SONGS FOR KIDS SAVED ME WHEN POP BUBBLE BURST
When: Monday, 11am and 2pm
Where: Hull Truck Theatre, Ferensway, Hull
To book: 01482 323638
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Valid until: Monday, December 30 2013
He was once in a Britpop band. These days, Nick Cope is making music for children, as he tells Will Ramsey
I t was the moment the pop bubble popped. After a decade of playing festivals and recording albums, Nick Cope became a waiter at an Oxford restaurant.
The former songwriter for The Candyskins – once contemporaries of Radiohead and Supergrass – found the real world had come knocking.
"The band came to an end 12 years ago. We ran out of steam, record deals and inspiration," said Nick.
"It was a bit of a shock bump back down to earth – I had exhausted myself trying to be creative, writing songs.
"I did some catering jobs for a while but I wasn't the world's best waiter.
"Oxford is such a small place and I found myself serving Radiohead and Supergrass, which was a bit embarrassing and hard to deal with.
"I spent hours thinking how I could get out of it, given that I had a mortgage to pay and three kids to support.
"I knew it should be something creative, but I was not quite sure what."
Salvation came in the form of children's songs.
Now back to being a songwriter and performer, he's building a name for his quirky songs – dealing with themes including monkeys, balls of fluff and jumping in the mud.
"I write with parents in mind," said Nick, who is appearing at Hull Truck's Children's Theatre Festival.
"I know they'll have to listen to the songs again and again."
The self-employed singer- songwriter found his new vocation by chance.
After he began to help his partner, Amanda, run her childcare business, Nick began playing the guitar to amuse the children after lunch.
When that led to an invitation to play at a local Montessori school, he decided to write a couple of songs of his own.
"They really enjoyed it – and I'd found the thing that could get me out of the restaurant," he said.
"I gradually cut down my hours to the point where I did not have to go in again. It was like getting out of prison."
Inspiration for the songs came initially from his own children – though, now they're in their teens, Nick admits they're not exactly enthused by it all anymore.
Instead, he'll pay attention to the young children he performs for.
"I listen to them in the nursery and have conversations with them about what's going on in their lives – what grabs their attention," said Nick.
"One boy told me the washing line had broken at home – it was something that was important to him, as it was something that he could see being used and knew about."
The songwriter also illustrates his CD covers and a line of T-shirts – using the repeated motif of a monkey.
"I didn't want pictures of myself. I wanted to create a character that would work with the songs," he said.
"People like the style of it – there is a retro thing about the monkey character.
"Plus, I just love drawing – it is something I've passed on to my kids. I was brought up in the 1970s, when there wasn't the distractions of computers. You sat down with a pencil and a piece of paper."
All change then, for the former pop singer. The mood might be a little less hectic than the festival circuit, but the fans can be just as attentive.
"I like having a relaxed atmosphere – if the parents are relaxed, then it is a happy vibe they'll pass on to their children," Nick said.
"I don't mind if there's babies crawling around during the show – there's normally three or four children hanging off my legs while I'm on stage."