So I released a new track the other day called “Doubt” which is on all the things here: https://song.link/i/1451926021 I've been meaning to write a little about these tracks I'm currently putting out, and where this all came from. I never know if that is interesting to anyone, but I like stories. So here you go. This entire "Therapy" EP was written after therapy sessions (clever title, I know). But it didn't begin that way. It was originally called Verse/Chorus, because I wanted to try my hand at writing with standard song structure again. I treat EPs the way I think of short stories -- it is a place to experiment, to see how it feels getting out of your usual lane. Since I have been on the "narrative song structure" train for so long, I forgot what it was like to start with the song's format. So I wrote the music for these 6 tracks before the words, where I would traditionally do both together. But when sitting down to finish the songs, the only thing I had on my mind was what I was learning in therapy. It consumed my thoughts. If you knew me at the time, I probably talked your ear off about it. So I took the 6 songs I'd written and used each one to cover a subject I was coming to grips with -- guilt, doubt, acceptance, getting by, gratitude, and goodbyes. "Doubt" was during an early period, where I was learning a lot of important but difficult concepts. And for a while, the only thing I felt confident in were the things I don't know (but there was a positive side-effect from this, where I finally started understanding what the hell is meant by "mindfulness"). So the song was an attempt to convey a sense of drifting, unable to connect to very much beyond the things you no longer know. When it came time to make a video, I originally wrote a treatment that was very much in the style of "Hard of Hearing." Something funnier. But it didn't fit, and felt like a weaker version of the same idea. So I started over and focused on the words and that sense of being disconnected from what's going on around me -- where everything but the subject of the video changes. And despite how still and flat it (hopefully) reads, it was really difficult to make as we did everything in camera. No post alignment, or any post at all, beyond fading clips together. But I have always believed in using the concept as the decision maker when doing anything visual. Otherwise, it feels like arbitrary style choices, which I've never found very satisfying. For better or for worse, I love details and overthinking everything. But the whole EP will be out later this month. I also have a mirror version of it coming out shortly after. It's called "Therapy: Alternate Reality Version". I recorded every song in two different styles -- one more produced, and one more acoustic. So the "Alternate Reality Version" will be a more traditional version of the songs for me. If you are missing guitar/piano styles, stay-tuned. Welp, that's enough rambling from me. I hope everyone is well.
So I made a video for my new song coming out tomorrow called “Doubt”, you can view it here premiered by my friends at FLOOD Magazine http://floodmagazine.com/59320/ben-cooper-of-radical-face-struggles-with-stasis-in-video-for-doubt/ This might appear simple, but it was the most technically and physically demanding video I’ve ever done. I like to make things difficult, so I decided that everything would be done in-camera. So no post was added at all, not even basics like color-correction. Just used some software to fade between clips. Sitting completely still for 30 to 45 minutes at a time is way more difficult than it sounds. If I moved even slightly, we had to start over. But I find it pretty funny that the most physically demanding video I've ever made involved not moving. And thematically speaking, this was all a visual attempt to get across how, when in the midst of depression, the world around you might be changing, but it doesn't register very much. How you can feel pretty much the same about any of it. Or that's how it's always been for me, at least. Not sure how it registers for other people. Thanks again to Roy (filming) and Jeremiah (production manager) for their patience in making this. It was about 7 straight days of reshoots to figure it out. I think everyone wanted to punch me, by the end. Myself included. And for the record, I am doing a lot better than when I wrote all these songs. I took a break from touring to really get my head back in some kind of order, and to figure out where I am going to live and where I am going with my life, both as a musician and in general. It's done wonders. I'm already working on the next full-length (it's called "Into the Woods") and have a lot of new things in the works, but I will get to all of that in time. I haven't even put this EP out yet. Ha. But I hope everyone is well. Take care of your brains. -Ben
