INTERVIEW // Will Joseph Cook

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This article originally appeared in DIY

Is it possible to steal Will Joseph Cook’s dad? His love of live music and impeccable taste in bands puts most fathers to shame. “He literally took me to so many shows,” Will says. “We went to so much. Everything Everything, Vampire Weekend, just shit loads of indie bands really. That whole scene built around MGMT and all those bands, Empire of the Sun and stuff. Darwin Deez too.”

In all seriousness, growing up in a creative household helped introduce Will to a host of smart, creative bands that have undoubtedly shaped the way he approaches his own brand of catchy yet knowing pop music. MGMT, Weezer and Vampire Weekend are particular favourites of Will’s. “I think the thing I find most appealing is when they are completely aware of what they’re doing,” he says. “They’re not tied down to a certain era and they’re knowing pop songs, but also slightly ironic. They haven’t stumbled across a sound by accident, they’re almost showing off because they’re so good.”

That timeless, knowing quality is present in Will’s own work, where classic hooks are married with clever guitar licks and his own endearing falsetto. It’s not in-your-face but, as Will puts it, “if your music is saying something it doesn’t have to be abrasive.” But although he’s technically a white guy with an acoustic guitar, don’t try to pigeonhole him. “I fucking hate the term singer-songwriter. Honestly. It’s the bane of my existence,” he says. “Labels and stuff are kind of bullshit,” he states. “That’s what I like about [pop music]. If you’re a pop artist you can do what you want.”

Will’s genre-busting sound hasn’t come too easy though; he’s always hard at work trying to create something magical. “If I can get one little thing a day and note it down, even if it’s crap, I always record stuff,” he explains. “You’d think I was fucking nuts if you went on my computer, there’s so much stuff. Some of them are the most awful, awful musical ideas.” These moments of “inspiration” even hit him when he’s out and about. “I think the worst ones are when I wake up or I’m walking to the shops or in a public place. It’ll be like a really creepy recording humming in a bit of song and I’ll go back to it and I’ll go ‘what the fuck was I thinking,’ singing in public and all that.”

Creepy? Maybe for the old woman sitting next to him on the bus. But thanks to his active imagination and hard graft Will has honed his work. Now he sounds more ready than ever to break into the mainstream. Still, he doesn’t want to be a commercial asset, aiming to stay true to his own vision. “I love pop music but there’s a duality to it. The music means a lot and I’m not making a product, I’m making music that I find the most satisfying,” he explains. “I could never make pop music to be commercial. Nah, I’m just making the music I wanna make. The commercial aspect doesn’t play a part for me.”

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