ART:CAST #68 & INTERVIEW Cooper Saver

In rarer occasions, the Euro-dominated electric music world gets shaken up from off-center, in some instances the fierce synths and striking basslines reverb from the streets of LA  and in cases such as the indispensable remix of the Golden Filter’s ‘Talk Talk Talk’, these occasions fall nothing short of extraordinary. Born in LA and bred in LA with a name as dapper as the city’s, Cooper Saver lives up to the glamour of his name with talent and charisma that exudes beyond sunny California, charming music lovers and players all across the globe, from prominent labels (we’re talking DFA, Permanent Vacation, Connaisseur just to name a few), ravers (are there more constitutional ravers than the kids at Panorama Bar?) and headphone dancers (this speaks to all of us). Shortly before he hops on a plane up north the coast and across the Atlantic for a series of gigs, the Dublab radio show host hangs out in his hometown LA and chats with Torture of the Artist after setting the mood with a complementary art:cast #68. The DJ/Producer/Party Promoter has been busy all year, touring, producing, partying, most recently completing a remix for Fabio Vanore on Connaisseur. The few tricks up his sleeve on how to maintain sanity and composure in this high-energy and often mad world sure do come in handy, because already, we are struggling to keep up.

Torture the Artist: Hi there, Cooper. How’s your day coming along? Where can we find you today and what’s your next scheduled destination?

Cooper Saver: Hey, thanks for having me. Today’s going well, just got home from my radio show at Dublab. I’ll be hanging in LA for another week before playing a gig in San Francisco, followed by a bunch of dates in Europe right after.

Torture the Artist: Cooper Saver is quite the superstar name, is it your real name? Have you always been Cooper Saver as we know you now? How and when did our idea of Cooper Saver the artist come about?

Cooper Saver: Ha, yes it’s my real name. My mom’s last name was Cooper prior to getting married to my dad, and his last name is Saver. So they combined the names for me. And as far as the artist me, who knows – I never really considered myself an artist to begin with.

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Torture the Artist: We heard you’re from LA! Not quite the electronic music capital, but an interesting environment at least. Were you born and raised in California? How did growing up in your hometown push and/or complicate your now lifelong relationship with music? Who were among your greatest inspirations, musically or in general?

Cooper Saver: Born and raised in LA, it’s home. I did spend a solid chunk of middle school into high school living in and around Vancouver, Canada though. But I returned to LA shortly after and have been here ever since.

Growing up here was nice, but coming back at age 18 after some time away was huge for me. I think I appreciated what this city has to offer a lot more that way, because I was looking at things from the outside while away, and it changed my perspective quite a lot. I started going out so much and learning about all the LA labels and heroes. I remember going to some of Diego Herrera’s (Suzanne Kraft) early parties and discovering people like Lovefingers, Secret Circuit, and SFV Acid – which lead me to Dublab. Aaron and Indra (Peaking Lights) were some of my first friends and inspirations here, who I also met through the radio station. Britt & Amanda at 100% Silk were super cool and helpful to me back then as well and I always loved their work. This little community has always been very influential for me. Chris Cruse and his party Spotlight kind of changed my life too.

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Torture the Artist: Tell us a little bit about the music scene in your city. Do you feel at home? Always had? How has it evolved since you started out?

Cooper Saver: Well, going back to what I said above, LA has a communal, eclectic, and vibrant scene. Some of the people I mentioned have moved away or gone onto other projects, but there has always been a strong sense of togetherness and there are always fresh, young faces popping up doing cool stuff. I don’t think I really truly felt at home until I began contributing to the scene here, because prior to that I hardly knew anyone. But these days more than ever, especially after traveling a bit in recent years, I know LA feels like home.

In terms of evolution, it has changed significantly since I started out. This world of music we’re all into has grown rapidly over the last 10 years and has become so much more accessible. There’s a lot more general interest in parties and local artists, so much more awareness and more people getting involved whether it’s promoters or labels or even artists. It’s a positive energy.

Torture the Artist: Many songs have been made for and about California, anyone particular one can relate with? Pair that off with your favorite Southern Cali meal while we’re on the subject.

 

Burritos all the way.

Torture the Artist: You’ve been in the field for quite some time now, released music since 2015. In recent years, your music has been supported by some of the most reputable DJs in your area in the playfield. Does hearing a DJ you admire playing your track still feel good as the first time? Was there a moment, or moments, when it just suddenly hits you? 

