally began to explore more into the world of soul and as a result gospel. I love music that leaves room for a vocal to really speak to me.
NN: Past and present artists, who would your dream collaboration be with and why?
JP: Past, I would have to say Ray Charles; mainly because I’d get to see him do his thing. I don’t think I’d have much to bring to the table to be honest, but I’m sure I’d learn a lot!
Present would have to be Yann Tiersen. I love his arrangements. I think we would create something phenomenal.
NN: What is your favourite single from your EP ‘Keep The Quiet Out’ and why?
JP: I have special relationships with all of them, but I’m really happy with “Colour Me In Gold,” it’s so simple and says exactly what I wanted it to.
NN: What inspires you to write music? Have you got a specific process that you go through when writing new material?
JP: It’s just something that I’ve always loved doing. I like to see what I can pull out of the air. It’s amazing to create something from nothing. I always remember watching my dad sat at his easel creating these wonderful, magical pictures. Just seeing something that was previously lifeless turn into something that sets off your imagination and emotions was enough to make me hungry to do that myself in some way.
There’s no particular process, it’s just a case of actually doing it, giving it time and challenging yourself to make it the best it can be.
NN: Title track ‘Keep The Quiet Out’ talks about your use of music for distraction from your thoughts, do you find songwriting therapeutic when you’re going through personal issues?
JP: Of course, it’s always been like a friend. It’s an amazing thing. It’s helped me figure out and work through so many things. Don’t get me wrong, it’s caused its fair share of problems in my life too, but it always manages to soothe somehow.
NN: Do you find it difficult to expose your vulnerable side with your music?
JP: It’s something I’m working on. I think as any kind of artist you have to make yourself completely vulnerable if you really want to connect with people.
NN: You have a show coming up on October 13th with George the Poet, is spoken word poetry something you are interested in? Have you ever attempted writing poetry yourself?
JP: I love it. It’s so great to see it inspiring more and more people to pick up a pen. It’s really all you need and it’s such an empowering thing. I’m a big fan of George so I’m really looking forward to this event. As far as doing it myself, I’ve no plans at the minute to start performing, but I’ve got books full of poems that may well never make their way into songs. Maybe it’s something I should think about.
NN: What’s next for JP Cooper?
JP: I’m really focused on writing my album at the minute. It’s constantly on my mind and I can’t wait to hear it!!!
R&B/Soul fans can also check out my interviews with singer/songwriter Eric Bellinger and UK artist Daley: