Sophie Cooper is the subject of this inaugural feature in a new series at Ears for Eyes: Fallout Shelter Disks. Those participating choose six albums/EPs/singles/mixtapes, one book, and one luxury item to take down into an atomic fallout shelter come the end of the world.
Sophie performs solo under her own name and has appeared in a number of other bands including Leopard Leg and Remedial Queen of England. She has released music on Exotic Pylon, Tor Press, and most recently on Wild Silence. Sophie recently organised Tor Festival which hosted artists from across a diverse spectrum, among them were Delphine Dora, United Bible Studies, These Feathers Have Plumes, and Family Elan.
As mushroom clouds sprout into the sky and the ash begins to fall, here’s what’s on the shelves of Sophie’s bunker.
I promise you that I will never be the person at the party who pulls out an acoustic guitar and starts jamming in front of everyone but if it’s just going to be me there then why not.
Ears for Eyes: Your luxury item is a guitar, could you remain creative in such isolation?
Sophie Cooper: I consider this luxury item to be more of a boredom breaker than a means for staying creative. I’ve no idea if I could continue to write fully formed songs in isolation like that but I’m fairly sure I’d be happy to sit with my ear pressed to the wood of the guitar and listen to the resonance of the strings inside for hours. I’ve got a hamster called Woodstock and he has loads of stuff in his cage to keep him entertained, it’s a similar principle.
I’m with you on the Yo La Tengo album – all is well when that comes on. Do you think music can help even in extreme circumstances such as being in an underground bunker?
I can’t think of a time in my life, “extreme” or otherwise, which hasn’t been accompanied by music so I can’t see why being in an underground bunker would change this. I have gone through difficult times and used this album to escape into, maybe Yo La Tengo should start marketing it as a therapy record.
Your selections are a mixture of escapism (Labyrinth) and tools for coping with the situation (Warhol/Figure 8). Could you find a balance? Would you reach a calm acceptance or retreat into full “I am in a fantasy castle and everything is fine” sort of state?
I hope that I would lose it and imagine myself as Princess Peach or something but I doubt I would. My biggest fear is that if I allow myself I can suffer from claustrophobia so if I could deal with that I’m sure I’d accept it down there. What else can you do really and let’s face it I’d be better off in there with these awesome albums than up on ground level.
I can’t be stressed when I’m thinking about making music, especially now I’m writing ‘songs’ which are highly emotional things to produce. I work best when I’m awake and calm which just wasn’t happening for me living in London. Now, when I step outside into Todmorden I feel as though I’m still in my living room which I see as a true indicator of feeling at home and I need that. Can this be heard in my music, well, I’m not even sure there’d be any music to hear if I wasn’t in this situation so yes.
It couldn’t have gone better really, not one bad act on the line-up. The turnout was fantastic, everyone got paid, it sounded perfect, it looked incredible in Todmorden Unitarian particularly with the psychedelic lightshow, the community were really embracing and supportive and I had a really great time. My personal highlights were Irma Vep, United Bible Studies, Delphine Dora, Bbblood and Alannah Chance’s after party DJing, it was all amazing though.
I have a desire to take this to another city for a repeat visit, possibly to Stoke on Trent, where there are some incredible things happening in the arts right now. People I’ve met recently in Stoke are very resourceful and open minded so I’m interested in organising a similar event in unexpected locations there. We’ll see what happens.
I’ve not seen Mad Max 3 but I have seen Bill and Ted so I guess I’d just give rock n roll to everyone.