Ian Cooke
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Ian Cooke

Denver, Colorado, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2004 | INDIE

Denver, Colorado, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2004
Band Rock Avant-garde

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"Heartache still produces some of the finest art"

Next to death, unrequited love is life's cruelest invention. Few things are as euphoric as the rush of endorphins you feel the first time someone truly steals the breath from your lungs -- or as soul-crushing as later realizing that the one you love doesn't love you. For Ian Cooke, this agonizing situation was especially torturous.
"It was difficult," he confesses. "When we met, we just really hit it off. I felt at peace in his company. We hung out all the time. He became my main companion. Even though it wasn't like we were dating or anything, it was nice. I could pretend."

Cooke's quandary was that he was hopelessly enamored of a guy who wasn't interested in any guy..... - Westword Magazine


"The Fall I Fell - Ian Cooke"

“Ambitious in its compositions and movements, The Fall I Fell is mesmerizing. Overwhelming in its power, integrity and swelling sound – couple that with the content and there is barely enough grip left to wrap your hands around Cooke’s work. And while the structure, the sound and the style is enough to captivate – get beyond that like a castle’s drawbridge and you’ll find lighted cities of emotion.” Jonathan Bitz - Syntax


"Denver Post Music Poll Winner"

“Cooke, his cello and his looping effects pedal are now fixtures — icons, even — in Denver’s thriving independent music community. And after years of climbing the ranks, playing clubs, galleries, living rooms and museums, the singer-songwriter- cellist-pianist was voted the top musician in the ninth annual Denver Post Underground Music Poll.” Ric Baca - Denver Post


"Ian Cooke, Denver Musician, Talks Cello-Heavy Folk Rock, New Album 'Fortitude' And Life In The Mile-High City"

Ian Cooke and his cello-heavy folk rock have been winning over critics and gathering up awards for years. He has been featured in Spin magazine, has won the Denver Post's Underground Music Showcase poll and has been compared to Sufjan Stevens and Joanna Newsom. Cooke recently sat down with HuffPost to talk music; his latest and breathtakingly beautiful album, "Fortitude"; and life in Denver.

The cello is a rare and refreshing sound in indie rock. What brought you to it?
I started cello in middle school. In sixth grade, all students in my school district were required to be in choir or choose an instrument. I was always interested in the cello because I heard early on that, of all instruments, its sound is the closest to that of the human voice. I was drawn to that idea and how it's kind of shaped like a person and roughly the same size as one. My first instrument was piano though. When I was 5 years old, my family lived in a house that had one. I spent a lot of time plinking around on it after kindergarten -- enough that my parents decided I should take lessons. So I did for the next five years, then switched to cello. I learned to play through public school music classes, private lessons, and a weekend class for kids at the University of Northern Colorado called "Strings Project." Once I got to where I could make a decent-sounding note, I was always messing around composing and distracting myself from whatever the assigned music was. I was never interested in guitar. I guess I stuck with cello because I invested so much time learning it. I feel kind of married to it. (SCROLL DOWN TO LISTEN TO "FORTITUDE")

What's it like being a musician in Denver?
I feel so lucky to have gotten as far as I have here. It's refreshing to come home from tour and rely on a crowd being there listening because they know and love what you do. Denver is great. We are a bit isolated, but there is so much talent here and so much support for all of it. Bands here are like one huge family. Everyone seems to be friends, and so many of us play with each other and form multiple musical entities using different combinations of people. It's always exciting to see, hear what's going to happen next, and that keeps Denver audiences very loving and attentive.

You recently played Pride Toronto. Was that your first LGBT-oriented event?
Pride Toronto was incredible. Probably the biggest audience I've played for. I think there were 5,000 people there. Not all of them were into it, but a good number of them were quite receptive and bought CDs after the set. I was able to bring my band for that gig. I remember it being a little rough because we went on right after a DJ that played a bunch of Madonna and Michael Jackson and got everyone into dance mode. I think my music is designed more to focus on than dance to. But we still had a really good time. I hope to play there again. I haven't done much else in the way of LGBT events. I'd love to get involved with the Human Rights Campaign [Mile High] Gala the next time it happens.

