Steven Cooley
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Steven Cooley


Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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"Review the song "Lost my Faith""

Outstanding vocals! Steven has a unique sound that blends gospel, blues, and singer/songwriter individuality. I love it! The production is solid with good instrumental performances. The song and performance are effective and memorable. Very fine work! - Taxi

"A voyage from the streets to the studio"

A few years ago, Steven Cooley was homeless and facing a drug and alcohol addiction.

Today, the now-sober 24-year-old Indianapolis songwriter works for an insurance company by day, takes care of his 2-year-old son by night and will be celebrating the release of his first album, "Lost My Faith," on April 22.

Do the first songs you wrote sound like the ones you are writing today?

Oh, no. It was terrible. It's embarrassing. I have those songs recorded, too. My mom got me a studio present (of) two-and-a-half hours. I did eight songs. They were all ballads. I was really engrossed with Richard Marx, the Boys II Men stuff.

I'd go to showcases and stuff and they'd be like, you don't have any hooks. They tore them to shreds. So I had to start tweaking my style.

How would you say you developed as a songwriter over time?

I've done probably like five demos prior to the album. So that's just going into the studio. I've had some label showcases where I've been able to hand my music to label representatives and they're like, 'No you've got to do this, you're not there. I don't need a minute-and-a-half guitar solo; I've heard it before.'

I've always had some pretty good professional feedback. I listen to a lot of the radio because that's the deal. That's the song structure people obviously want to hear; that's why it's the Top 40. So I just tried to implement that in my song structure, how I write and the rhythm of the words and the lyrics and what not.

Have you decided what your sound is?

No. This album in particular I really wanted to be pop-oriented. I was really looking for publishing deals and I just really wanted it to be radio-friendly. I think my sound will always be pop/R&B; it will stay in that genre. But I think if I get to do another project, it will be more R&B.

Does your past come out in your songs much?

The song "Lost My Faith" was literally written on the street. I stayed at the Wheeler Mission. I was on the street. That's where it took me.

It's beautiful now to come from that to sitting in a room with you talking about it.

"Castin Em Out" is definitely about the hold (the drug and alcohol abuse) had on me. I was in a relationship during that time, so just that angst . . .. It plays a big part.

During that time period, were you still thinking about doing music?

Yeah, just not able. I really thought it was just going to fall into my lap. Like, I'd be walking down the street and someone would just come up to me (and hand out a record deal). Of course, that's not how it works. People want to see you work. When I started doing those things and started making some right decisions, (the record) happened. It wasn't enough to keep sober.

Is balancing family life and a music career going to cause future problems?

I don't know. I don't think so. Luckily I have a lot of people who support what I'm trying to do and believe in what I'm doing . . ..

It's hard; it's not an easy task to be up all night playing music then go to work for eight hours a day, pick up the 2-year-old and be dad for X amount of time, be boyfriend, be all the characters.

- Intake weekly (by: Jessica Halverson)


Story by Ryan Williams - Photos by Submitted Photo -
April 22nd @ The Ugly Monkey presents the Artist of the Week. Each week our editorial staff will select one local artist who has made a place in the spotlight for themselves by giving Indy's music lovers something they should be hearing. Along with the weekly IMN feature, the Artist of the Week will also be featured in the pages of NUVO Newsweekly.

“I was just engrossed my gospel music growing up. I loved hearing choirs with 6 people sing loud enough to fill up the entire room. I wanted to sing like that.” Steven Cooley has since added influences from Boyz II Men to Radiohead and Ryan Adams to his palate, but the desire to sing has not changed. “Music has been the only thing I have ever wanted to do and this album really explores a part of my life and emotions that I think a lot of people can relate to. I love playing in front of people and getting that buzz. It's all about the buzz.”

That buzz started early for Cooley. “I have been singing solos in church since I was five years old. I taught myself how to play piano when I was sixteen and then began writing soon after that. I have been playing the clubs around town since I was nineteen.” He describes his music as piano-based soul and pop. “I am falling into the very popular genre right now. I sing more R&B, but write and play more pop music,” pointing to examples like The Fray, Maroon 5 and Gavin DeGraw.

Since he began writing, it’s come in fits and spurts. “I do most of my writing on the fly. I have to run home and write. I usually write in parts. I try to capture the chorus and then break down the rest. I am all about the hook. Sometimes I go on writing binges were I’m up four days and write like fifteen songs at once. Then I'll go a month or two and not pick up a pen for other than to sign my name on a credit card receipt.” The topics tend towards a darker note – “Relationships, and my personal spiritual demons with addiction. The ups and downs. I really try to take my emotions and thoughts and over-exaggerate them in my music. If I'm pissed, I want to write homicidal. If I’m sad, I want to write suicidal. If I’m in love I want to write obsessed.”

Cooley is releasing his debut album April 22nd at the Ugly Monkey, and he’s extremely proud of the effort. “I have been recording demos in different studios since I was 17, but now I have a professional looking, well produced, debut album. It is what it's all about.” He anticipates promoting the recording heavily. “I am always writing and driving myself crazy, but right now I am just trying to get this album into peoples’ hands. This is pretty much going to be my only project for the rest of the year and then I will do it all over again.”

That promotional effort may or may not involve a band, although it’s not for lack of trying. “I am in limbo in finding band members. It is fucking hard. I ‘hired’ a back up band for the album, and they help me play out sometimes, but I am having a hard time trying to line guys up to play when the part is already written.” There’s a little traveling, but he’s running into issues there as well. “I will be doing some conferences during the summer and try to get out around the Midwest. I have a two-year-old son so touring is limited for me write now.” Maybe it’s a good thing he enjoys being a musician in Indianapolis. “We have a very eclectic social scene for us musicians. I have had great experiences playing with all kinds of different bands from my hometown.”

-- Ryan Williams --

Related Link:


Steven Cooley debut album - Lost my faith



Born and raised in Indy. I was singing solos in church when I was five. I wanted to sing like the gospel singers surrounding me. I continued to sing in church and school choirs throughout high school. At sixteen I taught myself how to play piano and soon after I began to convert my poetry into songs. I started playing the club scene and my writing continued to develop.
At some point I made some bad decisions. Drugs and Alcohol began to destroy my life and I found myself on the streets of Indianapolis. I began doing the only thing I knew and the song, “Lost my faith?was written. After treatment, a halfway house stay and some sobriety I was able to release my debut album. Still sober today music continues to push me to succeed.