Hein Cooper likes to cause trouble. As he puts it, ‘only to the people around me.’ We caught up with him to delve into his creative habits.
Landing his debut album, ‘The Art of Escape’ in the hearts of many across Australia, Canada and Europe is seen to be causing a stir in the industry – but only of the good kind. Taking a somewhat new direction for his latest single ‘Hear my Voice,’ we just ought to know more about his creative realm. Read on to see our exclusive interview.
Tell us about how you got into music…
Music was something I wasn’t always fascinated with. I had a particularly bad music teacher in primary school that put me off it completely. Later, I moved with my family to Ulladulla (southern NSW) and it was like the beginning of a whole new life. I discovered music in a different way and I became quickly obsessed with it through highschool.
Obviously “The Art of Escape” was a hit, where is your new music headed?
I think the music I’m creating now is definitely a progression from TAOE. It’s still me, playing my guitar (although I am playing piano now too) and working through themes close to my heart like escapism, self discovery and love. There is a big collection of flavours stylistically, some atmospheric folk songs, some more electronic songs and in a particular a strong influence of groove that I feel wasn’t as present on the first record. Frank Ocean is to blame for this!
At the beginning of your career, you spoke about ‘testing’ what audiences would like when they heard your music, and then taking that feedback to form new songs, is this something you still do?
Yes I do and I will never stop doing this but I have come more to terms with the fact that people have all got their own taste. So now it’s more about satisfying myself with what I’m creating and accepting those who like it and those who don’t.
What do you hope people will feel when they listen to your music, what would make you happy?
My favourite songs are songs I can relate too, they help me through my life, and as I change, new songs reach me and others leave, but there is always something in them that gives me strength through knowing I’m not alone in my situation. That’s what I want my music to do for people.
Is there someone who you look up to?
I find most humans fascinating but if I had to choose one in particular I’d say Colin Wilson. He’s an incredible author who I relate to on a number of levels. A good book to start with is his fictional story ‘SpiderWorld’. It sounds ridiculous but it is great!
Do you prefer the writing process or performing?
I usually prefer writing, and I kind of dread having to perform live, then when it comes time to tour all of a sudden the light appears and I love it. There’s a lot of pressure with performing live that you don’t get when you’re recording, but there is also something truly special about sharing music in a room full of people that you don’t get when you are recording.
As a musician is it hard to seperate the music part of your life and the living part, or do they morph in to one?
At times it certainly is. I think if you want your work to be truly meaningful then you have to make it your life.
Did you always want to become a musician?
After I became involved, YES.
“I live intensely, move around a lot and maximise my experience and then throw it all up against a wall and try to make sense of it. ”
— HEIN COOPER
Tell us about your creative process, what spurs on an idea for you? do you start with lyrics then music, or vice versa?
It constantly changes and evolves. I locate things in my life that I feel have meaning and value and I try to bottle them up. I live intensely, move around a lot and maximise my experience and then throw it all up against a wall and try to make sense of it.
Can you describe a favourite show you’ve played?
I’ve played some great shows in WA. A festival called Nannup Festival is definitely a highlight. I played it years ago, I’m going to sound like a total hippy but the energy around the event is really powerful and it’s all about the music. Whether you’re 24 yrs old and sexy as hell or 60 and wrinkly, a rolling stone or an accountant, there is something bringing it altogether there and the atmosphere during my sets was magical.
Do you prefer an intimate gig or a bigger crowd?
Bigger crowd, there’s honestly less nerves than an intimate show and until I 100% know how to overcome nerves, I prefer the big shows.
Where would you like to perform where you haven’t yet?
As an artist, do you find that there is a constant struggle for perfectionism?
Yes and sometimes it drives me mad but it does help things progress so it’s bittersweet.
What is the best part about what you do?
Free drinks and dinner, except in England, they usually don’t provide that unless you’re Bon Jovi.
New songs reach me and others leave, but there is always something in them that gives me strength in knowing I’m not alone in my situation.