Critically acclaimed musician JP Cooper has joined forces with famed Viennese coffee roaster Julius Meinl to invite coffee and tea lovers to unleash their inner poet on World Poetry Day, March 21. We asked JP six quick questions about the campaign, as well as about his music.
EP: You’ve teamed up with the world famous Viennese coffee company, Julius Meinl this year, for World Poetry Day, where you’re asking people to ‘Pay With A Poem’ – what’s this all about and how can people get involved?
JPC: I think it’s really important that people embrace creativity and that’s why working with Julius Meinl on the ‘Pay With A Poem’ campaign is so exciting. People can get involved by visiting one of the 17 locations in London on World Poetry Day and writing a poem on the music sheet paper provided. It’s as simple as writing a poem in one of the cafes to claim a free coffee or tea. Ultimately, I want to inspire people to try out – or rediscover – this once neglected art form. With coffee and tea serving as the creative fuel, I hope people will be inspired to put pen to paper, just like me.
EP: How important is poetry to you, and how can we make poetry more accessible to everyone? Do you feel more songwriters should get involved in poetry – after all songs are essentially poems set to music?
JPC: Over the years I’ve seen the lines between music and poetry becoming intertwined for me as an artist. Having a true understanding of how poetry can inspire my music is fundamental. Some of the most influential artists today are making poetry accessible and contemporary for the masses, and it’s something I hope we can achieve with the ‘Pay With A Poem’ campaign. The link between music and poetry is really interesting, everyone can remember the lyrics to their favourite songs, but how many people can recite a poem? Rhyme and verse is an integral part of my song-writing process, and I hope that the initiative will inspire more people to try their hand at writing. Ultimately, I want to show that poetry lives everywhere, and that music can be a gateway to enjoying poetry.
EP: What is your favourite poem?
JPC: I’m not sure I could choose a favourite poem, but I do take inspiration from a lot of poetry/spoken word. I always try to create an element of hope in my songs, and that’s something I think is present in a lot of the poetry I like, too. Finding the beauty in tragedy or difficult times has really shaped my musical path, I always try to find the positive and focus that energy into my music.
EP: Your debut album ‘Raised Under Grey Skies’ came out last year, but you’ve been in the music business for a long while now, and releasing EPs and singles and collaborating with other artists, so you’ve clearly had plenty of opportunities to learn a lot about the music business. What advice do you have for artists who are just starting out navigating their musical journey?
JPC: I was initially on the back foot with my Jonas Blue collaboration (‘Perfect Strangers’) as it wasn’t a genre I was familiar with. But, having had that opportunity to collaborate, I was able to step outside of my creative comfort zone and reach a new audience. I think it’s really important to try new things, explore creative territories that you aren’t necessarily familiar with and step outside of your comfort zone, particularly when starting out. That would be my best advice, try to be as open to creativity as possible and find inspiration in even the smallest parts of everyday life.
EP: Similarly, if you could do it all over again, what if anything would you do differently, and why?
JPC: I wouldn’t change a thing. Song writing has helped me to understand my emotions, process my thoughts and even communicate more effectively. I feel privileged to have broken into the industry during a time of huge growth for platforms like Spotify and YouTube. I have no doubt that the popularity of social media sharing and people listening to my music on such a vast scale helped to kick-start my career.
EP: What question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview but nobody ever asks?
JPC: That’s a good question! I’m not sure but I like talking about what is coming next because there are always exciting projects and gigs lined up. After working on the Pay With A Poem campaign I definitely want to do more to inspire people to embrace creativity and make it more accessible. Hopefully that’s something I can achieve with my music.
World Poetry Day is March 21. To find out more about ‘Pay With A Poem’, and how you can be involved, visit Julius Meinl’s official website and Facebook page. Follow the social conversation using the hashtags #PayWithAPoem and #PoetryForChange.