It was in November 2016 that I last got to meet and interview Will Joseph Cook before his show at The Hope & Ruin in Brighton. He’s now gearing up to release his debut album, Sweet Dreamer (check out our review) on Friday 14th April 2017 and it seemed a good time to catch up with him and find out what he’s been up to.
He told us all about which track he’s most excited for people to hear, who he’d like to collaborate with, the inspirations behind his music videos and revealed that he’s already starting to write for album number 2! It’s all here…
Hey Will, how’s it going?
I’m good man, how are you?
It’s nice and sunny, so I’m all good thanks. So what have you been up to since we last spoke? I gather your debut album, Sweet Dreamer, drops this Friday?
Yeah, it’s pretty made to be honest. It’s been like a weird couple of months where we’ve been preparing. We were crazy busy with shows earlier this year and then the last couple of weeks I suppose has been kind of looming in preparation, I guess…but it is really exciting. It’s good times.
That’s awesome! Well I’ve been lucky enough to hear the album already and have to say, it’s absolutely incredible and so diverse, where did you take your musical inspirations from?
Thanks man! Well I guess it’s probably too broad for me to list like a bunch of bands. I know that sounds a very pretentious thing to say but like my rule of thumb has always been, I’ll try and have at least like five for each track. Probably, most of the time, I’d say [I] go in blind when recording it, as in very rarely am I setting out with a style in mind or something. I’ll just literally throw some chords or a beat down and then work to that and then it’s only once about three ideas are into it, then it starts to have a bit more of a personality, but I try and keep a good five things that I can say inspired the track whilst I’m making it. Just so it doesn’t end up sounding like one thing.
Which track or tracks are you most excited for people to hear?
I am interested to see what people make of ‘Hands’, which is like the mid track. Just because it’s the breathing point in the middle of the album, I guess and it’s a very personal track that I didn’t at first perceive putting on the album. It was more just for my own listening and I just made it in quite an isolated way, I think. It will interesting, I think, just to see whether people love it or hate it (laughter).
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
I would love to do something with Francis and the Lights; I think he’s amazing. Loads of people to be honest. I was listening to Chance the Rapper this morning and I think his collaboration is almost like his speciality; picking really interesting and inspiring collaborations, like he did a whole EP with Chilly Gonzalez and Boys Noize which are two of my inspirations as well, so working with him would be pretty sick…if he’s got the time, you know…he should hit me up!
Wicked! So after the album is obviously the tour, which places are you looking forward to playing most?
Well, we’ve never done Europe before, so all the European dates are going to be really interesting. Germany and Paris, those will be pretty special I think. But in the UK, I’m excited to come back to Manchester just because it’s been quite overdue I think, since we last played there and the last show was really wicked. So Manchester for those reasons but then obviously the Heaven show’s going to be pretty special because it’s the biggest one.
Yeah, that’ll be cool! If you had to cover a recent chart song, which song would it be?
I don’t even know what’s in the charts (laughter). I’m pretty sure it’s all Drake and Ed Sheeran.
Yeah, pretty much!
Can it be just, if I don’t know how well it charted, but say, I heard it on Radio 1?
Yeah, that’ll do.
Um, I really love…actually, this is definitely a charting song, the Little Mix track. What’s the recent one? It’s basically a dance track.
I think that’s ‘Touch’.
Yeah, ‘Touch’. That’s a tune! (Laughs)
If someone famous was to cover one of your songs, who would you want it to be and which song?
That’s a good question! I definitely love to hear a girl sing the track. (Pause) Um…I’m thinking about this too much aren’t I?
It’s fine. Don’t worry. (laughs)
I think someone like Frank Ocean, he’d do a good job of it. Not that he would (laughs) (I’m a massive fan) but I think he’d take it in an interesting direction and make it really sparse. That’d be cool.
Do you write songs for anyone else?
I would love to. I have lots of songs that are maybe half baked or weren’t right for this album and stuff like that. It’s always something I would love to do – either write with someone or for someone.
