Posted On 20 Nov 2018
Cooper and Gatlin are a brother and sister pop duo from Franklin, Tennessee, a quaint town outside of Nashville known for being the perfect combination of small town meets big city. Spend some time around these two and their fondness for each other is evident. It comes through with a playful, needling energy you͛d expect from an older brother-younger sister dynamic. Having grown up hanging around their dad͛s studio and touring with their mom, they both knew they wanted to do music from a young age.
The family moved to Los Angeles in 2014 and Cooper and Gatlin have spent the past several years honing their craft as songwriters and musicians and perfecting their sound, which draws on their various disparate influences ranging from The Kooks and Nickel Creek (Cooper) to Kevin Garrett and Norah Jones (Gatlin). By forging their inspirations, the duo recently wrote a batch of new left-of- center pop songs that include their electronic-meets-acoustic debut single͞, “Break.” This track is about the stoic face you put on in front of ex- lovers. It plays with the duality of looking all right before someone who has broken your heart. It͛s a poignant and relatable feeling, delivered with a fun sound that makes you want to bounce around.
“͞I think it͛s good to have layers like that in a song,͟” Cooper says.͞ “Ultimately we want our music to be uplifting without being cheesy. We want someone to feel better after listening to it, but sometimes that comes from solidarity and feeling like you͛re in a similar place as the person who͛s singing.”
Learn more about Cooper & Gatlin in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?
No problem! We’re spending some time in the studio, and then Gatlin is heading to the hotel cafe to see her friend perform.
Since we are now at the back-end of 2018, how has this year treated this band? What is one musical goal that you have had for this year? How close are you to reaching it?
2018 has definitely been interesting for us. We’ve gone through a lot of change behind the scenes, but all that has only helped us develop our sound and develop as a band, in general. Our biggest goal for this year was to be able to release our music. It’s been a long journey with ups and downs, but it feels great to finally have our stuff out there, and we’re excited to release more!
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? What has been the best part and the most challenging part about being in a duo with your sibling?
The first time I realized that Gatlin and I worked well together, was when I was 16 and she was 14-ish. I had been playing guitar for a bit and thought I was super cool, so the last thing I wanted to do was get my little sister involved. But, after asking me over and over, I finally let her sing me the song she wrote, and I realized that she was a much better lyricist than I was, and that my songs would probably be better with words. –Cooper Green
I think the most challenging part is just the older brother/younger sister dynamic. Since we’re family, we’re really comfortable with each other, which can mean we’re not always “professional” when we don’t like a lyric idea or chord change. Thankfully, Cooper and I get along really well, even with some sibling rivalry at play. The pros definitely outweigh the cons. Being that we were raised around a lot of the same music and have similar life experiences, we’re just on the same page. Sometimes it feels like a super power, especially when making music. It’s like melodies are built in to our DNA, and when we’re writing we just know where the other person is going next. Kinda like twin telepathy, except we’re almost 3 years apart. Its always great knowing we have each other’s back. –Gatllin James
How do you think your hometown has influenced the sound and how you both carry yourselves in this group?
We were surrounded by SO many amazingly talented musicians growing up in Music City. Nashville is primarily known for Country and Christian music, but you can find all kinds of music there. Even though our music is in no way country, I think the biggest thing our hometown gave us was an appreciation for music in all its forms. As much as Nashville is definitely our hometown, we also spent about half our lives after the ages of 6 and 8, in Los Angeles. We were (and still are) pursing both acting and music in LA, and I think that travel and time in a much different environment to what were used to impacted us, as well.
Let’s talk about your latest single “Break.” What was the inspiration for this track? What was it like making the new acoustic music video for it? How creatively involved were you with that process?
Break was inspired by a relationship Gatlin was in that didn’t quite turn out the way she thought it would. Gatlin enjoys referring to him as a “douche-magoo”, and didn’t want him to have the satisfaction of seeing her missing him/hurting. Thus, Break was penned.
As far as the acoustic music video, we had an absolute blast making it. We got together with Team Cooper & Gatlin, and came up with the concept pretty quickly. We like to be as creatively involved as possible in everything we do, so we loved getting our hands dirty making this video happen. It definitely took a lot of setting up, but seeing an idea go from your imagination to real life is always worth it.
Generally, how do you go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately?
Our writing process is fun, because we both approach songwriting from different angles. Gatlin is definitely the lyricist and Cooper is a chords/production guy. We end up being great sounding boards for each other, since we know something is good if the other person is able to vibe with it. We pretty much only write together since we have this sort of yin/yang thing going. Gatlin is very feelings and heart-based, where Cooper is a little bit more calculated and analytical. We tend to balance each other out nicely.
We’ve definitely got a few songs lined up for release starting in the new year. We’ve spent the last couple years writing and accumulating songs that we’re really excited to get out there.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
Since we’re kind of at the beginning of our journey as artists, performing live is a relatively new experience. We’re definitely learning something new every time we play, which has been really fun and helped us fine-tune our live sound. As much fun as trying to perfect a song in the studio is, there’s nothing quite like playing your music for other people, and being able to interact with the crowd.
Do you find that all of social media and keeping up with your fans has gotten so overwhelming? Or do you rely heavily on others to take care of that for the band? Which platform would you say that you enjoy engaging with the most?
Social media has changed a lot recently, and it can be overwhelming trying to figure out all the algorithms and whatnot, so we’re super grateful to have an amazing social media team helping us create content and connect with listeners and new fans. If we had to pick a favorite platform, it would probably be Instagram. We love stories and doing Instagram Lives whenever we can.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? Do you find that your music is an escape to all the current events?
We always want out music to be a positive force in the world. There are so many voices talking about the things going wrong and wallowing in that, so what we want to do is try to be a light as much as we can. Music is a really powerful tool for bringing people together, so we hope we can help connect, as opposed to divide.
What musicians would you love to work with in the future? What artists have really been inspiring this group and your music since day 1?
There are so many crazy-talented people making music right now, which is super awesome. A few that we’d love to collaborate with are people like Shawn Mendes, Kevin Garrett, as well as our day one artists like John Mayer and Coldplay.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
Like we said before, we always want to lead with positivity, but that doesn’t mean we ignore or avoid the harder things in life. A lot of our songs are inspired by difficult times. If we can meet someone where they’re at, and let them know they’re not alone, then we’ve accomplished our goal.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about this group?
I think that basically covers it. We both have dogs (Gatlin and has cat too) that we love, but that would take up the whole article, so we’ll save that for our own Instagram stories.
(all photography provided by Sidways Media)