Sat, March 30, 2024
Doors: 6:30 pm
Tickets are non-transferable until 24 hours prior to the show time. Any tickets suspected of being purchased for the sole purpose of reselling can be cancelled at the discretion of The Atlantis / Ticketmaster, and buyers may be denied future ticket purchases for I.M.P. shows. Opening acts, door times, and set times are always subject to change.
JP Cooper has done the legwork. Ten years in bands in and around his Manchester hometown. Multiple songs written on his own and with a variety of collaborators, a couple of which became global hits-that-will-not-die: Perfect Strangers with Jonas Blue and his own September Song, which is now sitting at some 600 million streams. An international solo career built on pure songcraft.
And he’s done the business. The singer-songwriter’s 2017 debut album Raised Under Grey Skies has sold in old-fashioned numbers: one million copies at time of writing. His 11 million monthly Spotify listeners have contributed to a grand – very grand – total of four billion total streams.
And, over the past 18 months, Cooper has done the hardest thing: built on all that to create a second album, a collection of 13 songs that work as together and work apart, that out-paces, out-sings and, by his exacting standards, out-classes his debut.
“My first record reached so many people on a personal level,” he reflects, “so they’ve built a relationship with it ¬– and even now it keeps doing its thing. But coming back now, this is more of a body of work that’s been put together with thought and care and not in a rush. When you have a hit single that changes things and what the album should be – there’s pressure to write a load more singles.
“Whereas this one I feel like I’ve been able to give a lot more attention to all of them because I’ve not been distracted, trying to launch my career. I’ve been able to sit at home and work with the people I love and get it to the place I want it to be – and only then send it off into the world.”
It is, too, coming from a place of love. Which is one reason why the second album from JP Cooper is called She.
As he explains: “I started thinking how most of my biggest life experiences have come about because of women: losing my mum at an early age, having four sisters, having a baby with someone I didn’t end up with, meeting my wife, with whom I’ve just had a baby… I’ve learnt most of my lessons through women and wanted to celebrate that and give thanks!
All things considered – i.e., the pandemic – JP Cooper had a productive 2020. He released the Too Close EP, with two of the songs, the title track and Bits and Pieces, making it onto the album.
“Then Covid came along and everything stopped. It’s been a trying time but thankfully, it gave me the time to really pull this album together. We had all the songs, and we knew what the main tracks were, but it was a case of working them up and finishing them”.
“A big thing for me during Covid was to take stock of where I’ve been and where I’m going,” he continues. “Up until then, I’d really been working from a place of survival. I’d never reset, so all my decisions were made from that place. But I realised I wasn’t in that place anymore. I could make creative decisions and be bolder with them, not be so fearful, not worry too much about it from the industry side. I’d earned my stripes.
“So, it was nice to have that new mindset, and make music from that position.”
Opening the curtain on the new album is Holy Water, the first track and recently released single.
“I’ve got deep roots in gospel music, real musicianship and playing in bands, so I wanted to make that statement with this single. I don’t want to try and emulate pop stars. Because I’m not a pop star. I’ve stepped into that world and it felt like a badly fitting jacket. But this feels like me. It feels more about the record as a whole.”
Recording in a tiny room in The Premises in Hoxton, East London with songwriter/producer/keyboard player Hannah Vasanth (who’s worked with everyone from Rihanna to Jessie J via Jason Derulo), Cooper called in “all my favourite players, and we recorded it like an old school record – built it from the ground up, piano, live Hammond organs from Nicky Brown, who’s just an absolute animal on the organ, my guitarist Jack Shepherd, everything.
“It wasn’t made on a laptop with synthetic sounds. It was real players, real voices, real relationships. That’s the people I want to make music with moving forward. I much prefer working in a room with musicians than arranging little dots on a screen.”
The rootsy, gospel-tinged hymn to family and the difficulties that can arise therein also serves as the opening statement in a five-track narrative that will be told across subsequent videos for songs from She.
“We wanted to take a different approach to the promo videos for this new album,” he says of the accompanying film. “Holy Water follows the strained relationship between father and daughter because of the father’s struggles with alcohol. The two part ways and we follow their separate journeys of self-discovery, healing and growth. In this short, our main characters are at a turning point in their lives. Growth isn’t always easy, and we often distract ourselves with things that aren’t necessarily in line with our true selves – but the beauty lies within the journey. Falling and failing are two very different things. I can’t wait to unravel the rest of the story.”
Call My Name, pivoting on the kind of big pop chorus and soulful delivery that come naturally to Cooper, continues that story. “That was a pain in the arse to get right!” he admits with a laugh. “We’ve had four different producers on that, because we were constantly searching for this extra 20 per cent. But we got there in the end.
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