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Electric President - conducted by Todd E. Jones  

Ben Cooper Is Running For Electric President

May 2006

Poignant music is rooted in emotional honesty. The heartrending songs in films have power due to the universal truth within the emotional backbone of the story. Many artists strive to create poignant music, but few succeed. When an artist succeeds in capturing a precious feeling, the music is timeless and universal. Trisomie 21, Slowdive, The Verve, The House Of Love, and Cocteau Twins are just several groups who have mastered this art. Electric President is a group with this talent. Consisting of Ben Cooper and Alex Kane, Electric President injects a subtle wit into their music. They recently released their debut album, “S/T”. Recorded in a shed and a bedroom, “S/T” sounds as if it could be a soundtrack for a film by John Hughes. Ben Cooper and Alex Kane were originally in a group they called Radical Face Versus Phalex Sledgehammer. Together, Cooper and Kane have utilized their creative energy to create a new and exciting project.

Ben Cooper became a renaissance man after being raised as a boy in Jacksonville, Florida. As a writer, artist, and musician, Cooper uses various mediums to express himself. Recently, Cooper reunited with fellow musician, Alex Kane and created the duo named Electric President. Their goal was to use electronic instruments without creating an overtly electronic sound. Their debut album, “S/T” is unique collection of poignant yet enigmatic pop tunes. If John Hughes (director of The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, etc.) were making a teen flick today, one of the songs from “S/T” would probably be on the soundtrack. Released by Morr Music, “S/T” uses emotional guitar melodies and light rhythms to create music that is noticeable, but not shocking.

Ben Cooper will be one of those artists that you will hear about in the following years. If this article is the first time you heard about him, will you remember it?

MVRemix: What goes on?

Ben Cooper: Not much. Just finished watching some more of ‘Lost’. Good show.

MVRemix: Electric President just released a new album, ‘S/T’, Tell us about the album.

Ben Cooper: Well, it’s the first record me and Alex have done under an official name. We’ve worked together off and on since around 2000, but finally gave the project a title. We recorded it at home, in Alex’s bedroom and in my tool shed. It took about 8 months. It was also the first time we’ve ever used computers so much in the process. That’s the basic overview of the record.

MVRemix: What is your favorite song on ‘S/T’?

Ben Cooper: I don’t have one. I’m much more into the idea of a complete record, where no one song is necessarily more important, so I don’t really pay much attention to any particular song once the record is done.

MVRemix: Why did you choose the name Electric President?

Ben Cooper: I was at a Christmas party, a couple years ago, having a conversation with a couple friends who I hadn’t seen in a while. One of them said something along the lines of ‘eclectic resident’, but I thought he said electric president. We thought the name was kind of funny. We joked that one of us should use it for a band name. So, I did.

MVRemix: Which song on ‘S/T’ took the longest to complete? Why?

Ben Cooper: I think ‘Some Crap About The Future’ took the longest and saw the most changes. It was a pain in the ass to record for a number of reasons. The drums were all pitch shifted. The guitars weren’t sitting right at first. The drones kept getting too thick and noisy and then, proved to be the toughest to mix too. And, it originally had more sections, but it was already getting out of hand, so it was cut back to something more manageable.

MVRemix: For ‘S/T’, you wanted to integrate computers into the process without having the LP to be an electronic record. Why? How did you accomplish this?

Ben Cooper: Well, after listening to some records from The Books, I was really pumped to try some editing. So, I suggested to Alex that we use a bunch of computers on the record. He was into it too, so we got started. All the songs started like normal ones. I’d lay out some chords and get my vocals together. Then, Alex would add some bass guitar to everything. Then we’d start using computers to mess everything up. Splice parts out, mute and un-mute entire sections, record sections separately and edit them together, stuff like that. The drums were mostly random sounds we collected and made, knocking on walls, dropping bags, zippers, tools, scraping Styrofoam, cracking our knuckles, dropping rocks in a bucket, et cetera. I sequenced them all in Reason.

MVRemix: The song, ‘Good Morning Hypocrite’ is one of my favorites. What inspired this song?

Ben Cooper: It was the first song we did for the record. I can’t say exactly what inspired it, other than that it was the start of the whole project. It was the guinea pig, in a lot of ways, and it provided some idea of what direction the record would go in.

MVRemix: The ‘S/T’ album was recorded in a tool shed and a bedroom?

Ben Cooper: Yeah. We don’t have a recording space or anything. So, we just work wherever. Alex’s bedroom is more convenient, so it was used for about 80% of this record. But whenever I record at home, I work in the tool shed. It’s the only space I’ve got for playing music.

MVRemix: How do you feel you have evolved as an artist?

Ben Cooper: I don’t know. It’s a hard thing to gauge. I mean, it happens slowly. So, sometimes you almost don’t even notice until you listen back to what you were making and writing a few years before. I think I’m happier with the more recent stuff, and more confident in it, but that could be a state of mind as much as actual improvement. But I’ve definitely gotten a lot better at production and recording. We’re using the same crappy gear we’ve always used. I haven’t bought any new recording gear for a couple years, but everything sounds a lot more together now.

MVRemix: How is Electric President different from Radical Face?

Ben Cooper: There’s more collaboration in Electric President. I still write the skeletons for the songs and often have an arrangement in mind, but we do more of the writing in the same room. If I bring something from home, I leave everything pretty naked to see what happens when we work together. Sometimes, Alex will do something on bass or a synth that changes the direction of the song, which is fun. As for the Radical Face stuff, I work alone on that project. I sometimes have people play instruments on some songs, and occasionally I’ll get input on a section or two, usually from my little brother. But, it’s mostly just me holed up in the tool shed.

MVRemix: How did you meet Alex Cane and eventually form both groups?

Ben Cooper: I met Alex in 2000 in a band called Helicopter Project. The group lost their lead singer/song writer and asked if I wanted to step in. I hadn’t been in a band in a few years. It sounded like fun, so I said sure. We played together for maybe a year. Then, we split up because two members left for college. But, me and Alex stayed in touch after that. Eventually, we started recording together again. We’ve worked together, off and on, ever since.

MVRemix: What is going on with Radical Face?

Ben Cooper: I’m currently recording a record under that name. I’ve been writing the songs for it for about a year and a half. I’ve been tracking since October. I hope to be done within the next couple of months. I’m looking forward to a break, but I’m really proud of it. It’s turning out how I hoped it would, which doesn’t always happen. And if all goes as planned, it should come out on Morr this August.

>> continued...

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"I think I’m happier with the more recent stuff, and more confident in it, but that could be a state of mind as much as actual improvement."