Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Koop Kooper: Lounge Titan Of The Airwaves By Darren Long

Recently I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Koop Kooper for a Tiki Magazine article called, “Q & A With The Podcast Kings.” Due to space restrictions, many questions and answers ended up on the cutting room floor. I’m here to remedy that right now. Pour yourself a Blue Martini and enjoy the ride through Koop’s’ cool world.

And of that world, Koop says, “It’s me at my finest and worst. From a swank lifestyle with nice cars, swank apartments, and the Boeing Boeing lifestyle. But I don’t just throw on a smoking jacket and get a picture with some pinup gals to make me look cool.” Koop takes his image seriously, stating, “Too many people play at a lifestyle and don’t actually live it day in and day out.”

Of course music plays a huge role in Koop’s life. And that can be swingin’ or sad…just like one of his favorite artists, Frank Sinatra. “The music is often very sad, very isolated and really can touch you when you are feeling down. It really compliments the sadness and it sits along side of you as it helps you justify the lonely times. Of course it can also perk you up when it’s time to shake the shackles and throw on a tux and get swinging.” I bet Frank and Koop would’ve been best of pals, based on that shared philosophy.

I asked Koop what makes his home of Sydney, Australia such a cool city. “Sydney is the most happening place in Australia. It’s the place with all the money; it has the best views and really has the best of everything Australia has to offer. I’m not a native of Sydney, but it’s a place I fell in love with as soon as I came here. It does have its bad points like most big cities, like its high crime, some government corruption and God awful traffic. I often think of it as a pretty girl who hasn’t had to work on her personality. Nice to look at and be seen with, but the reality is that she is only interested in herself and has very little substance. It’s also the entertainment centre of the country and has a little of LA in her and a little NYC in her. Makes for an interesting place to live.”

Speaking of Sydney and its Tiki scene, Koop responds…”Sadly, we don’t have a Tiki Bar in Sydney anymore. A guy started one briefly a year ago and it failed terribly. It’s mostly because he refused to listen to me and really embrace the culture. Instead, he bought all of his fittings from ‘Square Joe’ stores and filled the bar with the hip young things and their chill out music. There was no Tiki, no Exotica, and guess what?…no money. I’m pretty sure I saw him outside the lobby of my building pan handling with a Tiki mug. The Tiki Gods can be pretty harsh on people who screw up their product.”

“The main place I like these days is the Tiki Bar and Lounge in Richmond Melbourne. Great people who are the real deal.” Koop’s favorite cocktail there? “They do a mean Mai Tai, but then who doesn’t! I love Tiki drinks but my choice drink is always the Blue Martini.”

Swinging back to music for a minute, Koop mentions some favorite vinyl LP’s he’s currently enjoying. “Picked up Bob Thompson’s “Sound of Speed’ album as a re-release recently, and I just love its cover and sound. It might be a repro, but it’s nice to have in the collection. I also love the recent Martini Kings compilation, “Palm Springs Serenade’. Great sounding album, plus I was asked by the guys to do the liner on the back of the album, which was a real honour.”

It seems only fitting to wrap up this article with a question regarding another smooth, suave gentleman in a tux; James Bond. “I wouldn’t say I have a favourite movie, I have enjoyed them all. I am a sucker for Roger Moore. Most people don’t like him as Bond, but I’ve always rated him highly. As I’ve said to many people…Bond IS Lounge.”

Summing up in his own words, Koop Kooper distills the whole Cocktail Nation experience down to this credo: “I just knew I could do it better than anybody because this is how I make my living. I’m not playing at being a radio host, this is my real life, my real vocation, so why not use my God-given talent to bring people the best Lounge & Exotica from new and old bands and make it blend? All of these aspects are things that make this the Number One Lounge & Exotica show on the planet.”

Well said, Mr. Lounge Leader. Pardon me, but I need to shake up my Blue Martini and dial into Cocktail Nation right about now. Koop is playing one of my songs this show, and I’m not going to miss that cool experience! Cheers, Koop.