Interview with Jasmine Marceau.
Photo by Lucy Cheyne.
I had a chat with alt-metal band Arimea’s vocalist Whitney Cooper a couple weeks ago. After a few Wifi issues over Zoom we settled on a hearty WhatsApp call.
“For us, the most important thing is to be able to communicate that to our listeners that they’re not on their own.” Whitney Cooper
We’re here to talk about your brand-new single ‘Silent Space’, which covers quite a lot of deep themes. Such as physical and mental abuse, how important do you think it is to talk openly about these subjects within your music?
I think, for us, the most important thing is to be able to communicate that to our listeners that they’re not on their own. I think, for me, the song kind of came together as a closure song. So, whenever we perform it, it’s always my favourite song to perform in the set because it brings me a certain amount of closure. It’s good to stick it in the middle of a set because if you’re getting tired and then sing that song then I always get the energy back and feeling angry again.
You’ve also got a B-side to this release with the song ‘From The Bottom’, which covers socialising and the building anxiety behind it. Is this something that’s personal to you?
Yeah, absolutely. The two songs weave in really well together. They’re both based on feeling alone, ‘Silent Space’ is about someone making you feel alone, and ‘From The Bottom’ is because you’ve chosen to be alone because of the anxiety that you have around social situations, and those past experiences that have driven you to that place. They fit quite well together. I think particularly after lockdowns, it was either really bad or it was really good. It depends on where you were before lockdown. For me, I learnt a lot about myself, and I learnt to release a lot of that anxiety that I did have prior to lockdown. But with that, there came a lot of new anxieties around different things.
Your music dips in and out of a variety of genres, what do you listen to for pleasure? And does that affect your music creation?
The boys, Tom, the guitarist who is also my brother, he’s a big Nine Inch Nails fan. We grew up on Linkin Park, the nu-metal vibe. Flyleaf, I actually only discovered Flyleaf about eight years ago. I think we played Guitar Hero, and then maybe four or five years later, I was thinking ‘what was that song on Guitar Hero?’, and I found it and thought they were really good!
For my personally, I listen to a lot of heavier, alternative stuff. Like Vukovi, As Everything Unfolds, Spiritbox. I listen to Destiny Potato, I’m a big fan of Destiny Potato, have you heard of them?
No, I haven’t!
Have a listen! They’ve changed their name now to Sordid Pink, but they have an album as Destiny Potato, and it’s a fantastic album, it’s so good.
But on top of that, I also teach children music, so I have to listen to a lot of recent pop artists. So I listen to a bit of everything, some I choose to listen to and some I don’t choose to listen to! But you pick little bits out of songs that you enjoy, and you can recognise talent when it’s there. So I really enjoy all sorts to be honest!
That’s great! There’s always aspect of inspiration you can take from different genres. Tell me about your writing process for your songs.
I write most of the lyrics and melodies. But in ‘Nostalgia’, Joe wrote the verse. He came to me with a set of lyrics and we dissected them and changed them a little. So he brought the foundation and I zhuzh it up a little bit.
Just a little finessing!
Exactly – we love that word.
Do you tend to write with a theme in mind?
Yeah, occasionally something will pop up, like a word. I think that’s a big thing, you’ll hear a word that you really like, like finesse, and you think you’ve got to put that into a song and the lyrics get rolling. Or if something happens in your life and you think you need a release so you write lyrics about that.
Usually, the guys will write a track and send it over for me to have a listen. If lyrics I already have in the archive fit and flow nicely, then that’s amazing, but nine times out of ten they don’t so you have to start from scratch unfortunately.
You’ve had a pretty busy Summer with gigs!
Yeah we had a little run with New Shapes which was amazing, we had the best time. We played a couple of shows 10 Years Too Late, they’re awesome. They’re so good and we love playing with them, it’s all the right people in the room, we all relate to eachother and we love that music. It’s just a blast and the guys in 10 Years Too Late are so good. It’s funny because I was working, and I’m doing Summer camps at the moment, I’m one of the camp leaders this year. I went from the Summer camp, and drove five hours to Truro just non-stop! But it was so worth it, it sold out and it was fantastic.
The next day we played our first ever headliner in Plymouth, we weren’t expecting anything and the whole room was filled and it was the best feeling. I think we agreed it was one of the best gigs we played. Plus we’ve got some shows with After Smoke Clears mid-September.
I think playing gigs is where our strengths lie, especially at the moment, it’s jelling really well. We love it, we love meeting people. That’s one of the biggest things aswell, meeting the people that come to the show, and the people that play the shows with us, the support or whoever we’re supporting. It’s just great, great to meet new people!
Do you write while you’re mid-tours?
I think the juices are always flowing. We’re under pressure now I think, we’re coming to the end of the year, we’ve got a couple more releases this year, and then next year we’ll be releasing an EP. I think the pressure is on now to get that written and finished ready for next year. So, anything that strikes inspiration we’re on it. If any lyrics come to mind, I’d just jot them down in my notes, most of them just go to scrap but you never know! Voice notes as well, like yesterday I was driving home from work and I was listening to some of the demos trying to think about what I could do and I sung this melody, and I had to pull over! I had to record this five second clip of me singing a melody.
You mentioned you’ve got some more releases this year. Are these also double-releases?
They are! We originally wrote all these songs for an album. But then we decided that this music is so different to what we released back in the day, so we thought to build that platform and foundation, and now we’ve got Jamie helping us too. He thought to save it, as you only release a debut album once, let’s build that foundation, release these singles and B-sides, then we’ll do the EP, then an album – very exciting!
The music industry moves so fast now too, do you think it’s important to keep releasing music often?
Yeah, absolutely. I just know it was the right idea, if we’d released all this music as an album at the place where we were, it just wouldn’t have worked. It would have been really unfortunate, I think there are some really good songs in the mix so I’m glad we are where we are.
Anything you can tell me about the EP next year?
It’s going to be heavier! I’m very excited.
Any inklings of when that will be released? Just in time for next years festival season?
Hopefully – we need to get a move on!
Where do you see Arimea in the next couple of years?
I’m just living in the moment. I’ve worked my whole life to where we are right now, and I’ve spent my whole life with a dream. Just go for it, live in the moment, and you have to enjoy every moment that you have. Like our headliner in Plymouth, that’s a moment we’ll remember, and it’s gigs like that that make you think if something happened to the band tomorrow and we had to stop, I know I’d feel content with how far we’ve got and what we’ve done. I think for a lot of time prior to this, and prior to lockdowns actually, I used to think no matter how well we do it would never be enough. I think a lot of musicians and creatives will relate to that aswell. You want something and then you get it, but you think it’s not enough and you want more, and it just goes on and on. So you kind of have to teach yourself to live in the moment, and enjoy it while it’s there, and just keep pushing for what you want.