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NAS 10 Questions with Bryan Cooper

Updated: Feb 15

This time on the NAS 10 Questions we get to know Bryan Cooper, a British musician currently based in Japan. Bryan has a savvy, guitar-centric approach to songwriting with nods to greats such as Suede, The Stone Roses, Blur, and Radiohead.

The track "Soma By Drone" is featured in the New Artist Spotlight Family of Playlists.

Link To New Artist Spotlight Playlists:

1. Tell us a little about where you are from and what you are currently doing.

I'm from Yorkshire, England, currently living in Japan. I spend every evening after my day job working on my music, whether it be songwriting, recording, editing videos, updating my website, soliciting for people's attention on social media, etc.

2. What inspired you to start playing and making music?

I played the trumpet for my school band, and didn't enjoy it at all. The whole experience was sterile paint by numbers to me. It was only at the age of 16, when a friend encouraged me to join him in getting an acoustic guitar that I understood the beauty of creating. Ralph Denyer's 'The Guitar Handbook' was my bible and gave me a great foundation for music theory. I was a keen, self-motivated student, something I had never been learning music at school. But above all, the biggest reason for my growth as a guitarist is because I jammed a lot to my CD collection and that gave me priceless listening and improvisation skills.

𝟯. Who are your biggest influences?

Early on, my biggest inspirations were other guitarists such as Graham Coxon, Bernard Butler, John Squire and Slash.

4. What are your goals in the music industry?

Mine keep shifting. When I set about being a solo artist a few years ago, I had grand designs on being noticed by large record labels. Then, as I became more savvy about the nature of the modern music industry, I realized that they're only interested in artists of a certain status who, by then, probably don't 'need' a record label. My goals now don't involve the music industry at all. I just want to write and record songs that will matter to some people. Whether it's now, or when I'm long gone.

5. Tell us about your creative process when you make new music.

I couldn't present you with one single process. In fact, I hope that I never settle into just one way of creating music. For me, the seed of a song can sometimes be a sound effect. Other times I'll be walking about, have a melody in my head and hum it into my phone to work on later. More deliberate methods involve working in some newly learned bit of music theory, or peculiar key change. Also, it depends at what stage during the process I've reached. But you know, sometimes the best way to catch ideas is just to hold the net out. Improvise for 20 minutes, have fun, and if nothing of substance arrives, fine. Try again another time. Good ideas will find you, often in clusters.

6. What is your all-time favorite song?

That's an impossible question for me to answer. If I placed that much value on one song, I'd get sick of it anyway. But if I had to take one piece of music to a desert island with me, it'd probably be something by Bach.

7. What is the best advice you have either given or received in terms of music?

Mark Wallis, a producer I had the good fortune to work with many years ago, taught me the value of trimming the fat of compositions. I was in a band at the time and he tore the structures of some of our songs apart. It stung at the time. But it was the best lesson I've ever had.

8. Proudest accomplishment?

I've had some great moments with my bands in England. Getting a record deal with Sire Records was a highlight at the time, but in all honestly I'm proud of myself for writing, recording, producing and promoting my own music. Whether it's any good or not is for others to decide, but no-one can ever take that sense of achievement away from me.

9. Just for fun! What's been your most embarrassing moment so far?

Embarrassing, but also hilarious. One of my bands had an outdoor gig in Bradford, West Yorkshire, and midway through the final song our drummer and singer had an argument which escalated in them bundling each other off stage to have a fight, leaving me and the bass player alone on stage, in front an understandably bemused audience.

𝟭0. Tell us about your lowest and highest points in music so far.

My first band getting a record deal and then being left to rot without explanation was both the highest and lowest point in what was a relatively short space of time. But more relevant to my current incarnation as a solo singer-songwriter, every time someone tells me off stage that they enjoy what I do, or send me a message of encouragement online, is enough of a high point for me.

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