Radical Face the Los Angeles-based project of musician Ben Cooper will release the TherapyEP on April 26 via Bear Machine Records (pre-order). Today Radical Face has shared the official video video for “Doubt” from his forthcoming release. The video premiered today at Flood Magazine and song will be available to share on streaming services this Friday.
Watch: “Hard of Hearing” official video at Brooklyn Vegan or YouTube
About the video Ben Cooper says:
This is the most technically and physically demanding video I’ve ever done, as everything was done in-camera. No post was added at all, not even basics like color-correction. The idea was to build an evolving portrait, fading between extreme lighting and background differences while singing. The only problem was, for this idea to work, I couldn’t move at all between takes. So we built a chair that could fix the back of my head in place, and I had to concentrate on not moving my shoulders or tilting my chin at all for about 30 to 45 minutes at a time. Really small movements were really noticeable when all the clips overlapped. Sitting that still with such concentration between takes is really difficult, mentally and physically. It’s like doing stop-motion, but with lighting, make-up and a live person. And thematically speaking, this was all a visual attempt to get across how, when dealing with depression, you often feel static, or numb, while the world around you seems chaotic. That even people trying to get your attention doesn’t really register, it all just feels pretty stuck in time.
Radical Face’s forthcoming EP follows up the acclaimed The Family Tree series — The Roots (2011),The Branches (2013), and The Leaves (2016) in which Cooper grasped onto ideas and perceptions that left him hopelessly drained, creatively and emotionally. Speaking with a professional finally enabled him to let go, something he’s honored by naming his new effort Therapy.
On Therapy, Radical Face has let go of all his past narratives. Instead of an intricate saga, he’s kept his parameters simple. Instead of his troubled past, he’s focused on his scarred present. Instead of acoustic folk, he’s written lush compositions. Unsure yet confident, battered yet resilient, Cooper is taking Radical Face in a poignant new direction.
With The Family Tree, Cooper sought to confront his difficult upbringing in Florida by forming a fictional genealogy paired with stirring folk arrangements. Intense family drama near the end of the process pushed The Leaves to take on a far more personal tone, as Cooper felt “dishonest… putting it into a separate avatar.” That only made the songs increasingly more difficult to perform, however, which coupled with the artistic exhaustion of pairing music with his grand concept made him pine for palliation.
In an attempt to test himself and move on from the compositional confines of that trilogy, Cooper undertook a number of different projects. There was his Missing Film instrumental album, a score he released for filmmakers to use for free, and his Covers, Vol. 1 EP, in which he only sang songs by female artists. Adding to the challenge was his relocation to California; moving away from his studio in Florida forced him to relearn how to record in an apartment with minimal tools.
Weekly therapy sessions helped him realize the portrait he’d created in The Family Tree was masking the hard truth: “There’s no real positive there,” as Cooper puts it. While he’s proud of the work he did on the trilogy, he looks at it differently now that it’s in the rearview. “I don’t regret it, but it wasn’t what I thought. I thought I was telling a different story, immortalizing the strange into something beneficial rather than just dysfunction.”
Approaching songwriting from this painfully achieved mindfulness has opened Cooper up to fresh understandings. “Looking back, it’s like letting go. Mourning concepts, in a way,” he explains. “Sometimes you have a narrative, it’s an idea, a projection you see for yourself. Sometimes, you’re able to understand that that’s just some picture, you would never be that thing. It’s letting go of the narrative.”