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Rising Star Devin Cooper On the Five Things You Need To Shine In The Music Industry

An Interview With Jason Sheppard

All the overnight successes have 10 years of work behind the curtains that you don’t get to see, you only get to hear about them when suddenly they’re an overnight sensation. But you don’t get to see the 10 or 20 years of work that’s gone in prior to that. So just remember that it’s going to take time. And that’s all right.

As the son of a motorcycle shop owner and custom car builder, Devin Cooper’s childhood was filled with opportunities to be creative. Upon exchanging his toolkit for a guitar, Cooper found an unmistakable niche, re-imagining the soul of Southern Rock and down-home country. The result is a genre-bending, driven young artist with a world of possibilities. With the soul of Johnny Cash and the chops of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Cooper’s thoughtful songwriting and thundering live show will leave audiences wanting more. His perfected vocal sneer is full of attitude and delivers on the promise. Off stage, Cooper’s energy is unfiltered positivity and humility — an incredible asset for any musician with ambition.

Devin broke out onto the Canadian country music scene with his first single “No Chasing You,” released in April 2018 to numerous local accolades. Shortly thereafter, he was nominated for Male Artist and Songwriter of the Year (YYC Music Awards); ), and was the winner of Artist of the Year (Red Deer Entertainment Awards). 2020 began with a sold-out headlining slot in Calgary at the King Eddy. Since 2018, Cooper has performed alongside some of North America’s top talent including Aaron Pritchett, Gord Bamford, and Lou Gramm of Foreigner. Cooper’s debut album Good Things is available everywhere now.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Igrew up in a small town in Alberta where I spent a lot of time in my dad’s custom motorcycle shop. When I was about five years old, I begged my parents for a guitar and for two years, they told me to save up my money. So I saved up until I was seven years old and then on Christmas morning, I walk out, and there was a brand new shiny black guitar sitting there. But it came with the condition that I had to pay for my first six months of lessons. So that was the journey that started the whole music thing for me. I don’t think I’ve put that guitar down this many years later. People have to pull it out of my hands.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Growing up in a household where music was always being played was a huge part of it. My parents were huge music fans and I think that’s what gave me the bug to want to play the guitar. As soon as I started playing, I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I played in a few bands in high school and started doing solo acoustic shows. When I was about 16, I played a bunch of shows around central Alberta. When I graduated, I moved to Calgary and went to college to study power engineering. But when I got out, I realized that wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to pursue music full-time. So I spent the next year working until I performed enough shows to pay the bills. For the last four years, I have been doing this full time. A career in music is not something you choose. I think it chooses you.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The most interesting/coolest thing that’s happened is when I was about 15 years old, my grandparents lived down in Phoenix, and I was visiting there and always had my guitar with me. I was a big fan of Alice Cooper when I was growing up, and I heard he lived in Phoenix. So I Googled Alice Cooper’s house and my grandparents drove me to where it was. I was just going to take a picture in front of the house. Well, I got there, and the gate was wide open. So I hopped out of the van and ran down to the door and my grandpa had to get to the vehicle and chase after me. I knocked on the door and this lady answered, who was Alice’s wife. So I asked if this was where Alice Cooper lived. And she said, yep. But he was downstairs in the basement recording his radio show, and he wouldn’t be able to come up. So we told him we were going to his sports bar in Phoenix a bit later that day. And she said they had dinner reservations there that night and if we were still there, there’s a chance that I could meet him. So we went to the restaurant, hung out, and had lunch. And then later that evening, Alice Cooper showed up, and I had time to meet him and talk to him for a little, get a picture and an autograph.

Well, a couple of years later, I was playing a show in Phoenix and I figured I should invite Alice to come to the show. So I got my grandparents to drive me back to where he lived, and again the gate was open. So I went knocking on the door and this time he answered the door, and sat there and talked to me for 20 minutes. He’s one of the most humble guys I’ve ever talked to in my entire life. It was unbelievable. We went back into his house and came out with a pen and paper and wrote where my show is going to be, my name, my phone number and said he would do his best to make it to the show. He didn’t make it to the show. But that was the coolest and most interesting thing that’s happened to me at this point.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When you sing the wrong lyrics to your own song, it is always funny. I was playing one of the biggest bull band shows a few years ago and I started singing the words to a song and I got through about halfway through the first verse and I don’t know if I zoned out or something; I do not know, but I just made up the lyrics as I was singing. I got to the second verse, and I still did not know. I think I sang half the first verse again and made up the words for the second half of the second verse. I was so in the moment and I blanked on everything that I was supposed to say. What I learned from that was to make sure I know the words to my own songs. It only happened once, but it only has to happen once. I’m sure it’ll happen again, at some point.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