So the first song from this new EP is up. It's called "Hard of Hearing" and the EP is titled "Therapy.” You can listen on all the things: https://radicalface.lnk.to/Therapy I originally started this EP under a different title ("Verse/Chorus"), because I wanted to see if I could write songs with standard formats. I've used narrative writing for so long that I wasn't sure how I'd do going back to something more direct. I actually had a lot of fun, digging into my favorite eras of pop music for ideas (70s and 80s, mostly). But once the structures were worked out and I moved on to subject matter, the things on my mind the most were what I was learning in therapy. I decided since that's where my head was at, that's what the songs would be about. And this time, I would not use any stories to hide the experiences in. For better or for worse. So on the whole, "Therapy" is all about aftermath. We often write about immediate experiences, or the moments that have the most glamour or impact, but not so much about trying to make sense of whatever you're left with afterwards. The songs on this EP cover different aspects of this (doubt, guilt, acceptance, etc), and of trying to find a new sense of normalcy after everything around you has changed, including yourself. And they were all written after, you guessed it, therapy sessions. "Hard of Hearing" specifically is about the awkward middle period, that space where you don't feel well at all, but you can outwardly function again. I learned that we often understand things long before we feel them, and that can create a sense of limbo. That limbo is where this song come from. Hope everyone is well. -Ben
So here's the video for a track off this new EP called "Therapy" that is premiering with BrooklynVegan today https://tinyurl.com/y6ovc5mt. It's the first one I have made in a while, and I honestly missed it. Filming is always chaotic and long hours, but with the right people it is really fun. And it was great to write a treatment that didn't already have a story built in. I never made any videos for Ghost, and The Family Tree has such an overarching concept that there wasn't a lot of freedom with the videos. So this felt a lot more open in a nice way. Special thanks to Roy Berry, who has never shot a video before this one and did a crazy good job, and to Katie Parisi for keeping everything on track, organized, and filling out the whole look. And also to Josh and Jeremiah for all the back up, and to everyone who volunteered as an extra. Hopefully we can all make some more.
Today I am releasing a free album called “Missing Film’, a selection of instrumental music I've written and recorded over the past two years. These tracks range from film and TV commissions that didn't pan out, to one-off experiments that have no home. Instead of letting these just sit idly on harddrives, I thought I would make these tracks available to film makers and content creators to use, royalty-free, in any of their personal work. So as long as it's non-commercial, you can use any of these tracks for your work and do not need my explicit permission. The entire album is a free download, and Noisetrade has been kind enough to host for me. So if you want to download for your projects, or you'd just like to listen, here's the link: https://noisetrade.com/radicalface/missing-film Or on the regular services here: http://smarturl.it/ag6ods And if you're happy with your result, feel free to share what you make with me by sending an email through my website or posting on Youtube and tagging me. I'd love to see what people do with this. Hope everyone is well. -Ben
Hey there. Hope everyone is good. This is an alternate version of "We're On Our Way" that I never released, but I liked how it came out. Just figured I'd upload it while I'm prepping my next release for Fall. https://youtu.be/jJ4oLqbayqY
So the entire covers EP is up today: https://tinyurl.com/yaydfz6k I'll take a minute to describe the last two singles, since I forgot to write about the fifth one. I have too many irons in the fire sometimes. Number five was “Nothing Compares 2 U” from Sinead O'Connor (I know the song was originally written by Prince but that's not how I came across it). I first heard Sinead's record “I do not want what I haven't got” because my older sister had the tape. We were not well-off and there weren't a lot of records to pick from in the household, so I started listening to this album just for some variety. But it wasn't long before I got really into it, and really started to love her voice. I was maybe 11 years old at the time, and already into pretty heavy music like Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. So this was another guilty pleasure type of album – something I listened to when no one was around, or in headphones. I think those private records always leave a mark. You remember those a little differently. This track is also a go-to for me at karaoke, and something I've covered live plenty of times. So when working out what I wanted to record, this was first on the list. And then this final track in the set is the strangest one for me. I know the song “Memory”, and specifically the Elaine Paige version, but this was the only one that wasn't rooted in nostalgia for me. It was proposed almost as a challenge from someone I work with, Michael Pizzuto. He was curious what I do with a track like that. And I honestly wasn't sure at first. I was stumped for a couple days, and it forced me to approach arranging in a very different way because some of my standard toolkit just wasn't working. But I think it's my favorite of the bunch! I love things that push me into places I don't picture myself. It's the best way to learn. So yeah, that's this cover set. It was a really fun way to learn how to record in my apartment, to shake some dust off my production chops, to take silly photos and make no-budget videos. Thanks for following along, those of you who did. And thanks to everyone who helped me make everything (Roy Berry, Glen Alen, Amber Halford, Josh Lee, Clay Doran, Michael Pizzuto, and Rachel Cragg). But now, back to my regular onslaught of sad little songs. New EP coming shortly, as well as lots of releases with Bear Machine Records. But I'll write about that more in a separate post. Until then, I hope everyone is well.
