Most U.S. drum and bass audiences know Coppa from a huge number of neurofunk and techy releases this year, especially from Eatbrain and Viper. He has, however, also released a solo album already on his own label and has releases with a dozen other labels, including V Recordings and Technique. It’s not often that MC’s release this type of format, and it’s easy to see why: it’s basically a massive collaboration effort because, if done right, it involves multiple producers, multiple styles and, in Coppa’s case, matching his vocals to said multiple styles and producers. Even the biggest DnB labels don’t try that.
Arguably the smiliest and one of the nicest major players in drum and bass right now, Coppa sat down with YourEDM to talk about the undertaking of Poetry In Motion, his second full-length LP due out March 16, what inspired him to do an album like this and what inspires him in general. He’s also released a bonus free download of his track “Look at the King” with L33, so scroll down to where we talk about L33 for that. In the meantime here are the first teaser tracks:
How did you come up with the idea to do an MC-focused album like this?
Apart from loving the sound of my own voice (laughs), I feel an album is a quite a special journey and it’s something that I feel I need to give every once In a while to those people that like my work on other projects. I’ve always been inspired by artists like DRS, Dynamite who’ve been pushing that concept for years. I think its great for the music in general as you get to hear an insight into the person through their words, I guess it also stems from my love of Ming and hip hop LPs.
How did you come to work with AudioPorn and to release with them?
The credit for that idea actually came from James High Maintenance. We’d done a collaboration track for my album project that I was planning to do again on my own label and he said why not have a word with Shimon about doing the LP over there at AudioPorn. The rest is history.
I’ve always respected Shimon as one of the pioneers of our scene and known him for quite a while. I think our first time meeting was a gig we did together in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 2004, shout outs to Step DnB massive, but I´d known his music since long before that. So for me to have an opportunity to work him and AudioPorn on the project was a dream come true for me. Also I know Trimer for a good while as well personally so I feel very much at home with the guys. For me that’s important when working on something as big as this.
How did you select production artists for the project?
This process comes naturally to me when putting together such a project. Everyone involved in the LP I´m genuinely a fan of their music. Like Muffler, we’ve been trying to touch down a collab together for quite a few many years and nothing ever really stuck, so this time around it was obviously meant to be and it just clicked. People like Malaky, Dexcell and NCT I’ve always admired their work but we’ve never really moved in the same work circles before, so there was never the opportunity to really connect. Through this album I took the opportunity to reach out and I’m really glad I did and we’ll definitely continue working on more music together outside of this album.
Were you involved on the musical production/mastering/editing on the album? How so? How did it all work putting it together with so many different artists?
Throughout the whole collaboration process there was obviously a lot of back and forth between the producers and myself before the final pre-masters got delivered to the label, but as far as the technical aspect I’m more on the creative side for input, though I’m a useful second pair of ears when needed. The producers I worked with on this record were all really professional in their approach to working with a vocal artist and made sure that I was 200% happy with how I was mixed & engineered in the tracks and took on board any suggestions and input I brought forward about the music. I think true collaboration is about dialogue and everyone I collabed with on “Poetry in Motion” were really open and engaging on that front.
I’m sure it was a bit different for each track, but in general did you come up with your vocals first for each track and then have the music producers write for the vox, was it vice versa or did you work together more in real time?
It really depends on how the people I collaborated with felt most comfortable working. I always asked if they have something in mind already track-wise and if not, sometimes I have a full song lyric or a hook line already recorded in some format or in my “book” that I know someday will be of use in a project. When I hear the right instrumental or catch an inspiration, I draw for that one and see if it works. For example the track I’ve done with Alibi for the LP is actually the second track we tried for the album. The first was on a more melodic, happy vibe because the hook line was something that I’ d written in the summer, with the sun shining and the birds were a singing which was really good but it was deviating too far away from our natural chemistry we have in our collaboration vibe. So I sent them another vocal idea which kinda brought back that rugged rawness that we’d captured last year on our “Trunk” collaboration on V Recordings, and they bit into it full force. That’s how the track “Architects” came about, as soon as they sent back their idea we knew we’d crack it. The first song idea will go back into the vault until a suitable project comes along to try again.
With Saxxon (on the other hand) on “Pirate Beats”, we’d had a long phone conversation one night just talking about music, drum and bass culture, our influences, the scene and how things have developed over the years and both our experiences etc, it was that telephone conversation that set the scene for that song collaboration most definitely. The lyrics and music just came together organically after that, everything just clicked!
On “Much to Them,” some fans might be surprised because of the heavy ragga influence there and since both you and Current Value are known more for neurofunk. How was it putting the track together?
The thing about Tim (Current Value) is he’s such a talented artist and what I respect about him is that he plays by his own rules when it comes to making music. I’ve worked with him through his MachineCode with Dean Rodell for many years, so he knows my vocal very well. He mentioned about perhaps a ragga style over that track he sent me and I was playing around with some reggae stabs I had found just to melodize some ideas and that hook line really stuck out, so I sent the hook line and the stabs on top of the original idea that he sent me. He rewrote them and incorporated it into the final track. I felt comfortable pitching him that idea because I know he’s totally open as a producer to experiment across sound and genre. My family is from Jamaica and a lot of my music taste, upbringing and influence is from ragga and reggae dancehall so my original style of MCing was quite heavily influenced in that direction. It was good to bring it back to my roots for this track with Tim. We had good fun on that track project.
