Okay, well it is not really the Sam Cooper Story but it is the Sam Cooper Interview. I sat down recently in the recording studio of Sam Cooper which he jokingly refers to as the Man Cave and we spent a little time speaking about how he got from New Jersey to Nashville and how he spends his time in Music
City. I marvel at the energy he seems to have as he is always out and about performing, appearing at benefits and networking. So Sam, what are you doing down here?
A I am recording, producing, writing and occasionally playing out you know?
Q I was actually referring to this area?
A This is my man cave only I don’t have naked chicks hanging up or anything.
Q Your wife probably wouldn’t want to come here and find that right?
A I don’t think she would mind actually. She is really kind of cool about that. She knows that I am trustworthy.
Q So this is your man cave. So you are doing this as a business?
A Oh yeah but it is not a commercial studio. I am working with a minimal amount of stuff in terms of electronic gear.
Q Are you running Pro Tools?
A It is actually Q-Base. I am pretty happy with the results I have been getting. I could play you some stuff?
Q Do you bring in other musicians to play on people’s stuff?
A If needed but more often than not my ghost musicians are me under different pseudo names. I might be Ringo Watts or Charlie Watts is a drummer and Ringo is a drummer. Whoever influences me.
Q You use electronic drums?
A Actually no, that’s the funny thing. I do all my drums tracks using the keyboard behind me, the midi controller. But I have the USB connection for that I just never bothered doing it. It is more convenient for me to just go ahead and use the keyboard?
Q Are you doing this more for demo purposes?
A No, I do Masters too.
A I just finished the tracks for a couple of albums and I just got a call from somebody who is a blues foundation award winner multiple times and he asked me to produce him so.
Q Oh cool.
A I am going to do the first four tracks here to sort of go ahead and get him his record deal and then whether we do the rest here or not depend on the budget because if we have the budget I am going to go into a full sized commercial studio.
Q I was going to ask that. What kind of fees do you charge? Does it go by person?
A I take it on a case by case basis because some people have different budgets than others and some people have no budgets at all. If I feel like it needs to be done you know sometimes I do things without keeping score.
Q You are talking about Pro Bono?
A Well kind of, you know? It depends on what it is for.
Q It will come back on you in a good way anyhow.
A Well I keep hoping. You know I am not keeping score literally but word of mouth gets around and people start to trust you and they like your sound and when they are getting me they are getting somebody who is trying to creativity help them to stick out and still be major label quality.
Q You came here how many years ago from New Jersey?
A Yeah, I came here in 2006. March of 2006.
Q Did you move here or do you mean just visited.
A I moved here in June of that year and I divided my residence between here and New Jersey for a few years driving back and forth every month but I became official here several years ago.
Q I was going to say that gets old quick.
A Yeah and I bought this house in 2007. I own a couple of lofts downtown and they are rented out so I lived down there for the first year.
Q Oh did you?
Q I know you are out and about all the time.
A I do get out. I am networking. I was told before I got to Nashville, don’t ask for help. Just create a buzz and people that are sharp will notice. So I kind of depend on word of mouth from other people rather than going up and saying hey, this is what I do.
Q You can’t really do that because nobody cares because everybody does something.
A Right, every now and then I will ask somebody to write but most of the time I won’t because I don’t want to be asking gratuitously and or in some cases I don’t have the time to take on other writers. Once in a while somebody will ask me to write and if I can make time and I think it’s somebody that I will enjoy the experience with and maybe something good will come of it I will do it. It doesn’t have to be a commercial thing. I have written with people that I know it’s going to make any money. You know they might be Indie Artists and maybe they will sell five hundred copies or something or a thousand copies but I’ll know there is going to be some magic there and that’s really part of the whole thing for me. I am trying to write magic.
Q So first and foremost you are a songwriter?
A I’d say that if I was going to put a priority list together.
Q What would your priority list be? This will be a good quote. What would your priority list be?
A Songwriter, Producer, Musician in that order.
Q What advice would you give to somebody who was 24 years old just off the bus wanting to come here and be a hit songwriter and or superstar, whatever they could grab?
A If you are in it for the money go home.
Q That’s great advice.
A If you love what you do and nobody can stop you from doing it and you can improve and get to the point where you can do it great, than that’s the greatest reward in itself. The journey is the destination.
Q I love the journey and sometimes the destination when you get there it is just not as good as the getting was.
A The journey is the destination. If you are doing what you love and you look forward to getting up every day and you don’t want to go to bed at night because you can’t stand stopping what you are doing, and that’s my case. I don’t think everybody loves it the same amount. Some people love it more than me and some people don’t but for me, I was up until after 3:00 in the morning last night and I was up at 7:00 this morning. I don’t use an alarm clock. I don’t need. I just get up.
Q You get up because your brain hasn’t turned off?
A Yeah, I mean I need to do this because it is what I do. It’s my life’s blood. You know it sounds kind of pretentious to say stuff like that but I really do love the hell out of what I do so much that if I were to go on a vacation and laying on the beach I’d be edgy. I would e like I need to be doing something. This is relaxation for me and a lot of people don’t get that. They think you need some sleep or you need to chill out or whatever and this is my chilling out.
Q Have they ever lived up North? This is chilling out.
A Listen, I have had day jobs over the year and I have broken my ass doing them and I’d rather work twice as many hours doing this and making less money than up there with that steady paycheck and I made a decent pay and I had great benefits and everything. This is who I am and I am happy to be doing it.
With that we said our goodbyes as Sam had to leave to go perform at the Commodore Grill in Downtown Nashville. You can learn more about Sam Cooper and contact him through his website at: http://www.jericat.com