Hein Cooper has had one hell of a year, now the indie-folk musician is back on home soil ahead of the release of his record and embarking on a 13-date tour, which began in Byron Bay on February 18th. Answering the phone to chat from Cronulla, mid beach break, Hein gave us some insight on what it’s been like for him as a musician.
So tell me a bit about your musical background and where it all began for you?
I was about 14 years old when a friend of, my best friend at the time, we were really competitive and he bought a guitar and I literally bought a guitar because I wanted to do it better than he did. I ended up loving it, he ended up stopping but my competitive nature got me into it at the start and then it actually became something and something I really fell in love with.
And then I just played Angus & Julia stone, fold music inspired me, it was the first thing that I loved – then it just grew into all different styles.
When did you really start to develop your sound?
I feel like the last two years I’ve worked out who I am, I still feeling like I’m learning who I am as such but I feel like I’ve kind of come into my own little space in the last couple of years with my music.
Who’s been the biggest inspiration for you musically?
At the time when I was 15 that was who I loved, but overall Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, Ben Howard, Bon Iver, those kind of experimental artists are who I really love. And The Beatles their my favourite.
What’s it like spending so much time in Canada –How do you think living in Canada has influenced your music and shaped you as an artist? Obviously there’s been some amazing artists coming out of Montreal… Half moon run is one of my faves...
Yeah it definitely shaped my music, Montreal and Quebec, French speaking Canada are the most creative places, like nowhere else I’ve been,. It’s its own little world of creativity. People are doing a lot of creative things and you can just feel the energy when your there. For me it was like this awesome wintery place where I could just go into my own little world.
Do you find it easier to write and create music over there then when your here back in Australia?
In a way, yes, not because of it being anymore of a creative space, mainly because I like to be alone when I’m writing and I obviously don’t know half the amount of people I know there than here in Australia and I feel a lot more comfortable in my isolation over there.
Tell us about the track 'Rusty'?
Rusty actually I was playing a bar and my manager was there, and this was a long time ago actually before anything kind of started happening. I was playing a riff on guitar because I would basically make up my sets on the spot when I was playing a lot of bar gigs, and I played this riff, he was there and recorded it on his Iphone and basically said ‘you need to make a song out of this’ so that was how it started musically. Then the inspiration behind the message of the song, I was with the wrong people at the time and partying, feeling quite empty. I was basically using a whole bunch of different things to cope with it, not feeling good basically and that reaction to that situation is what the song is about.
Well I guess that really co-insides with my next question which was, how does your film clip which see’s you get shipwrecked represent your message for the track?
I wanted that video to be kind of all about nature, getting thrown into nature as a quarantine thing. Shot that video about 20 minutes from where I live, it’s such a crazy spot, it looks like it’s from thousands of years ago.
So you’re about to release ‘Art of Escape’ on the 4th of March, what was the production and writing process for your album?
The Art of Escape was produced over a period of about two months in Montreal, I went ovcer there and I worked with a produicer called Marcus Paquin (who has produced albums for Arcade Fire and The National) we basically got together for a week before we actually started recording the album and he helped me write some of the bridge section and finish the fine details of the writing of the album. Then we basically got straight into it. There was no real formula, we just treated each song as it needed to be treated and got experimental and creative as possible. Laid the drum tracks down with this other guy called Luke O’Neil then Marcus and I basically built all the other sounds and instruments over the tracks for the next month or so.
How does it feel knowing your music is reaching people internationally?
Yeah it’s really exciting but at the same time so tiring. Geo blocking on Facebook is the bane of my existence. Na but I’m stoked, I’m really excited! It’s really interesting to see which places are interested because we’ve got a label in Germany now and also France. Im really excited to put the album out there and tour.
Can you speak any French?
Haha ok, ill give you a Montreal word, a swear word because that’s what you also learn first. Tabarnak, it’s because they use all the religious catholic words as swear words so thats the main one you use, you know, I won’t say it but it’s that word you use a lot.
I’ll try spread it on the Gold Coast, so next time you come back you’ll hear people saying it...
Spread it, remember it, haha and I’ll know it’s you.
So how do the fans kind of vary from internationally to here? How does touring overseas compare to touring your homeland?
I don’t think they vary that much, it’s been pretty similar, different culture of people but the same kind of demography each time. Touring overseas was incredible because I had never been to Europe before. It was crazy being in a different country, trying to understand and fit in.
You went from busking, that’s how it kind of started out for you, now you just wrapped up touring with James Bay – tell us what that was like? Most of his shows were sold out… it would of been pretty hectic!
Yep, it was amazing! One of the most exciting, definitely the most exciting tour I’ve been on so far. It was so inspiring to see someone like him rock n roll on stage, just to see what it looks like when someone truly owns the stage, it just got me so pumped up and inspired. Kicked started 2016 in the best possible way!
Have you found it hard to take your songs from the studio and bring it live to the audience…?
It was a long process. That’s kind of why we’ve held this album back to now to release it so I could actually realise how to play the songs live by all the touring I did last year, and now I feel like I actually understand what I want to with the songs live to reflect the songs how they sound recorded after touring it through Europe unreleased.
Your about to start your own tour, beginning in Byron… how excited are you to get to grab the tail end of summer? Surely it’s not all work and no play, anything you’re looking forward to doing whiles you’re in sunny QLD?
Yeah I am, I’ve never played in Byron before. I’m also playing a show at Sol Bar in Sunny Coast so I plan on doing s lot of laying around on the beaches.. I’m a land person, I don’t like leaving haha..
Where are you looking forward to playing most on the tour?
Really can’t wait to play Western Australia, can’t wait to support him.
What’s the best/worst thing about touring?
The worst thing is being tired and grumpy, when you’ve got one clean shirt that’s been worn about a thousand times and you’ve got a flight at 6am because it was cheaper and you gotta fly to another place and sit around all day. At times it can be a little bit tiring... The best thing about touring is that you get to meet a whole lot of people you would never meet otherwise, also the whole experience of travelling and expanding your knowledge of the world!
Any spoilers your allowed to tell us?
Haha well my album comes out on the 4th of March and I’m really looking forward to it. Another video clip is coming out soon, but I’m not allowed to speak too much about that!
Hein’s Tour Dates are as below:
Circular Quay, Australia
Nannup Music Fest
Nannup Music Fest
Pirie & Co social club
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ben [at] lennoxgroove.com for all music submissions.