Poetry In Motion: Coppa unleashes his most accomplished work to date
With a career spanning well over 10 years, Coppa has cemented his place as one of the most respected MC’s and vocalists in the game, and with good reason, too. His signature tones have graced the likes of Eatbrain, Playaz, Viper, Technique and Mainframe to name just a few, with the Berlin-based artist demonstrating the versatility and depth of his craft time and time again.
Poetry In Motion, his sophomore LP, sees him at his most inspired. 16 tracks deep, it features a simply legendary roster including the likes of Benny L, Shimon, Trimer, Nymfo, Dexcell, High Maintenance, Alibi, Malaky and more, covering a wide spectrum in tone, energy and lyricism.
Thought-provoking, emotional, uplifting and downright gully all in one, it’s his most personal release to date, and sees him continuing to push himself as an artist. With his first album, Act of Aggression, released on his own Comanche Records imprint, Poetry In Motion comes to us via Shimon’s AudioPorn Records.
We caught up with the man himself to learn more about the release and how it came together, as well as his plans to bring the album to life with a new live concept…
You’re no stranger to the album format, with the Act of Aggression LP already under your belt. Was there a lot of pressure tackling a second album, or was it a long time coming? Can imagine the LP format allows you to really express yourself on another level…
For me it was something i’d already started to think about as soon as Act of Aggression dropped, but I knew that i’d have to give it at least a year to refresh my creative energy before undertaking another mission of that size.
The album process takes a lot out of you emotionally, creatively and physically in the quest to get that X-amount of tracks you can stand behind whole-heartedly. I knew Act of Aggression was just the start of the album journey, but where and how the next one was going to come into existence I had yet to find out… I also needed the distance between the projects to grow personally and professionally as an artist and to experience more to be able to draw from different subject pools when writing and adding different perspectives to my usual kind of output.
Mission accomplished! The album artwork is all little bits of your history isn’t it? Was the concept for the album something you consciously constructed, or did it come together organically?
It definitely was an organic situation. I think it would’ve been very forced if I had set out from the beginning with a specific and narrow concept. Part of the fun of undertaking such as a project is seeing where the music takes you. These things have a way of developing organically and when the smoke clears the answers to your fundamental questions are often staring you in the face. Trust in the magic…
Words to live by, really. Take us through your creative process – can imagine you’re constantly writing and jotting ideas down – how long did it take to piece the album together?
My creative process is quite organised, as i’ve had plenty opportunity over the years to refine it. Most of the basic ideas for my songs are already formulated either on paper or in my head ready to be accessed when I hear the right instrumental. Sometimes theres a synth line, bass pattern or a drum step that triggers an emotion or a thought and that’s all I need to get going.
Often within the first few seconds of hearing a track I already know what i’m going to write to it, which is both a blessing and a curse. The more new music for recording that i’m exposed to the easier it is to find myself writing 3-4 different songs at once. So I try not to listen to new material until i’ve finished working on the current recording job.
The whole process for Poetry in Motion was approximately just over a year before completion but to be honest for a few of the songs they’ve kinda been over 10 years in the making. The reason I say this is because they are songs that i’ve dreamed of doing since back then but never had the opportunity to put them down on a track or a suitable project. So it feels a lot longer than the physical time of putting together. Tracks like Security with Gydra & Jess, Aurora with Muffler and Reasons to Survive with Dexcell are the realisation of songs that i’ve that wanted to do for years.
Do you ever experience writer’s block, and if so, how do you go about resetting your mind and starting fresh?
I cant say I ever experience writer’s block per se, actually quite the opposite! I sometimes have _too_ many ideas and not enough tunes or projects to place them in. What I do experience, which is kind of writer’s block I guess, is not having enough time to be creative. I’m very busy with a lot of other music-related work so the actual amount of time I get to spend in the studio for purely writing and being creative is sometimes limited.
What helps is minimising the amount of projects and recording jobs I choose to get involved with. Because you can end up spending so much time recording that you’re not actually able to dedicate enough time to just purely write & be creative, you kind of end up in machine mode, if that makes sense? What I find helps is taking more time away on personal (non music-related) trips and general time away from the studio to help reset my mind. I find this most effective to replenish the creative energy.
Definitely You’ve got such a unique ability to cross over the full spectrum of drum & bass, and this really shines through the album. So many great collaborators on there – How did you go about selecting who to work with?
Everyone who you see appear on an album project of mine are people I admire musically and professionally. If I’m not a big fan of their music it would be very difficult for me to really stand behind the track for inclusion on something as personal as an album project.
My main goal is to write songs and collab on tracks on my albums that I would like to listen to myself or vibe in a club to, and hope that my taste resonates with the wider community of D&B listeners, ravers & DJs. After recording for so long now (over 10 years!) i’ve got to a point whereby the track has to excite me greatly for me to find the motivation and inspiration to write to it, so for me personally… they are all bangers!
They are indeed!! Were the bars to each track written around the music, or vice versa?
A bit of both really. The experience is very different for both processes and this album has a nice mixture. I find it refreshing to mix it up as it keeps me on my toes creatively and helps me to continue to refine my working process. I love it equally when the producer presents me with what they imagine musically for me to put a vocal on, and also when they interpret my already-recorded vocal into their music. For me its fascinating to watch and hear how other peoples minds work creatively… That’s my “thing”… haha!
Were you able to get in the studio with everyone?
