Fresh from her knockout performance at Matt and Phreds, where Charlie Cooper launched her incredible debut EP, Needs Must (When The Devil Drives), we met up with Charlie Cooper to discuss the EP, her career so far and what the future holds for such an incredible talent.
The last time we met was for your EP Launch for Needs Must (When The Devil Drives), which was absolutely fantastic, how did you feel it went?
I was really pleased with the event. It was an excellent turnout and there was great atmosphere. Matt and Phreds always has that kind of vibe about it but I think the quality of homegrown, true soul artists that took to the stage that evening made it extra special.
Tell us a bit about the EP itself
The lead track, “Needs Must (When The Devil Drives)” is one of my favourites. It’s got a futuristic retro soul vibe. I like to think of track no.2, “That Man” as the Bond Theme that never was! Track no.3, “Beautiful Clown” is a ballad and although there has been a video for this online it’s not been available for download before. Finally, “Secret of Love”is one of my newest tracks. I love it. It’s really quite quirky with an excellent bass line.
How would you describe your music and style?
Well I guess at the root of all of my songs there is a quite an old-fashioned writing style. They’ve been described as having hints of Bacharach which is very complimentary. It’s obvious that I’ve been influenced by a variety of styles and genres as I feel all of my songs are quite different. They’ve all got a definite Charlie stamp! I love that vintage soul sound, with lush strings, choirs. Nothing too polished.
Tell a bit about your background.
I’m originally from the Potteries (Stoke-on-Trent). I studied Philosophy at Manchester University. I didn’t really touch a piano for about ten years and then I got a desk job after Uni for about four years and was so unhappy that I went back to what I used to love, which was music and thought ‘Sod it, let’s do it”.
Do you write your own material? What’s the process?
I do, yeah. The process varies. It may start with some piano that I’ll have had for ages and then I’ll think of some words and put them together or vice verse. Sometimes there will be a big gap between putting them both together other times I’ll sit at the piano and both lyrics and piano come out at the same time together.
What sort of topics do your songs cover?
I think I’m guilty of having those self-indulgent songs about love but I try not to write anything obvious. I try and avoid lyrics like ‘I love you, baby’ or ‘I need you, baby’ – so for that reason I’m quite particular about what I will and wont write. I like to write about interesting things that may mean different things to different people. Maybe that’s why I don’t write as quickly as I should do – I’m waiting for something interesting to come along!
Which record label is releasing the EP?
I’m putting it out through a record label called Germanium Records, who have also produced the tracks.
We understand that you’ll be performing at Kendal Calling.
Yeah, it’s my first time at Kendal which will be great. I’ve also got another couple of festival slots which I’m not permitted to say as of yet but they should be announced in May, so keep an eye out for them!
You opened for Jools Holland when he performed live. How did that come about?
I did yes. Dawsons Music and Yamaha presented the opportunity for artists to submit a video of them performing one of their own compositions. Submissions were short listed and handed to Jools who picked his favourite.
Was it your biggest gig so far?
As a solo artist yes. I did do some pretty awesome gigs with the Gorillaz many moons ago as part of their choir. They were pretty good gigs!
Did that give you a taste for it?
Well, I don’t know actually, maybe not, because I didn’t pursue it from then on. It was a quite a few years before I launched “Project Charlie”.
Going forwards, what’s the plan for the future?
I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing; writing, recording, making videos, doing what I love and hopefully just being happy.
Is there an album on the horizon?
I think there’s going to be another couple of EPs first.
Anybody in particular you would like to work with?
I think there are probably lots of people who I’d love to work with although I know it’s not always easy to find a suitable writing partner or someone who can translate your music into the record you wanted. I count myself as extremely lucky to have the musicians and producer I have worked with.
Do you have any more gigs lined up in Manchester at the moment?
I’m at Solomon Grundy on the 26th April, The Jackelope in Chorlton at the end of May, the Cinnamon Rooms on the 27th June. Other dates will be appearing shortly on my website www.charliecoopermusic.com.
Charlie Cooper’s debut EP Needs Must (When the Devil Drives) can be purchased from Amazon or i-Tunes.