Is it poor form to call Max Cooper an old hat? I hope not, as I interview him sprawled on my living room floor, a more fitting term refusing to come to mind. Sent home from work due to an unshakable cough, I pray he doesn’t ask to FaceTime; my puffy eyes and runny nose would not make for an attractive sight. That said, I can’t help but worry we’ll be up against the usual barriers of a phone interview: with no body language to play upon, no facial expressions to draw conclusions from, interactions can often seem somewhat flat, enthusiasm occasionally lacking.
I needn’t have worried. As we ease into things, it becomes inherently clear that this isn’t Cooper’s first time. He answers all questions posed with a methodical, flowing response- far from rehearsed yet concise and enthralling. It would appear that, after quite some years, Max most definitely knows his stuff.
Broach the topic of combining his scientific background with his foray into the musical sphere and you instantly get the feeling he could wax lyrical for hours on end- perhaps even more so should his fellow conversationalist have some form of grounding in either fields. In my case, we’re forced to make-do with my limited scientific knowledge and overly eclectic musical tastes. Far from a hardcore electro fan, I must admit that should any other DJ cum producer have been on the other end of the line I may have found it difficult to muster enthusiasm. With Max Cooper however, I defy anyone to master such a feat.
Before I know it we’re off on an unstoppable tangent of the similarities between science and music, how producers can translate the patterns of science to patterns within music. I’ll admit, some of it is a little over my head. Little did I know songs can be formed around the genetic connections of family lines and that different elements of the human condition can influence tracks in different manners. Although Cooper’s work is undoubtedly cerebral, he’s quick to point out that his main objective is to make music which appeals to everyone; it must be said, a quick listen of his new album showcases some soothing, melodic tracks which I could happily drift away to. Science aside, Cooper sure knows how to craft a beat.
Starting off as many do, Cooper was an original 90s clubbing fiend. The move to DJ-ing sounds almost intrinsic yet when I suggest the move into producing was equally so, I’m quickly corrected. As a self confessed “over simplification”, Cooper explains it thus: DJ-ing is easy, producing is hard. That’s me told. Talent aside, I soon learn the apparently unfathomable technical aspects involved in producing: synthesiser control, sound management, patterns in sound. It’s beginning to become clear that Cooper may owe more than he lets on to that scientific grounding of his.
The more we chat, the more aware I become of quite how often he calls upon that background to make sense of everyday affairs. When discussing fashion, his mind instantly jumps to societal meanings, explaining to me the similarities drawn between the music industry and the current zeitgeist. “The wider world of fashion in general is like music in exactly the same way. At any given time there are certain things that are popular; not necessarily for any logical reason- they’re simply what happens to be fashionable. It’s very hard to predict; often it’s nothing more than a sway of public opinion. Music is completely governed by the same strange, hard to predict logic.” On the topic of style, Cooper is quick to differentiate between “fashion” and “clothing”. The former is noted as one of the biggest drivers of the music industry, whilst the latter… is apparently one of Cooper’s failings. Without laying eyes upon the man himself I can’t comment, yet the press images and fan photos beg to differ; by all accounts, Cooper is a rather dashing chap. Push him to give more and for the first time we come close to hitting a wall. Society and age apparently play a big part in dictating what Cooper feels acceptable garb; further than this, he’s open to suggestion.
One Cooper seems all too keen to take a few tips from, at least in terms of music, is Rob Firth. When I ask whose musical style he most respects, his name is so quick to fall off the tip of Cooper’s tongue I can’t help but wonder if there’s some form of bromance going on. Admirably referred to as the “best electronic producer there is in the world”, Firth undoubtedly seems to be one of Cooper’s heroes. When describing his sound, superlatives are the order of the day. “Mind blowing”, “spectacular”, “epic”; I get the distinct sense Cooper may just be an avid super fan…
Speaking of which, it would appear Cooper has collected a few of his own over the years. Browse the net even briefly and you’ll surely find it near impossible to fail to find some form or another of fan video set to a Cooper track. The man himself tells me how great it is when his music connects enough with people to inspire them to get creative. At the end of the day, the science thing is merely an element of the Max Cooper package. Dig even a little deeper and it soon becomes clear that this DJ cum producer thrives off real life human interaction, drawing inspiration from those around him as opposed to simply a computer screen. In spite of his undoubtedly scientific mind, it would appear that Max Cooper is indeed Human after all.