JP Cooper has done the legwork. Many 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, Over 2 billion worldwide streams, and his own September Song, which is now closing in on 1 billion worldwide streams and numerous songs in the 100’s of millions. It’s 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 and a half million copies at time of writing. His 10 million monthly Spotify listeners have contributed to a grand – very grand – total of over five billion total streams and counting.
“My early EP`s and my first album reached so many people on a personal level,” he reflects, “so they’ve built a relationship with them – and even now they keep doing their thing which is great. The pop songs just blew everything wide open and took me on a journey that I never expected to be on. Don’t get me wrong, it was an amazing time, I consider myself fortunate and I appreciate all the opportunities that came with it, but I was definitely unprepared! [laughs]”
JP had a productive few years following the release of his debut album. He released the global hit song, Sing It With Me, collaborated with a wide variety of artists including Bugsy Malone, Gabrielle Aplin, Swiss Hip Hop legend Stress, French-Lebonese Jazz trumpet superstar Ibrahim Maalouf and Stef LonDon and released the hugely successful Too Close EP. He played sold out shows in numerous countries whilst all the time writing new material for himself and other artists.
Then Covid came along and everything stopped…
“It was a trying time, but thankfully it gave me the time to really pull myself together. A big thing for me during that period was to take stock of where I’d been and where I was 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 that new album [SHE] was the single Holy Water, a rootsy, gospel-tinged stomping hymn to family and the difficulties that can arise therein, a bold opening statement that was more akin to his original material than the later pop infused tracks that had made him ‘famous’
“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 felt more like me. It felt more about the record as a whole.”
His Sophomore album, SHE, is out now, it’s that paradoxical thing: a collection of songs that hangs together as an album, that tells a story, but that’s also rich in standalone tracks the each ignite a moment. It’s the sound of an artist developing, stretching and reaching, both inwards and outwards.
He’s done the legwork, done the business and done the hardest thing. Now JP Cooper has done himself proud. “And I’m only just getting started,” he promises.