February 15, 2023
Kate Cooper spent years touring the world playing indie rock before she realised the studio was where she felt the most comfortable. Among other adventures, she now makes library music for Premium Beat and is featured on ESPN and other network TV and movie productions.
There are so many things An Horse has done that are career highlights. Leaving Brisbane to make a career out of music when everyone told me I couldn't do it is probably the thing I am most proud of. Don't get me wrong, I love Brisbane and I would love to live there again but to have the career I have, I had to leave. More recently I have been focusing on writing, producing and mixing my own work myself. ESPN recently picked up a track of mine and this was the first track that I did everything on. I am pretty proud of that.
For my main gig, I have the producer title. I oversee a pretty huge music library that is constantly growing. I work with an insanely talented team of composers and I oversee their work. For my personal work, I pretty much wear all the hats - writer, producer, mixer and even mastering.
When I was 15 my dad pulled me out of school to take me to see my first band. This was the Rolling Stones. My parents never let me skip school so the fact I was allowed to have a day off to see this band meant it was a big deal. The show blew my mind. I think one song in I had made my mind up: this is what I was going to do. Hahaha. My dad was a huge music fan and he had a massive vinyl library that I got to listen to as a kid. I remember listening to all the greats like the Stones and the Beatles and Neil Young, heaps of Motown records and all the hits like Fleetwood Mac and a bunch of amazing Australian bands like Cold Chisel, Crowded House and of course Midnight Oil.
So many people have influenced me along the way. I have also gotten lucky and that combined with working really hard. I worked in a record store in my 20s and I would put out records by all the big indie bands like Death Cab, Tegan and Sara, The Front Bottoms, Brand New, etc and think, "damn I would dream to tour with these bands." We did get to tour with all those bands and work with them. Beyond my touring life, I have met so many amazing engineers and producers who have been so supportive of me. Mike Sapone made the last An Horse record with us. We had known each other for a few years before we got to work together but we have remained fast friends. I hit him up all the time with questions and he is so generous and supportive and a total musical genius. I am also lucky enough to get to work at insane studios like Air and Abbey Road and I always get Fiona Cruickshank to engineer my sessions. She is an absolute legend. So calm and smart and her ears are amazing. She is a role model and I can't believe I get to work with her regularly.
I think frustration is a huge part of making art. If it was easy all the time then where would the challenge be? Nearly everything I work on feels frustrating at various points. Sometimes I get through it, other times I feel it the whole way and don't even like the end result. Even when people are saying this is great, all I can hear is the frustration. I used to think I sucked and I was the worst mixer or songwriter but the more I met huge names in the business, the more I realised ohh they feel this too! I haven't ever met anyone I have admired who hasn't admitted to me that they think their work is terrible at points along the way. I have learnt that being frustrated is part of what makes me get up in the morning to keep working. Maybe one day I will finish a track and say this is perfect. On that day I can retire. I can't see it ever happening.
I have a lot of guitars that I love. I use an American Standard Jazzmaster on most of my recordings. It's just so versatile. I never played a Jazzmaster live. Always Mustangs because they are 3/4 scale and really light. I am pretty small. Jazzmasters weren't made for people my size. More recently I got a Silver Bullet by Louder than Liftoff. That's on all my recordings now. It's such a nice piece of kit. Oh also my Kemper. That's a game changer.
Just keep going. I think women are conditioned to look to others for approval. We need to be more confident in our abilities. I am telling you this because I have to tell myself every day. Just keep going. One foot in front of the other. Rejection is part of the job. Learn to be okay with that and take lots of breaks. Leave a track, sleep on it. Come back with fresh ears in the morning and it will make more sense.
During the pandemic I set up a very nice home studio space. I live in a 100+ year old building that's so well insulated it's insane. I can make a lot of noise but my wife has a limit. Haha. That's when I use headphones. Usually at the end of a mix I use them to tweak things. Also if I have to work while travelling, good headphones are so important.
My Audeze headphones make it easier for me to work when I am travelling. They mean I can mix on the go and really trust the results. I am packing right now to head back to Australia and I am taking them with me.
I have been using them to mix a lot of my own production library work. They are beautiful. Like a comfortable chair but headphones.