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Interview: Mickey Cooper

mickey cooper 2
Australia’s own answer to Ed Sheeran, Mickey Cooper, has hit the Australian air waves again, this time with the very personal single John Curtain Hotel Freak Out. We had a chat to the Melbourne songwriter about recording his debut album ‘Hit The Ceiling’, his time in New York, and what inspires his beautiful music.

 So you’ve been pretty busy with your new album ‘Hit The Ceiling’, the new video, and of course the new single John Curtain Hotel Freakout. There’s a really personal backstory to it, do you normally write from really personal experiences?

Yeah, I find it really hard to write about fictional events or characters. I’ve always written from personal experiences, [but] it’s something I probably want to change up in the future and write about some more impressionistic kind of things or fictional characters.

So you’d say the album is extremely personal?

Yeah, exactly I had a bit of a family breakup a year or two ago, so a lot of the songs are from the fallout from that, actually pretty much the whole thing (laughs).

Speaking of the album, it was written in Manhattan, how did you come to be there and record?

I had two thirds of the songs written and then I went over there for a few months late last year and wrote a couple more and then recorded them all in this little apartment with one mic, one guitar, and just got it done!

How long did the album take to finish?

It was probably about six weeks in total, maybe even less four to six weeks?

Did you enjoy New York? Is there anywhere else you want to record?

Yeah I loved it, for me it was purely about having a space to record with normal life – friends, family, work, and uni and everything – going on, it’s hard to find that space where you can just devote yourself to getting into a project, and that was a great thing and the fact that it happened to be in New York was amazing because I could walk outside and I was in this really inspiring place!

Yeah, I can imagine it to be a really inspiring place! What was your creative process like while over there, did you just sit down with a pen and paper or did you like to be in a certain environment?

I never go to deliberately write anything, it’s always while I’m fumbling around with my guitar while watching a sitcom or something (laughs) or just fiddling with something and then something will spark and then I’ll do a voice memo and write lyrics to it later. That’s kind of the majority of how I work, but then sometimes I’ll have a poem that I’ll put music too which is kind of the rarity, the exception.

Well I can see from your previous works and of course John Curtain Hotel Freak Out that you’re a really talented writer, even winning the Dorothy Porter award for emerging poets last year!

Yeah, that was actually pretty cool because it was the day that I got back from New York and I had spent all my money and they gave me a cheque for $1000, that sort of erased some of my debt!

Good timing!

Yeah exactly, but yeah this album I grew up playing in indie rock bands where melody and hooks were the focus and I still definitely keep that in my song writing but I wanted to focus on giving more weight to the lyrical side of it and having the words have more of a feature.

I’m guessing you’ve always had a knack for writing? Or has it developed as you’ve gotten older?

Definitely, as a kid I use to write short stories about everything, it’s what I did for fun and then I’ve always loved reading and poetry. I’m drawn to really poetic song writers like Dylan, Nick Cave, and Jeff Tweedy. I love writing I love words.

Do you have a favourite book or poem?

That’s really hard! I was talking to a friend the other day actually and I think my favourite set of lyrics is from the song She’s A Jar by Wilco. That’s kind of a poem in itself, I also love Patty Smith’s poetry and her books they’re incredible.

So you’re performing in your hometown of Melbourne this month, any chance of a national tour.

Yeah definitely I will be putting the album out in about six weeks time and then after that I definitely want to get around the country a bit.

Well we would love to see you in Brisbane!

Yeah I’d love to come up. I was there a few months ago I played Sunday Roots at The Triffid, it was lots of fun!