Glasgow based indie folk artist Michael Cooke had his hopes dashed of becoming an Olympic athlete and turned to acting, only to find himself coming up against his twin brother for the same roles. Despite this, he has managed to become a successful actor (Now You See Me 2, Outpost 3), but it is now music to which he turns his attention.
In this short interview, we talk to Michael about his career thus far and how music became the latest output for his creativity.
What made you turn to music; is this now your main career or will you continue acting?
A few years after I started acting, I was hit with an overwhelming frustration because of the nature of that business, especially when you’re young. First of all you get hit with the actual struggle to get auditions at times. Secondly, you get auditions and you sit about waiting for that email or phone call saying you got the job, or perhaps not hearing anything at all.
Finally you get a job and you get this unbelievable high which inevitably you need to come down from, which is a mental battle in itself.
I try to be as productive as I possibly can be and I decided to ask a casting director I know for a bit of advice. I was told to stay creative and to always try and stay in touch with my creative side. I started learning how to play the guitar and I found I wasn’t very good at singing other people’s songs. I think this may have had something to do with the fact I didn’t know very much about what key to sing in and what suited my voice, so I got a bit frustrated and decided to write my own songs because I found I could sing better doing that. Soon I had written a load of songs and I never really looked back.
On whether music or acting is my main career, I don’t really look at it that way. I think if you’re a creative person, it's a way of life so whatever I’m able to be creative in I’ll do it. The difference between acting and music is that in acting, there are a lot more restrictive components that you need to work with. In music, there is a bit more freedom in a sense that you have more control, especially with the ability to get your material out there.
Have your experiences with athletics and acting inspired your music?
I tend to write subconsciously from things I’ve seen or experienced. Athletics and acting have both been big parts of my life so I think they’ve probably influenced the music in a way.
What's the story behind the song 'Losing My Mind For Nothing'?
It was one of those songs that just came all at once. It was summer and living in Scotland you aren’t guaranteed the weather. It was raining and cloudy for like three days and it wasn’t really go outside and sunbathe weather. I was just messing about with my guitar and I had this melody I really liked and I looked outside and came up with this line “It’s summer time but all I see is rain” and it just grew arms and legs from there. I think when you’re writing a song, you just stay open to anything and go on a journey with the song and see where it takes you. That’s been my experience anyway.
Who are your musical influences?
I love music so I’ve been influenced by so many musicians, whether it’s their stage presence, or how melodic or lyrically prolific they are. What I would say is that the more you open yourself up to being an artist, the more interested you get in being yourself and finding your own thing.
I grew up listening to Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen, Counting Crows, Sterophonics, Nick Cave and Tom Petty just to name a few and I’m constantly discovering new artists and listening to new sounds.
Michael Cooke's debut album Doin Alright is out now on all mainstream platforms.
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