Yeah. Who would you like to write for if you were going to do it?
I think maybe something out of my comfort zone or something unexpected. I mean I’d love to do like a massive straight-for-the-gullet pop track, like a Taylor Swift thing or something, but I think those kind of things, it takes maybe a more a super artist-focused thing and you’d probably want to do the writing with that person. But yeah, doing a Taylor Swift song would be pretty fun!
Yeah that’d be cool. Obviously music videos and imagery are a big part of your style, where do you take inspirations for your videos from?
I think there was a golden age of videos in the 90s and early 00s. I kind of like videos, like some Sum 41 videos and stuff like where you acknowledge that it’s a music video. They’re very self-aware and stupid and personality-driven, I guess. I think that music videos, it’s obviously amazing when they become quite a high art form but I think when everyone tried to do that they just became really bland. Something can look cool and really aesthetically pleasing but just be incredibly dull to watch, so I’d rather flip it maybe one way and have just an interesting, fun watch than get too hung up on styling it perfectly or whatever.
Have you got any new videos in the pipeline?
Yeah I do actually. I wrote the treatment for one the other day.
Can you say which track it’s for?
It’s a track called, ‘Treat Me Like A Lover’.
That’s cool, that’s one of my favourite songs on the album!
Oh thanks. I think it’s, you know, kind of similar to ‘Beach’ in that it’ll be very storyline-driven, as opposed to gimmicky, so yeah.
I know you recently put ‘Plastic’ online, have you done one for that track?
I’d love to do one for ‘Plastic’, but I guess it just depends if someone’s going to give me some money to make it (laughter).
That’s a really good track as well. I thought it was really interesting and not like some of the other stuff you’ve done before. It’s quite different – it’s a really good track.
Yeah, for sure! It stays very true to my production demo that I made of it. So all the sounds in there are just like the original stems and samples from my Logic demo of it. I guess its more like a…well, it’s like ‘Hands’; it’s one that I made very much on my own and then took it to someone rather than having this bare framework of a song and then adding the arrangements with someone there. There was already all the arrangements there. I guess it’s maybe more representative of, because it’s one of the newest tracks on there, of maybe where things could go and where I’m kind of taking my writing and production.
That’s cool and leads me on to my next question nicely. Obviously, I know your debut album is only just about to come out, but often it’s a long process. Have you been writing since the recording of ‘Sweet Dreamer’? Have you got more ideas for the next record?
Well that’s what I’m doing today, I’m just in my little writing room. Yeah, I find it kind of weird like lots of people say, ‘Take a break’ but I definitely don’t want to take a longer break than a couple months. It just feels weird having not finished or recorded a song properly in like four months now so I feel like that’s a long enough break, so yeah, I’ve got cracking again.
Will there be pressure on you to produce a second album quite quickly?
Mainly from myself I think. (Laughter) I definitely want to keep sharing it, keep building it and keep surprising people. I have some interesting ideas of where I’m going to take it. There’s definitely no point or no reward for me in making the same thing twice.
What’s your favourite part of being an artist? Live performance? Writing? Recording? PR?
I think obviously it’s all pretty fun; it’s a sick job, for sure, but for me personally, probably the recording process; where it just suddenly starts to sound like something good and you’ve created something that didn’t exist 10 minutes ago and it sounds sweet. You know, for me, that’s the magic rush and the core of it all; you know, without that and if you’ve never had that, then you wouldn’t have everything else. It’s cool.
If you could be any chocolate bar, which one would you be and why?
Which chocolate bar would I be? Um…I think I would be a Snickers; there’s a lot going on. So, yeah…there’s a lot to be gained from a Snickers. (Laughter)
(Laughs) I like that! That’s good! Well thanks very much for taking the time out of your day and your writing, to chat and good luck with your album release.
A massive thanks to Isobel for setting up the interview with Will and to will for taking the time to chat – it was great to catch up with him and remember to check out our review of the album, Sweet Dreamer!
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