Phil is a contemporary singer-songwriter from the UK with influences ranging from Crowded House to Damien Rice, through Ben Folds and James Taylor. Having skirting around the edges of the music business for far too many year, he decided i n 2015 to quit his job in executive management and plunge head first into a fully professional music career. His fierce DIY ethics see him self releasing his album and doing all the tour promotion and so on himself (calling in help when required of course). Please read on to learn more about Phil and his most recent full length release, “Thing I’ll Never Say” below!
You made a leap of faith in 2015 to quit your full time job and pursue music full time. How has your life and music career changed since this decision? Well for a start, I’m as happy as I’ve ever been. I enjoyed my old job, and it was very hard to leave, but music isn’t just something I do, it’s a fundamental part of my being. Now I’ve got the time and freedom to concentrate on it full time, it feels amazing. In terms of musical career I guess it’s too early to tell, but I’ve certainly thrown myself in to it, with loads more tour dates, radio interviews and so on.
Where did the idea(s) for your new album, “Things I’ll Never Say”, stem from? Lyrically, about half the songs are about a breakup, which I don’t really want to discuss (after all, that’s what the songs are for), but there’s plenty of other themes in there too. “I Don’t Have a Voice” is an overtly political statement about the voting system in the UK. “To the Unknown Loves of my Life” is for anyone who’s ever fancied someone and done nothing about it. “Thank You, My Friend” was written years ago for my brother, who played bass on the album, and acted as recording engineer too. Without him the album would sound very different. The title “Things I’ll Never Say” is really about staying quiet about something that’s hurt you, because it’s better in the long run to keep those things to yourself (or put them in song and make them immortal, y’know, either way is good right?)
What was the writing and recording process like for this album? Which song was a particularly challenging one to record? Why? I’ve found myself thinking a bit more about the writing process recently, because people are starting to ask me about it, and I’ve never really thought about it, it’s just been something I do. When I was writing this album I booked a long weekend in the middle of nowhere and locked myself away with my ideas, and just over half the songs on the album come from that weekend. The recording process was actually very different from my past experiences. I’ve recorded quite a lot in the past, but this time, I wanted to work with lots of other people. I’ve already mentioned my brother who added a different viewpoint, but I also brought in a few extra instruments too. I’ve got some horns, strings, and additional vocals, all of which changed the way I arranged the songs for the recording process. There were a few challenging moments, but it took three separate recording sessions before I was happy with the vocals on the closing track “A Year in a Life”, so that probably counts as the most tricky.
Tell us about your upcoming shows in the UK! Where can fans catch your live show? Well, I’m off around the country a bit at the end of February/beginning of March, taking in Bradford, North Yorkshire, Perth, Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool and Leamington Spa, and then a whole load of dates in the south west, where I live. I arrange all the tour dates myself though, and I love playing live, so there will be plenty more dates later in the year. Keep your eye on www.phil-cooper.co.uk/gig-dates/ for the latest.
Whats next for you in 2016? Well, of course I’ll be promoting the album heavily, playing live as much as possible, and getting the music out there to people. I’ve got a few festivals booked, but hoping to add some more. My following is growing but most people still don’t know I exist so 2016 is about establishing myself and then moving on. it’s just the first step, I’m in this for the long haul!