Friday, December 11, 2009

Radical Face / Electric President (SCQ's Year-End Questionnaire Part I)

Ben Cooper, the mastermind of Electric President and Radical Face, may have spent the majority of 2009 recording (at least five records, by my count… um, maybe six) but he still managed to turn heads with Patients; a fan-oriented project that saw Ben trading super-limited, self-made copies of his b-sides collection for weird, listener-prepared snail-mail packages. Never mind that Patients was pretty awesome, Cooper belongs here as an irrefutable SCQ alumni, what with Sleep Well being SCQ’s #1 record of 2008.

SCQ: What have been some of your favourite records of 2009? Gush away!

I've been recording pretty much non-stop this year. And whenever I'm recording a lot, I don't tend to hunt down new music. The bulk of what I listen to is film scores and composers. So most of this will be instrumental, and none of it new. That being said …

The thing I've listened to the most this year is, oddly enough, the score for “The Land Before Time” by James Horner. This wasn't some nostalgia kick. It started that way, after having a conversation about how kid's movies aren't sad or scary anymore (generalization), and that kids should watch more Don Bluth movies. This got me itching to watch the Land Before Time again, so I did. And I never realized before how much of the movie's mood came from the score. I bought a copy of the soundtrack, and I love it. I probably can't entirely separate the nostalgia, but I admire it completely as music. Some of it is so pretty it's almost hard to listen to, and I love that feeling. It also prompted me to find the American Tale score, which is also great.

Beyond that, I've been listening to the kind of records I rediscover every couple of years. One was the Rachel's catalog. I come back to their music regularly. This time it was mostly the “Music For Egon Schielle” set.

The other big one was Tom Waits, predominantly “Rain Dogs” and “Mule Variations”. But I know exactly why I've been putting those on. I've been writing a lot of lyrics lately, and listening to him always makes me strive to be a better lyricist. Lines like “She said she'd stick around until the bandages came off” push me to say more with the space I've got in a song.

SCQ: Be it from the radio, lost on Myspace or from your roster, what song(s) could you not stop spinning?

For single songs, these all got a lot of play …

Cat Stevens – 'Trouble'
Modeselektor – 'Skip Divided' Remix
Pink Floyd – 'Fearless'
Saint Seans – 'Aquarium', and 'The Swan'.
Slowdive – 'Catch the Breeze'
Beethoven – 'Symphony no. 7, 2nd movement'.
Son Lux – 'Throw'
Joanna Newsom – 'Sawdust and Diamonds'
Alexandre Desplat – 'Prologue' (from the soundtrack to Birth)

SCQ: Seldom celebrated but crucial to The Album’s identity is cover-art. Can you offer any shortlist of personal favourites from the past year?

I wish I could, but I've barely seen any that were released this year. Once I take a break from recording I will dig back into some new stuff, but for now I have nothing.

But I will say, Rachel's always have really great packaging.

SCQ: When you look back on what transpired this year, what will stand out as your most memorable moment(s) of 2009?

Not really a single event, but I had a really great Summer. Nothing specific happened, but I'm normally not a Summer person. It's my least favorite time of year. I usually just see it as 4 months of sweating all the damn time, feeling lazy, and waiting for Fall to show up. But this year I decided to enjoy it as best I could. No sense making an enemy out of something if you don't have to, eh? So I started walking to the ocean four or five afternoons a week, and just swimming or walking up and down the shore and writing in my notebook. And I came to love it. One of my nicest moments this year was sitting in the sand, reading a Peter Beagle short story and eating an apple. It was pretty perfect.

SCQ: Most of us probably haven’t thought as far as New Years Eve plans but still, looking forward, what do you have on the horizon for 2010?

I'll still be recording. But if all goes as planned, I will be releasing a lot of records next year (Electric President, Clone, and the Radical Face records). That wasn't initially the intention, to have them all so close together, but it's all kinda falling into place that way. I have plans to do some DIY touring as well, to try doing it in a way I'd genuinely enjoy. Still kinda working all this out, though. For all I know, none of this will happen and I'll be spending next year wondering what I've done with my life.

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