PREMIERE: Jay Cooper takes us through his debut EP, ‘INTERIM’

The last few years have been a period of great change for JAY COOPER. From changing his moniker from JaysWays to uprooting his home from Sydney to North America, the artist has undergone intense personal evolution since 2018.

The best things about intense periods of change are the lessons we learn along the way, and the moment of closure when we know that chapter is closed and we can move onto the next. It’s in this interim period that we do our most valuable growing, taking in our new lives while looking back at the old ways and learning all over again how to move around in this world. That’s what we have here with Jay Cooper and his EP, INTERIM, premiering exclusively on Purple Sneakers today. A captivating listen from start to finish, INTERIM is a late-night journey through dark, moody RnB and eclectic electronica. The culmination of years of effort, and songs that have existed in one way or another since 2018’s ‘Shallow Anthem’. All about “building and destroying to forge the new,” INTERIM is inspired by the concept of “navigating a building, one that’s constantly shifting and changing as you move,” according to Cooper. “It’s like urban life, trying to scale this structure and forge a path for yourself.  It’s up to you who you trust and how you move through the levels.”

To get to know a bit more about the record and the thoughts and inspiration behind the songs, Jay Cooper has taken us through each track to give us a bit more insight into these very special songs. Take a listen and a read below!

When I moved out to North America in 2017, I had a bunch of demos for a loose but ambitious album I wanted to make.  I eventually gathered the best ideas and over the next year, finished a project I was really proud of, collaborating with some of my favourite artists.  

When I was finished with that, I had a different batch of instrumental demos left over, and I started piecing them together and dreaming up INTERIM, a concept record about a dream-city building’s ventilation system.  

Most of these songs have a few things in common; they’ve come from a personal place, a part of myself I don’t like or recognise, like a diary entry or vignette.  Emotions and ideas that represent a dissonance within me, or that I might have to accept even though I don’t believe. Also, they are made from beats that didn’t make sense to give to one of the other artists I work with.  So I kept them for myself.

1 – CHOICE II

“leaving an exit
at least respect the right to run for it.”

I made this instrumental around the same time as the Shallow Anthem & Ellipsis instrumentals, back in 2015.  The sounds were created from just vocals/FX, and drum samples, then eventually Jacques Emery played electric bass on it.  I knew this song was going to be connected to 21 Personnel & Shallow Anthem’s themes, and to me sounded the most like conflict.  CHOICE II is a concept I read about the programming of AI war drones, which was a passing idea in a book I was reading but weirdly ended up becoming an important dimension for this project.  Just the whole pandora’s box that idea opens up. I was originally going to have this song as an instrumental interlude, but a few weeks ago I sang on it and it became one of my favourites. The themes I wanted to introduce were about important choices, navigating unknowns, subjective truths, et cetera.  

2 – SHALLOW ANTHEM

“words can’t fix this thing now it’s broken
not even poetic justice.”

One of the first instrumentals I made for this project back in 2015.  It started as a remix of Spectre, a song I did with a Baltimore rapper Apollo Renegade over the internet.  This was supposed to be Spectre part 2, but I held onto it for a longer time.  The production has basically stayed the same for 5 years, with Jacques Emery on bass & everything, the only difference being Apollo’s original verse and no vocals from me.  When I linked up with Apollo in 2018, we finally finished our parts and I decided to make a whole project based on this sound.

3 – 21 PERSONNEL

“this liveware treason
just might work”

Easily the most ‘wtf’ song to me, I just remember climbing a mountain to watch the sunrise, and on the way down I kept saying “personnel, 21 personnel” like it was some kind of mysterious organisation.  When I got back to my computer, I made a beat with some hectic FX all over it, ambient sounds I was making, and some weird keys parts by Elkkle that he recorded on my computer in 2016. I recorded that refrain and went to sleep.  I woke up the next afternoon and sang the verses, something about an unlikely plan, and the result was a pretty claustrophobic & paranoid song.

4 – IRRELEVANT

“carbon copy
throw your arms round my neck
then you pull me in”

This instrumental originally came from a trip after eating psilocybin mushrooms, I started looping this blurry guitar pattern and put a beat to it.  For the original reference track, I could tell by the way I was singing that the feeling was important to me… even though I wasn’t making any sense. On another day later that winter I wrote the lyrics properly and cut the song.  I remember feeling a lot of passion at the time, I was inspired, I really wanted to see a positive edge to whatever I could. Annahstasia sang some backing vocals on the song and I was producing her project Sacred Bull at the time, so the fact that she liked the song meant a lot to me.

5 – ELLIPSIS

“I listened loud and clear what your lips said
& all you needed to say could’ve been replaced with ellipsis…”

One of the older instrumentals on the project, from the same batch made back in 2015.  I always thought it was very busy on its own as an instrumental and I didn’t know how to approach it with vocals.  I wrote & recorded the lyrics a few weeks before Irrelevant, on halloween 2018 when I was going through that same drive.  I felt I just wanted to express myself by singing loudly, even if the song wasn’t asking for it. I didn’t care at the time and I’m glad I recorded this one.

6 – SOME CONTINUITY

“continuity
charging me up
my hands built this
& our hands touch
vicarious”

A moment I recorded in between working on some of these songs.  It was a sort of ‘aside’ at the time, and hearing how emotionally transparent it is makes me feel nauseous honestly.  I recorded it at a Rhodes piano that was given to us by Meshell Ndegeocello, though, so that’s pretty special.

7 – NOBODY / A PLACE TO VENT

This one reminds me of downtown Vancouver in the winter, where I recorded it in late 2017.  It was originally a song by Apollo Renegade that the producer Goodboy sent me to feature on.  I ended up recording new parts & whole sections to the song, so we made 2 different versions. This version is my solo edit, I played the guitar parts and there’s still some backing vocals from Apollo as well as a Canadian artist who goes by FAANGS.

8 – OUTPOST

“all these variables
but only one way through”

I wrote this one on the road when I was in Geneva, underneath an arena where the empty halls would carry your echoes back around.  I built it around a voice memo and some guitar chords, and eventually recorded the vocals properly in an apartment in Paris a few weeks later.  I was sonically inspired by the sonics of large venue halls, the hedge maze at the Louvre, and the movie Inception, which I had on repeat that day.  Specifically the altered perceptions of architecture, weather, and the labyrinth of the story.

Words by Emma Jones
Image: Neil Kumar

LISTEN TO NEW MUSIC HERE

SEE ALSO

THERE’S DEPTH TO JAY COOPER’S ‘SHALLOW ANTHEM’

About:

Just a Robyn stan who loves going to the club.