In Conversation with Will Joseph Cook

Not many artists have you demanding more material just seconds after hearing one of their tracks for the first time, Will Joseph Cook however, does this effortlessly.

A minute has passed, with the debut EP You Jump I Run being put out in 2015, and even back then we saw impressive maturity within Will’s songwriting; and if we were to compare then to now you’d be able to see his progression shine through.

It’s a strange feeling knowing the Sweet Dreamer campaign took off almost a year ago with the release of Girls Like Me; a luscious slice of indie-rock that sent us back to when everything felt as carefree as ever. You see, Cook’s ability to story tell through the medium of catchy sing-a-long pop tunes are the exact reason he landed himself a centre spot on our one’s to watch list last year.

Sweet Dreamer provides all the bliss the sun can offer; with more richness than any blood orange could ever contain. Will Joseph Cook has just curated the perfect soundtrack to accompany your summer days, and we were itching to know how he managed to pull it off.

Sweet Dreamer – What made you choose that song to be the album title?

For me, when I was thinking of album titles I kind of returned to Sweet Dreamer. It has a pretty strong identity and I think it sums up the themes of the album pretty well for two words; it sounded instant and memorable and really clicked when I put it in that place. I think Sweet Dreamer as a title kind of explains the surrealism themes in the album, but also like the optimism and the general upbeat feel of it.

Imagine if you had named it Plastic instead and held up some cup for the artwork…

I had many, many shit titles for it which I won’t share cause they’re embarrassing [laughs], but yeah it took me a long time to arrive back at the thing that I started with pretty much.

You recently tweeted that you wanted your single covers to look like sci-fi cereal boxes – how important are visuals and designs to you?

It’s one of the most fun bits to me, I don’t really understand when people don’t want to be involved in it. For me it’s super super important, if there’s a second meaning to the song, a humour to it or an irony I think the best way to do that is with the visuals and with the artwork. I think you can underpin a lot of what maybe people would’ve missed from listening to the song with the visuals so I guess that’s how I see them as a tool to expressing what I’m trying to get across.

Your music videos are extremely narrative – do the visuals match what you see in your mind when you’re writing the song?

100%, I mean especially with the last one (Beach), I was pretty much writing the video idea at the same time as the song. It’s probably the most mechanically and technical video we’ve done as in it was quite the operation with all the screens and stuff, it was also mainly one take in the studio so it was sick to make.

When I’m writing the songs, the exact video idea doesn’t always come to me like it did with Beach but often when I’m writing stuff and it feels cinematic, in I’m seeing just general objects/scenes or a general vibe to the track, it always massively helps me finish the lyrics and then I can take that into the artworks as well. Like with Take Me Dancing, it felt like it had a kind of sleazy tropical feel to the verses, a sort of laid back cocktail vibe to it, which worked its way into the artwork with the martini glass. My theme for that track was The Great Gatsby if it was in the Caribbean, that was the vibe I was going for [laughs].

Drag is something you’ve tried out when filming previous music videos – anything that encouraged you to do it?

I think as soon as I had the title of the track (Girls Like Me) I thought it was a pretty good provocative title, when I was approaching writing the song I had the idea of drag in my head cause I think the title can be read two ways, can’t it? You can refer to other girls liking you or you can be referring to yourself so I just thought it would be funny to embrace the whole drag thing, and it made it feel like a sick video in the end.

I feel like you have a whole wardrobe full of wigs now…

Yeah, I actually do have quite a lot of them left over! Good for parties and stuff.

You should’ve rocked one at the HISKIND launch!

I should’ve! That would’ve been funny.

Beach is the only EP track to make it to the album – reason behind wanting to re-release it?

The main reason for me, from an artistic perspective, is because I loved it and it really set a tone; it’s the production style and writing style that I carried over to the album. To me, it’s the first album track I ever wrote so it made sense for it to be on there if you know what I mean. That was where the album started and I hadn’t realised it when I did it.

At the time, I was saying to my label that I think this is sick, and people liked it but no one wanted to put it as the single so it never got a video or anything and I had this video idea from day one from when I was writing it, so to be able to do it as the fourth single in and actually have a budget to do the video and stuff like that was more than enough reason for me to release it again.

It fits in perfectly with the rest of the album as well.

I think it’s definitely earned its place, and the fact its connected so well with people listening to it on its own steam, it didn’t have a big push to blogs or radio or anything, it just naturally connected with people.

Talk us through the process of creating a Will Joseph Cook track…

Alright so, I have a labyrinth of mostly shit ideas on my phone, so if I have an idea I’ll record it straight into my iPhone notes. Then usually I’ll sit down at my computer, drag all of the ideas into my iTunes and listen through them all, I probably done this once every couple of weeks, until I refined them all by putting the good ones in a separate folder to the terrible ones.

I’ll then take about two or three separate ideas and patch them together, sometimes it works really well and sometimes it’s a bit of a flop. I always think if you can get three ideas that are super exciting on their own and put them together then you’ve made something three times as exciting as they were on their own.

Other than that, I just demo it up on Logic or something and make a little whack demo, then take it into a proper studio and work it up.

Do you ever write around a beat, or have lyrics always been priority?

I’ve done that more recently but I still like to do it in private, its only since I’ve been doing the last five tracks; Plastic, Treat Me Like a Lover, Biggest Fan, Hands and Sweet Dreamer, they were all my productions so when I started recording later into the album in my studio that was when I started writing more towards beats, I think that comes across in the tracks as well.

How many tracks were written in total for the record?

I got pretty brutal with it, there was a good sixteen/seventeen that were done and I could’ve finished and they could’ve had a place on the record, but all my favourite albums are ten to twelve tracks or less so I wanted to keep it fairly condensed.

Bunch of festival shows coming up – anyone’s set you plan on catching?

I must say I haven’t done my research, there’s a bunch of stuff at Secret Garden Party that looks great but it’s just whether they’re on the right days for us. Usually my binge is at The Great Escape where I just go and see as much stuff as possible.

Any ridiculous backstage trailer requests?

I’m probably not at the point where even if I did no one would fucking get them for me [laughs]. I always think it’d be sick if you were touring internationally to ask for some weird local delicacy or something, just the most obscure food that’s unique to that region or town. Hard to obtain things that make it a challenge for them, but would inevitably result in something interesting as well.

Huge success with the singles put out so far – did you feel any pressure to make a record that lived up to the already released material?

For sure, I think the pressure for me was that I wouldn’t put something out unless I loved it. The pressure and the worry comes from if the people who are fans of what you’ve previously done will also support the new stuff too, especially if you feel like your sound is developing. I never want to make the same record twice, I’m always trying to have something different, there’s no point in me following the grain of a sound. I guess it’s more the worry that people don’t feel alienated by it all.

Track on the record you’re most hyped for people to hear?

Probably Plastic, it’s a very unadulterated ‘me’ creation if you see what I mean, I’m interested to see how people take that track and how they compare it to what’s already out.

What would you like to see the album go on to do?

It’s so difficult to say, you don’t want to jinx it. I think what the album does is it legitimises you and it opens you up to becoming a proper artist and being able to collaborate and work with other people, you cut your teeth and earn the respect of other producers/writers; I think that opens to so many wicked opportunities. If it goes down well enough and people love it, people will be excited to hear what comes next.

Sweet Dreamer is out Friday and is available for pre-order now.

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