Manchester’s JP Cooper is a self-made, self-taught musician who manages to exist effortlessly within two scenes generally considered to be at varying ends of the sonic spectrum.
Learning his craft on the Indie Rock scene, but later connecting with the Manchester Sing Out Gospel Choir, John Paul Cooper’s exquisite vocal seamlessly encompasses the best of both worlds. This is meaningful music from the mind of someone who’s lived life, loss and longing. The singer defines the idea of what it is to be a truly singular artist who both defies convention and resists comparison.
Bought up during the guitar-laden years of Britpop, like many young Manchester teens, JP played in various bands throughout school. Broadening his musical tastes beyond Oasis by regularly visiting eponymous record store, the Vinyl Exchange, it was there the young music enthusiast discovered everything from Björk to Aphex Twin, Donny Hathaway and Rufus Wainwright. Deciding to go solo while at college, JP was finally able to fully draw on his various influences and begin to experiment with the sort of artist he wanted to be.
Teaching himself guitar, JP began testing his sound out at Open Mic nights and quickly started getting booked to play all over Manchester. Within a year he rose to selling out 250 capacity venue, the Deaf Institute. However, because he was a white guy with a guitar, he found himself increasingly booked at folk / indie / band nights.
Ill at ease in a scene into which he was thrust, slowly his audience began to diversify as the subtleties in his music began to emerge. He joined Manchester’s Sing Out Gospel Choir and released a series of three mixtapes, noticing a growing fanbase within the urban world. Soon he was not only selling out venues like the Gorilla in Manchester, but he was hitting capacity at shows in London too.
After signing to Island Records, JP released two EP’s, which have had over 10 million plays. The first, ‘Keep The Quiet Out’, was produced by Confectionary [Bonkaz, Jacob Banks]. The most recent ‘When The Darkness Comes’, was produced by duo One-Bit, and features six perfectly executed vignettes.
He not only has a large online following, but a large and loyal live fanbase too. Last year, he sold out four headline shows in London, including the The Scala, the Village Underground and KOKO. The EP’s, along with his engaging live performances, have won JP a legion of fans as disparate as his sounds; the likes of Ed Sheeran, Maverick Sabre, Shawn Mendez and Stormzy have all sung his praises, while collaborations with the likes of George the Poet have seen Cooper diversify a little into the spoken world arena.
This year has seen JP release the smash hit ‘September Song’ which has had over 11 million global streams, support Stevie Wonder on the main stage at British Summer Time, along with performances at Bestival, T in The Park and Festival No.6, and not forgetting his Platinum-selling collaboration with Jonas Blue, ‘Perfect Strangers’, which now has over 240 million plays on Spotify.
Next up is JP’s debut album, which promises to be bigger and bolder affair, while retaining a sense of simplicity and honesty. Featuring elements of hip hop, stand-up soul and country-inflected guitar, there will also be some unexpected twists and turns. JP isn’t an artist that deals in the formulaic, the predictable or the conventional. He isn’t here to make cookie-cutter sounds that cynically appeal to a mass market. Rather he wants to challenge the idea’s of what music people should – and shouldn’t – be making.