INTERVIEW: Hein Cooper

Heading towards a bold cinematic sound, Hein Cooper sets his eye on a full band approach for his emotionally driven sophomore record. ‘Underneath It All’ showcases a big growth from his minimalistic debut ‘The Art Of Escape’. Following it’s mostly acoustic soundscape he started to dabble with electronic influences and a full band sound to create something that was more genuine to the artist he wanted to be. As he prepares to return to Australia in August for his massive national headlining album tour, the Sydney singer-songwriter sets his sights on bringing a hopeful and vulnerable emotion to his shows. 

On the exciting release day of ‘Underneath It All’ I chatted to Hein Cooper who was on his way back to his hotel after a gig in Drummondville, Canada. Diving deep into the themes of the album we discussed the discovery of an electronic influenced sound, implementing looping into his live show, evoking deep emotions from crowds and discussed what sort of movie he could imagine his songs becoming a soundtrack to. Check it out HERE;

TB: Your second studio album ‘Underneath It All’ is out today and hears you capturing a bold and cinematic fuelled sound which is bit of a departure from your debut. So what was inspiring you sonically when you started working on this record?

HC: When I recorded the first album I had to figure out how I was going to play it live. A lot of the time when I was offered to play a show I couldn’t afford to bring a band on tour with me. So I was suddenly in a position where I had to figure out how to keep it all stripped back. But through that process I got really interested in what the likes of Tash Sultana and Jack Garratt were doing with live looping and creating an atmosphere all by themselves. I got more interested in that after the first album and I essentially got more interested with electronic music because of this too. It felt more natural to start playing with beats and tempos, which inspired the beginning of the creative process of this album. It’s more of a blend of organic electronic sounds with my voice, guitar and pianos. 

TB: ’Like That’ was a pretty bold jump melodically, and it just instantly resonated with listeners. The thing I particularly love about that track is the distinct layers. Were you constantly aware of how you wanted to keep growing your sound or did it all come across genuinely?

HC: Absolutely! I cant do anything that I don’t believe in. I can’t do anything that I don’t feel. When I was making ‘Like That’ I knew it was the most pop directed track I had done with a hard hitting electronic approach but I didn’t care because I loved it. I just want to make songs that I love and that I feel passionate about. 

TB: Everyone knows that sophomore albums are usually a little trickier than working on your debut as there is an expectation and shorter time frame given. Was this something that played on your mind? Or did you approach this record in a different way?

HC: It definitely played on my mind a bit but at the same time I was grateful of my independence. While I did spend a long time writing and touring that debut record and had some success, I’m blessed that I didn’t become some massive superstar with an intense pressure to do something quick and even better than before. I’ve been able to give myself that time to make sure I’m doing something I love and feel like it’s a step forward in my artistry. So I didn’t really feel that immense pressure because I was making sure it was as organic as possible. 

TB: From the opening verse of ‘Hijack’ there is this moody and cinematic feel that is instantly evoked and is maintained through tracks like ‘Hear My Voice’, ‘Fear Of Missing out’ and ‘Anywhere’. So if this record was to soundtrack a movie or tv show, how would you describe it?

HC: Oooh that’s a great question! I would really love my songs to be in a movie like ‘Captain Fantastic’. Something really raw and alternative. Something with real human things going on, nothing Hollywood. I’d want it to be really confronting and real and make you feel something, make you love your family, make you love your partner, make you love strangers. And feel true empathy. 

I also absolutely love The Matrix and sci-fi films about opening your mind to being potentially being lied to and going down that rabbit hole like ‘The Island’ did. So I could imagine my song ‘Hijack’ being on there. 

TB: This album dives into a very vulnerable sea of emotions. So reflecting on the record, what would you say is the most vulnerable moment for you as a songwriter?

HC: The creation of the record saw me go through two big stages of my life. I was in a relationship with someone where I was trying to convince myself it was working because I wanted to be in a healthy relationship. But it didn’t work. It wasn’t working. In my mind I was like “this is it. There is no such thing as true love. I don’t believe in any of this”. So there’s a few songs like ‘Peculiar’ and ‘Over Again’ which are about that period in my life. 

But then I moved on and completely and actually fell in love. So I was able to finish working on this album with some songs about the beginning of that love. There is a real earning for connection and you can feel something that is really hopeful, true and real. It’s at the beginning of it too which I feel are some of the moments that are the most raw. The songs ‘Wolves’, ‘Anywhere’ and ‘Like That’ is pretty open for what I’m talking about as I’m wanting someone to fall in love with and I find that. 

TB: You will be returning to Australia this August for a massive national tour. So with the big anthemic touch of this album, how are you planning on showcasing that through the live platform?

HC: I’ve been working so hard on my live show and I’m actually so excited about it to be honest. I have a million drum pads all around me as well as a guitar, so it’s been a real process to get used it. But Im so excited to come back to Australia and show everyone this new show and play the new music. It feels really good because I really had it envisioned in my mind how I wanted the new live show to sound and feel. So it’s a really excited thing to watch it come to life and play with new ideas. 

TB: What new song from ‘Underneath It All’ are you most excited or nervous to play in this new show? 

HC: ‘Invincible’ was a really tough one to figure out how to play live because the chord progression changes drastically. When your looping you can’t really transition into progressions easily so it’s been difficult to implement that. But I think I’ve figured it out. 

TB: With this new album out in the world and enough time for people to soak it in before the upcoming live shows. What do you want the biggest takeaway emotion or feeling from the show to be for the audience? 

HC: I really like Bon Iver as a musician and there are so amen reasons why I love him but one of the main reasons is because every time I listen to his music I just want to become a good person. I just feel so emotionally satisfied in a deep place. So when I make music I really like to tap into that place and find things that make me feel that way. So I would really love people to walk away from my shows feeling like that too. 

TB: Let’s play a little game of rapid fire questions where I’m going to ask you some questions that you just need to answer with the first thing that comes to mind.

HC: Okay!

TB: My pre show pump up song is…

HC: ‘Do It Again’ by Steely Dan

TB: Pineapple on pizza is…

HC: Terrible! Is that even a question?! *laughs* 

TB: The emoji that best describes my album ‘Underneath It All’ is…

HC: The rose! 

TB: If I could have any super power it would be…

HC: 100% to fly! 

TB: My go to snack on tour is…

HC: McDonalds *laughs*! We have literally been to McDonalds three times today, it’s so shameful!

Underneath It All Australian Album Tour

Saturday 3 August – Milton Theatre, Milton

Thursday 8 August – Cambridge Warehouse, Newcastle

Friday 9 August – Lansdowne, Sydney

Saturday 10 August – The Basement, Canberra

Friday 16 August – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane

Saturday 17 August – Kingscliff Beach Hotel, Kingscliff

Friday 23 August – Mojo’s, Fremantle

Saturday 24 August – Prince Of Wales, Bunbury

Sunday 25 August – Clancy’s Fish Pub, Dunsborough

Thursday 29 August – Grace Emily Hotel, Adelaide

Friday 30 August – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne

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