Cooper Saver: Totally, it’s a crazy feeling. Every time it happens is exciting to me, it’s extremely flattering that anyone would play my music out – especially if it’s a DJ I’m already a fan of. I saw Avalon Emerson test out one of my tracks before it came out at Coachella a few years ago, and also caught a video on youtube of Palms Trax playing one at Dekmantel. Stuff like that is amazing, because usually when you release something, you really have no idea if it’s even reaching people.

Sometimes I just mess around for 30mins, and sometimes I’m in there all day.

Torture the Artist: You just recently finished a remix for Fabio Vanore, which was released on Connaisseur. Can you share a little insight about this collaboration? When was the last time you spent at the studio? Do you already have more production projects in the pipeline?

Cooper Saver: That’s my second remix for Fabio, he reached out to me on Facebook to do the first one. I liked the track so I said yes, and shortly after that Connaisseur asked me to do this next one and I thought why not. I’m in the studio pretty much everyday, but it’s not always productive. Sometimes I just mess around for 30mins, and sometimes I’m in there all day. It really depends. I have a couple more releases planned for the rest of the year and also a record that’ll probably come out early next year. Always working on something.

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Torture the Artist: Apart from producing your own music, your remixing skills also stand out among your peers. Which do you enjoy more – producing vs. remixing? Is there a particular criteria for you to remix a particular piece of music?

Cooper Saver: I enjoy both equally, the process is nearly the same for me. Sometimes a remix is more fun when I’m already a huge fan of the track and artist and have ideas immediately – then it goes quite fast, and in my experience, the best stuff happens when you’re in the zone and working quickly. This can happen with original productions too, but it often takes me a bit longer to get things moving. If I’m not inspired by a remix request, I simply won’t do it. I try really hard to find elements that I can work around or reinterpret, so I try to keep an open mind and see what’s possible. But sometimes it’s best not to force things, otherwise it might not be something that I’m proud of.

Torture the Artist: You’re a producer, DJ and legend has it, a party promoter. How do you juggle all components of your musical career? Do you divvy up your time and energy equally or do you typically spend more time on one aspect, whether or not you want to? Would you make some adjustments to the ratio if you had the chance?

Cooper Saver: I’ve learned the hard way that juggling everything can be pretty horrible for my mental health and overall quality of life. When I first started I didn’t really understand the importance of finding a balance, but as the years went on and things got busier, it hit me hard. Now I try to space things out as much as possible and only do things that I’m feeling 100% about with no hesitation. These days I’m primarily focusing on production and DJing, and throwing parties whenever without pressure. Taking a step back from doing events basically fulltime was one of the best decisions I ever made, I’m much happier doing them randomly throughout the year.

The anxiety was insane and I was really close to putting everything on hiatus to figure out what to do with my life.

Torture the Artist: Can you give us some tips on how to keep yourself sane and motivated through it all? Have you ever felt the need to take a break?

Cooper Saver: I’m still figuring that out and it’ll probably take a lifetime. I’m hard on myself, I get stressed easily. And I’m not even the busiest guy in the world! There was a moment I about two years ago when throwing monthly parties became too much, as I was getting a little busier with DJing and wanting to exercise my creativity in other ways. The anxiety was insane and I was really close to putting everything on hiatus to figure out what to do with my life. Everyone probably goes through that at some point, it’s part of growing up. These days I make an effort to live a more balanced lifestyle and it’s done wonders for my sanity and motivation. Spending time outdoors, hiking, skateboarding, or taking a day or two to do literally nothing if possible always helps. I also like a lot of music outside of dance music / electronic music and I try to go to shows and see my favorite bands whenever they’re in town. Switch things up, you know. Also spending less time online is always a good thing, don’t forget!

Every time I’ve had the opportunity to play Panorama Bar has been the ultimate reminder of why I like this stuff – freedom!


Torture the Artist: You probably know what a mean party is like. Tell us about some of your favorite venue or event experiences whether as the DJ or the dancer?

Cooper Saver: I’ve seen some truly mind-blowing sets over the years at various warehouse raves in LA. It’s hard to name just one. Spencer Parker at Spotlight, Maurice Fulton playing at KGB (after hours spot that doesn’t exist anymore), even one of my own parties when we first brought out Floating Points. So many special nights on the dancefloor that shaped me into who I am today. And as a DJ, every time I’ve had the opportunity to play Panorama Bar has been the ultimate reminder of why I like this stuff – freedom!

Interview by Marie J. Floro