That would’ve been a dream come true, but the reality is when dealing with 16 different people from all parts of the world – Brazil, Netherlands, England, Portugal, Finland, Russia and Bulgaria – it would be next to impossible to work in that way! My gigging schedule and of course theirs, coupled with personal schedules wouldn’t allow it even if the logistics were not an issue.
I think when working with only 1 or 2 producers this is a much more feasible way to work and how I also enjoy to. So we worked remotely, but very closely, on all the songs and kept up a great line of communication and dialogue. One of the few fruits of the internet’s impact on drum and bass!
Your first album came out on your own label Comanche. Did you always have AudioPorn in mind as the home for the 2nd album?
Initially I was going to follow up the record on Comanche and had already started the second LP with that in mind. I’d already got the track with James (High Maintenance) and a few others lined up but it had quite a different sound to it and out of the initial 6 songs I brought over to AudioPorn, some of them didn’t really fit with the type of sound Shimon’s into. So we re-visited the concept as far as what they felt they were able to get behind musically and then I went out back into the world with that in mind.
I still had no real restraints as to what to bring to the album, but it was good to have a guideline. It worked out very well in the end, I was happy for the direction.
The tracks speak for themselves, so you certainly did something right 🙂 Seems like a real family vibe on the album with Benny, Shimon, Trimer and High Maintenance to name a few all making an appearance – must be a real buzz to watch each other grow and develop in the industry and be able to work together?
Yeah it’s real vibes to be around that kind of communal energy. I get a big buzz from watching others around me succeed and bubble over the top, it’s nice to be working with that kind of positive, supportive, forward-moving energy… It’s inspiring and to continue working together as things progress for everyone is awesome.
You’ve been quite open about giving up the booze-fuelled party lifestyle which I found really commendable, especially considering the nature of the music industry. How has it affected your creativity and productivity?
Hahaha, its funny how people assume you don’t party anymore because you’ve given up alcohol… It’s crazy because I don’t leave the parties any earlier than before, i’m still pretty much the last artist to leave venues in most cases! 99% of people can’t actually tell i’m not drinking or believe me until they offer me a drink and I decline.
I just removed the alcohol from the equation, but the show goes on exactly the same. One of the things for me I noticed was that it re-kindled the love and appreciation I have for the music and being a part of this culture. From a professional standpoint it makes things a lot easier as far as focus and efficiency, and my productivity and creativity (not that they were by any means low before) have most definitely benefited from the decision and the clarity.
It also makes the gigging schedule a lot more manageable and i’m able to enjoy the hotel breakfasts on the regular now. Just for the record, i’m not against alcohol and haven’t joined a cult… I’m just entering a new phase of my life and career and wanted to be better equipped to deal with it all!
I think more people need to do the same! You’ve gotta be one of the hardest working men in D&B – What does Coppa do when he actually gets some downtime?
Downtime…. I just had to look up that term up in the dictionary! Haha, most likely i’m walking the dog or taking city breaks to visit new places and soak up different atmospheres and surroundings. Other than that i’m reading, eating, just appreciating and enjoying life to fullest.
A lot of things that have happened over the last 18 months have put a lot of things into perspective for me, and i’m sure a lot of other people too, so i’m trying to make more time to spend personal quality time with family and friends. On a not-so-rare occasion you might even find me posted up in a Ragga dance or hip-hop and R&B club in Berlin if the mood takes me, or if my people are convincing enough for me to make the effort… haha!
If you weren’t in music, what do you think you’d be doing?
Probably working as an investigative journalist! I’ve got an inquisitive mind when it comes to the layers that people, ideas and organisations present as their reality, as well as public personas. I think i’ve got a talent for analysing these things and getting a realistic audit of them and their situations. Either that or working at the Fraud Squad!
Haha detective Coppa on the case! 🙂 So what’s coming up next? You’re moving into live shows, right? When’s that kicking off?
Yep this year we’re stepping up the Coppa LIVE show element a lot more. Previously it’s been reserved for special one-offs at bigger festivals around Europe but i’ve done quite a few club shows with it now also. We’re taking it on the road to present Poetry in Motion Live, where i’ll be performing most of the LP alongside some other new material as well as some Coppa ‘classics’.
The reaction to my collabs and project songs performed live is always a real treat for me as a performer, as it’s bringing a real personal connection to the music between myself and the crowd. The opportunity to focus this energy and vibe into presenting the album in this format is really exciting for us.
Also, I have quite a few return collaborations lined up with people who i’ve featured on my LP, so watch out for those, as well as my debut on Liquicity towards the end of spring with a track called What It Look like with Madface and my collab partner Meditat1on, along with a big collab with Zardonic for his new forthcoming album. Plus there’s a lot of other tracks that I can mention nearer the time when the dotted lines have been signed… but I can guarantee there’s a lot more to come this year after the album!
Great to hear, looking forward to it all! Any final words of wisdom / shout outs?
Big shouts to all the DJs, producers, MCs, labels, promoters and ravers who continue to push this music for the genuine love of the culture and spreading happiness to generations of ravers. I feel blessed to have been a part of it for so long at this level, and want to thank everyone who participates in this wonderful thing we call drum and bass. And of course big ups to AudioPorn, all the producers, vocalists and everyone who got involved with the Poetry in Motion LP, and for making it a project to remember!
Poetry In Motion is out now on AudioPorn – get it here.