ITW – Turtle + New Music : Silent Weapons

Turtle aka Jon Cooper is back with his latest single “Silent Weapons”. It’s a brilliant soaring number that will give you chills right through. Starting with gentle strings, and a delicate vocal layer the track pounds in some great drums and ends in a burst as we’ve come to expect from Turtle. Listen above to get the full audio dollops. Read on to read Sophie’s interview with the man behind those great soundscapes…

Turtle also known as Jon Cooper, hails from the northern, usually cold and rainy city of Glasgow. This city is, and will always, have plenty to offer. Music wise it is somewhat one of the best talent pool in the UK. And Turtle is no stranger. Having crafted some pretty awesome tracks and reworks, Turtle manages to create a moment in which you get yourself lost in. A void that swells the second you start playing his tracks. Something so special that all I can do is recommend you started following, liking and sharing his material and start getting him on the top of your playlists, like you did with SOHN in the past and many other bands or artists I introduced here.

We love his music and can’t bloody wait to have him around in Paris for a live gig ! I can count on you people to make the difference right ? Anyway, Sophie, our tame, intrepid interviewer, has been at it again and fired a few questions at Jon Cooper, aka Turtle, he was so kind to take the time to reply… Here are his answers :

Interview by Sophie.

Could you start by telling us a few words about the origin of your moniker, Turtle ?

I started Turtle as a project a few years ago. I was making lots of electronic music and then developed my singing and then developed playing guitar and I guess Turtle was a way of collating all of these elements into one project and presenting it as an alter ego rather than my own name. However, I have since learned that the turtle is a very mythological creature and carries lots of philosophical meaning in various cultures and often symbolises wisdom, the origins of creation, knowledge, longevity and cosmology. I was unaware of this for a long time. This kind of blows my mind because these are themes that have always inspired me and still do and I like to make reference to them in my music. It feels like I’m tapping into something wonderfully synchronistic with the whole thing.

You’ve been making music for quite a while I guess but we discovered you back in 2013 thanks to the EP Who Knows and its eponymous title track. What is the story behind this EP ?

There was no clear story behind it. I was just feeling my way through songs and instrumental compositions and I kind of ended up with an EP. I would say that the lyrics to the song Who Knows kind of sums up the whole vibe of that period of time for me and it was like my own little existentialist philosophical work using music as its medium. It was more of a journey than a story. I was very consious of trying to convey the following while making the EP though: Dreams, Life, Loss, Hope, Fear, Love and One’s place in the world. I wanted the title track to resonate something fundamentally universal that is inside us all and to try and respond to complexity with simplicity.

There is a cinematic element in your songs. The way you create different layers and slowly build the beats gives a real structure to the tracks. Do you actually visualize your songs while creating them ?

Yes, there are times when I am mixing the tracks I close my eyes and have an internalized Gestalt type image of the whole structure or flow of the track but other times I just act on impulse and instinct and then just flow with momentary randomness and see what the outcome sounds like. The core ideas, elements are very impulsive but the production and mixing stage is very carefully considered. I do love happy accident to though.

Your new EP Colours will be released on April 6th and we’ve already discovered two songs, Lavender and the title track Colours. I might be wrong but it seems to me that you’re in a different state of mind than on Who Knows. Both tracks seem more uplifting than your previous works.

“I still wanted the production to sound like it was produced by the same person and have the lofi, diy, atmospheric sound that was very distinctive of the first EP” – Jon Cooper aka Turtle.

Yeah of course. My mind shifts constantly and so this EP definately reflects that and is very much in a different state of mind than the previous EP. Having said that. I was very conscious of the actual production across the whole EP and although the ideas, arrangements etc may have come from a different place, I still wanted the production to sound like it was produced by the same person and have the lofi, diy, atmospheric sound that was very distinctive of the first EP. I always like to try and balance on the fine sonic line between damaged and beautiful and hopefully establish a distinct style of production through this. This is why I loved doing all of the reworks as it was also a way for me to refine and present a particular sonic aesthetic and production signature.

Only one of your songs has a video, Who Knows (directed by BAFTA winner Simone Smith). I know that you are interested in cinema, would you consider one day shooting your own videos ?

Actually two very talented French filmmakers Maximilian Franco and Frank Ychou created a beautiful video for Compartmentalisation following the release of Who Knows EP.

Click here to watch 

Absolutely, I am very inspired by cinema. I love how themes and emotions can be conv eyed metaphorically and be left to the viewers interpretation The next two singles coming very soon off the current EP will have original videos for each and yes indeed I would really love to have carte blanche on a future short film scored with my music or even a music video. There are so many amazingly talented directors out there with great vision that I am also more than happy to just let them do what they do and hopefully create something truly magical.

In addition to your music, you’ve also reworked a bunch of songs such as Left to Wonder by Lyla Foy, Emanate by Phoria or Magpie by Khushi. How did you choose these songs and did you get any feedbacks from their original artists ?

With Lyla Foy, I contacted her personally to ask if I could rework her song, I instantly fell in love with her melodies when I hear Left To Wonder and so it was a real honour to rework it in my own style. With Kushi and Phoria, my manager put me on to these, he has a sound ear and he knows who to send me for consideration. I trust his ear as much as he trusts mine. For the Robyn Sherwyll rework I was approached by her management through the strength of the Kushi rework who they also manage. I recently finished a rework for a wonderful UK composer Matt Emery who contacted me to rework his first single from his new album. Lots of beautiful string arrangements and dense electronics going on. Very cinematic. Cant wait to release it.

What’s on your playlist right now ?

Nils Frahm. Kiasmos. Plaid. Future Islands. Thom Yorke. Four Tet. Old Apparatus. Gidje. Caribou. Stars Of The Lid. Sol Seppy. Richard Skelton. Lindstrom. Boards Of Canada. Dj Shadow. Ice Cream Cathedral.

To conclude, you’re from Glasgow, a city famous for its music scene for example Belle and Sebastian, Orange Juice, Primal Scream, Chvrches, Franz Ferdinand or even Jimmy Somerville. Which artist would best represent Glasgow for you ?

Wet Wet Wet 🙂 x


Turtle‘s debut EP “Colours” on Beatnik Creative released April 6th, 2015.

Pre-order on  iTunes


Follow Turtle on : Facebook | Soundcloud | Twitter | Bandcamp

Last modified: March 24, 2015

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