IN CONVERSATION : Cosmic Crooner "I’m happy to meet another music snob!" 

IN CONVERSATION : Cosmic Crooner “I’m happy to meet another music snob!” 

Call Joep Meyer a poseur or music snob, and you’ll get no argument from him. The Dutch singer-songwriter is the first to admit either observation bang on the money, Cosmic Crooner’s debut album ‘The Perks of Being A Hypocrite’ a sophisticated, stylish tongue-in-cheekbones journey in classy classic pop. Over zoom from his home in Amsterdam, Joep is hilariously open and immodest about his exquisite cultural tastebuds in singers – never vocalists – doowop pop, and European film. We chat about his music tastes and fair play to him, they are pretty damn great. Makes me think I’m heading a music snob direction too. Right now it doesn’t feel like the worst thing to be. ‘I’m happy to meet another music snob!’ he laughs.
Enjoying the vibrant, action packed videos to go with the record you’d assume Crooner a mischievous rascal adventurer gadding around Europe in prursuit of hijinks. And yet listening to the record takes us on a colourful and vivid cinematic journey of its very own, moments of high emotion relayed by this self-confessed hedonistic joker, balanced by sincere, sensual romance. One minute the flashy fashionista pledges swoon-worthy true love to his honey with a ‘Late Night Obsession‘, the next he recreates a 60s spy movie via ‘Tema di Filippo’, inspired by the Italian film composers and soundtracks he adores so much. Hypocrite is a full on techniclour album, yet he began his musical journey playing the bass, he explains. At age fourteen it seemed the easiest instrument to start with. ‘I was a boy when I picked up the bass and the day after, I became a man,’ he smirks. He’s moved on the piano, and guitar since. ‘I do still really like to think very deep  and long about the bass arrangements. They are still very important to me.’

It might be a cliche, but Joep enjoys music and art that sweeps him away, sparking the imagination. ‘For me, music is dreamy if it takes me somewhere else. That’s why I like cinematic songs because they portray a whole scene in front of me.’ So very much in tune with his favourite album, Serge Gainsbourg’s 1971 classic ‘Melody Hotel‘, much lauded for orchestrated string and choral arrangements and intriguing narrative charting an illicit coupling.  Hearing it for the first time was a game changer in the story of Cosmic Crooner. ‘I’d never heard anything like that before. I like the orchestral arrangements. I like the lyrics and it’s a story from the beginning to the end. the lyrics. If I close my eyes. I’m just like, in a different world, and I like that about music.’
Crooner himself was born out of writing the song ‘Deep Down In Jazz’ . Penned in the third person – following an admiration of Gainsbourg and David Bowie’s portrayal of alter ego in song – the witty biography beautifully points out how life is way too short for bad tunes. If anything, Crooner views our now shared music snobbery as an asset. ‘People respond to that like, why would you say that about yourself? I think it’s just funny. It’s just…true!’ he grins. Much like the album title – self-labelling himself hypocritical – is creatively empowering. ‘And that gives me freedom because if now someone else calls me that, I can say I said it first. I tend to have a very clear vision and a very clear taste, and I have a strong opinion about stuff. Which is fine. And I thought, if I call myself a hypocrite, I can just make anything I want.’ He is a tease in song, taking pleasure in winding up us listeners. The declaration‘Three chords make (Cosmic Crooner) mad’ raises a chuckle each time, a dig at the bog standard or run of the mill. ‘I don’t have anything against three chords,’ he clarifies. ‘It’s funny to take a certain view or certain opinion.’
Cosmic Crooner is just about the best moniker I’ve heard in age, but is he a crooner? It’s a label one associates with a soft, sentimental vocal delivery. I always take great offence to Scott Walker‘s baritone referred to thus. If a man sings a romantic song he gets slapped with the crooner label. ‘Good question. I think it’s not one thing because yeah, like you said, Scott Walker’s gets called a crooner, and Frankie Valli, and Frank Sinatra. But they all have very different voices. And I do like all their voices.. I thought if I call myself a crooner, I have to sing properly. But it gave me it also gave me a kind of stimulus to reach for something.’

There’s a mocking humour ominipresent on The Perks of Being A Hypocrite, Crooner painting a laidback picture of drinking coffee in cafes in Amsterdam, wickedly earwigging into conversations, making judgements accordingly and slipping them into song. Something we’d all do if we could, surely. In ‘Spoiler Alert‘, the observation ‘It’s hard to be stupid these days’ is delivered. But there are lots of stupid people around aren’t there, Joep.  ‘It’s very blunt, isn’t it. I like people and they are very funny. But I get annoyed very easily.’  One day he heard two girls in conversation, asking what LGBTQIA stands for. When everyone has access to the internet and a mobile phone in their pocket there is, he rationalizes, no reason to speculate. Folk not knowing ‘Tainted Love‘ is a 1960s Northern Soul classic first recorded by Gloria Jones, gets his goat as well. ‘It’s very easy to look that up.’

The record is high on affairs of the heart, the wonderful ‘Bolero‘ a charming love song with drama, reminiscent of Roy Orbison’s magnificent ‘Running Scared’, a song which each time one hears it the tension builds worry about the conclusion – will or won’t The Big O get the girl?
‘I love that. It’s beautiful. And it was a big inspiration for the song, together with combined with Jacques Brel.’
Brel is further drama!
‘Yeah, more drama – and the thing I like about Jacques Brel is that it feels like he has too many words for a sentence. So he has to just sing very quickly.’ It’s very sweet and tender as well, Is Bolero. ‘I’ll rock you back, I’ll rock you forth’, he sings. Crooner’s a softie at heart; the video for the song sees him stylishly enjoying a plate of pasta whilst he dreams of his true love. ‘We were so lucky how this worked out. We only had two takes, that one while I’m eating the one where I’m dancing. So what you see is the only thing the only footage we had and I’m just so lucky that it worked out and there wasn’t any sauce on my white shirt.’

He has ambitions of doing a Harry Nilsson at some point with full orchestra, bells and whistles. People have told him it’s a third album ambition but will he listen? Something tells me not. And quite right too. But for now for sure, Cosmic Crooner will continue in his ways. We talk further about his fantastic cultural consumption. ‘Goosebumps On A Tuesday Night’, pays homage to 1960s girl vocal groups, and indeed The Ronettes have a special place in his heart.  ‘I could listen to them every day. It’s very sweet and it’s very catchy. I love the melodies, I love the Wall of Sound. Phil Spector wasn’t a very nice guy, but he made some wonderful tunes.’  ‘Reflexopolis’ has flavours of George Harrison all over it. ‘I love the Beatles. I love George Harrison. I love John Lennon. I love them all. I even love Pete Best! People say, if Lennon was alive today he would’ve been a DJ.’ He pauses, and conjures up a spectacular Crooner-worthy thought.I’m offended by that. But it inspires me!’

The Perks of Being A Hypocrite is released 17 March 2023

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.