By spring, the crumbled mulch of September's crisp fallen leaves will turn the whole world green. And by spring, the effort that JP Cooper has put in with work like his charting single 'September Song,' will not only pay off but pave the way for a fertile year leading up to the release of his debut album.
JP is packing up his hotel room in Hollywood when we jump on a call. He's spent the last few days in and out of writing and studio sessions and he's ready to hop on a plane back over the ocean to begin the process of releasing the new music he's worked so hard on. An album. A tour. A sonic autobiography. JP is looking beyond September to what he has in store in the months ahead.
How has life changed for you this past year following your breakout success with not only the singles, but your name as a whole?
As far as me, I’m just as busy as I was before. A lot of it is similar. It’s just the engagement with the people that I’m working with, like the label and the labels overseas and in different territories. So it just became a more global thing. I guess the pond got a whole lot bigger. We’ve always been getting our heads down and getting to work. Now, it’s funny because I’ve not yet seen the financial gains from it yet, although they’ll come. So I’m just sort of like, cool. Everything is going really well, I’m just still in my overdraft every month. But as far as that goes, I don’t feel like I’m balling now. It’s still the same hustle and things like that. But it’s exciting because I feel a lot less anxious about it. I just know how hard it is to break as an artist now. These days, it’s so difficult. There are so many incredibly talented people out there that it just doesn’t happen past a certain height. Nothing is guaranteed, but the doors are definitely open in a lot of places where they weren’t before. So, now the pressure is on to keep delivering, really.
You’re doing some serious damage to the UK charts and even though you may not be reaping the financial rewards, emotionally, you must be feeling it. So tell me about the first time you heard your music on the radio.
We actually recorded a little video of it. I was doing a small regional radio tour. I was basically going in and out of some of the smaller radio stations doing some live sessions. We were driving and it came on and I was in the car with the crew. It was quite amazing. There was that ‘Perfect Strangers’ thing so to have that was all over the radio. But, to have something that’s 100% your name, it’s really cool. And now I’m getting messages from my friends saying, “every time I turn the radio on, I can’t get away from you."
They're sick of you.
They’re tired of it now.
What can you tell me about your debut album and what we can expect from you this year?
Yeah, it’s definitely coming in the first half of this year. I’m kind of riding the wave with the singles at the moments and seeing when is the best time to release that. But it will be the first half of the year. I’m kind of ready for festival season and things like that. But the album is a beautiful body of work. With the singles, it’s funny, because there are people who aren’t sure which direction the album is going in. With the collaboration, I think it confused a few people. But the album is very much me. There’s so much beautiful, soulful, heartfelt stuff on there that I just cannot wait to release. It’s just a case of refining it now and getting it right. You only get the opportunity to release your debut album once. We’ve got to get it right. But I just can’t wait to release it. It’s a beautiful thing.
When it came to your singles. The inspiration was very specific to each song. But as a cohesive body of work, where would you describe where the overall identity and inspiration is coming from?
It’s quite autobiographical, actually. There are a lot of stories in there about my family, growing up, relationships. It’s very human relationship-based. I’m fascinated by that. A lot of it is from personal relationships over the years and my take on things, with a few stories here and there. But it’s definitely autobiographical.
When it comes to your debut project, what does something like that represent for you in your career? How would you put that into words?
I spent so many years singing in bands and thinking to myself, one day I’ll do a solo project and never really having the confidence to do it. So it was definitely a big thing just putting out my first demo. To finally being doing the full album is a huge milestone but I don’t put too much weight on one individual thing. I kind of look to the future. I still want to be making music when I’m old. These are all stepping stones to the future. My main focus is just getting better at writing and getting better at being open. They’re just little excerpts from diaries. There’s always going to be more. And at this point, I can’t wait to just box it off and be like, “okay, what’s next now” and get into the touring with it. And then start with a blank canvas again. The amount of work that goes into one record is unbelievable and this is my first experience of that. Through that and going into the new one, I’ll do a few things differently. But I guess it’s just a massive milestone for me.
When it comes to your songwriting, what is success to you? When are you finished with a song and what makes it successful to you?
For me, when you’ve said exactly what you want to say in the most simple, direct and beautiful way, that’s going to speak to every man, not just poets. Everybody is going to understand. That is success for me. Those songs that you write and you finish and it feels completely air-tight. It’s just done. Not every single song is like that but that’s what we kind of strive for is the, “there’s no better way I could have said that, in that space and time with that emotion.”
Now that you're in this limbo between making the music and putting it out, what are you most excited about?
Just seeing where it reaches. I'm always excited about going to new places. I've never been to Australia and I'm excited to get out there this year. The flight isn't booked yet, but I'm hoping it'll happen this year. The main thing is just seeing how far we can push it and seeing the reaction to that. I think up until now, I think I've been called "the UK's best-kept secret." And now, it's out of the bag so it's all about branching out and reaching more and more people. The most exciting thing is just the unknown and I think that's what keeps people who do creative work going. Nothing is ever guaranteed in it. It's what we thrive off. Just not knowing.