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Mr. Cooper: Amongst Strangers

Mr. Cooper

Mr. Cooper is a member of Mechanical Insects and producer of the finest instrumental hip hop. His new album is out now on Wimm Recordings. Here's the lowdown on Amongst Strangers...

When did the Amongst Strangers project start and what's its story from inception to release?

I suppose it started after myself and Sketch released the Born Of Man And Flies EP on Lex Records (as Mummy Fortuna?s Theatre Company): Late in 2002. The idea at the time was that we would make an album for Lex, so I started attempting to make beats for it. I was working with my mate Chatro on the tracks originally. He lived above KFC and we would sit in his room most nights of the week into the early hours with the chicken smell rising through the floor attempting to get our drum programming fat. As far as I remember, none of the tracks on the album in the form that they appear were actually worked on by myself and Chatro collaboratively, but I owe a lot to those early sessions. The tracks towards the beginning of the record were made in this time period.

Mr. Cooper
Supporting Mike Ladd, October 04

The album changed into a solo project when it became clear that Sketch was getting more into his solo material and also wasn?t interested in rapping anymore for various reasons. Hence I had about six instrumental tracks that just floated for a while. I did play them to a few labels but no one was interested at the time.

A while later I had another creative spurt and did the other six tracks. Then I had an album. I again unsuccessfully punted it round a few labels. Wimm Recordings then emailed out of the blue saying that they were interested in releasing some Mechanical Insects material. They liked the album and signed it.

Mp3 Downloads »

Audio clips:

Untitled (One)
Untitled (Three)
Untitled (Eight)
Untitled (Ten)

» Listen to full tracks at
Cooper's MySpace page

We know you're nice on the 1s and 2s, did you get busy on this album?

Cheers. There is no cutting or live vinyl manipulation on the album. I did consider it, but I didn?t think that the feel of any of the tracks was right for putting cuts on. The album is almost entirely created out of samples though, so obviously in that respect vinyl came into it.

What's the distribution situation with the album? Where can people get hold of it?

At the moment there?s not many places to get the record outside of Japan. However, the Headnod and Smallfish record shops in London stock and will be stocking it soon respectively. Both the shops have websites, so they are the places to get it for people outside of Japan. Hopefully it will be picked up by a major distributor as I do more shows and attempt to get more press coverage for the record.

Mr. Cooper
Cooper & Sketch at the Brighton Hip Hop Festival 04

What have you been listening to, reading, and watching over the course of making this album?

A lot. The album took three and a half years to make on and off, during which time I?ve completed a philosophy degree, so obviously I?ve been reading a lot of philosophy from various writers. Some authors that I like the work of: Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Herman Hesse, Hunter S. Thompson, George Orwell, Graham Greene? Musicians: Shadow, Sixtoo, Godspeed You Black Emperor, El-p, David Axelrod, Future Sound Of London, Brian Eno, Buck 65, Vincent Gallo, Bully Records and Artists, Janko Nilovic, The Cinematic Orchestra, Blueprint? more recently lots of electronic music: I rekindled my passion for Richard D. James? music? Proem, Arovane, Chris Clark, Boards Of Cananda, Autechre, Edit, Zan Lyons, Brothomstates, Richard Devine? Directors that I like: The Coen brothers, Stanley Kubrick, Mamoru Oshii, Takeshi Kitano, Orson Welles, David Lynch, Francis Ford Coppola, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Takeshi Miike, Todd Solondz, Mike Figgis, Ridley Scott, Vincent Gallo, Clint Eastwood, Ki-duk Kim, Chan-wook Park... That?s an unnecessarily comprehensive round up of my tastes there but fuck it, I?m a list perv.

Mr. Cooper
Cooper & Legs performing at the Spiegeltent - 2005

Will you be supporting the album with any live shows?

Yes. I have put together a show with a friend who calls himself Irwin Max. He plays the MPC2000 very well, and I do the best I can on the MPC1000. There?s also a bit of keyboard and live effects involved. We?ve played in Hastings so far and intend to put on a Brighton show soon; probably after we?ve got our self financed split 7? record manufactured. We?ll hopefully be able to get London, Sheffield and Birmingham shows sorted out. We?re playing a couple of dates in Germany in April and I?m currently talking so a few promoters in France and Spain? any promoters reading this, get in touch!

There's mention on the Mechanical Insects website of new Mummy Fortuna's Theatre Company material being released. What's the status with this?

It is a possibility. I expect myself and Sketch will have another go at making music together, at some point, but there are no plans at the moment. However, I am working on a track with some melody parts originally created by Sketch, so maybe this is the start of some new Mummy?s bits...

Links »

BUY online at Small Fish
(Go to Virtual > Search for Mr. Cooper)
Mechanical Insects
Wimm Recordings