Are there challenges being gay in the indie rock world?
Not really. I would say it is a gay-positive art scene. I've never felt that I need to hide my orientation for any reason, not to say it oozes out of me. I guess I do kind of give it away with my cover of ABBA's "Gimme Gimme Gimme." I identify first and foremost as a musician and don't feel that being gay needs to be part of my title. Though I do want to reach a gay audience, I write a lot of my lyrics in a gender-neutral way. I would like for anyone to be able to relate and apply the songs to their own situations.

Tell us about your new album, "Fortitude."
Writing for "Fortitude" started soon after "The Fall I Fell" was released. Some of it happened before that. Once the songs were mapped out, my band and I worked together on the final arrangements. The process just takes forever. Some of these "Fortitude" songs started as leftover ideas from TFIF that I didn't end up using. I think "Havoc" may be the one that took the longest from start to finish -- I'd say about three years. Granted, I wasn't putting my nose to the grindstone every day to finish these songs, but I think I'm learning how to crank things out a little faster. It certainly won't be another four years before I finish a third album. The time that has passed frustrates me enough that I really treat this as a job now, more than a hobby. I wrote the "Rules to Live By" song on "Fortitude" to remind myself to use time well and be productive.

How did you hook up with Greater Than Collective?
I've known Andy Thomas for a long time. We met in the Denver music scene when I first started playing and shared bills, crossed paths with him. He's a genuinely nice guy and has always been very supportive and encouraging. Pete Turner and Virgil Dickerson are also stand-up dudes who just want to see me succeed. So far working with Greater Than has been lovely. We only just got going with each other, so not a lot has happened yet, but I really appreciate what they're setting out to do for me.

What's next?
I want to tour as much as possible in 2012 -- festivals galore! An idea I have for the next release is a collection of educational but dramatic and emotional songs about my favorite dinosaurs. Not classified as "kids' music," although I guess kids would be the ones most interested in the subject matter. You could think of it being somewhat like "The Planets" by Gustav Holst. Instead, "The Dinosaurs" by Ian Cooke. Something that could potentially be sold in natural history museum gift shops. I don't know, we'll see. - Huffington Post


"Ian Cooke premieres new animated short film"

Local musician Ian Cooke and animator Adam Singer are releasing an animated short film inspired by Cooke's original song "Cassowary and Fruit Bat".
Two years in the making, this endeavor culminates with a celebration at the SIE Film Center hosted by the Denver Film Society on Thursday, October 10. The event will include an intimate performance by Cooke. With the help of the Greater Than Collective, the local artists will also release a children's book based on the short film along with a CD/DVD set that includes the piece and other material, such as a documentary by Ian O'Dougherty chronicling the artistic process.

"Cassowary and Fruit Bat" tells the unlikely love story bewteen the two titular creatures, with lyrics inspired by an exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Cooke and O'Dougherty visited OpenAir in anticipation of the release to chat with host Corey Jones on Mile High Noon. Listen to the segment HERE.

Below is the trailer for the animated short.

- See more at: http://www.cpr.org/openair/story/ian-cooke-premieres-new-animated-short-film#sthash.GnFP4uso.dpuf - NPR / Colorado Public Radio


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Singer, songwriter, cellist, pianist -Ian Cooke has appeared in SPIN magazine, Finished #1 in the Denver Post Music Poll in 2009, and has been voted Best Avant-Pop for 3 years by Westword Magazine. He also plays cello on Crooked Fingers’ album Forfeit/Fortune and his two songs appeared alongside Billy Bragg, Owen Pallett, and M Ward on ‘Versions of Joanna’ – a Joanna Newsom covers-album.He has toured in the US and Australia playing with: The Dresden Dolls, Crooked Fingers, Built to Spill, The Decemberists, The Flaming Lips (Monolith Festival), Blonde Redhead, Devotchka, Rasputina, Wovenhand, Pedro the Lion and many more.Cooke’s 2009 album, ‘The Fall I Fell,’ has sold out of two pressings and has been re-pressed with a DVD with solo live versions of songs, videos, a 5.1 surround mix of the album, etc.His newest album ‘Fortitude’ was released in 2012 with national distribution with Sony/Red via Greater Than Collective. The upcoming album is all about DINOSAURS! Antiquasauria will be released in spring of 2015.