As overnight success stories go – ones that took ten years of graft – JP Cooper had quite the start. Let us count the ways.
Two Top Ten and platinum-selling singles in Perfect Strangers (with Jonas Blue) and September Song. A Top Ten album, and the equivalent of 835,000 worldwide album sales, for his 2017 debut Raised Under Grey Skies. Over 274 million total audio streams – in the UK alone. Widen the gaze to the global impact of the Mancunian singersongwriter, and Cooper’s total streaming number tops over two billion: 2,337,986,851 at time of writing. Although, such is the ongoing earworm ubiquity of September Song, expect that tally to have notched another 1000 or so by the time you’ve finished reading this.
“I had no expectations,” admits the self-effacing Cooper, a man who’s had a song in his heart and a microphone in front of his mouth from his early teens, and a guitar in his hands for almost as long. He remembers how his 2016 Jonas Blue collab, the follow-up to the dance producer’s 2015 tropical house smash Fast Car, came out of nowhere to reach Number Two in the UK, and the Top Ten in multiple European territories.
“I found myself thrown into a pop world I never expected to be in,” this proud son of Manchester’s Oasis Generation admits with a rueful smile. “Up until then I’d done every single gig I’d ever played with a guitar round my neck. Then all of a sudden, I found myself on an MTV stage at a dance festival in front of 45,000 people with a DJ behind him, two-stepping. And then I was in Ibiza…”
But Cooper barely had time to stop and smell the cocktails. September Song was released in (of course) September. It spent the next three months climbing… and climbing…
“Streaming helped a lot,” he says. “It went on tonnes of playlists, then radio followed suit. It was a slow burn, which I thought it was a good thing. It was being discovered by people, naturally. Eventually it charted in the Top Ten in December or January. And it just kept getting played. It was nuts.”
Raised Under Grey Skies was released in October 2017, its title a meteorological nod to his Lancashire roots. Like the album itself – which spun off seven singles – the title struck a resonant chord. T-shirts bearing the slogan became a bestseller, especially in the north, and a favourite tattoo amongst his fans – and for Cooper himself. “‘Raised Under Grey Skies’ was the first one I got,” he beams, proffering a bicep.
And now, after a solid year spent chasing the international success of Raised Under Grey Skies, comes a new single that we might say was baked under blue skies. Sing It With Me, featuring Astrid, is a summertime smash-in-waiting, birthed in Los Angeles with Scandinavian production duo Electric, fine-tuned in London with Steve Mac (Ed Sheeran, Chvrches, Years & Years), and finally topped off with a sweet, ear-tickling guest vocal from the fast-rising young Norwegian singer.
“It was really like an old bedroom band session,” Cooper says of the first writing session. “We all just picked up guitars and started stomping our feet. And it started as this little folky-dokey thing. Then when I worked with Steve back in London it just became this pop monster!” he laughs. “It’s not typical of the new album,” he adds of a song that feels destined for the dancefloor as much as it does daytime radio, “but that’s what makes it the perfect first single.”
And now, the next chapter in the rise and rise of JP Cooper. His second album is, he thinks, pretty much finished. That said: as someone who never stops writing, he’s keeping his options open, in case a new banger – or, just, a new keeper – pops up.