A wave crashes onto the dark sand. The empty train tracks divide the houses in the english countryside. Lines of snow run through a field, making it look like a maze. A tree clings its withered branches onto a house. These are all visuals that Jack Cooper shot for his short film for the album Island of Noise.
Jack Cooper is an artist who’s been in the music industry for nineteen years. He’s currently the frontman of Modern Nature and has previously been a member of the Beep Seals, Mazes, and Ultimate Painting. Modern Nature’s newest album, No Fixed Point In Space, released on September 29th.
Modern Nature started in 2019 after the breakup of Ultimate Painting and Cooper’s first solo album. Their first album, How To Live, is a mixture of indie rock and experimental jazz. The album also has some folk tendencies in its songwriting.
“Modern Nature started as a solo project,” Cooper said. “And that was probably a reaction to bands I've been in where I felt I'd had to compromise too much of my own sort of vision of music I wanted to make.” Cooper would add cellist Rupert Gillett, drummer Aaron Neveu and saxophonist Jeff Tobias to round out the band.
Cooper derived the name from a book titled Modern Nature by Derek Jarman. Jarman was an english filmmaker and a gay rights activist. “The book was a journal of his life towards the end of his life when he was living in quite an isolated part of the UK and dealing with his HIV diagnosis,” Cooper said. “And so that book was sort of very influential as far as the aesthetic of the band. His life was completely blurred, I suppose. It’s informed the way I think about music in lots of ways.”
Cooper uses Modern Nature as a tool to connect with the world and nature. He is in control of every aspect of Modern Nature, whether that be the creation of music, the artwork, with distribution, and the music videos. Every album that Modern Nature has out out so far features an assortment of animals filling out the cover, with Island of Noise looking like a picture book of animals for children.
As time goes on, Modern Nature’s sound slowly changes on each record they release. The group is starting to venture farther and farther from their indie rock roots to that more experimental jazz sound. The band’s newest album, No Fixed Point In Space, features a very spacious cover with birds flying sporadically over a white background. This is not a coincidence, as No Fixed Point In Space is much slower and more spacious than previous Modern Nature albums.
“I think there's something about the way you can manipulate space that makes the music itself processing the sound is easier or more profound when the space around it,” Cooper said. “I think in a lot of music nowadays there's so much going on, but it's difficult to process the music because you don't have your brain can't react to what you're hearing fast enough. When you make slow and spacious music, the listener and the person experience in the music has more time to process it.”
As an artist, Cooper splits his time between his family and his work. He and his wife have a 21-month-old daughter that Cooper takes care of three and a half days a week. The other half of his week is used to make music in a mini studio he has in his basement.
“We wake up at six and she goes to bed at about seven and then that's the day,” Cooper said. “And I think since our little girl was born, I've gone to some good work practices because I just don't have the same amount of time, you know, so I treat it like a like you would a job.”
Cooper’s mother introduced him to music at a young age. His mother would often play music from the 1960s that she liked. In the 1990s, he was introduced to Oasis, who would become a big influence on his style. Oasis also gave him the motivation to pursue music.
“Oasis had these like really infectious melodies and like it felt really exciting,” Cooper said. “But there was an element of amateurishness to it and that they didn't look really cool or anything, you know. And that was the thing for me because I was like, ‘oh, they're older than me, but they look like my friends and me.’”
Cooper is constantly creating new music, sometimes coming out with multiple projects in a year. Modern Nature has released four albums in its five-year existence, along with Cooper releasing multiple solo projects or collaborating with other artists. Even with this constant creative output, Cooper believes that he’s “somewhat lazy” and often beats himself up about not doing more.
“My advice to a younger artist is to be more open-minded,” Cooper said. “There were a lot of influences I could have had. I wish I could’ve been able to absorb them earlier. I wish I would’ve been more exploratory earlier with my listening.”
Cooper is currently on tour in the United States with Andrew Savage, an indie rock artist whose most recent album featured Cooper on guitar. After that, he has a few dates in the winter with Modern Nature in the United Kingdom.