Read our interview with JP Cooper at Rockwood Stage 2.
On March 28th, U.K. sensation JP Cooper performed at New York City’s Rockwood stage 2. Even with the drizzling weather, audiences packed the entire venue to support the act. Coming on stage at 8:30 p.m, he wore a striped sweater with casual jeans and his signature newsboy hat. Accompanied by his pianist and playing guitar himself, it was an intimate set to showcase his soulful voice.
He began with his top 10 U.K. hit, “September Song.” Everyone was snapping along and singing to the lyrics, “You were my September song, summer lasted too long. Time moves so slowly, when you’re only fifteen.” With its catchy hook and memorable lyrics, it’s easy to see how this song racked over 100 million streams. One thing you notice is that between songs, JP Cooper establishes a comfortable banter with the audience, getting everyone hyped up. His voice rarely falters during the set and even when it does, it only adds to the intimacy that the lyric holds. Knowing how to effectively build rapport with the audience, he gave us a look into his life when he detailed his 5 year old son’s birthday and how he misses him on the song, “Closer.” The lyrics, “You are daddy’s little soldier, I’ll be watching over” got a lot of people in the crowd tearing up. In moments where there are technical difficulties, JP Cooper never fails to keep the audience’s attention intact, creating a sense of community as everyone cheered him on.
He sang songs from his new album, “I Will Always Love you,” before transitioning into a deep cut from his EP Satellite. These songs seem to be straight out from his private diary and everyone felt the emotions of desire, loss, joy and happiness. He then went on to sing his track, “Birthday” from the 50 shades soundtrack, and it was exactly as sultry as it sounded on record, before he segue way into a cover of Shawn Mendes, “Mercy.”
Giving us a preview of his next single, “Passport Home,” J.P Cooper detailed how this song came to fruition when he was in Los Angeles missing home. With lyrics, “You’re my passport home. My guiding light, so darling keep the light on,” it’s easy to see why this is the perfect followup to his massive single. Ending his 10 song set with “In the Silence” and “Change,” you could tell that he is a musician with a message to convey, a much needed one.
Q: How do you think the UK music scene is similar or different from the US scene?
JP Cooper: I think I’m still figuring out the U.S thing. I mean the U.K, I’ve seen quite a lot of it. I began singing in open mic nights and really small clubs and things like that. I guess it’s strange because I’ve kind of kept to myself. I’m a dad, I’ve got a 5 year old son so for the last 5-6 years I haven’t had the time to massively engage in going out and being part of the scene, I just kind of did my own thing. There’s a great amount of support from other people who play on the same bills. There’s definitely a community there. But as far as the states go, I’m still figuring it and learning.
Q: What were some good places that you like to perform at in U.K?
JP Cooper: I was in Manchester a lot. I’d jump on my pushbike and do 3 open mics in a night and get used to it. I am used to singing in bands so this whole doing it with a guitar thing is still new to me. There was a place called Trof that I used to play Monday nights in Manchester. It’s a Northern city two hours from London.
Q: When did you realize that you could do this full time? Was there something that facilitated your decision to jump in and go for it?
JP Cooper: I was always a bit of a dreamer so when I started making music with my friends. We were literally 15, 16, and we used to rehearse in the school hall. And I could remember that most of the guys had picked up an instruments and were learning their first few songs and I could remember turning to the drummer and saying, “Listen man, have you not been practicing?” And he turned to me and said, “We’re not going to be the next foo fighters are we?” I thought, “Why not?” I always had that attitude right from day one. I never lost that and it took a long time. I signed my first deal when I was 30. It took 15 years of working in bars and cafes and warehouses.
Q: Can you tell me about the funniest moment or most memorable fan interaction you’ve had while out on tour?
JP Cooper: I was in Birmingham in the U.K. where during one of my songs, a guy proposed to his girlfriend in the middle of the song in front of everybody. That is really memorable. As far as touring goes, we have a lot of fun with the guys, with the crew and band. I work around incredible people.
Q: Can you talk about your single “September Song” and what inspired it?
JP Cooper: A couple of guys and I got together in L.A. One was English and Australian to work on music and we just really wanted to do something that was innocent. We wanted to do something that was nostalgic. Like when the biggest problem in your life is missing your crush during the holidays.
Q: Do you remember the moment that you knew this song would resonate with people?
J.P Cooper: I never know. All I can do is trust how I feel about it and the team and how everybody feels about it. But you just never know. I was so surprised. I thought it would do ok but never expected it to cross a 100 million streams on Spotify. I didn’t expect that. I’m just happy to stay wide eyed.
Q: I also know that you were featured on the Fifty Shades soundtrack, how did the writing process differ when you write with a specific project in mind?
JP Cooper: “Birthday” was actually an album track. They heard it and asked if they could use it. But I guess for the Jonas Blue track, “Perfect Strangers”, I thought I was writing for someone else. So there’s a freedom in that. You don’t really judge yourself. You lose your ego. You can write an easy pop song because you don’t think you’re too cool to do that. So there’s a great lesson for me.
Q: How did you get connected with Jonas Blue?
JP Cooper: He got in touch with the label. He was looking for someone to write the instrumental. He heard about me through the soul music scene in the U.K. and asked if I could get involved.
Q: What could you tell us about your new album?
JP Cooper: The title of it is “Raised under Grey Sky’s”. It is taken from one of the songs we wrote. It’s very intimate and soulful. There are moments of hip-hop in there. There are moments of classic songwriter in there. I’ve been working with the piano a lot more rather than the acoustic guitar. Overall, there are songs in there that will make you smile, make you cry, dance. Can’t wait to release it.
Q: What’s one of your most played song on your Itunes?
JP Cooper: I’ve been listening to “Malibu” by Anderson Paak. I’d love to collaborate with him.