Lina Cooper: More to the Story

Taylor Harrington 6/2/2021 9:37am

Photo: Joe Welkie / @jhotophoto

Singer-songwriter Lina Cooper sat down with us and we learned about her journey from a private boarding school in Ukraine to Berklee College of Music in Boston, and now her life in LA. Lina’s unique sound and thought-provoking music can be found on all streaming platforms, with her latest single featuring Yah Kumasi, “What I Gave To You”, available now!

We are here today with the wonderfully talented Lina Cooper. Thank you so much for being here today, Lina.

Thank you so much for inviting me. I’m really happy to be here today.

Lina just recently released a new music video, and I believe she is calling us from LA?

I am. I’m calling from the West Coast. If you’re specific, I’m in the valley itself. It’s very hot here today.

How did you get into the music industry?

The way it started for me, I have always loved music, but I neverconsidered it to be my profession until I was maybe around 13 years old. I actually got into this special music boarding school in Ukraine, where it’s literally regular classes like math and physics mixed up with music theory and stuff like that. After I started going to that school, which I begged my parents to take me to, they were like, “Are you really serious about music?”, and I’m like, “Yeah, I’m serious. I really want to do this.” They were super supportive. They really far from “music people”. My mom’s a journalist and my dad used to be a university professor. They have nothing to do with music, but they were like, “Sure, do your thing.” I kind of feel like I always knew that I wanted to do this, I just never had the guts to actually make a decision up until I was 13 or so, and ever since then it it has been music all the way, every single day of every week.

Your voice is so soulful, and you have a very wise sound to your voice. How old are you, Lina?

Thank you! I’m 22 by the way, Taylor Swift’s age.

Do you write your own music and where do you pull your inspiration from?

That’s a great question. First of all, yes, I do write my own songs. Probably besides performing, that’s my favorite thing to do. I love writing songs, because they come to me so differently every single time. One day it will be just a hook melody, and the other day could be a chord progression. Most of the time I do start with lyrics or with a lyrical idea. I usually have a story or a feeling, or even a cool catchphrase that I’m writing about in my head before I write a song. Sometimes I will be driving and I will get an idea and I’m like, ‘Oh my god.’ So I just started literally recording a voice memo of random stuff. Sometimes it doesn’t make any sense and then later on I’ll put it into words. Sometimes I’m at work and I just get an idea, so I write it in my notes. My phone is where all the songs come from- voice memos, regular notes, and all that stuff. That’s why I’m in love with songwriting. It comes to me differently every single time.

So after the music-geared boarding school in Ukraine, what was your next step after that adventure?

The next step after that is I went to a fiver week summer program at Berklee College of Music in Boston. I thought it was just going to be like, ‘Oh, I’m going for a summer program’, but then I actually enjoyed it so much, I was like, ‘I want to go to Berklee’. For three years before graduating high school, I was literally daydreaming. I was obsessed with the idea of going to that college. I applied and I got in and after that it was history.

Done deal. So is your is your family still in Ukraine? How often do you get to see them, especially with COVID?

I wasn’t able to see them. I was stuck in here. Actually funny, fun fact, I was supposed to fly out to see them in Ukraine on the day where the U.S. went on lockdown. So I literally woke up that morning, and colleges were announcing that they were to be closed. I was just like, ‘Wow, am I not gonna get to go and see my family?’ I am going to see them in June for the first time in three years.

That’s got to be so hard. What program did you study at Berklee College of Music?

It’s a great school. I have a dual degree. One major was Contemporary Writing and Production, which is arranging/producing/engineering, and the other degree was Songwriting, and I have a minor in Conducting. So that’s what I did.

How did you go from Boston to LA where you are now?

Something that a lot of my professors told me that I never understood was, they were like, “It’s not even about what you’re going to learn at Berklee, it’s more about the people that you’re going to meet that you will network with that will help you later in life.” That was the most important advice that they could have given me, that I didn’t realize up until I graduated. It was me and two of my best friends that I lived with in Boston, all three of us decided to make a road trip to LA, so we literally drove across the whole country, and right now we live together still.

So what do you do for your “day job”?

I got hired as an Assistant Engineer at Harbor Studios, which is still in music and still great. It’s an amazing studio. I work with incredible people, but it is like a System Engineering job, it’s not like being an artist. I’m so happy getting paid with a music job. I have no days off because whenever I’m not at work, I work for myself and my music.