Ok. Cover number four. http://hyperurl.co/ttdwlo For this one I picked “Jolene” by Dolly Parton. Dolly is a hell of a songwriter, both in what she's written for herself and for others. I think she's got a really cool sense of melody, and she's the type of professional we don't much see anymore. Always seemed genuinely kind as well. But I remember when someone on youtube put up the 33rpm version of Jolene (pressed as a 45) about 5 years ago, and I got a little obsessed with it. At some point I figured out the chords just playing along with the track, for my own amusement. When deciding to lay down some covers, it was one of the first ones that came to mind. I also noticed, once I stripped this down to its chords, that it reminded me of some music from old fantasy films. Like the soundtrack of “The Last Unicorn”. So I decided to push that stuff a bit with the piano and mellotrons. I had a ton of fun making this cover art, too. Everyone involved just laughed for a couple hours straight. Again, I worked with Glen Alen who runs Drag Academy, and he put the entire look together. He found and styled the wig, did the make-up, and already had the fake breasts and jewelry. He was a one stop shop! I was unsure of how this one would go, but he nailed it. Thanks again, Glen. And a special to thanks to “69” for letting us shoot in their space and for providing the clothes, and to Roy Berry for taking the photos. I just showed up and it all happened. Hopefully, this can be a little bit of nightmare fuel. I think it's probably the best photo I've ever taken. And like all the others, I cut together a video out of public domain footage that caught my eye. https://youtu.be/ks7hab5QIMU This is the last one in that style, though. The last two covers are a little stranger with the videos. Excited to see how those shape up. But cool. That's enough for now. I hope everyone is well.
Cover number three. For this one I picked “Video Games” by Lana Del Rey http://smarturl.it/gn2vk5 This will likely come as no surprise, but I know very little about modern pop music. It's not something I follow. I never really have. By the time the Backstreet Boys popped up on the radio, I was already well into underground music. But I want to stress, this was never principle for me. I have no problem with pop music. You often come across this high-horse attitude about it that I really don't share. Music is music. You like it or you don't. I'm not very social about what I enjoy, and I'm not going to like or dislike something based on how popular it is, or isn't. I just don't listen to a lot of pop because it doesn't catch my ear. Nothing more. I really like Lana Del Rey, though. I only heard about her because of backlash. My initiation to her music was other people complaining and saying she was some kind of fraud. So I got curious and looked her up. The first song that popped up on Youtube was Video Games and I liked it right off. It had a lot of the things I enjoy in music. It was moody, the chords, arrangements and melodies were clever, and the vocals had a lot of personality. It was the first “Radio Pop” kind of artist I'd heard in a long time that I listened to the song more than once. So I got the record, and again to my surprise, I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed how it was simultaneously melodramatic and bored. It was very left-field for the kind of records I was into at the time, which was fun. And then on tour, back in 2013, we were in London and were asked to perform on a video blog. I misread the email and didn't realize until 10 pm the night before that we were supposed to prepare a cover. So Josh and I came up with this version of Video Games over the course of about an hour. We wound up playing it off and on at shows from that point on for something fun. So it was a no-brainer to sit down and record a proper version for this cover's EP. A couple others in this little series have come from the same scenario. And as with the rest of the series, I also cut together a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoqLkEBiANU&t=0s&index=13&list=PLz0NgKsarCsRmIR0OesJ0lmZxNNDzvVIh Special thanks to Hunter O'Shea for providing the 16mm footage of his Arizona skate-crew. He was kind of enough to donate lots of little clips at a super short notice, and it made the edit a ton better. Him and his brother also make a great series of skate videos called “A Happy Medium” that are very worth checking out. And lastly, for the cover image, even with a wig and make-up, I couldn't come close to looking like Ms. Rey. Way out of my range on this one. So I just did a cover that reminded me of her style, and hid most of my face. Hahaha. Some of these were definitely more challenging than others. But such is the way. As someone who has never done drag, it has given me a lot more respect for the medium. It's a lot harder than it looks. And it didn't look easy to begin with. Anywho, I hope everyone is well.