Ben Cooper is more than just a musician: he’s a storyteller, and a good one at that. Cooper, who previously was one-half of Electric President, brings his voice to the table as Radical Face and has now completed the second installation of his musical trilogy, The Family Tree.
The Family Tree centers around Cooper’s fascination with history, genealogy and fictional events. Although the story of the Northcotes is more mythology than history, Cooper has taken elements from people in his life to create this musical story.
“A lot of the songs have some small relation to me or people I know,” said Cooper. “’The Mute’ was partially inspired by my nephew, who has autism and doesn’t speak. ‘The Crooked Kind’ is about a kid who’s embarrassed of his family for being odd. I went through a phase of that, being one of 10 kids in a mixed-race family in the south, and wishing my life was something more normal. ‘Summer Snow’ was directly inspired by the one time in my life that it snowed in Florida, back in 1989. So yeah, lots of little references all throughout, though none are ever directly about me.”
Before becoming a storytelling musician, the Jacksonville, Fla. native was focused on becoming a professional skateboarder. An injury stopped that dream, but started another one. Since then, Cooper’s thoughtful lyrics (“Welcome Home, Son” and “Wrapped In Piano Strings”) have brought his penchant for indie-folk music to the surface. It seems like Cooper really found his home, especially with lyrical storytelling, something he will continue to take a unique approach with throughout the trilogy.
“Each record is approaching storytelling from a different angle,” said Cooper. “The first album was written with verbal storytelling in mind. This current album was written around the idea of letters, either as diary entries or correspondence between two people. The final one will be as snapshots, with photos and videos and visual storytelling in mind.”
The Branches is set for release on Oct. 22. Stream it in its entirety in the player below.