Can you tell me about your new music video and the single that goes along with it?

Oh my god, I love that song so much. It’s called “What I Gave to You” and it’s featuring my really, really good friend Yah Kumasi. That’s his stage name. We met right before COVID when we were supposed to play a radio gig together. He was supposed to be my guitarist, I was the singer, and on the day of the show we had met up early so we could rehearse. We were on the train on the way up to the gig, and then boom COVID, it’s canceled. The radio station was literally shut down. The host messaged us and he was like, “I literally just showed up to the radio station and it’s closed. No show today, sorry, guys.” Yah and I had a few hours to spare, so we decided to go grab a cup of coffee. Ever since, we just became really close friends. We were stuck together during the lockdown, so we met up pretty much every single day and worked on music every single day. I already have a song out called “This Time” that we co-wrote together, but this new song is the one where he’s actually featured. “What I Gave to You” isn’t even about a specific situation or a specific person. It was just sort of a feeling that we both could relate to very much that you get where you feel like you’re parting or splitting ways with someone but they’re the ones making that decision and leaving you even though you’re so heavily involved in that relationship and you were giving your 100%. You were giving everything to that person and then they leave and you kind of feel like everything that you have right now, whatever it is– your jobs, your friends, the apartment, your energy, whatever it is, I gave that to you. I worked so hard, I invested so much in this relationship, and now you’re just walking away with all these things that I gave you. Everything that you have now used to belong to me or was something that I shared with you. That is the song, and although it is sounds kind of sad, the music video, I love it so much. It’s just little bits and pieces, I call it a box of memories that you sort of open. It’s just our home footage of us writing the song and co-writing and producing. It’s us hanging out together, and the whole music video is just that. It’s just literally just our home footage, which I feel like romanticizes friendship a lot. I feel like friendships should be definitely seen as absolutely as valid and as important in your life as romantic relationships. That music video does a really good job of portraying friendship as a very warm feeling, a beautiful feeling.

What are your goals for the next five years?

I’m a big dreamer. So let’s do it this way. In five years, I hope to be making a living off of my artists career. That’s goal number one. I don’t want to do any side jobs or anything like that. I can do something else for fun if I want to, but my main goal is making a living off of being an artist. I would love to have a very dedicated and genuine fan base of people who can relate to my music and who would want to hear more from me, who would want to meet me and talk to me and come to my shows and just listen to my music. I would love to share my music with as many people as possible. I would love to be playing big shows, and I would love to collaborate with some of my favorite artists. Probably the most important thing is I just would love to be a very, very happy person just by doing what I love.

Growing up in Ukraine, what artists were you listening to?

That’s a very popular question that people ask me because they’re like, ‘You’re from Ukraine. You live here now and you sing in English, like what?’ Uh, where’s that coming from? One of the biggest reasons why I moved to the US is because I really, really love American artists, and not even specifically American, but international artists. I could never relate as much to Ukrainian music and Eastern European music in general, as I could with others. I grew up listening to British, American, and Australian music most of the time. My favorite band was Queen, then I started playing electric guitar because I fell in love with AC/DC and I loved the Beatles. I grew up as a teenager listening to more of like, classic rock type of music, but then as I was getting older, I fell in love with pop music. The first artist that I completely became an actual fan of was Katy Perry. Back when Katy just dropped “I Kissed a Girl”, I was like, ‘Yeah, she’s singing about kissing a girl, and it’s normal. Like, that’s crazy.’ To me, it was just like, ‘Wow, you can make a catchy song that is super danceable, but she’s also talking about kissing a girl. This is so weird, but it’s so cool.’ My icon of all time that I will just always reference as my main influence would be Taylor Swift. People joke and judge me for it. People can be disappointed, but I don’t care. I named my car Taylor because of Taylor Swift. She’s very inspiring and influential to me as a songwriter more than anything else.

How can people find you to listen to more of your music and follow your journey?

You can find me everywhere. I’m on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, whatever you listen to, I’m on all the platforms. I’m Lina Cooper, Cooper as in Bradley Cooper or Mini Cooper, and on Instagram, it’s @Lina_Cooper. You can search me on YouTube, too, and I will pop up. Surprisingly as simple as it sounds, there are not a lot of Lina Cooper’s out there, which I was really happy to find out. So definitely search for me everywhere!

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