Feature

JP Cooper describes being in SA as being close to the heartbeat of the world 

JP Cooper spent many years working in bars and coffee shops, playing in bands and doing the rounds on the Manchester music circuit, but after writing his fair share of global hit songs, he never expected to find an audience as invested in his discography as he has in South Africa. 

“The first show of the last tour we did was in Cape Town at the Old Biscuit Mill, and I can remember when I got onto the stage and I started singing, all I could hear was everybody else’s voice, the whole crowd was singing along. And I remember thinking to myself, ‘They’ll calm down soon and I’ll be able to hear myself.’ But for the whole show I could hardly hear anything that was happening onstage,” he laughs when I ask him about a moment from his first SA tour that stands out strongly to him.  

“That’s the first time that’s ever happened,” he continues, evidently still a bit bemused by the whole situation. “Usually the loudest crowds are in Dublin, Ireland. Those guys love a good sing-along. But this was next level and the energy was so beautiful, and that was the first show, so yeah, I just didn’t know what was happening. I thought maybe it was a once-off thing in Cape Town, but then the same thing kept happening again in Joburg and again in Durban. It’s such a beautiful thing to feel that connection in these places, I’ll never forget that.”

With his pop-rooted smash hit “September Song” closing in on 1 billion streams, and “Perfect Strangers” with Jonas Blue well over 2 billion, JP’s upcoming shows in SA are billed to be some of the biggest he’s ever played, and he’s equally as excited to return as he is for people to hear the new album. 

““This record has been very different from the first two in the way that I’ve approached it – it was very considered,” he begins. “I had rules going into the process and my first rule was no production. You obviously have to present the record label with a body of work for them to give you the budget to go and make the record, and I presented them with, well, half of these were voice notes on my phone that were just me sitting at the piano.”

“I also wanted to make sure that I worked with my band because I wanted to capture a human connection and energy. We’re in an age where there’s a lot more AI music being made and I think it’s important for certain artists to lean into their humanity, inconsistencies and imperfections. So the sound of this record will be very different from my first two records.” 

I ask him what else he can share with me about his upcoming third album and he measuredly replies, “On my last album I did a lot of versions with a choir and I realised that that was something that I needed to get onto the actual record. I’ve spent so much time working with choirs when I was younger, that I decided there will be a choir on this record. I didn’t expect that it would be a South African choir, until one reached out to me the last time that I was there. They ended up jumping onstage with me, because they just happened to have learnt my music, and they blew me away.” 

“So while I was making these songs, and while I was starting to produce the record and I was thinking about which choir to work with, all I could think about was this choir that I met in Durban,” he continues. “We were lucky enough to go back there just before Christmas last year and spend a few days with them and record them singing these arrangements that a good friend of mine and myself has put together.” 

In all honesty, I could’ve spoken to JP Cooper for another two hours. His energy is palpable and radiates through his voice as he talks about his affection for his SA audience, and how creatively invigorated being in South Africa makes him feel. 

His third album finds him at the peak of his game, ready to flex his creative muscles and embark on a whole new musical chapter as he explains, “It’s been a beautiful journey of allowing relationships to happen in the process, and leaving room for magic. And all of these connections are in the spirit and sound of this record. So I’m excited to see how that affects the listener when they hear that.”

Catch JP Cooper at one of the following shows below.

DURBAN
Date: Thursday 28th November 2024
Venue: Playhouse Theatre
Address: 231 Anton Lembede Street, Durban Central
Time: 18:00 – 22:00
Ticket Price: R395 – R995 excluding ticket fee
Ticket Link: https://www.webtickets.co.za/v2/event.aspx?itemid=1546827106
Facebook Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/446242334595319/

CAPE TOWN
Date: Saturday 30th November 2024
Venue: Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Address: Rhodes Drive, Newlands
Time: 18:00 – 22:00
Ticket Price: R495 – 595 excluding ticket fee
Ticket Link: https://www.webtickets.co.za/v2/event.aspx?itemid=1546822920
Facebook Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/964791455364726/

JOHANNESBURG
Date: Sunday 1st December 2024
Venue: Marks Park
Address: Orange Road, Emmarentia
Time: 13:00 – 19:30
Ticket Price: R495 excluding ticket fee
Ticket Link: https://breakout.howler.co.za/events/jp-cooper-live-in-johannesburg-3892
Facebook Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/959580538637009/