The album in general seems to cover a lot of styles, such as with the liquid vibes in “Reasons to Survive” and then the more hard-edged stuff like the title track with Madface? Did you want to cover a spread of styles in this release? How did you choose which styles?
My idea was to try to include a song for everybody on the overall LP because what I enjoy to listen to personally is a very wide spectrum of DnB. I also wanted it to sonically represent what I believe in, my religion, which is it’s all just drum and bass music. Whether its light, dark, techy, happy, mellow, deep, this step or that step. I think one of the greatest things to come through in recent years for the scene is the #ILoveDrumandBass movement (Spotify playlist championed by Simon Bassline Smith and DJ Fresh). For me personally its always been about that since I started listening to and being a part of the scene and in my work I try to maintain that line of approach. At the end of the day we are all one big family whether some people wish to acknowledge it or not, so I think it’s important we respect that and bring it back around to all-inclusiveness and mutual respect across all styles. Without getting too deep, it’s a bit of celebration of diversity. I try do my bit for the cause as an artist in the scene and I always hope my LP projects reflect that.
This is a pretty hefty album. How long did it take to get the whole thing together? Why do a full-length LP now?
This one felt relatively short (in terms of the process), as in about 1 year for the AudioPorn version of the LP, but the concept was about 18 months overall. My first LP “Act of Aggression” I released on my own label, that was in 2015, so it was definitely time for me put together a sequel. I’ve learned a lot since then so I felt I was about ready to take the plunge again. But yep, 16 tracks was quite a mission.
Is there a general theme you were going for on this album in terms of your vocals and the way it’s done as a whole piece of work?
Yep indeed! The theme was to be a collection of songs that represent the idea of my concept of poetry in motion. Though the content of the songs differ quite greatly, the essence of the project is about the journey of my voice throughout the world through music. From my home city of Bradford in the north of England, I’ve managed to connect musically with a lot of different people all around the world. For me “Poetry in Motion” is a representation of myself across my travels, through doing music and my words coming into contact with other creative people from all over the world: Brazil, Portugal, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Jamaica, Russia, Germany, Finland, etc. It’s a musical journal of my travels both physically and mentally as a vocal artist. I purposely didn’t try to dictate to the producers how to sound on the LP because I wanted them to fully express themselves so that the collaboration was organic and so that their influences and sound could meet mine in the middle. It’s easy to forget that we all didn’t grow up listening to the same music, experiencing the same things in life and develop in the same cultures. For me, I’m still very fascinated with connecting artistically with other people’s perspectives. Where my words have traveled is still amazing to me. That’s what the album cover represents. It’s a collection of all the things I’ve experienced, grown up around, interacted with daily, places I’ve been to, things I’ve seen that make up the whole artist I am today. Just the like the individual songs on the LP make up the whole.
Do you have a favorite track or tracks on the album?
That’s a very tricky question as I’m immensely proud of every track on the album for many different reasons. If I was forced at bazooka point, “Security” with Gydra and Jess really holds quite a special place in my heart on the project, as it’s a type of song I’ve always wanted to do but never really had the opportunity. It was wonderful to make that a reality and working with Jess was awesome. She was bang on the money with her writing and vocals, really blew me away. The message in that song really hits home and how Gydra came with the music, well it speaks for itself. Most people know them as killer tech dnb producers so for them to switch it up completely and create such a song is awesome. It’s going to be a big year for these guys in 2018 that’s guaranteed.
Another one is “Reasons to Survive.” What Dexcell did with music, the progression and journey of that song is stunning. For me it really captures the essence of what I love about drum and bass music. But as I said, I love every single song on the LP, that’s why they are there!
What made you decide to do the giveaway with the L33 track?
I’ve worked with Dayan (L 33) a lot over the last few years, he’s really developed as an artist and we get on really well. We came up with the idea for special version of my song “Oh No” as a treat for people. it was fun for us to flip the script a bit on the vibes that people would usually expect from our collaborations. He’s actually a lot more diverse a producer than people know him for, so I think for him its was great to showcase a bit more of his style range. Its always great vibes when we connect either in the studio or on a gig together.
I imagine you’ll be touring with this album a lot with festival season coming up. Are you planning on coming to the U.S. as well?
Yep, we’re taking my Coppa LIVE Poetry in Motion LP show where I´m performing live the tracks from the album and a lot of my other collabs on the road this year after the album. Regarding the U.S., it is definitely a territory I’m planning to reach soon, if not this year then next. Even though I’ve been saying that for a while now, we´ll make it happen in the not so distant future that’s for sure.
Any other releases or collabs coming up soon?
Certainly, I can mention a couple of things. I’ve got a release coming on Liquicity in the coming months with Madface and my regular collab partner Medita1ion. Also I’m working on a real banger of a track with NCT and Franky Nuts that should surprise a few people and also I collabed with the mighty Zardonic on his new LP coming this year. That one I’m really excited about and its got a really politically charged message, looking forward to when his LP drops this year. His whole project is insane. After Poetry in Motion, I’m planning to drop a few more singles towards summer and an EP before the year is done. The fun never stops! And of course more exclusive material for performing in my Coppa LIVE show.
Thanks for having me, was truly a pleasure! Big ups to all the drum and bass music lovers worldwide!
Poetry in Motion releases on AutioPorn Records on March 16. Stay tuned to Your EDM for the second teaser drop, another track with Current Value and Madface. That track is available for pre-order here, and the full album can be pre-ordered on Beatport. “Look at the King” with L33 can be downloaded on Soundcloud via the player above or by clicking here.