Ben Cooper: I have a project with my brother, who plays piano, called ĎIron Orchestraí. It consists of instrumental songs in a modern classical vein. Weíve been writing for the project for a while now. I hope to have some recordings finished by the end of the year. But, weíre still working out how to get the string sections performed and tracked. We are trying to find a good piano to record on. Iíve also been working with a bunch of friends in a noisy/trashy project called ĎBiowulfí. We plan on tracking a record and doing some small bursts of touring this summer. Itís all talk at this point, but I think itíll happen. Other than that, Iíve been doing production for Astronautalis for the past few years, and thereís a bunch of one-off projects that only happen every blue moon. Headache and Pearl Harbor, Unkle Stiltskin, et cetera.
MVRemix: Do you think success and credibility are mutually exclusive?
Ben Cooper: It all depends on who you ask. A lot of people have a different take on that, and their own idea of what groups should or shouldnít do. A lot of people get pissed when other people suddenly know who their favorite band is. Why? I donít know. Personally, I donít really care. I either like the music or I donít whether itís successful, popular, obscure, cutting-edge, et cetera. It doesnít matter very much. Iím not very social about what I like, so that might have something to do with it.
MVRemix: What do you think of the term trip-hop?
Ben Cooper: Iíve never known exactly what it applies to, or where it came from. So I donít have much of an opinion on it. I like some musicians that get that tag, though.
MVRemix: Describe the overall recording process.
Ben Cooper: Depends on which record weíre talking about. It changes each time. For ĎS/Tí, we tracked all the basics for each song pretty fast. One or two 10-hour-days were enough to get everything laid down in all but a few cases. But the drum sequencing, synth modeling, editing and rearranging sometimes went on for a month after that. It got kind of meticulous at times, but it was fun to take what was there and destroy it, or chop it into something new.
MVRemix: How did you get involved with Morr Music?
Ben Cooper: Friends passing the music along. I gave some CDs to Astronautalis, who gave a copy to Styrofoam, who told Thomas Morr about it. Morr then check out my website and liked some of the material and asked if I wanted to put a record out on his label. I said yes, and then we negotiated everything for a while and came to an agreement we could both accept. And here we are.
MVRemix: What song are you most proud of?
Ben Cooper: No particular one. I pay a lot of attention to each song during the writing and recording, but now that everythingís done, itís just a record. No one song stands out anymore.
MVRemix: When creating a song, do you have a set theme or pre-written lyrics? Do you write the music first? Or, does everything come together simultaneously?
Ben Cooper: All of the above. Some songs start as words, some start as music, more common. Sometimes thereís a theme to all the lyrics, like on ĎS/Tí, all the songs except one took place in some kind of made-up future, but sometimes not. It changes each time.
MVRemix: Favorite sampler?
Ben Cooper: Iíve never owned one, so I donít know.
MVRemix: Favorite keyboard?
Ben Cooper: I will always have a soft spot for the Casio SK-1. But I mostly use a midi-controller and soft synths these days.
MVRemix: Favorite guitar?
Ben Cooper: If I had the money, Iíd get a Gibson J-45. I really like the sound and feel of those. I also like my little yard sale guitars too. So itís hard to say. Electric guitars are a whole new ballgame.
MVRemix: What do you think about the cover for the album?
Ben Cooper: I thought the cover was great. It was not at all what I had intended for it, but thatís exactly why I liked it. It was really cool to see someone elseís presentation. I like Janís style. Itís very charming.
MVRemix: What is your opinion on downloading music from the Internet?
Ben Cooper: Iím not against it. There are always cases where people take it to a ridiculous level, but that happens with anything.
MVRemix: What inspired the song, ĎSnow On Dead Neighborsí?
Ben Cooper: I take a lot of walks late at night. Usually around 3 a.m. or so. Everything looks very different around then. There arenít a lot of lights, few cars, very little movement. I like the way it looks and feels. Thatís what sparked the lyrics for that one. But to be more specific: the song takes place about a hundred years the in the future. The main characters are a teenage boy and a girl robot. He thinks is his sister. Theyíre on the run from the organization that was holding his sister captive. On the way, they stumble upon this neighborhood encased in snow and ice. It looks much how a lot of neighborhoods do now, only without any people. Theyíre just wandering through it, looking in all the windows. It all sounds pretty silly when written out like that, but thatís how much of the record was written. A lot of songs are just stories, not necessarily a personal outlook.
MVRemix: Favorite Films?
Ben Cooper: I could go on for a while here, so Iíll just mention some of them: The Usual Suspects, Shawshank Redemption, Seven Samurai, anything Miyazaki has done, Amelie, The Lord of the Rings movies, Memento, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Iron Giant, Seven, anything Pixar does, Return to Oz, Braveheart, Fargo, Oh Brother Where Art Thou?, Shadow of the Vampire, Trainspotting, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, L.A. Confidential, American History X, Billy Elliot, Being John Malkovich. I guess thatís good enough. Iím definitely leaving a lot out, but thatís always the case with lists.
MVRemix: What is the favorite part of your live show?
Ben Cooper: Not sure yet. We havenít played much of the material live at this point. Weíre still trying to figure just how to do it. Most of the songs will likely be dismantled and played in a very different way.
MVRemix: Where are you from? Where are you living now? What is it like?
Ben Cooper: I was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, and I live here now. Itís not a very busy place, but I like it for that. You mostly just work at your own pace. There isnít much nightlife or anything, but I donít go out very often anyway. Iíd rather just watch a movie, or read, or whatever.
MVRemix: What are some songs that made you fall in love?
Ben Cooper: I donít know. I mean, plenty of songs have had an affect on me, but I donít know if Iíve ever fallen in love on account of one.