We just released my very first debut record, which has been an exciting project we’ve spent the last couple of years working on. It’s exciting to have that out in the world now and to share those songs and play some shows to share the music and merchandise we’ve built to go along with this release. To see the impact that it has on the fans and how the songs are resonating with people, that’s been a cool thing. We’re at the start of the release process. Other than that, I just got announced as a semi-finalist in a program called Top of the Country that is put on by Sirius XM, and the CCMA (the Canadian Country Music Association). They chose eight artists from across Canada to be a part of this program to be given a platform to be seen over the course of the summer. There’s a lot of great exposure that comes along with it. We go to Vancouver next week to record a new song at the Warehouse, which is owned by Bryan Adams. I get to take my band and my producers and everyone out there with me. So we’ll have new music coming out sooner than later, even though we just released this record, it’s exciting to get back and start working on some new stuff. Other than that, we have a ton of shows lined up for the summer and are excited to get back out playing.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

I think it’s incredibly important because, at the core, we’re all humans, we all feel things, and we all experience life. And it doesn’t matter where you come from, who you are, what you believe. And I don’t think that should determine what you’re allowed to enjoy and experience in life. Everybody’s experience is valid and what they have to say is valid. I think making sure that we are diverse enhances not only the culture that we live in, and the culture that we release our music, and that we get to perform to, but it creates a new experience and allows space for those to be a part of what they may have felt like they could not be a part of.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Remember to enjoy the process. Because there are a lot of cool things that happen along the way. It’s all about the process. Nothing happens overnight. All the overnight successes have 10 years of work behind the curtains that you don’t get to see, you only get to hear about them when suddenly they’re an overnight sensation. But you don’t get to see the 10 or 20 years of work that’s gone in prior to that. So just remember that it’s going to take time. And that’s all right.

It’s not necessarily about the destination, because you get to have all the fun in doing it. There are a lot of cool things and opportunities you get to do along the way. There are many people you get to meet and experiences you get to have. Overlook nothing and appreciate the time that you get to learn and create and develop.

Remember to enjoy the milestones and successes that you achieve along the way, and take time to acknowledge them. Don’t overlook any of that stuff. Don’t forget to acknowledge the milestones and achievements you’ve accomplished, whether that is releasing a song or getting several streams or getting on the radio for the first time. Take a moment and acknowledge all those things to yourself, and free yourself to acknowledge the work that you’ve done, so that you don’t overlook it. Because so we live in such a society where everything is just on to the next thing. We never take a moment to acknowledge or appreciate the things that we’ve accomplished. And I think that’s an important thing that gets lost out a lot in today’s society with everything moving so fast.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. We’re all just learning. We’re all doing the best we can with what we have.

And always remember to be good to those people who are around. And surround yourself with the best people you can.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Make sure you get enough sleep. We work in an industry that works 24/7 and the music industry never sleeps. Whether you’re right in tune or having meetings at 8 am or playing a show until three in the morning. There’s always an excuse to work 24/7 In this industry. And I think we have to be conscious to take those breaks, even if it’s an afternoon off once in a while just so that we can connect with the surrounding people that are close to us and make sure that we don’t leave them out.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

This may sound generic, and it may not sound bad, but I just want people to be kind to each other. We live in such a harsh world where everybody’s judging everyone for everything they do. Everyone’s on the internet being vocal about things they don’t like, and everybody’s got an opinion when they shouldn’t always have an opinion. And it’s a pretty harsh criticizing world we live in. If I could make a change, it would be so that people don’t get discouraged and get knocked down for things that they are working on along the way while they’re building their own journey. That would be something that I would want to do.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My parents, my mom, and my dad, they’ve been incredibly supportive and encouraging during my entire career and everything I’ve ever wanted to achieve. I never felt like I was doing the wrong thing because of their moral support. They would always encourage me to do whatever it was I wanted to do. And they knew it was going to be hard; they knew there were going to be a lot of challenges that came with it. But they were there as moral support the whole way. That made an enormous difference.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite life lesson quote is a quote from Henry Ford. ‘whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.’ And I think that is so true. If you don’t believe in yourself, and whatever it is you’re doing, there’s a very high probability that you will never get there. And when nobody else believes in you or believes in what you’re doing, you still have to believe in yourself and believe in what you’re doing. Because you never know how close to the destination you are. So you always got to believe you’re going to make it there. So whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

I’d like to have lunch or sit down with Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top. He’s had a career that’s gone over six decades. And aside from that, one of the biggest things in my life are motorcycles. And that’s one of the biggest things in his life. I’d love to chat not just about music, but just about hot rods and cars with him and have a chat about that and see how they’ve affected his life along the way and how he’s balanced the two.

How can our readers follow you online?

All of my social media is at DevinCooperMusic. My website is www.devincoopermusic.com where we have all our tour dates posted. Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, and all the streaming platforms. You can find me by searching for Devin Cooper and feel free to follow me, shoot me a message. Let’s be friends.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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