PW: Please introduce yourself.
Cooper Anstett: Hi PopWrapped! I’m Cooper Anstett and I appreciate the opportunity to share my story with you and your readers.
PW: When did you first realise that you wanted to be a music artist?
CA: Music had always been a part of my life, but it became clear to me that music was something that I really needed to do when I was a freshman in High School and the stories and lyrics I had been writing turned into songs that friends and family really liked. That fed my appetite to be an artist to keep writing and sharing.
PW: At any point, did you have any other career ambitions or has it always been about music for you?
CA: At 4 years old I started playing hockey and continued into my teen years, and my central ambition was to become a professional hockey player either in the United States or Europe. I started my freshmen year of college playing hockey in Minnesota. Hockey and music were my two passions, but every year it seemed that my love for music was something that I needed to dedicate more of myself to. That year, I had an opportunity to record my first EP in Nashville, and after that release I decided to make music my central focus.
PW: Is or was there one particular band or artist that made you think 'Yeah, that's what I want to do'?
CA: Well, Jack Johnson was a big influence for me when I started to develop my song-writing and guitar skills, but I think it was Ben Harper and Mason Jennings’ soulful lyrics that evoked my sense of music as an art that could provide a positive outlet for all the experiences of friends, family and a transition away from home. This was something that I wanted to be able to share with everyone in my own way.
PW: Can you recall the first concert you went to and album you bought? How did they impact you personally and musically do you think?
CA: The first ever concert I went to was Dan Fogelberg around the age of seven or so… I was definitely the outlier in the venue demographic that night. My first album was the group D12 with Eminem. Looking back that was a pretty ridiculous album for a kid to have and I felt like I had to hide it from my dad. However, I also had access to a big library of my parents’ music like Van Morrison, James Taylor and Carole King. Fogelberg was an impressive guitar player with songs that told such personal stories that even I could understand at seven. Going to a Fogelberg concert at a young age I think it opened me up to the impact live music has on a listener and the different experience you get from seeing someone live rather than listening at home.
PW: Is there any band or artist you might say you're somewhat similar to or do you make an effort to be uniquely yourself?
CA: When I was younger I looked to guys like Ben Harper, Jack Johnson and Mason Jennings as models for songwriting, but those foundations grew over time into a specific unique style that could be recognized as my own.
PW: You've been compared to the likes of George Ezra and Sam Hunt - do you mind such comparisons and what do you think of those artists?
CA: Not at all! I take such comparisons as compliments. I’ve heard a few different comparisons over time and they have changed with the evolution of my sound, song-writing, production and singing. Both George Ezra and Sam Hunt are great songwriters but sonically/lyrically they’re very different. Sam has southern roots that lend to a more country pop sound, while George is a classic English singer/songwriter. I see myself as somewhere in between them.
PW: How easy or hard do you find the song-writing process? Does it depend on the subject matter or how you're feeling for example?
CA: One thing that I have found is that I can never force a song that is not ready to be written yet. Some days I sit down with the intention to write a song that I’ll be into, but it just doesn't come out the way I want it to. Other days I have no intention to write and that’s generally when everything pours out creating something that I'm happy with.
PW: How did and has spending time in Nashville helped hone your song-writing skills?
CA: Nashville opened me up to co-writing. Specifically, Eric Varnell, an awesome producer/writer down there that I was introduced to. He produced my first EP and I had some sessions with him and a couple other writers in town. Coming into the Nashville scene I had only ever written solo, which allowed me to develop my own lyricism and style. In Nashville, for the first time, I was able to throw out ideas on lyrics, melody, structure or whatever and get a collaborators opinion right back and they could do the same. Collaborative song-writing is a process that, with the right writers, can be an amazing experience of talking out a story which allows two different people to connect in a really unique way for the duration of that session.
PW: Which song, in your opinion, is the greatest song ever written and why?
CA: “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens. It is an amazing song. No matter when I hear that song it is able to move me in some kind of way by bringing out certain emotions and feelings. I think a big reason for that is that it is a song I grew up listening to with my family and one of the songs my dad has been playing on guitar my whole life.
PW: You released your first EP For A Reason last year - could you pick a favorite track from it, and if so, which is it and why?
CA: ”Silver Lining” is the song on that project that really represents best where I was at that point in my life. I had suffered a hockey injury a year before that threw my life plans up in the air. At the time, I thought this was the worst thing for my future, but that injury helped me direct my time and energy into music that ultimately lead to the release of the EP and the start of my music career.
PW: In the short time that has elapsed since then, how do you think your song-writing has evolved?
CA: In the short time since the EP, I have dedicated my energy toward writing music from the experiences of working with several talented writers in Nashville. I am constantly writing and growing as a person and that will always cause evolution in my song-writing. The song-writing process itself may not change, but I will always have new things to talk about throughout my life.
PW: Is there a story behind your latest track "Move"?
CA: “Move” draws from a few different stories that are all related to my friends and all of us having a really good time together. One such story involves having a memorable night together that results in a few headaches for some of the unlucky ones. At the same time it’s also a story about doing something as a group that is energetic and fun like dancing or more purposeful like practising yoga, which is another passion of mine.
PW: What can fans expect from your upcoming mix-tape Cooper?
CA: They can expect lyrics and melodies that come from personal external observations that I feel in daily life, which are presented in a very exciting, modern way that differs a bit from my last EP. I have a lot of songs that I want to share so it's exciting for me to get some new material out there that I have been waiting to show them.
PW: How has social media impacted your career in terms of getting your name and your music out to the masses?
CA: Social media as well as other music technology platforms have been invaluable assets for me and most new musicians to expand the reach and depth of the global music audience. Social media brings networks of people together by creating bridges between communities that I otherwise could not reach. When one my songs or my name goes across one of those bridges it opens my music up to a new community of listeners at an accelerated rate.
PW: What are your future performance and tour plans?
CA: On top of my music career I am also attending the University of Michigan. Throughout this year I am completing the mix-tape and performing regionally with plans to take my songs on the road for a spring/summer tour right after a few classes wrap up!
PW: If you could play any venue, anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
CA: There are tons of beautiful venues out there that I dream of playing one day. I grew up going to a lot of summer concerts at a place called DTE Energy Theater in Clarkston, MI, which is a beautiful outdoor venue that I have seen some of my favorite artists at. If I have the opportunity to play there one day it would be very special considering it is in my home state.
PW: Finally, then, whose career would you most like to emulate and what's your ultimate ambition as an artist?
CA: A combination of Jack Johnson and Nahko Bear - and Medicine for the People. Both guys are very passionate about music, but equally passionate about making a change in issues that are important to them and encouraging others to make a change in their own unique way. To me that is very inspiring and if I can encourage positive change in others as well, I think that I would be doing something pretty amazing with my music. My ultimate ambition as an artist is to be creating music for as long as I live and catching some hearts and ears performing all along the way.